The NFL season is set to kick off Sept. 4 with a Thursday night game between Green Bay Packers and defending champion Seattle Seahawks. It will be the start of a five-month journey to crown the 2014-15 Super Bowl Champions.
However, the path to another title for many football fans also starts that same night. And that is a Fantasy Football League title.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, more than 23.8 million Americans participate in fantasy football each year. The FSTA also estimates that the average fantasy gamer spends three hours per week managing teams, translating to 1.2 billion hours for 23 million players over a 17-week season.
"The continuing increase in fantasy sports participation illustrates two core elements of fantasy play," said FSTA president Paul Charchian. "First, fantasy sports remains a social activity, made more enjoyable when playing with friends. Second, people don't stop playing fantasy sports. Eighty percent of fantasy sports players believe they will still be playing in 10 years, and 40 percent believe they will play until they die. Combine those trends with our fastest growing demographic, players under 18, and there's reason to believe that fantasy sports will remain a foundational sports pastime."
With the start of the real season and the fantasy season just around the corner, many fantasy football league drafts will take place in these final remaining days.
But, if you are one of those novices who have been sucked in to hosting a league at work or are a last-minute replacement, then these rules may help you not look foolish.
1. Real food is a must: Yes, hot dogs, chicken wings and hamburgers will suffice for a draft party. Most of the owners will just be happy they had something to munch on. But it will be forgotten in a week. If you want your gathering to be classified as epic, your choice in food must be on another level. Po-boys, crab rolls, Chicago style deep-dish pizza are a few examples. Make it unique. Besides, the more food other owners eat, the less likely they are to pay attention to who they draft. That's to your advantage.
2. Avoid public places: With the big money surrounding FFL, chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters have gotten involved by offering to host free draft parties for you. Which in reality, all they really do is give you a free draft board, a small space to draft and sometimes a few coupons. All they want is for you to order as much food and drink for the two hours you're there. But because it's in public, your freedom to make fun of another owner is limited. What would have been an entire song and dance routine at a private home is dumbed down and takes away any chance of an epic blowup. That's half the fun gone right there.
3. Don't skimp on the draft board: If you are going to go through the ordeal of hosting a draft party, go all out. That means getting a draft board that puts all other draft boards to shame. The days of just taping cardboard to a wall are over. If you can't have digital board on a 80-inch flat screen TV, then you better put together the best homemade board ever seen.
4. No bosses allowed: Unless your boss is already part of the league, make sure they do not find out about your draft party. You do not want the person who signs your paycheck to see you nearly come to tears trying to decide who to pick in the ninth round. And it could be even worse is if it's a work league and people start drinking. I'm pretty sure your boss doesn't adhere to the adage "What happens at a fantasy football draft, stays at a fantasy football draft."
5. Choose owners carefully: We all have those friends or coworkers who complain about everything. Whether the music in your car is too loud or the drink you bought them is to warm, they always have a problem with something. DO not invite these people to your league. Even if you desperately need three more owners, tell them the league is full. You don't need that type of aggravation. According to howstuffworks.com, "the best rule is to pick people you know. If you include one jerk or hothead, it can spoil the fun for everybody. Watch out for pre-existing conflicts between potential owners. Remember, it's hard to get somebody out once you've gotten him or her in."