Re-pubbing this 2012 piece in honor of the start to Fantasy Football season. I am proud to say that I am now a minimally engaged player of this pretend game that has me actually stressed. Post to come on my experiences during the season. For now, a bit of history:
I’m insanely jealous of fantasy football.
Every single year groups of mostly male friends come together around the competition that is fake football on the Internet. Well, I guess it’s more like fake real football? Or maybe it’s more logical to think of it as real fake football? Whatever it is, there’s a freaking TV show about it, on real TV, which makes it cooler than it’s every been.
R – as one example – is engaged in what seems like 15 games, which I believe are termed “leagues.” He has his high school friends, his college friends, his LA friends, his work friends, and then these things called “Suicide Pools” that seem really intense and stressful, but everyone seems to love the most. I believe he is the “commissioner” of one of his leagues, which seems important even though I don’t have a clue what it entails.
From what I gather, Fantasy Football is the most fun thing in the entire world…for people with a familiarity of every single important player in the entire NFL. R and his friends have these hysterical daily e-mail chains where they talk about their pretend games and make jokes about each other. They create mass texts when the games are actually being played to communicate around the progress of their fake teams and make jokes about each other. I believe there are drafting parties where they order pizza, drink beer, draft their “picks, ” and makes jokes about each other! It all seems SO TOTALLY AWESOME, and I only understand about 47% of it!!! (sorry, had to) [note from 2016: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA – remember when THAT was the biggest drama with the Presidential election???]
Here – for your entertainment – is that 47% which I believe I understand:
- Fantasy Football happens on the Internet on sites like ESPN.com. It is illegal to exchange money on the Internet (and maybe in person?), but people almost always bet on the games for as much money as they think they can get away with spending before their wives/girlfriends find/freak out.
- Each person in a “league” makes a fake team out of real players. They name this team something that either refers to an inside joke, pokes fun at another man in the league, or, ideally, both. Having an awesome team name is as important if not more important than having an awesome team.
- There is a draft where you pick the real players who will be on your fake team. This happens in a weird order that’s either called a serpent draft or an eel draft. I can’t remember, but I know it has something to do with it going back and forth, so if there are 10 team captains then the 10th person gets both the 10th and 11th picks. If this is remotely correct, I’m going to go buy myself a new dress as a special treat for excellent listening.
- You don’t want to first draft pick (for some reason), but if you get it, you go Brady every time (even though you and everyone else hates him).
- You only pick offensive players to make up your team, but you also pick the entire defense of one team as your defense. I just learned this on Sunday, so I’m still unclear about how or why this is the case. Somehow this defense of the team whose entire defense you are using as your pretend defense earns points that count for or against your fake team, but I don’t know anything about that either.
- Each week you decide who of the real players on your fake team you want to “field” in the fake games that your online league is playing. In this way you are like a pretend coach for a pretend team with real players. These “games” that your fake players are playing aren’t like real games but rather like games of points. This part makes more sense in my head than it does right now in this blog post, but I lack the proper football words to explain it better. Sorry.
- Each player on your fake team earns points towards the fake games you’re playing in your online league based on their successes in the game they’re playing in real life. So, if the running back who you decided to play this week in your fake games makes a touchdown in the actual game he’s playing in actual life, you earn X amount of points. I believe this applies to every single player you’ve fielded in your pretend game, but not the players you benched for the week. This explains why men scream, “I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE %&$!-ING BENCHED HIM THIS WEEK?!” at the TV.
- I do not know how many points a player receives for various good things they do, nor if players lose points for bad things. If I were in charge of this I would keep things simple and give 10 points for a touch down, 5 points for a really impressive catch, and -5 points for what I believe is termed a “flag on the play.”
- The computer system your group of friends (aka your “league”) uses to play these pretend games calculates ALL the points based on what’s really happening on the field for all of the players in play on all of the teams EVERY SINGLE WEEK. This is the greatest miracle of all. I do not know how it works in the slightest. In my mind a very fat man (or group of them) are locked in a room every weekend (and also Monday nights) where they’re fed pizza and told to log every move of every player into some mega system. I imagine this to be a highly coveted job among men.
- There are points during the season where you’re allowed to trade players with your fellow league mates. This can get very heated resulting in more e-mail chains, mass text messaging and making fun of one another – aka extreme male fun.
- Someone wins in the end receiving money and one year of glory.
Things I still do not understand about Fantasy Football:
- Who in the world has the time for all of this.
- How EVERYONE seems to know EVERYTHING about EVERY player on EVERY team. I have not once heard a man say, “hey homes, you thinkin’ Golden Tate or Dexter McCluster?” and the other man respond, “I’m sorry. Remind me who Dexter McCluster is and what team he plays for? I can’t keep track what with these hundreds of players and dozens of teams.” How is this possible? I can’t even remember all the heads of all the major fashion houses in the world, and I read Vogue every month. (note: I asked R for the names of two players saying, “hey, can you give me the names of two obscure players with really weird names.” He sent me six).
- Who made this up in the first place? And what’s he up to now? Because if it isn’t resolving the crisis in the Middle East while simultaneously building a better Facebook and fixing the NBC programming line-up, he’s not being put to proper use. This man is among the greatest minds of our time. [ note from now: all these same problems still apply]
I want a fantasy game that I can play with all my groups of best girlfriends every single year, except I can’t for the life of me figure out what real game we would fake play… There is literally nothing that my people (I can’t say “women” because many women successfully play Fantasy Football), are as committed to as those die-hard fantasy players (aka every man I know). How can I be the next inventor of the next great fantasy franchise?
Or is my time is just better spent studying every single football player currently playing in the NFL? And, if so, who is willing to loan me the NFL player flash cards I know you people study before bed every night…