Fantasy football gets bigger every year

Fantasy football gets bigger every year
August 24
20:29 2022

Summer is coming to an end and the daily high temperatures are dropping, which means only one thing: It’s time for some football. As we wrap up the preseason, millions of Americans are finalizing their rankings for the upcoming fantasy football leagues, which is becoming one of the most popular games in the country.

As of August 2021, there were 40 million people around the country playing fantasy football. It seems that everywhere you look, you will see people playing fantasy football. And for many fans, they are involved in multiple leagues at the same time.  

A while back I wrote a column about the popularity of fantasy football and how it has brought in a different demographic of fans. At that time, I really didn’t realize just how many people were actually interested in fantasy football. It prompted me to dig a little deeper into the history of fantasy football and who is playing it nowadays.

Fantasy football was actually created back in 1962 by Bill Winkenback, who was part owner of the Oakland Raiders, Scotty Stirling and George Ross. Apparently Winkenback got together with Stirling and Ross in a New York City hotel and created the first fantasy football league way back then. It was called the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL) and had eight teams.

At that time there were two football leagues, the NFL and the AFL (American Football League), which was a rival professional football league that merged with the NFL in 1970. The men “drafted” players from both leagues and accrued points based on their performance. Essentially that is the same format that we follow to this day.

In 1969, one of the members of the GOPPPL, Andy Mousalimas, told some people at a sports bar about the league and several other local leagues sprung up solely from that conversation. Twenty years later, there were over a million people around the country playing fantasy football. Thankfully, with the creation of the internet, things changed drastically because everyone could access the statistics quickly, which led us to where we are today.

Over the last 20 years the game has continued to grow in popularity and ease. You can find a fantasy football league just about anywhere. Many die-hard NFL fans play fantasy football every year; however, what I have noticed is that there are more and more casual fans playing fantasy football.

Not only are friends and family members playing fantasy football, but it’s also being played by people in workplaces, fan groups and even strangers. The NFL has done a great job of publicizing fantasy football in recent years. There are websites and even television shows that focus only on fantasy football.

The greatest thing that fantasy football has done for the NFL is it has made every game important. People who are involved in fantasy football not only have to pay attention to their team, they also have to watch what’s going on with the other games involving players in their fantasy league.

All of that translates into more viewership of the games and more money for the NFL, which is a genius move. Fantasy football causes people to take note of the NFL nearly year-round, because people are always looking for a leg up in preparation for the next league year.

Free agency, the NFL draft, and trades between teams are all things that people pay more attention to now, because where a player goes really determines their fantasy football value. In essence, there really isn’t any down time to fantasy football.

Things like the RedZone channel basically caters to fantasy football fans. Those who don’t want to watch an entire game can just watch the RedZone channel, which focuses on scoring plays, to get real time updates on nearly every player in the league. Once again, this is another money-making move by the NFL and it was mostly based upon fantasy football, which shows how impactful it has become.

Sports betting has also been impacted greatly by fantasy football. Sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings have become extremely popular. On those sites, instead of having a season-long fantasy team, you can place a bet and set a team just for the upcoming week. You can also make situational bets, like what team scores first or who will catch the first pass in a game. All are enticing to the sports fan and the average better.

In the years to come, I see fantasy football continuing to increase in popularity with the average fan, which will in turn make him/her an intense fan over time. This is one of the ways that the NFL will continue to be the No. 1 sport in America.

I, myself have become quite addicted to fantasy football. I am an avid sports fan and former athlete, so this allows me to stay closer to the game. I already follow player movement and pay close attention to NFL rumors, but playing fantasy football makes me feel almost like a general manager of a franchise.

There is a lot of strategy involved in playing. You have to make sure you pay attention to the rules of the game, especially pertaining to the league rules and roster position. For instance, some leagues have two quarterback or three wide receiver positions in the starting lineup, which will alter how you draft and set your bench.

Also, the fact that many leagues involve a cash payout makes it more entertaining because the possibility of winning a couple hundred bucks is very attractive. But that also means you will have to maintain your teams closely by setting your starting lineup based on that player’s opponent the next week, staying up to date on injury status,  knowing the weather for the game and even knowing what players are on your opponent’s team and who they are playing that week as well. 

Plain and simple, it’s just a fun way to dive deeper into the NFL and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially the novice fan who wants to gain more knowledge about the sport.

About Author

Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors