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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 28

Locals compete with dream teams in fantasy football leagues

By KRISTINA SEWELL

Fantasy football takes football fandom to a whole new level and is part of a growing American sports phenomenon. Over the last few weeks, fantasy football fans have been scouring statistics and player articles, preparing for one of the bigger milestones of the football season: the draft.

The fantasy football draft is when players in leagues everywhere spend hours deliberating and carefully selecting players over internet channels, mobile apps, and complex conference calls. They spread out in living rooms, conference rooms, or public banquet spaces with pizza boxes and liquid refreshments strewn about, carrying the hustle and bustle of an ESPN newsroom mixed with the relics of a college pizza party. Friends and competitors talk trash and make projections for the season, wading in piles of research and lists of player rankings.

This is fantasy football, the continuously expanding American sports sensation, and plenty of locals are already involved.


IS THIS JUST FANTASY?
Locals like Marcus Guzman draft professional football players to be a part of their fantasy football teams, often with the help of websites or mobile phone apps.
IMAGE COURTESY OF MARCUS GUZMAN

Fantasy football player Doug Noce began playing 10 years ago when the online gaming craze was still relatively unknown.

"It seemed like something that could be fun," Noce said. "It's competitive and is another way to get your competitive juices flowing."

Some of the recent appeal of fantasy football lies in the convenience of technology and the inherently short football season. At the heart of it lies a vested interest in teams and players, fueled by a fun and competitive environment.

Student and fantasy football player of three years, David Martinez, said that he originally thought fantasy football was a waste of time.

"Now I enjoy how it adds more to the stakes of watching football," Martinez said. "Rather than just watching your own team, people are now watching almost every game to track how all of their players are doing."

Although football fans have their favorite hometown teams, fantasy football exposes players to teams and athletes outside of their geographic area. Players may develop new respect or appreciation for other teams or individual players, whose rising stats can help their fantasy team. Fantasy footballers compete in a pool of friends or competitors to see who has the best team by the end of the season.

According to Forbes, Yahoo! started offering free fantasy football leagues in 1999. Current research from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) shows that Americans now spend an average of $800 million a year on fantasy sports products. A majority of private leagues now require a buy-in fee of anywhere from $20 to $100 for the season. And though players can win money, fantasy football is not considered online gambling.

Local high school coach Marcus Guzman is a rookie in the world of fantasy football. He joined his first league just this year.

"I never used to understand how people could spend so much time looking over players' stats," Guzman said. "I got involved with it because it was only going to cost me $10 to play with a chance to win $100, which is a decent return on my money if I win."

Guzman thinks that the popularity of fantasy football comes from the gambling element as well as the fun of putting together a personal "dream team," the likes of which the NFL would never see.

"The more money that is required to buy in, the higher the stakes become, and thus more competitive," he said.

There are two types of fantasy football: daily and weekly. The addition of the weekly type has helped increase popularity. According to Forbes, daily fantasy football does have some advantages over the weekly format, but it's much more time consuming. With the weekly format and readily available sports information, fantasy football has become more convenient for even sports novices to play.

The fantasy football experience also depends on what kind of league you sign up for; the variation of league structures is substantial.

"Leagues are set up differently based on the commissioner and how they set up the league," Noce said. "For instance, players can earn more points for certain categories and some have bonus points for different things like long touchdown runs, catches, or passes."

Some leagues can charge you to add or drop players, and some leagues have much larger buy-in fees. According to Martinez, some leagues can be very competitive because of the amount of money involved, while some are more relaxed and competition is all in good fun with a chance to win some money.

In the weekly format, players set their teams each week, rotating players in and out based on statistics and projections, provided mostly by the mobile programs.

"The program usually tells you which player is supposed to perform well and which is supposed to produce the most 'points,'" Martinez said. "The strategy part of the process comes from looking at who the team plays that week and deciding which players to play."

Noce said that in fantasy football, players play a season's worth of games just like the NFL; players can have divisions or head-to-head leagues. There are two types of "wins" that occur over the course of the season: the week-to-week wins and the season win.

Each week, Noce said, players set their team to start a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and a defense/special team. Part of the success comes from selecting a range of players for each position during the draft.

Noce added that players get points when their teams score touchdowns or throw touchdown yards as well as rushing and receiving yards. While the week-to-week wins provide opportunities for trash talk, bragging rights, and maybe some extra cash, the ultimate goal of fantasy football players is to win their league, Guzman explained.

"Whoever has the most points after all the games for that week wins the matchup and you compile a win-loss record," Guzman said. "This goes toward your eligibility and seeding for playoffs."

While there is some strategy to picking players and setting teams, Noce said it's much easier than it used to be, and there are plenty of resources for experienced players and novices alike.

"Anyone with a computer or phone could do it," Noce said. "Fantasy is a big business so there are a number of sites and magazines dedicated to it."

There are countless podcasts, shows, blogs, websites, and apps geared solely to fantasy football that, with a little research, allow players to experience success in their respective leagues.

While Martinez, Noce, and Guzman said they would still watch football even if fantasy football wasn't around, the sensation has added a new element of excitement and stakes to the football season.

 

Sports contributor Kristina Sewell can be reached through Managing Editor Joe Payne at jpayne@santamariasun.com.




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