fantasy story

Fantasy football has quickly become a burgeoning billion dollar industry. With over 25 million participants last year alone, sports sites everywhere are getting in on the action. Despite the plethora of places to indulge your fantasy sports habit, there aren’t many variations from site to site. The interface may look a little different, but they are all innately similar.

I play on ESPN.com, NFL.com, and Yahoo.com.  You can set up your leagues any way you want – scoring, roster sizes, you name it. The sky is seemingly the limit. But across the board there is one thing you cannot change and it may be the biggest fault in fantasy football.  It is time to start the campaign to change that.

While there are some people who play fantasy football for fun or for “bragging rights”, the majority of people play fantasy sports for money.  The thrill of victory is nice and all, but the check you get after winning is a whole lot nicer.

You know who’s also in it for the money?  The NFL.  Since Roger Goodell took over as the commissioner, the owners have been searching for every new revenue stream they can find.  Whether it’s playing games outside of the United States or playing games on Thursdays, they are testing the limits to bring in more cash.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we are only a few years away from the NFL playing every Thursday through Monday.

The NFL is a business and they’ve got to address their revenue needs.  This isn’t the problem. The issue is fantasy sports sites who are slow to instate changes that the NFL’s ever-changing ways have made necessary. While you can change any setting you want, there is one universal setting on all sites that cannot be changed.  Lineups lock when the game kicks off.  It’s a good rule, in theory, but in practice there is one major problem with it – injury status.

It doesn’t add a layer of strategy if you have to decide on a Thursday night whether to start a player or not.  When your best player is questionable for Sunday and his backup plays Thursday night, what choice do you make?  That’s not “part of the game”. That’s just horribly unfair.

For instance, AJ Green is one of the best receivers in football.  He’s been battling a toe injury and may not play Sunday.  If your only backup is Eddie Royal, you have to make that choice on Thursday.  AJ Green has 60 hours to get better, but you have to gamble then.  How is that fair?  If the point of fantasy sports is to let the folks us at home play armchair GM, we aren’t being given a fair shake. The choice a fantasy GM makes is who is going to perform better given the matchups, weather conditions and a million other factors that can determine a player’s day.  No real GM would ever run 10 men out on the field because their starter has turf toe, so why should we have to?

Any website can and should have an if/than added to their league page.  IF AJ Green is active, I want him in my lineup.  IF AJ Green is inactive, I want to insert Eddie Royal.  You make that entry into your league’s site on Thursday before the game kicks off.  That way you’re covered in case your player cannot go.  Your opponent knows it and is prepared should that player count.  It’s fair for everyone.

This will become more apparent this coming Sunday, when the NFL’s next London moneygrab takes place.  The Lions and Falcons are kicking off in London at 9:30 AM EST.  Again, using the AJ Green scenario, you will not know at 9 AM if he’s active or not.  That information is not available until 11:30 AM.  If your backup is Roddy White, you have to make a choice.  And God help you if your backup is Corey Fuller.

Fantasy football is supposed to be a fun way to participate in the NFL’s action.  The archaic system of penalizing you for having a player playing on Sunday or Monday night needs to be rectified.  It’s an easy enough fix.  Here’s to making it happen.