The locker room 2

Thursday night, yet another beginning to another fantasy football week. I have two players active in tonight’s game: New York Giants workhorse running back Rashad Jennings, and explosive Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson. I’m feeling pumped, and I believe these two will get me off to a good start since they had highly impressive outings last week: Rashad rushed for a staggering 176 yards and a score against the Texans, and Jackson caught five passes for 117 yards and a score against his old squad, the Philadelphia Eagles. Finally, some damned consistency from these two. I put down my phone and head to the Rec Center, confident in my dynamic duo.

It’s 9 p.m. After shooting some hoops, I realize Thursday Night Football has come to a conclusion. Still dripping sweat, I effortlessly pull up the fantasy football app. My eyes stare hard at the screen; blank thoughts run through my head as I stare at the number 5 on the scoreboard section. Then, that moment of absolute grief and despair ripples through me as my mind finally comprehends that Rashad Jennings and DeSean Jackson only gave me 5 points out of at least a projected 24! Ha. Those were the least of my worries. It’s now Monday night as I write this. I’m ridiculously (and humorously) hopeless.

This is fantasy football. This is the unpredictability that Fantasy Football team owners feed off of. Unfortunately, I was a victim of it this week.

Many of you may think I’ve gone mad.

Let me explain.

Now that Monday Night Football is over, my team’s final score stands at a pathetic total of 54 points compared to my opponent’s 105. I was eviscerated; my Fantasy record is now 2-2 after 4 weeks. I am far from mad though because I understand what this phenomenon does for many across the U.S. Fantasy Football is more than a game. It is a tool for bringing friends and family together.

Two weeks ago, I visited my family for the weekend, and before I left, I had the chance to watch some Sunday football with my dad, his friends and some uncles. One of these uncles happens to be an even bigger “Fantasy Fanatic” than me, and, on cue, Panthers linebacker Greg Olsen snatches a pass during the game on the screen, and he yells out in approval. I tell him, “Tio, I never took you for a Panther’s fan.” He replies, “I’m not, I just have him in my main fantasy leagues, and it’s a close battle!”

And so ensues an hour-long back and forth conversation about our teams, the strategies that we plan to carry out, free agents and the venting of our frustration for certain players’ previous lackluster performances. Before this conversation, I had never spoken to my Uncle T for this long before. Fantasy football did this. It also has the unique power to attract individuals even more to the game and give them a reason to follow and watch the NFL more than ever. I personally was a casual NFL fan who hardly knew the stars of the NFL in its entirety, let alone the starting kicker for my favorite team. After a couple of friends urged me to join their league, I became amused by it, then actually strategized and got into it like the rest of my friends.

On Sundays, I watch and follow most games that “my players” are a part of and actually feel emotion when something positive or negative goes down. One can easily say that fantasy football brought me closer to the game in general because I am not consistently up-to-date with the latest NFL news, a skill I did not possess during my pre-fantasy days. In all, fantasy football has the ability to bring social groups together and further attract NFL fans by creating an innovative, fun way to competitively watch NFL games. But do beware. You WILL get into it, and you will be driven mad by its incredibly unpredictable nature. However I guarantee you’ll enjoy every second of being part of a league, and I’ll tell you why.

Sure, you could end up like me this pastweek or even worse. Many horrible things may happen. All those who picked Adrian Peterson are now suffering since he’s out with legal issues. Your big time threat of a receiver may be delivering sub-par performances like mine has (DeSean Jackson).

On the other hand, you may have surprise players who will step up and deliver for you unexpectedly. Giants tight end Larry Donnell racked up a 3-touchdown performance against the Redskins…AND I had him on my bench. I started Vernon Davis over him who gave me 0 points and left his game with an injury. But guess what? He has value now and is on MY team. I have the power to use him later on, and the beauty is that I did not expect to get that kind of production from this player.

For all those current fantasy football team holders, I wish y’all luck with the rest of the season. As for newcomers and lovers of football, I encourage y’all to join. The experience will leave you shocked at moments but will repay you with good times, bonding, excitement and the weeklong anticipation for Sunday afternoon.

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