Fantasy football allows fans to create teams consisting of players from different NFL teams and positions; team owners then gain points based on their players’ real performance. Points are determined by yardage, touchdowns, sacks, etc. The typical team consists of seven positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, flex, a defense team, and kicker. The person managing the league decides how many draft picks everyone gets and in what order. After each person has chosen and filled a roster, each participant’s team in the league will face each other, and the winner of that week is determined by the amount of points scored by their team.
Sometimes betting accompanies fantasy football, with one of the most popular websites, DraftKings, hosting weekly and sometimes daily competitions with betting and cash prizes. However, for many, fan-tasy football is not about the money, but rather for the enjoyment of following the sport more closely. Cooper Bucklan ’21 said, “It is for fun and mostly for bragging rights.” People even find that playing fantasy enhances their watching experience. Max Gordon ‘22 said, “I get to watch a ton of teams, while keeping track of some of my favorite players.” However, this view is not shared by everyone. Head Football Coach Tim Phipps dislikes fantasy: “I never really got into it, I felt it took the fun out of watching it, always having to keep track of your team.” While fantasy football is an interactive way to follow teams and favorite players, for some it is more of a job than a hobby. A fantasy football team owner has to study and watch each game. If you just want to watch and relax, then fantasy football is not for you.
There are two main systems of scoring in fantasy football, PPR (Points per Reception) and standard. In standard scoring, a sack, touchdown, interception, and yardage gained by either passing or rushing correlates to a set amount of points chosen by whomever is in charge of the league. The main difference between standard and PPR is that in PPR every reception a player makes gains a set amount of points. This means that in standard, players tend to earn fewer points than they do in PPR. Ezekiel Elliot for example, one of the best running backs in the NFL, only averaged 16 points per game in standard last year. In PPR, Elliot averaged 21 points. According to Dominic Roberts ’22, “PPR is bet- ter because it means higher-scoring fantasy games, so, if you’re down, it’s easier to come back”. Some prefer standard because it is more “balanced.” Brandon Smith ’20, a captain of the Hopkins football team this year, said, “Standard is much better than PPR, because each position has similar value, and PPR gives receivers credit even if they lose yards.” Unlike PPR, each position roughly earns the same amount of points. This means running backs and wide receivers are not the most important anymore. Websites like ESPN and Yahoo have already made the switch to PPR, making it their default scoring system, as they also see the benefit of using PPR.
Those who have never played fantasy football might wonder why someone like Tom Brady, six-time Superbowl champion, isn’t the first pick. It is because quarterbacks almost all earn similar amounts of points. Also, leagues will often have only one position for a quarterback on a team, therefore the demand is inher- ently small. This causes many first picks to be running backs and wide receivers. Saquon Barkley, a running back for the New York Giants, was the average number- one pick across ESPN, NFL Fantasy, and Yahoo Sports with a projection of nearly 30 points per game. Barkley was the highest pick because of his ability to score and gain yards like no one else. Charlie Fischer ’23 chose Le’Veon Bell, running back for the New York Jets: “I did some research, and saw that he had super high projected points.” Fantasy websites have a sheet of all the players, ranked, and with their projected points for each week.
As long as there is NFL football, people will gather with friends, family, or co-workers to battle each other with their fantasy teams. Juan Lopez ’22 said, “All of my friends and family watch and play every weekend, and although it’s competitive, we always have fun.”