There is always a lot of sweat and sleep lost leading up to the start of the NFL season. Sure, the players are preparing for the opening kickoff weekend, but what about the die-hard Fantasy Football fans? These fans slave over their computers day after day and night after night trying to build the ultimate team that will give them bragging rights from season’s end to the next draft.
Fantasy Sports has become a huge element of the fan experience. Stadiums are now posting player updates from around the league on their screens so fans can still keep a pulse on “their” players. The recently opened Levi’s Stadium even has a Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football Lounge for an exclusive group of lucky fans. Even the emergence of the Red Zone Channel for the NFL has changed how NFL fans watch football – especially those that strictly care about only their fantasy teams and want to know immediately when their players score points for them.
Some fans have even been transformed since participating in Fantasy Sports. For example: non-fans are now engaged as high-level fans of that sport; fans that used to be loyal to one specific team may now embrace the opportunity to cheer for a rival player if he is owned on their respective fantasy team. There are also participants that draft/build their fantasy team mostly around their favorite team in that professional sport league. However, there exists a small number of Fantasy Sports participants that bench players competing against their favorite professional team to avoid any dilemmas regarding who to cheer for during that game.
Fantasy Football is also becoming a source of income from $100,000 to $2 million for serious participants. These individuals are building algorithms to predict how they should draft their team(s) based on what the draft order is, how the scoring is setup, and who is remaining on the draft board. The large criticism of these algorithms is the lack of human element that understands when a team/players needs to perform well, or has the opportunity to coast a little. The algorithms eliminate any existing bias between which players to choose, regardless of that one special highlight a player may have had the previous season.
Perhaps due to the large sums of money that individuals can win by participating in Fantasy Football, businesses are seeing a huge drop in workplace productivity. Snyder (2014) reported that almost $14 billion is lost in workplace productivity to 18.3 million employees during the Fantasy Football season. However, he encourages businesses to not inhibit its employees from participating. Businesses that organize their own leagues see benefits in morale and employee retention. This is not to cast a negative light on Fantasy Football, but rather shed light on the growing popular and impact it has had on football fans.
Fantasy Football has aided in the growth of those that follow football by over 10% over the last 10 years (Garda, 2013). It is not the main cause; but the ease of transforming non- or casual fans to football fanatics should not be overlooked.
If anyone knows a good algorithm that could help me reign supreme of my fantasy football league, please feel free to share!