Fantasy Football has become as much of a staple on Sundays in the fall as the games themselves. (Side-note: Everyone has a team. Nobody cares about your team.) People have always been infatuated with the idea of playing King, and fans have long been clamoring for teams to allow them to be in charge of personnel. Fantasy Football offers the avenue for both. It allows you to be in a position to make all the decisions, and forces you to suffer through all of the consequences of such decisions. A bad draft will result in a LONG season. As for the on-field performance of your favorite football team? A win for them is nice, but it becomes icing on the cake. Allegiances be damned.
How many of you out there, right now, could not confidently name the opponent your favorite team plays this week, but could easily rattle off whether or not your recovering RB2 participated in practice this week? At what point did our priorities get so far out of whack? I think the answer is simple: people like to feel empowered. As a fan, you do not have a bit of control over how your favorite team is run. As a fantasy owner, you can pull off a blockbuster trade in week 1 if your heart desires. That control controls a sense of investment. It creates a sense of pride that can be difficult to find at times in franchises run by billionaires. It can be particularly hard to find when these billionaires like to pretend to be general managers (see, everyone likes to feel important), as has been the case with my Dallas Cowboys since Jerry Jones bought the team. So the solution is to create your own team, assemble and roster, and live and die by the results.
Fantasy Football has created a way, outside of the confines of sports betting, to keep almost every game interesting. That is the allure of betting, in essence. It is a way to create excitement in an otherwise meaningless football game. Now, most fantasy football leagues do offer an historical payoff, but I would argue that the possibility of winning money is only one of the stimulating factors. Competition among friends … The opportunity to boast about a superior sports-intellect and uncanny foresight … These are the things that drive a true fantasy football user. And, if you are lucky enough (that's right, LUCKY enough) to avoid injuries and the fantasy gods decide that you would make an acceptable champion, the money is a nice bonus.
What happens, though, when your fantasy football allegories are in direct conflict with your loyalties as a fan of an NFL team? Surely you would not be so manipulated by a competition that you would forget where your heart is. You can try to convince yourself that you can root for both a win for your favorite team, and a great fantasy performance for your players. Ultimately, though, you will come to the realization that fantasy football has simply ruined the NFL for you. And you can accept that, as long as you are winning.