By Steven Zunich & Ryan Day*
“Black 59 Razor! Black 59 Razor!”
I can still hear this Joe Montana call from the line of scrimmage in my head just before he threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice in Super Bowl 29 (XXIV), a 55-10 blowout of the Denver Broncos. Football season evokes memories in the mind of every football fan. Every passionate football devotee has their own favorite team and their own memories, which bring the thrill of victories and the agony of unforgettable defeats.
There are an estimated 400 million NFL fans worldwide who will be tuning into the NFL’s opening games this weekend. The energy in NFL stadiums around the country will be electric once again as fans will be allowed to attend games en masse for the first time since 2019. Beginning with Thursday night’s Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Bucs game and culminating in the Monday Night Football game in which the Las Vegas Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium, a.k.a. “The Death Star”. Check out the UrbanLink Magazine sponsored Figures Podcast interview with Allegiant Stadium designer David Manica. Figures Podcast engages in an exclusive interview with the Architect who designed the new Raider Nation’s Allegiant stadium. This episode is definitely worth a watch prior to the upcoming Monday Night game.
Of the 400,000,000 NFL fans that will be watching this weekend, 59 million North Americans (USA and Canada) will have additional “stakes in the game”. This is the massive group of people who participate in Fantasy Football leagues (FFLs). Fantasy Football is a mind-blowing $18 BILLION dollar industry and the number of participants continues to grow year by year. Fantasy Football players are usually involved in leagues of 10-12 teams, which they run like their own mini-franchise. Most team owners compete against friends, co-workers or colleagues in one way or another. So, if there are 10 players (teams) in each league, then that extrapolates out to over 5 million Fantasy Football Leagues in North America.
For the 341,000,000 football fans who DON’T indulge in these leagues, let’s take a brief look at how FFLs work and how navigating your way through a Fantasy Football season mirrors the skills needed to manage a business. In Fantasy Football each participant is basically a general manager of his or her own team. NFL Fantasy Football teams are comprised of individual players selected from all 32 NFL teams.
How does a Fantasy GM get players? Just like in the NFL, each league holds a draft. Draft Day is, in many ways, the biggest event in a Fantasy Football league season. Players from any team can be drafted, so long as they are active on an NFL roster. In Fantasy Football, your loyalty to your favorite team needs to be set aside so that you can select the best player available. As an admitted 49ers fan, for example, I might be better off selecting Seattle’s Russell Wilson if he’s free when it’s my turn to draft rather than the current 49er quarterback. The goal is to get as many points as you can each week and draft day sets the tone.
Fantasy GM’s in most leagues are allowed one quarterback per game, as well as two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a “flex” player of the GM’s choice which could be another wide receiver or a running back, typically. There are also points alloted for kicker, defense and special teams’ performance as well. Each team can draft a few bench players for performance flexibility week to week and for any injuries that may take place during the season.
Typically, players can earn points for a GM’s team in some of the following ways:
1 point for 25 passing yards
1 point for 10 rushing yards
1 point for 10 receiving yards
6 points for a receiving or rushing touchdown
4 points for a passing touchdown
-2 points for every interception thrown or fumble lost
1 point for each extra point made
2 points for rushing or receiving 2-point conversion
And the point list goes on and on. Point scoring systems vary slightly from league to league and most leagues also give points for defensive performance as well. The objective here is to draft and play players each week that get your team the most points each week.
How to Play Fantasy Football for Dummies has a great six step guide to how a Fantasy Football season unfolds:
1. Join a league.
- There are several free apps that you can create a league with, including NFL Fantasy Football, Yahoo Fantasy Sports, or CBS Sports Fantasy. These apps provide easy to follow steps to create a new league, add teams, or to join an existing league.
2. Prepare for your draft by scouting players.
- Most apps provide player information like statistics, projections, and injury history but FFL GMs also research players online at numerous player evaluation websites.
3. Build your team on Draft Day.
- Your app will manage adding the players you draft to your team, round by round. Many apps also have built-in draft evaluations that “grade” your draft like a report card. Draft Day is often held with all the GMs in one location to create a party atmosphere.
4. Game Day Competition
- Once your team is built, you pick your starting lineup each week before the games begin. Points are awarded based on how your players perform and the tabulation at the end of each week will rank your team’s performance.
5. During Season Transactions to Improve Your Team
- As a GM, FFL owners will “bench” players that don’t perform well and may have to deal with injuries, just like NFL teams must do. You can also pick up players off waivers.
6. Positioning for “The Playoffs”
- The playoffs for Fantasy Football leagues are usually the last three weeks of each season. The reason for this is that when the real NFL playoffs begin, the FFL rosters would be so greatly reduced that the competition could not continue.
With all the features available on the FFL apps these days, getting through a season is not as time-intensive as it was even a few years ago. Here are UrbanLink’s top 6 points that should be implemented during a Fantasy Football season that will also facilitate running your business across the goal line for a touchdown:
- Research and Plan. This is the preparation phase and is an ongoing process. Yes, you do most of your research before draft day or before you start your business, but ongoing research is a key to adaptive and future successes.
- Identify Your Superstars. You want to acknowledge the key performers on your team as you encourage and set them up for success. Put the players on your team in position to win. Play the winners and give them credit for their contribution.
- Review and understand the data. Fantasy Football is filled with statistics that we are all familiar with. Well, so is every industry. Crunch the numbers and understand that they are your most reliable way to see patterns that will help you to anticipate trends that will bring future success.
- Add depth to your team when opportunity arises. It’s great to have a strong “bench” to account for injuries and illness, as well as to find creative new contributors that can bring value to your team. In Fantasy Football, trade opportunities can arise so use your ongoing research to be prepared to strike when the chance to get some depth presents itself. You may need it later.
- Every week is a fresh start. It’s important to remember that when you have had a bad week, Monday morning is an opportunity for a fresh start. If you had a great week, don’t rest on your laurels. The competition will be coming for you even harder when you are winning. Stay prepared while you ride the momentum while you have it.
- Competition is healthy and should be practiced. Engaging in a structured, ongoing tournament style competition can focus the mind on the competitive nature of business development and management. The lessons from the losses of a bad week and the energy from the winning weeks both contribute to a player’s growth.
No matter whether your hometown team has a good year or not, you can stay engaged in the NFL season with your own Fantasy Football team. The business lessons learned from engaging in an FFL are evident. The fun you can have managing your own franchise has a side benefit: it’s a great way to practice the skills you need week in and week out to operate, succeed, and grow your business.
*Ryan Day is Sales Director of UrbanLink Group Marketing and has participated in Fantasy Football Leagues for over ten years.