Fantasy vs. Reality: Has Fantasy Football Skewed Reality?

I get it. People feel like they are part of the game, it gives them an extra thing to do on weekends, competition is fun, it helps people follow the game, etc. But I can’t help but feel that fantasy football is causing people to mistake fantasy performance for reality.

Perfect example: Tony Romo & the Cowboys. Take a look at the numbers (below). Who wouldn’t want this guy on their team? Who wouldn’t think he was a great QB?

The truth is, numbers can lie. Look at the big picture: performance under pressure, playoff wins and Super Bowls. While there is a great debate as to what makes an elite QB and team (a future blog post in the works), the bottom line is that every fan, team, coach, and player wants a Super Bowl ring and if not that, at least a conference championship. The Cowboys haven’t been deep in the playoffs in the past 12 years yet people are saying, “look at their numbers, I started Romo this week and I won my fantasy league.”

Currently, they have one of the top offenses in the league (with 400 avg yards, putting them 3rd) and a team full of talented players such as Miles Austin, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and Jason Witten- all of whom, for the most part, have good numbers. But looking at the total picture, the team is 1-4, last in their division, and one of the laughing stocks of the league for having more excessive celebrations penalties (2), than wins (1)!

Too often, when I ask guys what their favorite team is, they say “I don’t really have one, I just watch the games to see fantasy stats.” Hand down, those are usually the same guys who are quick to talk smack about performances of other teams, based solely on their “fantasy” which is seemingly their reality. Another example: Calvin Johnson. Great WR for the Lions but look at the Lions! I had the hysterical pleasure of hearing someone tell me that they are a great team because “just look at Johnson’s numbers.”

For a long time I have been saying numbers don’t tell the whole story. Another example are INT statistics. If a ball is tipped off the WR and INT, the QB gets the bad stat but it wasn’t necessarily his fault. Therefore, that QB then “sucks” and gets “benched” on game day for said idiot’s fantasy team. Too often I have heard people say Eli Manning sucks, especially this season because of INTs (he has 6 INTs, 5 of which were tipped balls). Yet he has taken the Giants to the playoffs 4 out of the 6 years he has been on the team and won a Super Bowl!

The most shocking thing? I still have people tell me that Romo is a better QB than Eli. While it might seem this post has turned into a comparison of the two NFC East QBs, it has not. They are just great examples of how people focusing solely on fantasy numbers and stats get their reality wrong.

What happened to watching the game for the love of the sport? The sound of the helmets colliding, the nervous feeling when the score is tied and your team is down by 3 and there are 17 seconds left and your team is on the opposing team’s 40 yard line yet driving? What about just watching a QB hustle his offense down the field and watching history unfold? Stats provide footnotes to the story, but the greatness of the tale is in the entire performance of the player, team, standings, and championships- not individual stats.

So next time you want to tell me you “just watch fantasy” and “don’t have a favorite team”, please don’t mind when I tell you that your fantasy is NOT reality. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy can be fun and I get it. Heck, I even played one year myself. But when people start to make it their reality, it’s just plain annoying.

Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% AV
2004 24 DAL 9 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2005 25 DAL 9 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2006* 26 DAL QB 9 16 10 6-4-0 220 337 65.3 2903 19 5.6 13 3.9 56 8.6 8.0 13.2 181.4 95.1 21 124 7.8 7.2 5.9 12
2007* 27 DAL QB 9 16 16 13-3-0 335 520 64.4 4211 36 6.9 19 3.7 59 8.1 7.8 12.6 263.2 97.4 24 176 7.4 7.2 4.4 17
2008 28 DAL QB 9 13 13 8-5-0 276 450 61.3 3448 26 5.8 14 3.1 75 7.7 7.4 12.5 265.2 91.4 20 123 7.1 6.8 4.3 10
2009 29 DAL QB 9 16 16 11-5-0 347 550 63.1 4483 26 4.7 9 1.6 80 8.2 8.4 12.9 280.2 97.6 34 196 7.3 7.5 5.8 14
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