Escape from reality

Fantasy football is a way to be more involved in NFL football and get away from the stress of everyday life.
Graphic by Tyler Absher

Junior Alex Adkins sits down on Monday night to watch the Dallas Cowboys play the New York Giants. Adkins watches closely as the Cowboys intercept a pass from Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning. He smiles as he continues to watch the Cowboy defense rack up points for his team — his fantasy football team.

Adkins is watching this game for two reasons. First, he is a huge football fan and a rivalry game on Monday Night Football between the Cowboys and Giants is not a game to be missed. The second reason is that he plays fantasy football, and his defense happens to be the Dallas Cowboy’s defense.

Along with Adkins, more than 27 million Americans currently participate in a fantasy football league, making it the most popular fantasy sport by far. On average, that 27 million spends nine hours a week on fantasy football related sites.

Participants in fantasy football, or “owners”, draft a team of professional athletes from the NFL. This team is comprised of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker, a defense, and 6 bench players. Then the “owner” joins a league made up of friends or strangers. Owners will then watch every Sunday as they go head to head with another person in the league. At the end of the NFL Sunday and Monday games, points are totaled for how well players performed. The owner with the most total points wins.

Adkins is in two fantasy football leagues. Leagues can be formed by groups of people who know each other or by complete strangers, like the leagues Adkins is in. Currently, Adkins is undefeated, 7-0.

Adkins uses virtually no strategies, and doesn’t look for advice from ESPN or sports radio. He simply examines the right match-ups, starts and benches players based on how well he thinks they will perform, and he overall just goes with his gut instincts.

“The best part has to be when you’re down heading into the Monday night game, and one of your players comes through for you to get the win. It’s the best feeling ever,” Adkins said.

Unlike Adkins, seniors Derec Olson and Stephen Mangelsdorf play fantasy football with their friends. In fact they play in the same league, with a group of NW seniors.

“I was always interested in fantasy football, but no one ever invited me to join,” Mangelsdorf said. “This year Chase Quarnstrom asked me to join. I was hooked immediately.”

Mangelsdorf has not been on fantasy football very long, and he does not take it incredibly seriously. However, after he drafted his team he became more interested in it.

“I felt like I picked the best team, and I wanted to prove to everybody that I had the best team by beating them,” Mangelsdorf said.

Mangelsdorf’s team is 4-3, keeping a consistent record. However, all the games he has lost have been by five points or less.

While this is Mangelsdorf’s first year playing fantasy football, it’s Olson, third. Olson started out playing fantasy baseball. After getting bored with it, he decided to try fantasy football and now enjoys spending some of his time on the popular activity.

“I like fantasy football, because you are the manager of your own team. You are in control,” Olson said.

Olson only spends about two hours a week on fantasy football, neither Olson nor Mangelsdorf take fantasy football incredibly seriously but they both enjoy it and are glad they are apart of it.

“People play fantasy football because they love the spot of football and they want to be involved in it anyway they can. They simply love competing, so they made up fantasy ways to compete,” Olson said.

Most people on fantasy football from Northwest are like Olson. Even Adkins, who has two leagues and is undefeated, does not take fantasy football very seriously. Fantasy football is an activity that was created for fun. Just to watch football and enjoy the sport more.

“I love fantasy football because I can track my players, and follow what is going on in the NFL,” Mangelsdorf said. “It is a great way to escape reality.”

The next day, Adkins looks over the players he will start and bench next NFL Sunday. He begins to evaluate his match-ups, and see what needs to be done so he can improve his record to 8-0.

“I love fantasy football because it gives me a reason to watch more football,” Adkins said. “It gives me an opportunity to root for players and teams I normally wouldn’t root for.”

Brady Klein