Sigh. I’m a football casual. There, I said it.
I can list off the last five or so Super Bowl champions and league MVPs, but when it comes to understanding the game’s Xs and Os, I’m just not that guy. I can’t even be relied on to name first-string quarterbacks on several mediocre teams and second options in most receiving corps. I couldn’t even tell you which teams have elite defenses. This lack of knowledge is reflected in my subpar fantasy football performances year in and year out.
The feeble nature of my grasp on gridiron goings-on wouldn’t be such a problem if I didn’t surround myself with more adept friends. But that’s not the case: As a sports writer, I hang out with people who know everything about America’s most popular game.
Season after season, I’m coerced into joining multiple fantasy football leagues. Season after season, my pride persuades me to shun expert knowledge and the auto-draft feature in favor of picking names I recognize or individuals who have put up big numbers in the past — regardless of their current situations. And season after season, I taint the image of The Daily Californian sports department by missing the playoffs in most of my leagues.
Sometimes I even stop adjusting my lineup if one of my early-round picks goes down with an injury (it’s OK, Saquon Barkley, I still love you). Rather than try to salvage my season with waiver pickups and prudent trades, I throw my hands up and ignore that league indefinitely.
Every season is a lesson in humility: I learn that the distance between me and a fan who only tunes in for the Super Bowl isn’t as significant as I care to make known.
For us casuals, fantasy football leagues serve as conduits for our hard-earned cash to flow into a pal’s pockets when we inevitably lose after placing bets at the beginning of the season.
So why should you, perhaps a fellow casual, join a league anyway?
In my opinion, fantasy sports are a perfect tool for heightening a fan’s appreciation for whatever sport the fantasy league is concerned with. You’ll find yourself invested in teams you never previously watched or cared about, you’ll celebrate late-round, previously unknown selections who end up carrying your team and you’ll have another means of connecting with friends.
And, if nothing else, you’ll find yourself with something to rant about on a weekly basis.
This leads me to my next point: Prepare to not take things too seriously because fantasy sports aren’t kind to casuals; your odds of winning a league of eight or more individuals are low, even if you know what you’re doing.
But if you can curb your pride (potentially after neglecting to during the draft) and recognize fantasy football as a medium for increasing your NFL appreciation, you may find yourself with a new favorite sport.
So when your friends come calling, begging you to join a fantasy football league next month, just humor them — you’ll be glad that you did.
Ethan Moutes is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].