Since it’s never too early to discuss the coming NFL season, I thought it could never be too early to discuss something else involving professional football, that being fantasy football leagues. This will be a two part discussion with the first intended for the uninitiated or new participants to fantasy sports, in general terms, and the second going into further detail with regards to fantasy football specifically.
This post will cover the five W’s of who should play, what type they should play, when they should play, where they should go to get started, why they should spend even more time in front of a computer for a silly game. So jump on in Alice, I’ve got a wonderful fantasy world for you to explore!
Personally, I have been playing fantasy sports since I was in middle school, like early 90's. Back then we did everything with pen and paper and used the Sunday edition of the AJC to keep up with stats from box scores. Thankfully, things have progressed since then and, thankfully, Al Gore invented the interwebs for us so now I don’t have to write nearly as much as I used to. No more calculators to add up cumulative stats and create percentage based stats that the paper didn’t track or provide. But, while the computer age has provided us much, I still break out the pen and paper to create strategies and personalize things my own way. Call it an old habit if you will.
I have been running leagues for over a decade now covering just about every sport you can think of. When I couldn’t find a site to provide what I wanted, I created my own just like I did back when I was a teenager. Instead of pen and paper though, I use spreadsheets and formulas. I have created fantasy college football, college baseball, and college basketball leagues in this manner since they don’t have the same following or support that professional sports do. Since this is a Falcons site, I will stick to fantasy football when covering specifics, and since I am most familiar with Yahoo, I will base the rest of this post on my experiences there, but all of the below information should mold to any sport or site you choose to participate in. So let’s start by answering the five W’s, who, what, when, where, and why.
Who should play depends, but the easiest answer is everyone. Everyone should play at least once, that is. If you like sports, regardless if it’s hardcore or casually, fantasy sports leagues will allow one to get even more involved with that sport and more importantly, their chosen team. Sure, I follow the Falcons, but managing a successful fantasy football team is more about following every player in the league than it is following one team. You know how on that one awesome Falcons site, The Falcoholic, there are always these guys posting a bunch of numbers and stats and sometimes you don’t understand what all those acronyms mean? Well, fantasy sports allows you to dive into the world of statistical analysis without doing all the dirty work and it can even act like a 'NFL Stats For Dummies' book. See, who doesn’t benefit from a little extra knowledge?
What fantasy sport you play and when you play it depends on what you like, but there is just about everything you can think of out there so you probably won’t be left out if you wanted to manage an IRL fantasy racing team. All of the major sports are covered thoroughly as well as most of the minor sports, but some will require you to find a specialty site, especially if you are looking for something in the college variety. Obviously, the sport you choose will dictate when you can find a league since all sports follow some form of season. And as far as styles go, well, those are just as varied as the sports available to choose from, so I will cover the football specific things later in the post.
Where you decide to join a fantasy league also depends on what sport you choose. As I mentioned above, most sports are well covered, but some require finding a specialty site, and in some cases you may have to create your own as I have in the past. I use Yahoo for almost all things fantasy sports related, but I have used many others such as FleaFlicker, ESPN, CBSSportline, and countless others over the years. Yahoo's leagues have gotten so much better over the years that I just stopped using other sites unless I was invited to someone's league on a different site. They have a free league and a pay league. Typically you get many more options when you pay for their Plus leagues, however, I have noticed that each year they implement more and more of the Plus league options to their free leagues, so it's really not necessary to pay unless you want to dish out cash prizes or have something very specific that you want to cover in your league. I think last year they finally let the keeper league option go to the free stuff, but can't remember. ESPN, and I believe NFL.com (though I think NFL.com merged with CBSSportsline so...), let's you do a keeper league for free, but CBSSportsline might make you pay for that option.
Why a person should choose to play fantasy sports really comes down to personal choice more than anything else. Maybe you want to be more knowledgeable about the players and teams in your favorite sport. Maybe you want to get a little office rivalry going so you have something to brag about while hanging around the water cooler. Maybe you just want something fun to do while sitting at work home, haha. Either way, for me, I say why not?
Granted this is very generic, but I’m hoping that it helps some who have never experienced the candy that is fantasy sports to take the plunge. Fantasy sports caters to many different types of people that I feel everyone should try it. From casual sports fans to hardcore staticians, fantasy sports provides something for everyone. Stay tuned for part two where I will delve more deeply into fantasy football and how to get started. Thanks for reading!