August is here, and with that comes a few annual certainties: heat, school, and football.
Students may not be fully ready for the school year to start, but you can bet that they’re ready for football season. The National Football League has been called the number one reality show in America, and with good reason. Compelling storylines about position battles, injuries, suspensions and locker room issues constantly fuel conversation among fans and friends.
While all of these factors are important, what fans really care about is how these stories affect their fantasy football teams. Sundays are now days of triumph and pain, rest be damned.
One’s favorite team can come from behind and win their game, but if the player’s fantasy team lost because another fantasy player’s running back fumbled or the kicker missed an extra point, all is lost and the other player is left to browse the waiver wire.
Malik Tisani, a second-year business major at Saddleback College, is all too familiar.
“One week last year I lost by two points when the Broncos blocked a Saints field goal and they ran it back for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, I was watching it live and was so mad I wanted him to trip before he scored,” Tisane said. “The worst part was that I watched it with all of my friends who are in our league, including my friend who won all because of that one play! We were all screaming.”
A great reminder that defense and special teams are just as important to your lineup as your flex.
To someone who isn’t a football fan, the concept of playing an imaginary game that depends on a real game seems pointless, some may say it’s not worth it. Those few could not be more wrong, and may even be surprised to find out that playing fantasy football can potentially be very, very worth it. The true value of fantasy football, and the main draw, is of course money.
Fantasy football has become its own business within itself, the rapid growth in popularity and participation has led to the creation of television shows, websites and podcasts completely dedicated to fantasy sports, more specifically football.
There are countless guides, forums and articles outlining the perfect draft strategies and projections published way before players even report to OTAs. In 2016, the draft website Draftkings announced that whoever picked the best one-week fantasy lineup could win one million dollars. This year, they announced that the winner this year is going to take home a whopping one billion dollars.
No you’re not tripping, you read it correct; that’s billion with a “B”. Sounds worth it to me.
“I already made my list of players I want, including backup picks in case I get swooped,” said Saddleback freshman Ben Kron.
You may be asking why pay so much attention and put in so much effort?
“The ten of us each pitch in $40 before the draft and whoever wins gets $260 of the pot, second place gets $100, and third place gets their $40 back.” Kron said. “We’re all competitive people so this gives us a great chance to take some money and have fun keeping up with the season with our friends.”
So besides the moral pride and bragging rights up for grabs, there could also be a nice little victory bonus if the fantasy player chooses right. Choose wrong however, and there could be trouble.
“The person who finishes in last place in our league has to use any team name the first place winner chooses. He also has to make an Instagram post and concede that whoever won is far superior in football intellect and that they have brought shame upon their family name by finishing last!” Tisani said. “We take that part very serious, it creates a lot of drama towards the end of the fantasy season we love it.”
Like any other game, the point is to win, but to also have fun doing it. Part of the fun of fantasy football is the annual naming of your fantasy name.
“Last year, my team name was all about the Benjamins, because I drafted Kelvin Benjamin. He’s money,” Kron said. “This year, my team name is the Marshawn LynchMob, in honor of Marshawn Lynch coming to the raiders. It’s also a play on the Lynch Mob, Ice Cube’s crew after he left N.W.A. so I feel like I have a really strong team name this year.”
Personally, my fantasy team name this year is Fameis Jameis’ Crab legs, a joke referring to Jameis Winston’s suspension while he was playing at Florida State in college for getting caught stealing crab legs from a store. Sportingnews.com published a list of the best fantasy names of 2017, so if you’re struggling for ideas, you’re sure to find one there.
So whether you only play in free leagues, or have been doing mock drafts since August 1, there’s something for everyone in fantasy football. Leagues are still being created and drafting can take place up until the first or second week of the season, and on a number of different sites.
Kron offered one final piece of advice.
“Make sure you have your lineup set before you go to sleep on Saturday night or before the first game on Sunday,” he said, “or you might sit the number one performer and you’ll never forgive yourself.”
So make your own team and get ready for the most exciting, anxious, heart-breaking or day-making 17 weeks of your year.