by Daniel Barberio
With the NFL season underway, fantasy football teams are at full-throttle. Trades are being made, the waiver wire is being ravaged, and Matthew Berry’s fantasy advice is a godsend. For the fantasy owner, this season has been nothing short of eventful. To kick off the season, David Johnson, fantasy football monster, is sidelined the entire year with a wrist injury. Since then, the injury reserve list has only gotten bigger. Players are dropping like flies. Odell Beckham, Aaron Rodgers, Dalvin Cook, Allen Robinson, Greg Olsen, all out by week six.
The injury bug has taken its toll on NFL players. But the question is, who is the victim here? The 59 million or so fantasy football owners or the NFL player. The age-old dispute has existed since the beginning of fantasy football, and this year the tension is at an all-time high.
As a fantasy owner, you look at your players as chess pieces, each of which have value, potential, and circumstances that affect their performance. If a running back is injured, he is quickly forgotten, and there’s a hot pursuit for his backup. Out with the old and in with the new. If a team is trying to make a trade, players are sold to the highest bidder. If a player drops a pass, or fumbles the ball, social media is filled with hate comments. All of which is typical fantasy football behavior.
For the NFL player, the growth of fantasy football has been a nuisance. The hundreds of fantasy football articles that spiral throughout the week put players under a microscope and add pressure from a 59 million person community. Some players have made it abundantly clear that they couldn’t care less about people’s fantasy teams some include Odell Beckham, Golden Tate, Martellus Bennett, and LeGarrette Blount. While other players such as Richard Sherman have voiced their opposition towards fantasy. After Seahawks running back Chris Carson broke his leg, Sherman spoke for his teammate and shared his discontent about NFL players being objectified.
“This is really devastating. I think a lot of people, a lot of fans out there have looked at players less like people because of fantasy football and things like that. You go and say ‘oh, man this guy got hurt… You are thinking ‘oh man, he’s messing up my fantasy team,” said Sherman.
Although this, and the toxicity of fantasy owners may be true, no economist can deny the wonders that fantasy football has had on the NFL’s ratings. According to surveys held by Ipsos Public Affairs, 60 percent of respondents admit that they both watch more live sports and read more about sports because of fantasy.
While NFL players have every right to feel annoyed, fantasy football draws in a huge consumer base and improves the job security of the athletes, journalists, and coaching staff. With any luck, fantasy footballers will understand that the players aren’t chess pieces and tension will dissipate between them.