Fantasy football: A different brand of football

DePaul doesn’t have a football team for you to cheer for on Saturdays.

The Bears draw the city together, but some of your friends root for other teams.

Luckily, there is still a way to mutually enjoy the same football game with your fellow DePaul students, and you don’t have to lift a single weight or run a single sprint. It’s fantasy football, and it eases you when there’s isn’t enough pigskin to satiate your desires.

Fantasy football is one of the reasons why the NFL has become the most popular sport in the United States. It’s also a multibillion dollar industry that grabs the attention of millions of men and women each week who battle their friends for ultimate supremacy.

The rules are simple: at the beginning of the NFL season (or at any point in the season, for that matter), groups of people ranging from around six to 16 participants gather to hold a draft. In this draft, the participants pick from a pool of all NFL players in a certain drafting order. In a typical eight-team league, this would mean that the person with the first pick in the first round would have the last pick in the second round.

This goes on for several rounds, usually about 18, until every participant has a certain number of players on his or her team. Rules vary but most leagues require you to have one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, an extra receiver or running back, a tight end, a kicker, and a defense/special teams unit.

Each week, you watch NFL football to see how your players perform. Participants score points in fantasy football based on how many yards their players gain, and how many touchdowns their players score. In traditional formats, a passing touchdown is worth four points and a rushing touchdown is worth six points.

Fantasy football is the ultimate way to play faux football with your friends and have bragging rights. While there’s almost no way to be great at fantasy football, there certainly is a way to be good. A lot of luck goes into every matchup, but if you look very closely and pay attention, there are ways you can take advantage of your opponent.

That’s what’s so frustrating about the game. I know football back to front, but I can’t even come close to predicting who will play well one week and who will play poorly the next. It’s a constant struggle and people who go with their gut tend to play better than the millions of fans who over-analyze their lineups and crunch numbers unnecessarily.

In the four major U.S. sports, none has the parity and competitiveness of the NFL. There are only a few sure things, like Drew Brees throwing a touchdown per game with the Saints, and nothing is given. Winning your fantasy football league is more about surviving than guessing right.

So, winning is hard. Being competitive is more about luck than anything else. The season can be endlessly frustrating. Why play if it seems like a chore?

You play fantasy football because it’s a social phenomenon. It gives you and your friends something to talk about and argue about on weekly basis. It makes it so that if the Bears lose, you still have a chance to be a winner. It allows even casual fans to get in on the action, and is something that appeals to men and women alike.

If you started Peyton Manning at quarterback in Week 1, you came away a very happy fantasy football player. If you started the Baltimore Ravens defense, you came away bruised and battered. You likely lost, and had to endure the taunting of your friends for the rest of the week.

But maybe you won in Week 2. Maybe you were able to brag for six glorious days until the next slate of games.

That’s the beauty of fantasy football. Even though there’s no DePaul football team, you can still come away week after week with a different kind of win.

Cheering on your school’s sports teams are fun, but there’s something special about dominating your best friend’s team and letting him hear about it. It’s a moment you can both cherish. It’s the best part of fantasy football.