As the preparations for the NFL and NCAA football seasons begin to move into full swing over the end of summer, football fans everywhere are gearing up to cheer for their favorite teams and players. But for those not already participating in fantasy football, taking up the pastime can be yet another way to get even more into football. And frankly, anything that means more thinking, talking and dreaming about football is, to put it succinctly, a good thing.
Fort those unfamiliar with fantasy football, the concept is very basic. A 'draft' is conducted either online or in a gathering of friends, family or co-workers, and each team 'owner' selects a full roster of players. While the details vary, a fairly standard starting roster will consist of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker, and a defense. Additional players are also selected, and are said to be on the 'bench', available to be switched out for a hurt or under-performing player at any time. Some leagues use two starting quarterbacks, three wide receivers or a 'flex' position that can be drawn from among wide receivers, running backs, and sometimes, tight ends. Regardless of the specific rules, however, the basic concepts are all the same.
After drafting a team, owners select a starting lineup each week, and are pitted against another owner in their league. A scoring system is in place to keep track of the point total of the fantasy team, and the owner with the higher score for the week wins. The standings reflect wins and losses during the season, until finally, the playoffs and fantasy 'Super Bowl' are played. Again, various leagues have vastly different specific rules regarding playoff scheduling, scoring, and other items, but generally speaking, the concepts are always the same. A typical scoring format includes awarding points to quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs for yards passing, receiving and rushing, as well as for passing, receiving, and rushing touchdowns. Kickers accumulate points by kicking field goals and extra points, while defenses will earn points for sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, and return touchdowns.
There are a variety of websites that facilitate fantasy leagues, including some popular options like Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS Sports, and various others. Some offer free leagues, while others include additional features for a fee. While it is necessary to choose a member of the league to act as '"commissioner'" to set up the league and take care of top-level decisions and scheduling for the draft, the sites available generally make this job fairly easy. The great fun of fantasy football comes from tracking players each week as they perform, and one can typically watch their fantasy team accumulate points in real time, as the real players score. Most sites also allow for 'trash talk', whereby, an owner can tease or taunt―good nature stuff of course―his or her opponent during the game or during the week between games.
For those who just can't get enough of football, but who are not already playing fantasy football, it is definitely a hobby to get into, and the fun can be spread to family, friends, and co-workers.