It acts as a prism which makes the NFL many times more enjoyable to watch and nerd out on. Players can never stop getting better at it, and the master study of the craft involves perfect fall Sundays and leisure time spent in its purest form.
For a brief moment, the person who owns a fantasy football team and is off work on Sunday is god-like and in charge of everything. There’s no other feeling like it.
The thrill of victory is intense enough to keep players from considering why rooting for touchdowns scored in huge stadiums all over America by strangers mean so much to them.
Part of the allure of the game is that the people who care about it a lot don’t get to call shots very often. Anyone who enters a league has equal ability to draft and manage their teams as they see fit. There are no external factors.
In most of real life, there’s someone who is appointed to a position enabling them to exert their will over you. In this game, whoever picks the football players who cumulatively have the best season ends up winning — and that’s all there is to it. In addition to other people having to cede that you’re smart when it comes to football, the chance to wind up with everyone’s league fee money in your pocket also helps make the game a unique treasure.
Somehow, a game that doesn’t require being in the same room or having pants on to play offers competition in its purest form. As young children, many humans have tried to play sports. The problem they run into somewhere along the line is the realization that they are not good at any sports.
Once this happens, competing in them becomes less enjoyable for obvious reasons.
At some point we had to transition from exalting in our feats in the world of sports, and instead focus on others.
Focusing on self is way more important than focusing on others, and fantasy sports have an alluring sexy name because that’s exactly what they are.
They give us an opportunity to somehow root for ourselves even though it’s become clear we can’t do anything athletically that other people think is worth noticing, let alone cheering for. The only way we can tie into that is to draft players, come up with a team name and start talking shit on the message board like it’s our job.
Notre Dame is unlikable, and Rudy probably never even happened. The world loves underdog stories because they are fairy tales about people who are not good at things and involve things that probably will never happen in real life.
In fantasy football, there are no underdogs. Everyone has a chance to win. Fantasy football is a game played with one’s mind, which enables anyone to beat anyone if they are the smarter of the two team owners.
I came into the game in 2005, participating in my first draft in some sort of a break room above a liquor store in Covington. It was there where I drafted Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, who I eventually nicknamed “Fuck Me Freddie” for his penchant to get injured and not put up a lot of points when he was in the lineup. I learned then, from Freddie, that past numbers aren’t the way to go about evaluating draft talent.
It’s hard to say what else I’ve learned since that day, but I do know that if you walk around a bar on Mainstrasse in 2005 with a sticker from the draft kit that reads “Rabih Abdullah RB,” people are going to say weird things to you.
Other than that piece of wisdom, fantasy football is kind of a crapshoot which hinges on who gets hurt and who scoops up precious gems off the waiver wire. There aren’t really any other ways to determine who will do what on game day with great certainty.
Fantasy football is a lot like life in that there are a lot of people who think they are experts and know what is best for you. In the end, no one is an expert because anything can happen.
Glossy draft kits and rankings lists aren’t going to be there for you when some idiot takes a defense in the sixth round or a kicker in the 10th of your draft.
The only thing a levelheaded player can do is remember that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the world to win lots of money and respect by playing fantasy football — you just have to be smarter than the idiots in your league.
CONTACT ISAAC THORN: firstname.lastname@example.org