Sports teams are back on the field and no deposit bonus casino games are being played. But are things really back to normal?
The continuing uncertainty of pro sports during the current pandemic means that the upcoming NFL season may be as unpredictable and chaotic as the last. Pandemic precautions, sidelined players, postponed games and last-minute substitutions meant that last season was the NFL’s wildest season ever. Now, the summer spike in virus infections means that the upcoming 2021-2022 season could be similar.
Playing fantasy football involves drafting football players from NFL teams to pay on a virtual team that’s made up of virtual – but based on real life – players. Your team performs based on how “your” players play in real life NFL games. The more points that they score on the real field, the better your fantasy team does in its match-ups with other teams in your virtual league. To succeed, a fantasy football team "owner" must keep up with actual NFL team schedules stats and injuries.
Fantasy sports is played by an estimated 60 million people in America. An estimated 40 million of those play fantasy football. When the COVID-19 pandemic began there was an initial stumble in the fantasy sports industry. But the industry has regrouped and now, expectations are that the market will grow by a CAGR of 7% to $6.28 billion between now and 2024.
Fantasy football was initially stymied by the pandemic. Game postponements led to reduced interactions which resulted in a revenue decrease for fantasy sports operators. The market stalled until new apps for fantasy sports appeared making it more expedient for fantasy sports fans to get back into the game.
COVID-19 and Fantasy Football
During a normal season, fielding a fantasy team can be complicated. Last season, participants who fielded teams had to scramble. During the 2021-2022 season the NFL postponed games, fantasy managers juggled lineups to account for players who were sidelined after having tested positive for COVID-19 and the fantasy leagues added new contingencies.
During one window of testing, 33 players and 53 support personnel (trainers, coaches, referees, etc) tested positive for the virus. The Baltimore Ravens postponed a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers three times. The San Francisco 49ers were barred from playing in their home stadium due to coronavirus restrictions in Santa Clara County – they played in Arizona instead. At one point the Denver Broncos couldn’t field a quarterback because all of their quarterbacks were quarantined. Instead, they played a rookie wide receiver who started at quarterback as well as other practice-squad players.
It wasn’t only the Broncos, the 49ers and the Ravens who had to figure out a new game plan -- fantasy team owners had to rush to research the replacements and figure out which new players to draft for their teams.
Sports media organizations haven’t had an easy time of it. Sites that host fantasy football leagues such as Yahoo and ESPN had to release special scheduling plans to help fantasy team owners figure out what to do and when.
Some analysts are saying that, although unplanned, fantasy sports is now more exciting than ever. And instead of walking away in frustration, fantasy football enthusiasts are preparing for an even more exciting season to come. According to fantasy football expert and NFL analyst Liz Loza, engagement has actually increased among fantasy football participants.
"Nothing is simple in 2020, broadly speaking. This has been a year that has impossible to plan ahead for anything, and that piece has forced us to really live in the moment in so many ways." Loza said in an interview with CNN. "But this has presented an opportunity to fantasy football enthusiasts and diehards to really challenge themselves. If they win this year, they can say to themselves, 'I've really done some mental and strategic gymnastics, and I've earned this.'”
There are new apps that send analyses, alerts and updated information regarding changes in the sports world for fantasy football players.
One unique app involves simulation of games in which, while in a regular fantasy sports environment, stars and results are based on the real-life performance of teams and players. But…..what do you do if a game is postponed or cancelled?
A simulator has a game engine that simulates matches so the fantasy sports game can proceed as planned.
The simulator works differently for each sport but in general, every player has a rating and subratings on various activities that generally take place during a game. Each player position also has subratings. The simulator then chooses the best line-up for each team. Players can be substituted during the game with match events taking place based on features of the game.
Fantasy players aim to create a balanced sports game engine.
Loza says that one of the reasons that interest in fantasy sports has spiked is because it’s just the distraction that people, trapped at home in social isolation, are looking for. "This fall and winter, you're probably going to be staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. a lot," she says, "and you might as well be doing it while thinking about your fantasy roster."
The fantasy football industry is learning to adapt. There are more and more shows and podcasts that cover fantasy sports, including how to compete during the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple sports sites publish daily in-depth fantasy analyses. One of the most popular shows catering to fantasy sports enthusiasts, Yahoo’s Fantasy Football Live, has a new virtual set where fantasy football aficionados can follow the statistics and contingency plans that they need to know to build their teams.
Fantasy football players seem ready to meet the learning curve and play fantasy sports according to the new – and more challenging – rules.