Over 100 million participants worldwide, covering the most popular sports in the world and simply using numbers to enhance the average sports fans experience. How is this addictive sports fans hobby so popular? I mean, 16% of North American's participate in NFL fantasy annually! That's almost 60million people. Once you dip your toe in the water, it's easy to see why fantasy sports are loved by so many people. But, what exactly is fantasy sports? And how can you be successful?
To begin, fantasy sports cover most major sports leagues across the globe, think the National Football League, the Premier League, the National Basketball Association and to bring it back home the AFL, NRL, BBL, NBL and more! Being a fantasy sports coach is akin to being a day trader in the stock market. Envision individual players as stocks. You play against other managers and their teams. Everybody manages a roster by adding, dropping, trading and selling players to keep winning and keep accumulating value.
But how do you win? How do you increase value? The answer is always, statistics. Fantasy sports is a massive numbers game, of course there's more that goes into it all! But at the gist of it, numbers are the big driver in all fantasy sports. In every sport there are a multitude of stats to measure a players on-field, live performance. You only need to look at an Aussie Rules stat sheet for example, kicks, handballs, goals, tackles - they all contribute to the outcome of the teams on-field conclusion and in the case of fantasy sports, contribute to the outcome of your fantasy teams result. This brings me to another word, volume. In most fantasy sports, the more numbers a select player has, the better! For example in NRL fantasy, a player who leads the game in tries or tackles, will likely have the highest total fantasy score come the end of the game. So, part of a fantasy coach's success is identifying players that have the greatest opportunity to produce high volume numbers in a game.
So now that we have figured out what drives value and what makes certain players more important than others, what is the next step? assembling and managing a team! This is the part that separates the good fantasy coach's from... the not so good. Once the season begins, it's often best practice to constantly evaluate your selections. Have your players been detrimental or beneficial to your squads overall performance and value? Are there any other players you don't have yet that have been performing well and would add value to your squad? Have injuries, suspensions, role-changes, position changes affected your squad depth or performance at all? These are some of the questions that can often dictate whether your squad performs well, or disappoints.
A coach's level of commitment to managing their squad is often another success metric. Some may assess their team daily, others may evaluate every other day and some may just check in every so often. Your chosen fantasy platform or league will most likely dictate how competitive you feel you need to be but it is no secret that being active and engaged in your teams success takes fantasy sports to new heights.
There are also a bunch of different ways to play fantasy sports! There are:
Salary cap leagues, which means players have a monetary value and you need to build a team that fits beneath the set salary cap.
Draft leagues, these leagues work like real life rookie drafts that we see in the AFL, NFL and NBA. Each member of the league is assigned a draft position, and players are selected by each member of the league going in turns, one at a time until the round is done. No player can be selected twice in these leagues which means every team is unique.
Dynasty/Keeper leagues, Dynasty leagues mean you retain all or a select few of your players from season to season.
Auction drafts - Auctions work like draft leagues but instead of assigning a draft roster, each league member is assigned a set figure amount of virtual money and will look to beat out there league-mates in a auction battle for each player.
Best-Ball leagues, Best-Ball again works like a traditional draft league however, there is no in season trading, dropping, adding, allowed all season long. The team you draft, is the team you stick with all season.
Fantasy sports offers armchair experts, casual sports fans and even people who aren't interested in sports in the slightest a stepping stone into what actual professional sports list managers, general managers and scouts value when they assemble and manage their teams. It even offers a completely new spin on being a sports fan, because once you're involved and you have caught the fantasy sports bug, you find yourself nose deep in stats sheets, 3 hours deep into junior footy highlights on YouTube and you even rooting against your own team because you own a fantasy player on the opposing team!
So, why not give it a go? It's free to play, it adds an extra element of entertainment and you can get involved socially with your friends!