Every Sunday, NFL teams across the country line up to play, but what’s more important for many fans is trying to determine which players are going to gain the most fantasy points for their team.
The 2009 NFL season kicked off Thursday as the reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Tennessee Titans 13-10 in overtime.
But for many football fans, those weren’t the points that mattered. For the millions of fantasy football participants, the real points were found in Santonio Holmes’ 131 receiving yards and touchdown, and the Titans’ defense getting sacks, fumbles and interceptions.
For the uninitiated, fantasy football is played by associating “fantasy points” to players based off stats such as yards gained and touchdowns, while points are deducted for fumbles and interceptions. Players are selected through a draft and before each game, the fantasy team’s owner decides which players to play and which ones to bench.
Deciding who will start is an agonizing trial for many.
“I’ll switch my roster at least five times a day during the week,” said Michael Llama, a freshman open-option major. “Then, on Sunday, before the games start, I’ll always go back and change it again. It’s impossible to stay with one set of players, because you never know who is going to get a ton of points and who might not get any.”
The popularity of fantasy football has risen in recent years with analysts and online “draft kits” to help people who don’t know as much about the NFL.
But, how has the rise of this online experience affected the way people watch the game?
“I think it’s a positive thing,” said John Fuksa, a sophomore political science major. “I know a lot more about the players since I have to know who I should and shouldn’t draft. Before I started playing fantasy football, I didn’t have that much knowledge about the players other than the huge stars. Now I know most of the starters around the league.”
While knowing more about the players sounds like a good thing, many owners no longer cheer for teams. Instead, they cheer for players.
They want to see the running back they drafted first put up big numbers regardless of whom he’s playing for or against. The era of the die-hard fan seems to be giving way to the era of the crafty fantasy owner.
“I watch a game where two rival teams are playing, and be cheering for both sides to score because it gives me more fantasy points,” Fuksa said. “It doesn’t really matter to me who they play for or anything as long as they help me get the win.”
However, there are still fans whose real-life allegiances translate into what they do in fantasy football.
“I will never draft an (Oakland) Raider,” said Thomas Snow, a sophomore aerospace engineering sciences major and a longtime Broncos fan. “Ever.”
Fantasy football attracts fans far and wide, from those who have undying team loyalty to those who just want to win, no matter the cost. Its wild popularity has both positive and negative effects on the NFL and fandom in general.
But for many owners, at the end of the week, there’s only one question: Who am I going to start on Sunday?
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Chris King at Chris.email@example.com.
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