To be honest, I knew very little about fantasy football. I was one of those sports fans who follows football when it is in season, watches some games on TV, follows games on the internet, somehow remembers every score and stat, and then gets really excited during the playoffs and, of course, the Super Bowl. I don’t have the time or money to go see actual NFL games, though I am sure I’d greatly enjoy them.
Anyway, I kept seeing ads for fantasy football online and in other places wondered what it was, so I did some research. Apparently, fantasy football is a sports game for those who want to be involved with football all year round. And not just involved as in watching games, but actually owning, managing and running a “fantasy” football team. When the real football season starts - and it can be the NFL or a division of the NCAA or some other league - scores in the fantasy football leagues are determined by using statistics compiled by actual players.
Who started fantasy football, and when? It all goes back almost 50 years when a limited partner in the Oakland Raiders and some of his sports writer and editor friends cooked up the idea during a long road trip. When they got back, they started the first fantasy football league. Initially, it was hard to form leagues and keep the information flowing, but then came personal computers and finally the Web. Today, fantasy football is big business and fantasy football team fanatics are being courted by television networks and advertisers because they watch more games, buy more tickets, and spend more on their sport than average fans.
But how does it all work? The big attraction of fantasy football is that it’s not just watching games. Fantasy football is living the game and actively participating in it. You pick a team, you draft players, you follow rules, you observe salary caps and negotiate contracts. Franchise owners may have to pay (fictional) taxes, trade players, and, of course, try to win games and championships, establish dynasties or make to a coveted Hall of Fame. Things can get quite competitive, but you make friends in the process and many of the same teams play each other season after season.
Fantasy football games have as many rules as the real thing. Scoring can be complex as it depends on the stats of actual players on actual teams. And since fantasy league teams have players from a number of teams, a fantasy franchise owner often doesn’t know which real-world team he should root for! What’s important here is that the real performance and stats of real players in real games decides how well your fantasy team does. So picking and drafting the right players is very important.
How do you get started with this fascinating and addictive pastime? Fantasy football information is easy to come by on the web. Look around, check some of the many leagues, and then sign up with one and become a team owner. There are any number of leagues with different flavors and rules (the commissioner usually determines the scoring system). Some leagues cost a lot, but others are affordable and suit the novice as well as the expert fantasy football player. Give it a shot!
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If you’re looking for Super Bowl tickets to see if Peyton Manning and the Colts can get the job done and walk away with their first Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis, you’re one of millions who would jump at the chance to see the game live in Miami. The Colts are heavily favored in their match up with the Chicago Bears, but they will have to do much more than simply show up. Below are some factors that should be in place if the final score shows that the Colts are the world champions.
Keep the Demons at Bay
The AFC Championship game against the Patriots was not only a team victory for the Colts, but also a personal vindication for Peyton Manning. He had spent most of his college and professional career dealing with the reputation of not being able to “win the big one.” That all flew out the window last week, though, as Manning led the Colts to an 18-point comeback against their old nemesis. If Manning can continue to slay that dragon that has haunted him, somewhat unfairly, for years, and play the game he’s capable of playing, Indianapolis should win going away.
If one had to pick a potential Super Bowl MVP, many eyes should fixate on Colts DE Dwight Freeney. If Freeney and the rest of the Colts’ DL can generate pressure and keep Grossman from getting comfortable and gaining confidence, they could be the beneficiaries of several turnovers, as Grossman is prone to that when he’s rushed and is forced to make instinctive decisions. Freeney is the most likely candidate to accomplish that, as when he’s on fire, he’s nearly unblockable, and his talents alone would be worth the price of Super Bowl tickets.
Contain Devin Hester
If the Colts have shown one overriding weakness during the playoffs, it’s been on their kick coverage teams. Patriots KR Ellis Hobbs nearly turned the entire AFC Championship game around with a big return in the second half. Hobbs is a good returner, but he’s no Devin Hester. If Hester hangs onto the ball, he’s a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. That’s not a good matchup with the Colts’ leaky coverage teams, and if a touchdown is given up on special teams, that could wind up being the difference in the game, particularly if the Bears’ offense is struggling.
Will the Colts Pull it Off?
The Colts are beginning to look like a team that’s “bringing it all together” at the right time. Their horrible run defense during the regular season has seemingly been fixed, as the team has not allowed a RB to roam free in the past three games. Their QB has just exorcised his perceived demons, and their running game has been physical and punishing. If the Colts maintain their poise and don’t allow the Bears to hang around, Colts’ fans will be hanging their Super Bowl tickets on their walls as permanent keepsakes.
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