“I wanna get you in the Georgia Dome on the fifty yard line // While the Dirty Birds kick for t’ree…” – Ludacris
It seems like only yesterday that Ludacris rapped the eternal question, “W-what’s your fantasy?” and last night I drafted my first ever Fantasy Football team. Previously, I haughtily stated my preference for REAL football. But my competitive nature got the best of me, and it turns out, my f-f-fantasy is kicking ass in cyberspace. Also, my team name happens to be ‘Hasslebeck Dat Ass Up’, which I thought should win some sort of award for cleverness and use of a marvelous innuendo.
It turns out, more guys play Fantasy Football than women (shocker), so being a newbie myself, I wanted to answer the question that many wives, girlfriends, friends and mothers ask around the globe: What IS Fantasy Football?
Ladies, you know how you feel about online sample sales? It’s the same way most guys feel about fantasy football. It requires strategy, multiple browser windows, and even some trash talking. But it’s so much more than that. Fantasy Football is aptly named because it’s just that – a fantasy – of who you would want on your roster if you owned an NFL franchise. You choose NFL players from various teams and positions, and draft them to your team. Depending on how many points they score, and how well they perform during that week’s REAL NFL games, you earn points.
That’s the simplest way to explain it. There is obviously a lot more depth to it than that, but for beginners, that is more than enough.
There are multiple sites that run Fantasy Football Leagues. NFL.com, ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports all run great programs. You can create a league (in which you will be the ‘commish’) or join a league created by someone else. Different sites have different requirements for the number of participants needed in order to have a league. Once in a league, you will pick a name for your yet-to-be-drafted team. I suggest something clever. Another participant in my league named his team “Wilfork for Food.” That’s the kind of name that even if your team doesn’t perform well, will still get you some respect.
Drafting: There is generally a live online draft which you can do from the comfort of your own couch, but sometimes a commish will decide to have an in-person draft party. That is entirely up to the commish. Online drafting is easier, but trash-talking in person is so much more fun.
Anyhow, you have two options when it comes time to draft: you can select your players by yourself, or you can choose to auto-draft, which means the computer selects for you. I had to auto-draft in one league because the commish changed the time last minute and conveniently forgot to let some people know about it. Get used to that if you’re a female playing Fantasy Football, by the way…
Players will show up on the main screen as they are ranked in their positions and overall. For example, this year, among all positions, Arian Foster was ranked #1 by NFL.com’s Fantasy Football. The Houston Texan running back had an incredible year in 2011, and is expected to do the same in 2012. Barring any injuries, he will likely get the most points for the team that drafts him. Ranked #2 was Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Let me interject for a moment to tell you what I observed last night in my first draft – it is advisable to draft an AMAZING running back and wide receiver FIRST, and with your third pick take a VERY GOOD quarterback. That’s just my two cents, though.
Generally, when you log in to draft, you will see a countdown screen ticking away the minutes until it’s time to draft. The website will pre-select a draft order, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be close to the top. If not, don’t worry, you can still get great players later on, plus, if you’re last to draft in the first round, you’re first to draft in the second round, giving you two picks in a row. Players who have already been picked will be removed from the main screen and shown on a small screen to the side, along with who drafted them. There will also be a small box showing your team. This is important to check out, because if you’re not familiar with position in football, it will tell you what holes you need to fill with your next pick.
If you have to get up to use the restroom, or answer the phone or whatever, you have anywhere from one minute to a minute and a half (depending on the site you are playing on) or the site will auto-draft for you. There is also an option where you can select players to put into a “holding queue” where if you do have to leave the computer for an extended period of time you’ll be able to select a player that is in your queue instead of some random player that you did not want. I recommend having 5-8 players in your queue at all times if you are a beginner only because the players can sometimes be drafted by other teams very fast. If you’re totally against all of this, I recommend following Mom’s advice and “at least try!” using the restroom before drafting begins.
Once you’ve picked all your players, you’re done until the first week, when you can start releasing players if you so choose, leaving them available for others to snatch up after being placed on waivers. Whoever has the lowest waiver number will pick up the player that was dropped, which will also move them to the back of the line for next time. Anyone else who tried to pick him up will be notified that someone else has selected the player (which is another opportune time to engage in some trash talking). You always draft backups due to bye weeks (when certain teams don’t play), and in case of injury. If you’re not too obsessed with your Fantasy team, after you draft, you can just kick back and check your points after the games each week to see where you stand. Maybe toss out a few off-color jabs at any team currently beneath you. Because, as my friend Vinny says, Fantasy Football really is Revenge of the Sports Nerds.