America is crazy about fantasy games. Case in point – there is a Bachelorette Fantasy League. And for you ladies, this is probably the easiest way to explain how Fantasy works. Think of the recently-ended season, the one staring the beautiful but oh-so-vapid Des. If you were playing in a fantasy league, you’d have, say, 14 teams, each of whom drafted a different bachelor to win Des’ heart. But it doesn’t stop there. Each week, your team, with a clever name like “Harrison is my Homeboy”, goes head to head against another, such as “Sean’s Abs” or “Guiney’s Pigs”. You get points not only based on whether your man remains another week, but can earn for everything from number of kisses, to how many times they say they are “here for the right reasons”. Each week you can trade for new bachelors if yours goes home or change your betting based on what you think young Des will do.
So, you sort of get it now. Take this premise and apply it to spots. It’s incredibly fun, competitive and a great way to tune in each week with your friends and the men in your life.
35 million people in the United States and Canada play some sort of fantasy sports game, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Yes, there is one of these. That shows you how astoundingly popular this game is. Roughly 12 percent of Americans participate in fantasy sports – football, baseball, basketball, even tennis and golf. Can you say YAWN to those last two? But for football, fantasy is a way to not only get more engaged with the game, but to get excited about each week and in the process win fame and prizes.
Or, you can get truly insane about it. In his new book Fantasy Life, Matthew Berry, ESPN Fantasy Analyst (yes, there is one of those!) writes about all kinds of crazy fantasy fanatics…from the best man who sneaks out of the wedding, during the ceremony no less, to make his draft picks, to the ultimate hard core league that makes each year’s loser get a tattoo. And not just any tattoo. Think Care Bears, Justin Bieber. You get the idea. And who know, next year at this time, this could be you!
But how to get started?
First, find a league. Best to check in with people from work, friends or people you know to see if they are doing a fantasy league. If not, you can check out meetup.com for local leagues, find leagues through football commentators on Facebook or Twitter, or join via Yahoo, ESPN or NFL.com, which are among the best sites. If you don’t know anyone playing, simply set up a profile on these sites, they will throw you right into a league, and voila!
The basics are as follows for most leagues – Each fantasy league has a commissioner who oversees the rules and format. Most fantasy leagues have 8-14 teams. Each team has 15 players – 9 starters and 6 back ups. You compete each week against another team. The top teams will go head to head in the playoffs, and the top team in the standings at the end of the season wins.
The draft is most important way to kick off the fantasy season. You can draft online or in person. There are tons of “cheat sheets” online to help rank draft players. If you have a team or a player you can’t stand, you can drop him to the bottom of your draft list, and vice versa for the ones you love.
Some general guidelines – draft a “safe” player in your first round. Studs like Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson are at the top of the draft board for a reason, so grab em if you got em. Check the latest injury list before you draft. Build your team around your running backs. And if you don’t know the difference between Drew Brees and Drew Lachey, definitely sign on for an auto draft and the computer will make your picks based on the best available players at the time.
Best of all, if you do your draft in person, it’s a great excuse for a party. Think football-inspired cocktails, Buffalo wings and lots of trash talk.
Muy Importante – The Fantasy Team Name
This, to me, is the most fun part of playing fantasy. People are incredibly creative with fantasy football names. This is your chance to be crazy. For example, one of the top draft picks this year, going to the Cleveland Browns, is a young man named Barkevious Mingo. GO with the fantasy names! Mingo Ate My Baby? Mingo Is My Name-o? Barkevious Worse Than Biteevious?
You get the idea. Feel free to plagiarize – not too many original names out there – but here are some starting ideas: The Fail Marys, My Fair Brady, Hernandez’ Hitmen, etc. Or just keep it simple and call yourself Blonde Ambition or Crazy Cougar.
How much time do I have to devote to this, really?
Once you join, the computer will keep the stats for your team each week. But you have to spend some time keeping up with your lineup. Update your roster every week based on injuries, and be sure to sit players that are on their bye week. And most leagues allow players to be claimed once they dropped from another fantasy team. See your particular league’s rules on how you can do this. You will soon get into rhythm of checking in with your team online weekly, and it will make watching each game fun, as you can root for “your” players all season long.
It’s not too late – leagues are drafting in the
next two weeks so hop on it sister! In fact, a Labor Day BBQ/Draft Party
may be in your future. Let me know if you play, how you do, and of
course your super creative team name. And visit my blog at www.hailmaryblog.com for weekly updates on fantasy and NFL, written just for the girls!