August 26, 2021
Last night we held our Fantasy Draft for the upcoming Fantasy NFL season. I mentioned last year that my son manages our draft, and it always seems to be a chore for him to get the ten teams (people) necessary to form our league. This year was no different as we were still one team short going into the morning of the draft. I offered to add Melissa to the league, and then manage her team myself. He declined as this would increase my odds of winning from 10 to 1 to 5 to 1. Then I suggested we keep the team for the person who dropped and let it auto draft and play the season without changes. While this could have worked, he was able to find a player at the last minute and the draft went forward.
When I checked online, I found three types of Fantasy football leagues. Traditional leagues tend to run for the entire season and normally culminate in playoffs. Keeper or dynasty leagues are initially drafted in the same fashion, but each team can retain a certain number of players from one year to the next. A dynasty league is a variation where each team retains all players who have not retired, and subsequent drafts only involve rookie players who are joining the NFL for the first time. Daily fantasy leagues are accelerated versions of the format over shorter periods (a week or even day). These contests are run by fantasy companies and involve large groups of people playing as part of a betting pool. This has led some jurisdictions to regulate these games as a form of gambling. Go figure.
One of the problems with our league is that it is made up of a diverse group of family and friends whose only real contact is Alex. The league began as family members closely related to Alex. After the first year several members grew tired of tracking and updating their team and decided to stop playing. This is our sixth year, and the degradation has continued. Last year we almost missed (appropriate for 2020) but did finally start two games into the season with all teams selected by the computer auto draft. That meant the league shifted from family to family and friends and has now grown to family and friends of other family. I have found the further from the source (Alex), the less investment there is in the game.
Thoughts: When I went to my draft site there are all kinds of aids to help draft, including a mock draft and strategies to draft the right people. While some aids were free, others required a subscription. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, Fantasy football generates revenue of around $7 billion per year in the US and Canada. Traditional games are often played in small groups of familiar individuals who may or may not play for money. After I wrote about our draft problems last year, I received a comment from my cousin that she was in three leagues and all three were related to work or social groups. During the pandemic people were forced to find new ways to stay connected. Some of these virtual connections are being maintained while others are not. Like my fantasy draft, it depends on your wiliness to invest time and resources in the group. We need to invest in groups that open our horizons rather than close our doors. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.