Sunday, April 26, 2009

NFL Players' Fantasy Stakes

A topic that interests me is fantasy football. I’m not the only person who enjoys this football season phenomenon, as evidenced by the countless number of leagues and websites devoted to the “sport”. I find fantasy football so entertaining because it adds an extra element to the weekly football matchups. Even if my favorite team in the NFL, the Chicago Bears, are doing poorly one week, or the entire season, fantasy football can keep me interested in the games each Sunday. According to the forums on Fantasy Football Today ( many people participate for the thrill of the competition, others because of a monetary wager in place, and still others because they have an unhealthy obsession about football.

My question is whether the leagues of fantasy football players are run only by those who watch the games on television. In other words, do NFL players themselves participate in fantasy football leagues? This question is of vast importance because it could attempt to explain the outcome in weekly NFL games, or even more detrimental, the performances of particular players in fantasy football games. Say a player, maybe Peyton Manning, is the owner of a fantasy team. Because he may have had a bad fantasy draft number, he was unable to draft himself in the quarterback position. After viewing his matchup for the week in fantasy, he sees that if he has a poor NFL performance, his fantasy team will win the matchup because his opponent owns Manning in the fantasy league. This could be a possible reason that I seemed to get so screwed over by my fantasy players this past season.

The best way to collect data regarding this hypothesis would be to survey the NFL players. With only 32 teams and about 50-60 players on each team, it wouldn’t be that difficult to survey less than 2000 people. However, we could decrease the sample size to a random sampling of 10 to 15 players per team and a few coaches and coordinators. A few short questions asking whether they participate in fantasy leagues, as well as the frequency they checked on their team’s status would be enough to validate any findings.

Because the question asks only whether or not NFL players own fantasy teams, many details are not required. My personal stake in the hypothesis (whether players play badly to benefit their own fantasy teams) is not the subject of this study, and quite possibly could have legal implications. So for now we will omit it.

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