Competitions heats up in seniors’ fantasy football league

October 21, 2023 — by Nikhil Mathihalli & Daniel Wu
Senior Shrey Jain’s team lineup for the fantasy football league
Through strategies like trading and waiving players, students use fantasy football as a way to foster stronger bonds  

Senior Raghav Chakravarthi sat glued to his television screen on a mid-September Sunday, watching Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams slam into a horde of players on the Las Vegas Raiders. Williams hit the turf and clutched his leg, writhing in pain. Chakravarthi leaped from his couch in distress. For the second consecutive week, one of his star fantasy football players was out from injury.

With bad luck like Williams’s injury, Chakravarthi found himself in 10th place in his league of 12 players, whom he and his close friends have coined as the “Browntown League.”

Their league, like many others, incorporates exciting challenges to raise the stakes and spice up the competition. Last year, the lowest scorer was asked to dye their hair ginger. This year’s punishment for the lowest scorer will be a 24-hour “sentence” at a Denny’s restaurant. The subject can eat pancakes and each one eaten will take an hour off their sentence. 

In the past decade, fantasy sports have become a favorite American pastime — as popular as the games themselves. A study by ESPN found that 40 million Americans participated in fantasy football alone in 2021. At SHS, students of all grade levels have formed their own leagues, each sharing competitive atmospheres similar to Chakravarthi’s league.

In fantasy football, players create and manage their own teams composed of real NFL players within a league of between four to 18 teams. 

Each league starts with a draft in early September, which coincides with the start of the NFL season. Players follow a “snake draft” where players are assigned to a random draft order and the first participant places their pick, followed by the second and so on. The order reverses in the following rounds allowing for fairness of picks.

Each week, players face off against another team within their league. Players within each team accumulate “fantasy points” — points awarded for various in-game feats players perform, such as a touchdown or yards gained — and the team with the greater number of fantasy points each week wins.

The number of fantasy points awarded depends on the type of league — at the beginning of the season, fantasy footballers can choose between two different types of leagues: a pointer-per-reception (PPR) league, and a non-PPR league. Chakravarthi’s league is a PPR league, meaning every reception that a player makes contributes a number of points to their overall fantasy score.

In the Browntown League, a receiving or rushing touchdown is awarded 6 fantasy points, a passing touchdown is awarded 4 points and every 25 passing yards accounts for 1 point. Participants can also draft defenses, which are awarded points for interceptions and pick-6 touchdowns.

Once the draft is finished, every participant’s team roster is effectively locked for the rest of the season. However, participants can still trade players with each other or pull from the waiver wire — a pool of unpicked free agents.

Chakravarthi began the season with a solid draft centered around his first pick, Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb. However, Nick Chubb would later suffer a season-ending leg injury in Week 2.

After losing his star pick, Chakravarthi scrambled to make trades to add depth to his roster. He traded Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown and Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Madison for Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker.

“I was definitely angry and I had to make do with what I could,” Chakravarthi said. “I was really hopeful for Williams but obviously, it didn’t go as planned since he’s out now.”

Williams would go on to score Chakravarthi a solid 26.9 points against the Raiders. However, Williams also suffered a season-ending ACL tear injury that would force Chakravarthi back to the drawing board.

Again, Chakravarthi sought to making more trades to back up his loss via trading Hopkins for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence along with New York Giants wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.

“I’m basically performing damage control at this point,” Chakravarthi said. 

Going into Week 7 of 14 weeks in the regular season, Chakravarthi sat at 2-4 and was eager to climb the league rankings and make it into the playoffs. 

Standing at the top of the league is senior Mohit Gandluru’s team, with a 7-0 record as of Oct. 19. Unlike Chakravarthi, who began the season with a superb draft but slowly tanked due to player injuries, Gandluru started with a rather underwhelming draft but made multiple trades, drops and waivers of players to attain his current win streak.

A notable trade Gandluru made was Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams. Williams has attained Gandluru a total of 93.7 points so far.

“It’s really a game of strategy and making the right choices, but obviously, you can’t predict the future, so sometimes you blunder,” Gandluru said. “What helps is staying up to date with football as a whole and planning out your team prior to the draft.”

Fantasy football is highly unpredictable as star players often fall short of expectations, and no names often unexpectedly jump to the leaderboards. While Gandluru has met relative success by pulling Williams from the waiver wire, he also mentioned that he regretted dropping Miami Dolphins’ running back De’Von Achane, who has continued to perform brilliantly.

With the regular season reaching the halfway point, Gandluru is set on a trajectory that will take him into the top seven scoring participants who qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs will eliminate all but two who make it to the finals.

“I’m confident in my team since it’s backed my win streak and I think as long as I stay clear of the pack, I’ll secure a seat in the finals.” Gandluru said.

While competition can get heated at times, participants agree that fantasy football is a great way to bond and spend time with friends.

“Fantasy football is a good escape from school stress and a way for us to come together as a group,” Chakravarthi said. “We will definitely continue this into college no matter how far we go.”

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