The NFL Expectation Game: Fantasy vs Reality

football on the field at NFL stadiumThe 2014 National Football League season is just around the corner and already the Expectation Game is in full swing. Football fans are well aware of the expectation game and how it’s played: each season you either get your hopes up for something great (and get disappointed) or aren’t expecting much and get pleasantly surprised.

For example: Denver Broncos quarterback (and future Hall of Famer) Peyton Manning threw 55 touchdown passes last season. 55! Including 7 in one game. That’s insane! And yet, many Broncos fans actually expect him to meet or exceed that lofty number again this season. In 2013, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamal Charles had an amazing year, breaking all sorts of personal records for yards rushing and touchdowns scored. Will he be able to do it again in 2014? Probably not . . . but that won’t keep fans from expecting that kind of performance or more.

It’s about expectations. A team that was 8-8 last year and missed the playoffs could go 9-7 this year (winning one more game by the smallest of margins) and suddenly they are in the playoffs and headed toward the Super Bowl. They’ve exceeded expectations and the fans are thrilled, even though from a statistical standpoint they are pretty much the same team as last year. Things can go the other was a well, with a perennial favorite, like the New England Patriots, expected to not only win, but maybe have a 12-4 or 14-2 record, get a bye the first week of the playoffs and at least get to the AFC Championship game, if not the Super Bowl, again. Anything short of that–even a game or two–falls short of expectations and their loyal New England fans are crushed, devastated. “Why did we only get to 11-5 this year? We suck!”

The difference between reality and fantasy is that fans of a single team, say the Chicago Bears, have expectations for the team as a whole. They want them to win and they want them to at least make the playoffs.  Yes, you’d like to see Jay Cutler, or Brandon Marshall, or Matt Forte have a record-breaking season, but you’d rather see the team win. In fantasy football, you don’t really care what the team does, as long as YOUR player on that team (and 15 or 16 others, depending on the size of your roster) does well. And fantasy football players are all about the expectations.

Fantasy football players pour over the numbers–even more so than those who place bets on the games. (If you’re looking for the latest football odds check out these William Hill NFL coupons.) They have expectations for every player on their team and sometimes ones that are so inflated they can’t possibly come true. But that’s the NFL expectations game for you. Each year, you can expect a player to do at least as well as they did last year, if not better, because that’s why you drafted them where you did. And not only that, but you had lesser expectations for players around him, and hope they don’t meet that goal.

It’s a messed up word folks. Looking forward to a great season!