Fantasy Football 101: Six Reasons to Play Fantasy Football

With the NFL lockout looking like it will be lifted in time for all of the NFL’s games to actually be played as scheduled in 2011, it is now time to start thinking about the most important aspect of any season.

That’s right geeks, get those cheat sheets ready, it’s time for fantasy football.

I use the term “geek” tongue-in-cheek because I have been involved with fantasy football for nearly ten years, and am the founding editor of a website dedicated to the game. I’m as geeky as they come. It should be noted that my so-called expertise nets me a perennial fourth place finish in my primary Yahoo! league every season. That’s my caveat, so read on at your own risk.

For those of you that have not yet been christened into the world of fantasy football, here are six reasons why you should think about getting started. This is the first in a series of articles that will cover the entire spectrum of fantasy football. In my next piece, I will cover the how with respect to getting started.

Simply put, here are six reasons that you should play fantasy football this year.

1. Casual fans have more reason to watch, and die-hard fans have even more to follow

The NFL is now America’s national pastime. If you don’t believe me, just check the ratings of all four major sports. There is no better way for any NFL fan to become more involved and vested in a matchup than to be actively participating in a fantasy game. Even a game between two bad teams can become exciting if there are serious points at stake. Casual fans will have reason to watch more games while passionate or longtime fans will find themselves genuinely interested in more games. Everybody wins.

2. Gain in-depth knowledge about NFL players

You’ve probably never heard of Ladell Betts, but there are thousands of fantasy managers who know exactly who this man is; I mean was. No, he isn’t dead, but he is in the proverbial fantasy football graveyard, where once-promising NFL players go to disappear from relevance. Playing the fantasy game gives managers insight into players beyond anything imaginable. One of the reasons I’ve heard people cite a disassociation from the NFL is due to the difficulty in getting to know players. If you take managing a team even a little bit seriously, you will learn more than you ever have about NFL players.

3. Trash talk

Maybe it’s the competitor in me, but I can’t think of anything more fun than beating someone at a game and making sure other people hear all about it. In fantasy sports, picking up a victory means bragging rights until the next matchup. Win the league, and a year’s worth of self-promoting texts and phone calls are in order. Most online leagues have a message forum, and given that people participate and are relatively active, the competition almost always creates perfect fodder for some good old fashioned ribbing among friends.

4. Wheel and deal like a real GM

My favorite aspect of fantasy football is making moves, whether by trade, free-agent pickups, or the draft, acquiring players is the name of the game. Knowing when to play them is what will separate winners from losers. There is no greater enjoyment than making the right decision on personnel and having it pay huge dividends in the form of a matchup won or even a league title. Pretending we are real managers of teams is what puts the “fantasy” in fantasy football and is the real essence of the game. Much like movies or games, it is this suspension of disbelief that makes it truly exciting.

5. “The Draft” — The two greatest words in fantasy football

Much like NASCAR’s Daytona 500, the very best part of fantasy football happens at the beginning of the season when managers choose their initial rosters. Although my roster has never even resembled what I had on draft day, it is always fun to marvel at the genius that allowed me to assemble such a perfect squad that will assuredly win a much coveted title. It will be the most enjoyable if you actually attend a draft with the entire league in person, but if that is not possible, most host sites have chat rooms where plenty of competitive banter still exists among managers.

6. It is much less time-consuming than baseball or basketball

With games only once a week, and usually on only one day, football is the perfect sport to participate in from a fantasy standpoint. I’m not getting on a soapbox and saying that fantasy baseball or basketball can’t be enjoyable, but they require much more commitment than football in terms of managing rosters, transactions, and lineups. Usually, only die-hard fans of either sport enjoy participating. Football is a sport made for the fantasy game, and you won’t have to quit your job to keep up. This makes it ideal for anyone who wants to have fun competing and following America’s most popular sport.

Hopefully, the points above have piqued your interest enough to give fantasy football a try. Stay tuned for information on how to get started as well as some of the nuts and bolts involved in actually moving through a season. As mentioned above, the draft can make or break a season, so it is important to invest a fair amount of time and resources in ensuring preparedness there.

Michael Jones is the founding editor of a fantasy football website and has actively participated in the game for over 10 years. Follow Michael on Twitter to have your related questions answered.