Fantasy football fans obsessed with ‘the win’

Philly Brainin coasted through the first round of the fantasy football playoffs, and is now in the championship game, competing for the title of League Champ. “It gives me the chance to compete with friends, and hopefully win some money,” said Brainin. “I like my chances of taking the chip.”

Long-time league member and defending champion Eli Slovin also found himself in the championship again. Slovin described his team as “pretty good, not as good as last year due to Kareem Hunt, but I’m still finding myself in the championship game.”

Each participant in the league contributes $5 at the end of the season to give to the winner, so they make a profit of $55. The two top dogs will meet in week sixteen of the NFL for “all the marbles.”

Fantasy football is played around the world by millions. Since 2009, the number of people playing has more than doubled, from 28.4 million to 59.3 million, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

People have become obsessed with the ability to compete with friends, family, and even random people on the Internet by managing real football players on their very own fantasy teams. To keep things interesting, many leagues involve betting money, and the increasingly popular, and dreaded, last place punishments.

Polls show 71 percent of fantasy sports players are men and 29 percent are women, with an average age of 32, according to Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Betting is also one of the main traits that attracts people to fantasy as 70 percent of fantasy players are in leagues that require payment to enter.

But how does it work?

You begin a league by having a draft. Each person drafts a team that they think will do well for the entire year. Every week, starting with Thursday Night Football, and ending with Monday Night Football, you play one of the teams in your league.

You try to set a lineup of players who you think will get you the most points for that week. To earn points, a player can get yards, score touchdowns, kick field goals, along with many other positive plays, but each player can also lose points by losing yards, missing field goals, fumbling the ball, etc. After each Monday, you are either awarded a win, loss or occasionally a tie.

After some amount of time set by your league manager, the ‘regular season’ ends, and the playoffs begin. Teams are seeded by their respective records and tiebreakers. Whoever wins every postseason matchup wins the league. For some leagues, everyone awaits next season when they will draft new teams, but in others, it is time to decide which players you want to build your dynasty around.

This particular league named WIN, has been around for two years when “two leagues came together and we made a great dynasty league,” according to commissioner JB Mills.

The first draft was before last season, and after some downsizing from 20 players to 12, each team kept twenty players of their choice, and drafted five more the following year. Teams generally try to make trades to get younger players with lots of potential for the coming years, or older guys that they believe can ‘get it done’ this season. Managers in this league tend to appreciate the ability to watch their players develop for years, and try to acquire elite talent via trades, the waiver wire, or the draft.

The competition is intense in this league. There is hardly any room for error if you wish to make the playoffs, and collusion is strictly prohibited.

Mills describes his favorite part about playing in this league to be “beating my idiot friends,” showing some of the camaraderie that happens week in and week out. Mills’ team unfortunately decided to, as he put it, “lay down and die the last two weeks of the season.”

Slovin agrees with Mills that “winning” is his favorite part of the league as well. This need to win and achieve bragging rights pushes each and every team to try to get better, and outscore their opponents every week.

Allegiances to certain players and teams pose a tough problem for many managers. Some managers attempt to look past their biases and acquire the best players they can, while others seek players they love. Although Tom Brady is not on Slovin’s team, his appreciation for him remains.

“I love him. He’s given me a lot of joy over the years,” said Slovin. On the other hand, Mills’ favorite non-Notre Dame player is Phillip Rivers, whom Mills targeted to get on his team. Presumably, it is more fun to watch guys you like than guys you don’t. For the majority of the season Brainin possessed a guy that he really liked, Melvin Gordon, but has recently parted ways with him for a player that he believes will take his team to the next level.

People continue to play in this league because they enjoy winning, camaraderie, betting, and following football. All that is left this season is the chance for Brainin and Slovin to duke it out for the championship. Stay tuned.