By: Sammy Clough, Sports Editor
For many NFL fans, simply enjoying a Sunday slate of games is not enough anymore. Setting your lineup, following matchups and even rooting for your rival team have become much more commonplace in the homes of football fans. Who are we to thank for this revolution? Fantasy football.
Fantasy football has become one of the most popular pastimes among fans in recent years. In fact, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reported that in 2017 almost 60 million people played fantasy football in some capacity. After the constant barrage of ESPN’s fantasy coverage along with the urging of my friends, I decided it was finally time to find out what the hype was about.
I gave in, and this his year I reluctantly report that I too play fantasy football.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the most basic fantasy football involves a league in which each member chooses about 15 NFL players to be a part of their team. After each NFL game, the players receive points based on their performances and those points make up your fantasy team’s score.
This year I joined a league of 12 teams made up mostly of Furman graduates that my best friend asked me to join. I was wary of the concept at first but finally decided that I would not only join, but take it as seriously as possible.
After drafting my players, my team, the G’Ville Gunslingers, was headlined by rookie running back Saquon Barkely and quarterback Matt Ryan. As the season began, I gleefully set my lineups each week hoping for big production from my players.
To my absolute astonishment I won my first matchup by a landslide and squeaked out a win in my second matchup thanks to the last NFL game of the weekend. This down-to-the-wire victory convinced me that I will be playing fantasy football for many years to come.
It was a Monday night and the score in my matchup was 70-62. I was down eight points and desperately needed a victory to back up my trash talk leading up to this matchup. Thankfully, the Monday night football game featured my star fantasy player Saquon Barkley. In a NFL game I normally would not have watched between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, I was glued to the TV. All I needed was nine points from Barkley to secure the win and I pleaded the Giants to run the ball more. Finally, in the fourth quarter it happened: Saquon Barkley found a hole and ran for a big gain, clinching a 72-70 victory in my favor.
This was all the proof I needed to believe that fantasy football can actually help the NFL. It keeps people engaged and compels fans to watch games further than just their fandom. Viewership across the league promotes the game of football and even creates new fans who need incentive to watch.
This year I have watched more NFL games than I ever have and won more fantasy matchups than I ever imagined (a mere three matchups so far, to be exact). I have re-bought in to the NFL and the sole reason for that is fantasy football.