September 19, 2005
Everything you ever wanted to know about sports on
At The Buzzer
It's a Fantastical Life
How Fantasy Football Changes the Viewing Habits of Fans
The two most dreaded words in the English language. Okay, maybe not that bad,
but the phenomenon grips the nation every year when the NFL's
gridiron warriors return to the field. I'm not here to rain fury upon fantasy
football and its followers. Quite the contrary, I come to you as one of them.
I've been playing fantasy football since midway through high school. I'm currently
in a Yahoo! league
at work for the fourth year running. Needless to say, I like it. A lot. But
why have it? Sundays are already a chaotic frenzy of highs and lows for any
football fan. The die-hards live and die with their favorite team's fortunes.
Make no mistake, it can get pretty intense. However, that intensity is nothing
compared to when you're a fantasy junkie. Ever heard the phrase, "Care to
make it interesting?" Fantasy sports offer an edge. They're like steroids
for fans looking to maximize their Sunday football madness. It's a side-bet
with friends with bragging rights on the line. And we know how fans love to
brag about their team's success.
|Fantasy sports offer an edge. They're like steroids
for fans looking to maximize their Sunday football madness. It's a side-bet
with friends with bragging rights on the line. And we know how fans love
to brag about their team's success.
Not only will a fantasy player find himself
caring about games they never thought relevant before, he will become more
knowledgeable about football than they ever thought possible. Statistical
information as well as offensive and defensive tendencies for every team in
the league becomes a necessity. For example, Kerry Collins is an average NFL
quarterback playing in Oakland. His team just acquired the league's best wide
receiver in Randy Moss during the off-season. Suddenly, Collins is projected
to have a monster fantasy season. He isn't any better of a quarterback and
Oakland may not win more games, but his individual numbers will rise. Depth
charts and injury reports are invaluable when filling out your starting roster
from week to week. Quick, who is the third-string running back for Pittsburgh?
If you said Willie Parker, a total unknown before this season, you'd be right.
And if you started Parker in week one, your fantasy team probably came away
with a victory. Some players participate in keeper leagues where you can hold
over one or two of most valuable players from year-to-year, just as if you
were running your very own NFL franchise. Once introduced to this world of
sports-geekery, the fantasy player makes a transition from football fan to
football fanatic. It becomes absolutely imperative every game and every analysis
leading up to every game be seen. And we're inundated with all sorts of media
to support our habit.
ESPN's Monday Night Countdown went out of
it's way to hold a
mock-fantasy draft at the end of the pre-season
personalities and some celebrities Ð noted Cincinnati
Lachey, among them. By the by, Suzy Kolber drafted
Brett Favre in the
second round because she is clueless.
SportsCenter features a
segment every week where NFL insider Sean Salisbury
offers tips on
which players' stock is on the rise and which is
falling; who to start
and who to bench. Keep in mind, this analysis has
nothing to do with
whether, say, Tampa Bay wins their game this weekend.
All that matters
is that their top wide receiver, Joey Galloway, is
being projected to
catch for 80 yards and a touchdown. NFL2Night,
NFL show, of course, lends fantasy geeks their
expertise. Ever watch a
game on Sunday during the last six or seven years
(right around the
time that fantasy football blew up from cult status to
mainstream)? You cannot avoid the running ticker at
detailing the stats of at least five to seven players,
only two maximum would have been mentioned. I'm
looking at you, CBS.
But be it CBS, FOX, or ESPN, the ticker always
provides a friendly
reminder that you can check your fantasy stats on any
stations' affiliated websites.
I will share with you my experience from opening
weekend. I'm a
Raiders fan. Typically, I'm rooting for them to
win every game
67-0, no matter what. In the Thursday season opener
against the New
England Patriots, I ran into a dilemma. One of my
fantasy team's wide
receivers, Deion Branch, plays for New England. It
also happened to be
the case that one of my starting receivers, Raider
Jerry Porter, was
listed as questionable on the injury report after
missing the entire
pre-season and would be a game-time decision.
