Fantasy Football – A Love Affair – Steve Raynes

Fantasy Football – A Love Affair – Steve Raynes
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

It’s Friday afternoon 3.40pm and I’ve just finished a day’s work. Not actual work that pays the bill, but work I’ve enjoyed immensely none the same. I’ve spent my entire day off working through the list of my Top 250 offensive player rankings for the 2019 season. I’ve put all their production data from 2018 in a spreadsheet and have even been as bold as to try project what sort of season they will have in 2019. It’s been fun but then I’ve always had a strange idea of what fun is.

You see, I’m a fantasy football obsessive. I love it. It’s my main hobby and has brought far more joy than an imaginary game should ever have the right to do. Let me explain; my journey into fantasy football began when I was at University back in the early 2000’s. I had been an NFL fan though my childhood but hadn’t really settled on a team. Finally in 1998 that changed. An American kid arrived at school. He was a New England Patriot fan and so as we spent more time talking about the game I gravitated more and more towards them. I could be accused of jumping on the Patriots bus just at the time it became cool to do so, but I can tell you that the 1999 season wasn’t exactly a classic, and I won’t even begin to say what the 2000 season was like! Thankfully, it’s not been too bad since…..

A Love That Was Local

As part of my degree I got to head over to the States and whilst over there I got bullied into taking part in a fantasy football league with some of the guys I had made friends with. This was before the days of fancy websites and mobile apps, and every week on Tuesday morning, Aaron (the commissioner of the league) would get all the stats from the games and make a note of who had done what and then email us out how our teams had done. It was a lot of fun, but only being in the States for 6 months meant that on return I didn’t really have any way to keep playing.

It wasn’t until the early 2010s that I was able to start getting a proper fix of fantasy football. I was living in London and had someone managed to develop friendships with some other huge NFL fans. Unlike my previous manual ventures the NFL themselves now had their own platform to play the game, so you didn’t have to keep tabs of all your stats yourself. Even now, I’m still in a league with some of those guys, it’s a game that keeps friendships alive when life might pull you in other directions. We do a redraft league every year and each year the loser of the league has to take a punishment. Thankfully I’ve never had to, but some of them have included, getting a tattoo of (Fantasy Football Loser) on their leg, multiple fancy dress stitch ups on nights out and in our tamer earlier days, one guy had to wash all our cars for a year.

Dynasty Expansion

It, however, didn’t stop there. Now, at the age of 37 I’ve probably never played as much fantasy football. Not only do I have some regular redraft leagues, but a few years ago I expanded into dynasty fantasy football – that’s when the year round obsession really kicked in. From only really concerning myself with the NFL from September to February, dynasty has really made me spend all year locked in to the NFL. I am now hooked on the NFL Draft and Free Agency, and even find myself trawling through Twitter for updates from the offseason Mini Camps during June. 

It’s not only meant I enjoy the sport for longer every year but also has hugely helped me deepen my knowledge of the sport I’ve followed closely for over 20 years.

At the same time as playing in more fantasy football the growth of social media has been a huge factor in my enjoyment. I found myself engaging with more and more NFL fans on sites like Facebook and Twitter and eventually I got chatting to a chap called Jack, who asked for some feedback on a new fantasy football podcast he started. I listened to it, provided some (hopefully constructive) feedback, and before you know it I was being asked to do some guest spots on the podcast. That then led into being asked to co-host the podcast and so from never having met Jack, I was chatting to him, and our third co-host Jamie, twice a week! 

A Sense Of Community

And to me this is what makes fantasy football so special. It’s a social game. There is a fantastic community around fantasy football and as such instead of you having to do all the work you can go onto sites like Twitter or here on Ninety-Nine Yards and find loads of information to help you play the game. You will also find online, countless people to discuss fantasy football with and maybe join leagues with. Yes, it’s a stats based game, and you can be nerdy like me and spend your day off making lists of players and inputting their receptions or yards per carry into spread sheets.  But you’ll soon find your knowledge of the game increases as you start to move away from just the players on your team, or the big stars of the NFL in to learning who the WR5 on the New Orleans Saints is or who the next big undrafted free agent running back is who is about to break out (im looking at you Chris Warren!). Fantasy football has hugely enhanced my knowledge of American Football and in doing so my love of the sport as a whole. 

So over the next few months, or as long as Liz will have me, I’ll be providing you with some insight into fantasy football. If there were some terms above you didn’t understand then don’t worry, ill cover that off in the future. Also if you’re a more experienced player then I’ll be diving into some player profiles and looking at some strategies you could employ to help you win your leagues….either way this was just an introduction but it’s now almost 4.30pm, and I really want to finish my QB rankings before the wife gets home……

Image – Action Network

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