Taking It to the House 2009 Fantasy Football Guide: Part 1

 It is that time of the year again for everyone from the grocery store bag boy to celebrities like Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker to ask the eternal questions “who should I take with my first pick of my fantasy football draft?” and “Has anyone seen the injury report for this week?”

What started out as a wacky rotisserie league concept for football by former Oakland Raiders part owner Bill Winkenbach and his friends Scott Stirling and Bill Tunnell in the 1962 has grown into its own subculture and is the passion of football fans and casual fans everywhere.  Fantasy football is now part of the fabric that ties everyone together and gets people watching the NFL, (well at least the stat ticker at the bottom of the screen) which is by far the number one sports league in the world. 

Fantasy football leagues are all about one upping your buddies, having fun watching games (every game counts now or at least the stats), trash talking, and allows fans to experience the highs and lows of “legalized gambling”.  The number of people involved in leagues are staggering with an estimated 35 million people participating in fantasy football leagues. 

Of that group the majority are males in the marketing bonanza demographic of between the ages of 25 and 54, but we are also seeing more women competing with the men for stats superiority. And when you talk about the dollars involved in fantasy football (over $250 million dollars spent on gaming services around fantasy sports), leaving sponsors and advertisers start drooling.

In a recent interview Chris Nicholas, who heads the fantasy sports group at ESPN said “They’re a great target for sponsors,” and “These are folks who are comfortable online. From autos to credit card companies to shoe companies, they want to get in front of these people.”

The growth of fantasy football is so immense that now every major sports news outlet and website including NFL.com has their own section and analysts dedicated solely to covering and analyzing America’s new past time.  I believe the best website that keeps fantasy football economical and easy to run for your league and commissioner is CBS Sportsline.com (site has everything from breaking news, injuries, scoring, etc all tailored to your league). 

In this tough economy, football related television and sports marketing professionals more than ever know that to generate dollars from average to non-watching people that bringing in fantasy football participants is paramount.

“How big is fantasy football”, you ask.  Well it is big enough that every Sunday entire shows like “Fantasy Fix” on Comcast Sportsnet or large segments on national NFL shows like CBS’ “NFL Today” emphasize every aspect of fantasy football from who to play or not play to injuries to inside tips. 

“It started as a niche activity, and now it’s moved on to a mainstream passion,” said Chris Russo, senior vice president of new media and publishing for the National Football League in a recent article. He added, “It’s a community activity, where friends from college, from work or any walk of life get together and compete and keep in touch.”

Now that we know some history and tidbits around fantasy football, let’s get to the Do’s and Don’ts of being a successful fantasy football player.  I am not saying I am the ultimate fantasy football guru, but I know enough to help you get through your draft and be competitive in your league. 

BTW: That certain Seattle Seahawks receiver’s name that you are trying to select is pronounced hoosh-mand-zaa-deh as in TJ Houshmandzadeh.

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