Fantasy Football Unfolded

Bill Winkenbach, the father of Fantasy sports.

Photo Credit: ESPN

Bill Winkenbach, the father of Fantasy sports.

Sienna Rock , Editor-in-Chief

Fantasy football is a household tradition for many die hard football fans. In this day and age, fantasy football has heavily influenced the football and NFL culture. It expands a lot of fans’ knowledge about the game and causes people to root for players they don’t usually root for. But how did a friendly football competition turn into such an instrumental part of football? 

It all started back in 1962 when Bill Winkenbach, the part owner of the Oakland Raiders at the time, and a few of his buddies got together to hold the first ever fantasy football league. They named the league the GOPPPL (Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League). The game was relatively simple. The teams drafted real National Football League and American Football League players and scored points on how well each player did. This format has stayed pretty consistent throughout the years. However, scoring, the positions drafted, and more have evolved within the past 60 years.

In the early years of fantasy football, teams would play one quarterback, one fullback, two halfbacks, two tight ends or wide receivers, two return men, two kickers, two defensive backs or linebackers, and two defensive ends. This has significantly changed throughout the years. In most of today’s leagues, teams play one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player (a running back, wide receiver, or tight end), a defense, and a kicker. 

Scoring has also developed over the years. Originally, 25 points were given for any offensive touchdown, 200 points were given for a defensive touchdown, 25 for a field goal, and 10 for an extra point. Now, it varies based on the team and the scoring system used. There are two main types of scoring: standard scoring and PPR (points per reception). Standard scoring rewards one point for every 10 rushing/receiving yards, six points for a rushing/receiving touchdown, one point for 25 passing yards and four points for a passing touchdown. Standard scoring focuses more heavily on scoring touchdowns. PPR scoring gives players a bonus point for each reception. There are pros and cons for both types of scoring, but the commissioner of the league ultimately decides. 

One of the most notable differences was how a team communicates its lineup and how scores were sent out. Nowadays, it’s pretty easy. There are apps and websites like ESPN Fantasy, NFL Fantasy Football, and more that allow you to edit your lineup. All you have to do now is click a few buttons and can switch players out, pick up new players, make trades and more. However, back when the first leagues were being held, the internet wasn’t around and it was much harder to play the game. The league’s commissioner had to compile each team’s score using newspapers and then send it out via mail. 

Once the internet was involved and the game was much easier to play, it took off and started to play a big role in football. It’s estimated that over 60 million people play fantasy sports, with about 54% of them being fantasy football players. And as the years go on, I can only imagine fantasy football will continue to grow.