The Fraud of Fantasy Football


Professional sports teams cost an inordinate, amount of money. Billionaires competing against each other for a chance to win a trophy, a hunk of “worthless” meta. But, winning brings prestige increased franchise value and almost most importantly you show that you’re better at this than everyone else. Even billionaires want to do this. In truth a lot of billionaires live in relative anonymity, but, not the ones who own sports teams, those are the ones who want to puff their chest out, who don’t mind swaggin’ out in front of 80,000 fans and a national tv audience. Think of the person that wants to do this. Ownership in its most rudimentary sense translate into authority over others, authority to build. Fans love doing that, owners and those of us who sit in the nosebleed or who can’t even afford to attend the game. And then some baseball nerds did something magical, then it spread to football and basketball and a billion dollar industry was created. And here we are, but the real truth of it, is that we still don’t know anything.

Somehow fantasy football has dragged all of us into ownership. Fake owners managing fake teams, between this and Madden sports has really become the resting place for arrested development. There are people, “experts” who swear they know what they’re doing. Who to draft, who to avoid. They don’t they’re lying to you and themselves. At this point the market is so saturated with expert opinion on if Peyton Manning is a better pick than Aaron Rodgers that you’re just as likely to make the right decision by flipping a coin.

If you’re reading this you’ve heard that refrain before and to an extent it’s ridiculously true. I’ve made the playoffs every year in fantasy football and for the last 3 years. I haven’t studied or research anything earlier than a few hours before the draft. I drafted based on ESPN and Yahoo’s ranking, picked up players based on past week performance. With that lack of effort I’ve managed to win as many championships as Bill Belichick with 3% of the effort. That’s the genius of fantasy football, eternal hope, and you being the general manager of your own group of all stars who get to fit your principled beliefs on what a team should be. Well that or you want to win at any cost and you turn into AL Davis and draft the Ray Rice and Josh Gordons of the world because knuckleheads help you win.

I’ll say it again no one has any idea, every expert including, Matt Berry, Bill Simmons and Stugotz will lose a league they’re in it’s the only universal truth in any of this. Try to get the best player at each position and pray to Christ you get lucky on the waiver wire. You’re the only star on your team your decisions are the only ones that matter, it’s great and it’s awful.

Did you see what I did earlier up there though, I couldn’t resist telling you about my team. How I did in fantasy. That’s all anyone who plays fantasy football wants to really do. Talk about their team. In fact if you hear two people talking about fantasy football they aren’t listening to each other they’re just waiting for the other person to shut the fuck up so they can talk their shit again. We love telling stories about the bad beat, the one point loss or the penalty that cost us a win during a meaningless Monday night game. Up late on a Sunday or Monday night (a work night) just to see the final result. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, so guilty I wrote it, in fact I promise you you’ll read about me losing or winning or just complaining about fantasy football in general this year even thought in all practically I should tear myself away from it I can’t.

This is all by design to take attention away from any one team and make you a fan of the league. Not of the 7-9 Dolphins or 3-13 Jaguars or any other go nowhere team, you’re a fan of the league now. A true NFL consumer. You start to care about what Miles Austin is doing, you genuinely care what the third wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns is doing. What the hell is wrong with you?

Why do I give a shit about Miles Austin though. He’s not on the Dolphins. Some people skydive, walk tight ropes, or drive motorcycles to live on the edge. But you haven’t lived until you’re down one with only the backup Vikings running back left in your lineup (I don’t even know who that is) but, YOU HAVE A SHOT! You’ll find yourself reacting to games between cellar dwellers like it’s the Superbowl complete with fistbumps high fives and awkward dancing. Fantasy Football warps routing for “your” team (The Sorry Dolphins) when someone from “your fantasy team” plays the actual team you root for, I really hope Tom Brady throws for 500 yards and 4 tds versus Miami, but loses.It’s so antithetical to how you watch sports it takes a rewriting of your brain to fully appreciate the cognitive dissonance it takes to do this without becoming an emotional wreck.

It warps your view so much that people who get stats even in losses are viewed as more important. In fact far more valuable than players with mediocre numbers on winning teams. Actual GM’s fall into this trap all the time unless it’s glaringly obvious for instance you wouldn’t want Matthew Stafford over Russell Wilson or Kaepernick right? It’s transformed us all into stat nerds, chasing numbers that months from now will mean nothing when a team will actually have to win the Super Bowl.

Someday the bubble will burst, when we either disassociate the ability to put up amazing numbers, with quality of play. Who am I kidding though? We all like to be told how clever and smart we are, we hate fantasy football, but can we stop, we won’t stop, it’s a lie. I’m not sure, I just know I have a draft in two weeks and I can’t wait to not research anything at all.