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What is fantasy football?

Updated 6/11/2013 by Brad Perniciaro

Simply put, fantasy football is a glorified NFL scouting competition.  This competition can involve any number of fantasy owners (usually 12) who draft teams of NFL players which compete in head-to-head games throughout the fantasy football season.  A fantasy football season generally last 14-17 weeks and ends before the NFL playoffs begin. 

Throughout the season, owners accumulate points based on an agreed-upon fantasy football point system and winners are determined based on the production of the players on their rosters.  A roster is a subset of players from your team which you choose to start against another team’s roster on any given week.  At the end of the fantasy season, a fantasy league champion is usually crowned through a single-elimination tournament, much like the NFL playoffs.

People who have never played fantasy football before often assume the game is a way for fans to fantasize about being in an NFL uniform, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Fantasy football is about bragging rights and proving who in the league has the best football acumen.  Men love to talk football, and fantasy football is a way to show that you are more knowledgeable than the next guy. 

In practice, fantasy football is just as much about luck as it is football smarts.  During the course of an NFL season players are routinely sidelined due to unforeseen circumstances such as injury, suspension, etc.  This player volatility adds a high degree of uncertainty to even the best-drafted teams, but it doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable or the championship any less coveted.

In addition to the bragging rights that come with winning a championship, fantasy football is also a great way to build camaraderie among a group of people who share a common interest.  A typical fantasy league may include friends, office co-workers, or members of an online community.  Fantasy football provides a great way for league members to remain engaged socially throughout the NFL season and at the annual fantasy draft.

From a pure football fan’s perspective, fantasy football adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment to watching NFL games.  Most football fans have a favorite team that they watch and root for each week, but there are 30 other teams playing a game on most NFL weekends.  Before the advent of fantasy football, there wasn’t much incentive to watch other teams play because it rarely affected your favorite team.  But for any given week in fantasy football, there will probably be at least one player in each game whose performance affects your fantasy team.  This makes all NFL games much more enjoyable to watch.

The popularity of fantasy football has grown over the years and shows no signs of slowing down.  Anyone with a vested interest can easily join a league and compete against beginners and experts alike.  It’s an addictive game, and is a great way to both connect with people and enhance what is already an exciting NFL fan experience. 

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