Fantasy football is an online game in which a league of 10-12 members drafts NFL players onto teams. As NFL players collect rushing, passing, or receiving yards, touchdowns, sacks, etc., points are given for each statistic. The goal is to draft the best set of players in order to collect the most amount of points each week in head-to-head matchups with the other teams in your league. The fantasy footballer sits in front of the television, computer in the peripheral, monitoring the output of his players like he’s monitoring the temperatures of a nuclear reactor.
Fantasy football has changed the way we diehards spend our Sundays. Instead of watching his favorite team for three hours, catching up on the other scores with the news at 11, the fantasy footballer can be found watching three games in a row, flipping between channels to check players, or using the NFL Network Red Zone Channel, which shows all the scoring drives when they happen.
But fantasy football can also be an unforgiving and cruel mistress. It creates conundrums. None worse than when your favorite team’s quarterback is on the opposing fantasy team. For example, week one, my five-time world champion San Francisco 49ers were roughing up the Packers, and while I wanted to see Colin Kaepernick absolutely shred the Pack defense, my opponent in our fantasy league had him on the roster. All I could do was wish my 49ers got their running game a little more involved.
Another of these moments of ire comes with something I like to call “the match game.” This is when your fantasy quarterback throws a touchdown to a receiver on your opponent’s team. You each get six points, but you don’t get ahead any faster.
The phrase “it’s only week one,” or, “it’s only the first game,” always seemed so hollow to me. But nothing makes that phrase as annoying as when you lose that first week of fantasy football. Nothing makes it more enraging than losing by 0.20 points. That’s the equivalent of a two-yard catch by one of my receivers, one less fumble by my running back CJ Spiller or one more extra point by my kicker Josh Brown. But the fantasy football gods said “NO.”
As close as I came, perhaps nothing was more insanely unjust in the universe than when Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns on the season-opening Thursday night. That’s fine if you’re a Denver Broncos fan, but in fantasyland, it spelled doom for me. Of his seven touchdowns, not one found its way to his usual target Eric Decker, the one Broncos receiver I drafted through my infinite wisdom. As Mark Knopfler once sang, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”
So here’s to a long season of football Sundays. They’re sure to be accompanied by their fair share of mental anguish, on the TV and on the computer. But then again, it’s only week two.