By Henry Schweber
Fantasy Football. It’s a term known by many, and one that’s endearing to many others. The whole process used to be so simple. One would gather up their friends, pick up a magazine or two the day before a fantasy draft and select their favorite players to be on their “team.” Friends would engage in convivial banter over who would dominate during the upcoming Sunday, and nobody gave it much thought–it was simply a fun way to connect with friends and have fun.
In this age of technology, however, Fantasy Football has grown to new heights. The number of Fantasy Football “experts” and people profiting off of this business now is quite remarkable. Just 10 years ago, if you were to tell someone that Fantasy Football would become a booming business that had a job and research opportunities as difficult and important to manage as Google, they would scoff at you. But today things are quite different.
The age of technology comes along with the age of analytics in sports. We are now able to figure out how a certain player performs against a certain team, how playing an away game will affect him, how his performance is impacted in a colder or warmer environment, or where on the field he is most effective. Every piece of information that can be obtained is used to try to predict the outcomes of games. A big question that keeps being brought up is, why?
The answer is simple. Money. Money drives intelligent sports minds to research analytics and devise formulas to gain any advantage. Sports betting has long been a prevalent part of our capitalist society and culture, as Vegas odds makers have long determined who has the best chances of winning the Super Bowl and predicted how many touchdowns Peyton Manning will throw for in a season. These guys now devote all of their time and energy into these analytics and advanced statistics in order to gain even the slightest edge over their competition.
With this competition for money came along a new industry that focused on the short-term gain. Now known as Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS, corporations such as FanDuel and DraftKings appeal to fans looking to make a quick buck off of an individual game without the commitment to a full season of fantasy speculation. But DFS also appeals to the devoted fan, with advertisements boasting 1 million dollar payouts to fans similar to them. Money is an excellent motivator and it helped fantasy leagues graduate from a group of buddies just looking to have fun and maybe win some bragging rights to a competition amongst millions for chance to win it big. One thing can be said for sure: Fantasy Football is at the peak of its powers, and it’s not going away any time soon.