I didn’t always spend my Sundays watching football, but now, almost my entire Sunday is devoted to it. (Ever watch RedZone on the NFL Network? It’s awesome! Read about it in a previous post here.)
Football only became a huge part of my life when I got involved in fantasy football.
A few years ago, my husband created a league so the family could play fantasy together. I abstained the first year, as I wasn’t too big into football. The family would chat about fantasy whenever we got together and I kind of felt like I was missing out. We started watching football more and I became a casual participant.
Fast forward a year and I decided to partake in the draft and join the family’s fantasy football league. Each week, my appreciation for football grew and I started to see why so many people love the game. I started rooting for my players, watching their games, and getting slightly obsessed with football. As the season drew to a close, I finished second in our league, and only months before, I hardly understood football at all.
I joined again the following year, squeaking out a win for first place due to my brother-in-law’s solid roster completely falling apart in some weird hand of fate. It was a victorious feeling, knowing that I, the girl who hardly knew anything about football, could pull off a first place win.
In December of 2015, our family’s fourth year of playing, it was another nail-biter to the end as I was in the finals again with the same brother-in-law. This time, he got his revenge and took home our trophy and the monetary winnings.
Throughout the years, I’ve realized that playing fantasy football seemed to bring our family together. We interact a little more and share stories about how our players crapped out one week or helped us pull off stunning upsets.
This year, I decided to stop playing fantasy. Why? Well, for some reason, my anxiety and competitiveness got the best of me. There was some feisty competition on some days and on others I would just be so disappointed in my results. So I bailed out of the league this year but agreed to help my daughter with her weekly lineup.
So, after enjoying week one of football this September without any stress or competitive anxiety, my husband tells me he put $25 into an account for me to play on DraftKings.com. For those that don’t know, DraftKings is an online fantasy sports contest provider. You can bet on tons of sporting events and can bet as little or as much as you want. For the NFL contests I play, you get an allowance of $50,000 to spend and each player has a cost. So it’s not like you can build a team with the best player in each position. You have a budget that you can not go over.
I didn’t want to play. I told him that I didn’t want to stress out about researching players and defenses and seeing who I should draft. I wanted to simply enjoy watching football again. He encouraged me to try it, nudging me here and there. Eventually, I created my lineup at DraftKings.
So for the first week playing at DraftKings, I entered 2 contests – one was free and another was $3. I bet only on Sunday games, which was nice since I didn’t have to play from Thursday to Monday (as with regular fantasy football). Turns out, I won $12! Each contest paid out $6 and since it was $3 to enter, I profited $9. Not bad for my first week.
My second week I entered the same $3 contest and another free one. I made a total of $8, profiting $5. Not a lot, but at least my efforts were paying off.
I will likely continue to play, as long as I keep winning. I’m not a gambler and I don’t like betting money on anything (let alone my football picks) so I will continue to play conservatively if I play at all.
As I created my lineup for this week, I thought I would put together a few of my tips on fantasy football for those that are just starting out and want the win. Try to remember that playing fantasy is kind of a crap shoot. Even the most knowledgable analysts can draft the wrong players and lose. With that in mind, here are a few of my tips to you:
- You need to watch football!
- You need to read up on players, teams, and get at least a general sense of a player’s/team’s worth.
- Be aware that football programming is on Thursday night, Sunday, and Monday night. If you play fantasy through NFL.com, your waivers to pick up new players (and drop poor performing ones) go through first on Wednesday. After Monday night’s game, be sure to request your add/drop of players before the Wednesday waiver goes through.
- You need to check your lineup each week, as players get injured all the time. Unless you watch the games, you won’t know about your players’ injuries until you check your roster. Players can be out for weeks to months when injured.
- You need to be aware of and draft breakout stars, as some of them don’t get recognized until mid-season.
- When setting your lineup for the week, be sure to not only look at the player, but see who they are playing as well. Your star running back may not perform so well when playing against a top-rated defensive team.
- Realize that the players are human and play differently from week to week. Don’t expect star players to put out big numbers each week.
- When drafting, remember you can always autodraft your players. This allows the computer to pick the next best available player for you. Our family had a team who autodrafted their players and eventually took home the trophy – so it can happen!
- Be aware of Bye Weeks. This goes along with checking your lineup, but realize that teams have a week off sometime during the season; this is called a Bye Week. Be sure to swap out players from your bench to your empty roster spots during Bye Weeks.
- Remember to have fun and not worry too much about the competitiveness that can ensue. Playing fantasy football is part skill and part chance. Just try to enjoy the sport and camaraderie it can bring between the players in your league.
So, for those thinking about creating a family league, I strongly recommend it. As long as you aren’t super competitive, it should be an enjoyable experience that you can share together as a group. And if you put some money into it, you never know, it could be you that brings home the big prize!