10 team fantasy football leagues don't prove anything

July 14, 2015 3:07 AM


New Orleans Saints Drew BreesAs far as I am concerned, now is the preseason of fantasy football.

That midpoint of July seems like the right spot to start buying magazines, burying yourself in online articles, finding out which players switched teams (if you aren’t a hardcore player, that is).

For the first fantasy football column of the 2015 season, I want to answer the question, what makes a fantasy league the most challenging? To address this question let me share a Twitter conversation from ESPN fantasy writer Matthew Berry.

Berry said, “The most popular version of fantasy football on ESPN – by far – is 10 teams, non PPR (Points Per Reception). Majority plays (that), so that’s why (ESPN) gears our advice there.”

Twitter account @LiveinTempe replied with “10 teams? Weak. Waiver wire is like an all-star team.” Berry comes back with, “Right, which makes decision making actually tough. Stop being a snob.”

First of all, whether it’s a 10-team or 20-team league, both styles bring challenges. For my money, I like the idea of actually being a pretend NFL GM rather than a guy who makes lineup choices between Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Let’s face it, on most weekends will it really make that much of a difference?

Fantasy football was never supposed to be a game of just playing the QB who plays the Raiders every week; it was supposed to make you feel like a real manager of a NFL roster, not picking from guys who all end up in Hawaii.

While Berry is correct that ESPN’s most popular fantasy league is 10-teams, it is also the default style. Most people who register on ESPN play in a public league (usually meaning you play against complete strangers around the globe) versus a league with friends, usually referred to as a private league or invite only. Many of those people who play in ESPN public leagues still play in other leagues as well.

I have been running a fantasy football league since 1997 and the 2015 version looks nothing like the league 18 years ago. My league consists of 20 teams, contracts, salary cap, rookie draft, free agent auction draft, franchise tags and restricted free agents. Yes, it’s hardcore.

To me what makes a fantasy league a true test of one’s NFL knowledge is making decisions when the free agent wire is thin. Combine that with trying to set yourself up for multiple years of success through contracts and rookie drafts.

Regardless of what the Matthew Berry’s of the world try to tell you, expand your horizons and play in at least a 14-team league. Find a league style with keepers and an auction draft. You will be amazed how much more you will understand and know about the NFL.

Alan Berg has 10-plus years of experience at Las Vegas sports books and prior to moving to Las Vegas covered sports for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  Follow him on Twitter: @vegasberserker Contact him at ABerg@GamingToday.com.

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