"Game-time decision" is
the scariest phrase in Fantasy Football. This forces
my hand to bench
Porter in favor of Branch, my next best option. So
here I am, cheering
for the Raiders, while at the same time going Benedict
myself and hoping Deion Branch scores a touchdown.
Branch had a great
game, 99 yards and a touchdown, much to my
chagrin/delight. Do you
understand? He scored on my team and I was actually
conflicted on how
to react. Fantasy has powers.
Another case: By virtue of my draft, I happened to
be loaded up on
Green Bay Packers, specifically quarterback Brett
Favre, running back
Ahman Green, and kicker Ryan Longwell. I assure you,
this was purely
coincidental, though I will argue confidently that all
three were the
best possible pick I could have made in the 2nd, 8th,
and 15th rounds,
respectively. Point is I don't care about the Packers.
That team means
nothing to me. But now that the performance of their
so heavily on my fantasy team's production, I'm one of
fans. They're right up there behind the Raiders.
disappointment when they were held to three points by
Detroit in week
one. Someone just ripped my heart out and fed it to
me. It was
nauseating. Worse, Detroit receiver Roy Williams, who
I'm banking on
to have a break out year, only produced 13 yards on
the stat sheet.
That's one measly fantasy point. That Green
single-handedly killed my team this week. A game that
any other day,
I'd care little about, but on Sunday I had to know
what was going on.
And that's another thing, unless you spring for the DirectTV
NFL Sunday Ticket Package
(Perhaps the greatest
thing in the
existence of ever! Broadcasts of every single game,
are you kidding
me?!?!) or you're at a sports bar that carries it,
then you're stuck
with whichever game FOX or CBS decides to air in your
the Packers and Lions were playing, I was instead
subjected to San
Diego versus Dallas. Now, here's the thing: San
Diego/Dallas is a far
superior match up on just about every level, but it
had no fantasy
implication for my team. I want to be able to
how my boys
are doing out there. It's just too painful to be
sitting on a laptop,
crossing your fingers as you hit the refresh button on
Here's another killer: In most fantasy leagues, you
rather than tabulating total points amongst everyone.
This allows for
wins and losses. One of the toughest things to
reconcile is having
your wide receiver tied to your opponents quarterback
or vice versa.
The Philadelphia vs. Atlanta match-up on Monday
placed me in such a scenario. Any fantasy player will
tell you that
when you have something on the line, the Monday night
game is a real
stomach-churner. I have star wide receiver and
loudmouth Terrell Owens
in my lineup. My opponent has Owens' quarterback,
Donovan McNabb. The
only way Owens scores touchdowns is through McNabb. I
am in a bad way.
Fortunately, yardage points accrue faster for
receivers than they do
for quarterbacks. So I'm actually rooting for Owens to
yardage, but not actually catch any touchdowns.
People: THIS IS
INSANE! Incidentally, I didn't care if Philly won or
irrelevant. Actually, I happen to have the Eagles team
scratch that, it matters to me that they lost. But
|As I write this on Thursday, September 15th, I'm looking
ahead to the NFL slate for week 2. As long as Green Bay racks up a ton
of points, Philadelphia scores via passing rather than rushing, and Peyton
Manning completely implodes for Indianapolis, I should be fine
Oh man, and I can't get enough of it. As long as every football telecast (and
I mean every
) is giving me the scoop on top fantasy performers of the
day, I can feel normal; accepted by society. Know who else loves it? The NFL,
of course. Can you think of a better way to promote your athletes and draw fans
deeper into the game for less money than this? Great googly moogly, it's a cash
cow for the league that scores bigger ratings on television than any other sport
in the country by, an average of, like, 700. So long as the NFL commands such
attention on Sundays (there's no reason that should ever stop) and makes the
networks hundreds of millions of dollars a year, it would stand to reason that
they fully condone NFL programming to include fantasy reports. As I write this
on Thursday, September 15th, I'm looking ahead to the NFL slate for week 2.
As long as Green Bay racks up a ton of points, Philadelphia scores via passing
rather than rushing, and Peyton Manning completely implodes for Indianapolis,
I should be fine. Wish me luck.
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