Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fantasy Football is Not a Game Played in Middle Earth

In August my brother-in-law got his dad to be in a Fantasy Football league with him. Then Dad decided he didn't have the time and asked me if I'd like to take his place in their league. I like football every now and then, but I've never been one to follow it closely. I played in a Fantasy Football league once before in college. I don't remember much about it. Regardless, I took the opportunity to do something new and hopefully fun. I figured it would at least make watching the games more interesting, and the CBS Sports web site for the league looked like it would make it all pretty simple for a newbie such as myself.

So the season started, we held our draft, I put a team together, and it's been a lot of fun.  For the uninitiated, here's a brief summary of how fantasy football works.  Everyone in the league picks players for their team from all of the players in the NFL. Each week you pit a team of miscellaneous players against another person's team and see who does better.  How well you do is dependent on how well all of our chosen players do in their actual games each week.  The idea is to get a team of elite players that will always perform well, giving you the best chance to win each week.  So premier quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers are highly valued, where as second string players are often left on the bench.

If you don't get it, don't worry about it.  It's hard to really understand unless you get involved with it, but the basic idea is that your score is based on the real life statistics of the people you have in your team. If you play people that score touchdowns and run a lot of yards, you'll be doing well.

Why am I talking about fantasy football though? Two reasons.  The first is that I'm surprised how quickly I've gotten into it. I check reports on the players, and read articles on CBS Sports about who to play, who to not play, who is a sleeper pick that people may not know about.  If you want to do well, you have to keep up on this stuff or else you'll end up playing people who may be injured or out of a game for some other reason giving you a big fat goose egg for your score that week. And because I've got some vested interest in how well these football players do, I've been watching more football on the weekends. Especially the games where I have someone on my team playing.

The second reason is that growing up I wasn't really into sports that much. I did play little league baseball, though not very well. I was a gamer through and through, and I didn't even let the two mix by playing sports video games. Well, I did have a baseball game, but there was a fantasy element to it in that you could super jump and stuff.  Anyway, not only was I a gamer, not a jock, but I played role playing games, or RPGs.  Fantasy RPGs like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Lufia, Secret of Mana, Zelda, etc. And you know what most of those games had in them? A roster of people you had to select to create a team.  The team with the better stats would generally do better in the game.  If you look to pen and paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons you can start to see an even greater correlation to fantasy football.  I never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I understand all of the concepts involved from the games I did play.

The point I'm getting at is that even though I've never been much of a sports person, fantasy football may not be as big of a jump in hobbies as I might have suspected.  Every week I'm looking at a roster of players and choosing those with the more desirable statistics. I'm analyzing their match ups against other teams like I might analyze which character class would be better against a certain boss. And just like in all RPGs, whether it's a computer or a dice roll, there's a large factor of what is known as the RNG, or Random Number Generator.  In a video game you might have a really strong character, but the RNG comes up low and all you get are misses instead of hits.  In fantasy football you might think your stud quarterback can't possibly let you down, but then he breaks his knee in the first quarter of the first game of the season, and suddenly you're scrounging for a replacement.  

In fact, I would say it's worse in football.  Capable players often have bad games, or they get double covered because of their value which makes them less likely to make plays.  You pretty much just have to go with the averages and your best guesses and hope for the best.  This makes it interesting, and frustrating.  Probably more of the latter.  Especially when someone who you have available to you, but you didn't play in particular week, decides to have a really great game. (I'm looking at you, Dwayne Bowe.) Overall though, it's been a great experience.  It gives me a lot to talk about with my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law. She's also in the league and actually was the winner from last year.  When I hear people talk about football statistics and players, I don't feel so out of the loop now because, well, I'm actually in the loop.  And because of the RPG connection, I don't necessarily feel like I have to give up any of my nerd or geek cred because I'm in a fantasy football league.

So how am I doing with my team? Glad you asked.  It started off rough, but I'm currently up seven wins to three losses.  Not bad for being relatively new to this whole fantasy football thing.  But then again, I may not be as inexperienced at this as I first thought.

1 comment:

Lal said...

Love the chart! Hah!