About seven years ago I was on a first date with a charming young woman who dropped a bombshell on me:
"Well, I play this game where you pick football players..."
"You mean fantasy football?" I asked.
"Yes. Do you play?"
Naturally, I married her.
Still, if she had said she played fantasy baseball or fantasy basketball, I would've been more impressed. I mean, anybody can play fantasy football. Find five friends, turn on auto-draft, and just play the guys without byes. Twelve weeks later, you're in the playoffs.
I'm in three football leagues and four basketball leagues this year, and historically, I've always liked fantasy basketball much more, and there are plenty of reasons why:
There are basketball games every day. Oh man, is it boring waiting around for Sunday during football season. Even in a competitive league full of trash talking you still don't get to rub it in every day to your opponents. When you're in a basketball league you can look forward to the standings changing nightly.
Players can contribute in all categories. There's no equivalent to a triple-double in football, and if you're lucky enough to have a player who catches a TD and runs for another, it can't beat having a guy who goes 30-10-8 with four blocks and three steals. I mean it just can't.
No bye weeks. As long as your stud is healthy, he's playing every week. Even better, the unbalanced schedule means sometimes your stud is playing four or even five games in one week. Seeing that Dwight Howard has five games on the schedule this week makes me about as happy as finding a twenty dollar bill on the street.
Multiple-position eligibility. Other than Marques Colston qualifying at tight end a few years ago, football players are clearly locked into their positions, and while most football leagues have a flex category, it doesn't compare to basketball where you can have players qualify at two or three positions, giving you the flexibility to make more trades, free agent pickups, or just keep your active roster full. I had to play Jerome Harrison in one of my fantasy football leagues last week. That's just not right.
Matchups don't really matter. Every now and then I'll look at the opponents in my NBA leagues, but really it's the number of games that matter. In football, you'll see people bench their stars all the time just because their #3 running back is going up against the Raiders.
Bad games don't hurt as much. When LeBron James has an off night, it means 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists. He might do the same thing in a half the next night, and you're back in business for that week. When your star football player lays an egg, you're losing your only shot for that week.
Rookies are good right away.Blake Griffin notwithstanding, some rookies get into situations in which they can become instant fantasy stars. In football you might get the occasional running back who wins a starting job, but usually you have to wait a few years.
Less luck. We all hate to admit it, but it takes a tremendous amount of luck to win a fantasy league. Yes, there is skill involved, but fantasy basketball minimizes the luck for many of the above reasons. In football, your first-round draft pick, even ones of the can't-miss variety, might actually miss even if they stay healthy. In basketball, you won't see that happen.
Coming next week: Why Fantasy Football is Better Than Fantasy Basketball