It's the same old sob story, and anyone that has played fantasy football has heard it a thousand times...
"My first round draft pick is injured and out for the season, my quarterback and best wide receiver are underperforming and my team has no shot at the playoffs. Now what am I supposed to do?"
The season-long format of fantasy football is a battle of attrition. The owner that avoids big injuries and scoops up a surprising back-up off the waiver wire goes on to win the championship. But as we approach Week 8 and the mid-point of the 2013 season, more of us than not have teams that are decimated by injuries with little shot of taking home the bragging rights that go along with a fantasy football league title.
A couple years ago that would have meant you should basically call it quits and find another hobby on Sunday. The best you could do was set your lineup and hope you somehow screwed your friend with an upset victory so you could at least revel in their despair.
With fantasy football growing each year by the millions, more and more people commiserate on this front. So much so that a new crop of daily and weekly fantasy formats have come into play, giving new "life" to fans that want to continue playing despite catching some bad breaks. Weekly leagues enable people to draft a new team each week, so no star player's injury will plague you for the season and you're not stuck with an underperforming 1st round pick that is dragging down your squad (I'm looking at you, C.J. Spiller!).
Instead, owners can strategically draft players based on that week's matchups, or take advantage of a player with a hot hand to give themselves the best shot at winning that particular week. Sure people may have a bad week -- such is life for a fantasy owner -- but those that know their stuff will have their skills shine through from week to week.
Leagues are either free (for those in it strictly for the love of the game...) or have buy-ins, which can range from $2 up to a couple hundred dollars per league. So for those players that are a bit more adventurous and trusting in their skills, there's quite a bit of money to be won. On DraftStreet alone there are numerous players that have pulled in over six figures of winnings in the past year. We're even hearing success stories of people actually quitting their day jobs and making "fantasy football" their official job title. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means advocating that everyone should walk into their boss's office right now and hand in their walking papers, but it's pretty remarkable what people are doing when more control and flexibility is brought into the fantasy fold.
Both public and private leagues exist, therefore you don't need nine other friends to come along in order to join a league. Public leagues are open to anyone, and give people the opportunity to test their skills against others from around the country. On the other hand, private leagues can be created at any time, so friends and co-workers can band together and continue bashing each other on a regular basis.
As a fantasy football player myself for over a decade, I'm someone who has been out of the playoff race by mid-season more than I'd like to admit. I know that empty feeling you get at the bar on Sunday when the games have no fantasy implications. But with weekly leagues, that sting of having a bad team has gotten a lot easier to swallow for many fantasy footballs fans. As fantasy continues to infiltrate the mainstream (thanks to more than 35 million players according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association), its evolving and exciting new games are emerging. And this means that for millions of people around the country, they can do a lot more than just cross their fingers and hope their best player doesn't get hurt again this year.