Students manage their Fantasy Football Teams
Seth Marceau – Contributor
It’s week seven in the NFL’s unconventional season and fantasy football team managers are in the hot seat.
This is usually when hopes run high and losses bring desperation to the managers as trades and waiver-wire pickups run amok. Due to COVID-19, this season has created a new monster.
“The whole COVID factor that plays into every game, it’s something no one has ever seen before,” said history secondary education major Adam Pelz, a junior.
Pelz has been managing a fantasy football team for several years and has had to dedicate more time to the game than before.
“I’ve definitely become more engaged with the NFL as a whole,” said Pelz. “Usually I would set my lineup and kind of just check it on Sunday, but now I follow all of the storylines.”
Injuries, game cancellations, sickness – all due to COVID-19. Fantasy football has turned into a part-time job, as most team managers have had to follow sports news almost religiously, in order to turn their team into the unstoppable force they hoped for.
NFL stars such as Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey suffered big injuries in the second week, with the former being a season ending ACL tear. In a normal year, preseason games are usually to blame for these types of early injuries, but in this case, it could be argued on the absence of such games.
Due to the pandemic, players have had much less time to get ready to play at the elite level. This resulted in both small and serious injuries over the first six weeks, as well as poor performances for some athletes.
“A lot of my players are boom or bust,” said business management major Kevin Landrigan, a senior. “There’s a lot of injuries because of no preseason or any training prior to the season. With more injuries, the deeper teams do better.”
Game cancellations bring another problem to the table -like a political debate between family members during Thanksgiving.
Games such as the New England Patriots versus the Denver Broncos were pushed a week back due to multiple players testing positive for COVID-19. This in turn makes the fantasy manager rush to change their lineup or to pick new players.
Psychology major Andrew Keeton, a senior, is the commissioner for a fantasy football league.
“We have to worry about games being cancelled the Patriots and the Titans have been cancelled at some points, so you always got to be on the lookout for a back-up or a replacement play,” said Keeton.
The NFL tests their players every day, but that doesn’t stop the growing list of 20 players who have tested positive over the course of the season, including New England’s quarterback Cam Newton. Unlike the NBA, the NFL doesn’t have a bubble for players. Flights to different cities and fans at certain stadiums all pose a threat to players and team personnel.
Despite the plethora of aggravations and stress that COVID-19 has brought to fantasy football managers, many league hosting sites such as ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL Fantasy Football have learned to incorporated new ways to help make a team function.
“We have a feature for if they’re out for COVID reasons, you can put them [the player] on the injured reserve,” said Keeton.
This feature frees up space for the everchanging landscape of the season and allows team managers to pick up more players from the waiver-wire than usual, so they aren’t sacrificing their starting players who tested positive for the virus.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” said Pelz.