Two catches for 17 yards: that is the unimpressive stat line Larry Fitzgerald recorded in week seven. Fitzgerald, who has been a reliable fantasy option at wide receiver for years, disappointed fantasy owners across America as his Arizona Cardinals fell to the Seattle Seahawks.
In a world without fantasy football, your typical NFL fan would have little to no interest in that Thursday night contest, which was predicted to be a sure win for the Seahawks. However, millions of anxious fantasy owners tuned in to cheer on their players, hoping to start their fantasy week off strongly.
An NFL fan would only be interested in his team’s games, as well as maybe one or two other games per week, 20 years ago. Now, he is interested in nearly all of them since his players or opponent’s players may be active in any given game.
Fantasy football is a competition among NFL fans in which each participant drafts players from different teams around the league to create their own ideal team. Each week, a participant faces another participant in their fantasy league.
The participant, whose drafted players perform the best in real life, wins the match-up each week. The top fantasy teams advance to a playoff system and someone is crowned champion in the end.
ESPN and Yahoo are popular websites for hosting fantasy leagues. They provide projections, real-time updates, stats, and other valuable information to assist the participants in making managerial decisions. They also offer modes of drafting and built-in playoff formats.
Fantasy football is usually just played for bragging rights, but occasionally real stakes are on the line like money or embarrassing dares. The competition is played among groups of friends, coworkers, family members, or just random NFL fans matched up online.
The purpose of fantasy football is to challenge the participant to know the league well enough to select players that will make his team successful. This changes the focus of the NFL from caring about how the NFL teams compete to being concerned with how individual players perform.
One of the benefits of this shift is that people are more interested in irrelevant games. For example, a Saints fan might tune in to a Raiders game if he owns Darren McFadden on his fantasy team. Increased viewers translates to more money for the NFL, more knowledgeable fans, and greater interest in the sport overall.
Another advantage to fantasy participants is the fact that the excitement of the NFL remains regardless of how well their favorite team is doing. For example, a Jacksonville Jaguars fan will still closely follow the NFL even though his team has no playoff hopes for this season or any season in the near future for that matter.
Fantasy football also causes NFL followers to become fans of certain players. So, a person on the East Coast could be a Philip Rivers fan despite having no ties to him outside of fantasy football. This means that those fantasy owners may remain fans of Rivers, and they may want to see him perform well even after he no longer is owned by them.
However, there is a down side to fantasy football. Fans could become less loyal to their teams as they could own a player who is facing their favorite team.
Also, once the fantasy season ends, usually in week 15 or 16, fantasy owners are less inclined to care about the end of the season otherwise, which is the most exciting part of the season.
Larry Fitzgerald, despite being a disappointment to millions of fantasy owners across the country, actually helped the NFL by generating viewers that otherwise would be uninterested.
– Bailey Arnett, Contributing Writer