The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Fantasy Frenzy

Illustration by Eva Park

After several weeks of waiting, it was finally draft day for Wilson Federman ’24 and 11 of his friends. Wilson Federman calmly took a seat at the table, already knowing which players he wanted on his team; the only thing left to do was draft. Wilson Federman said competing in a fantasy league with his friends and family allows him to connect with the game of football in a special way.

“I’ve been playing [fantasy football] since seventh grade, mainly with my friends,” Wilson Federman said. “I also have a family league that I’ve been doing for a while, which is really fun. I’d say the reason why I keep playing each year is because [fantasy football] brings us together over our shared love of the sport. It’s also really fun to compete against your friends.”

Fantasy football is a virtual game in which players select real National Football League (NFL) athletes for their team to compete against others in the league. Athletes earn a certain amount of points depending on live-time NFL performances. The fantasy team that earns more points based on the NFL results that week wins the matchup. After 14 weeks of regular season play, the top teams compete in the playoffs.

Wilson Federman said his preparation prior to the fantasy draft was crucial in building a successful team.

“I spent around two weeks doing research for the draft,” Wilson Federman said. “I did a lot of mock drafts on fantasy, and I had a lot of preparation because this is our biggest buy-in out of all the leagues we’ve had so far.” 

Although there are three types of draftsauction, standard and offlinethe most common is standard, also known as a snake draft. In standard drafts, the order of picking athletes among participants is reversed each round until all rosters are filled. Asher Engelberg ’24 said knowing when to pick certain players is critical when drafting.

“I like to go with a solid base of wide receivers and running backs to start my team because those are the most valuable,” Engelberg said. “In my opinion, a quarterback you can pick up off of waivers and gain points on any given week, but the wide receivers and the running backs are the ones that really produce points for you every week.”

Micah Parr ’25 said knowing which players have the most potential to earn points is crucial to a team’s success.

“You have to be smart enough to know which players that are typically drafted early that will probably not do well,” Parr said. “If you look at whether they get a ton of points or no points, Evan Ingram is a good example because he’s technically the number five tight end in fantasy points. [If a bad player] gets 20 or 30 points one week, then they’ll get like five points in the next two or three weeks. It’s about knowing how consistent they are by knowing how many points they get [and] the difference between popular players and good players.”

A fantasy league is typically made up of 10 to 12 players, although sizes can vary. JT Federman ’24 said having a large number of participants in a league can make fantasy football more competitive. 

“Every league I’ve played in has been either a 12, 10 or six-person league,” JT Federman said. “12-person leagues are the most serious, as those have been with my [school] friends where we each pay a certain amount of money before the season, and the top three players receive that money at the end of the season. We also decide a punishment for last place which is a big incentive for everybody to take the league seriously.”

In a fantasy league, participants compete against one another weekly, mirroring the NFL’s weekly schedule. JT Federman said he is excited about his team this year despite the other strong players he will have to face during the season.

“I’m pretty confident going into week one this year, but there is so much unpredictability and luck that goes into a successful team,” JT Federman said. “Most of my friends drafted some solid teams too, so it’s definitely going to be a fun season.”

Punishments are also a tradition of many fantasy leagues, typically given to the players who finish last. Some common punishments include body waxing, taking the SAT and getting a tattoo. JT Federman said he hopes his league will follow through with the punishment decided on for this year.

“In past years, my leagues haven’t followed through on completing our league punishment which isn’t really cool, but we’ve made sure to agree on punishments this year,” JT Federman said. “My favorite punishment we’ve done is that the loser must stay in IHOP for 24 hours straight, and with every pancake they eat, two hours are subtracted off the total 24 hours they need to stay there.”

During the 2022-2023 school year, Gus Mingst ’23 served his league’s punishment by running a mile while drinking a glass of milk after every lap in front of the school community. Engelberg said having an extreme punishment can make fantasy leagues more enjoyable.

“The milk mile was really fun to watch,” Engelberg said. “I’m pretty confident that I’m not going to lose. I say the punishment should be as severe as it can be because it makes things interesting come playoffs.”

Wilson Federman said having the loser complete the punishment in public is most optimal.

“The public humiliation part is definitely one of the key aspects of the punishment, and some public humiliation at school is definitely the ultimate form of punishment we’re going for,” Wilson Federman said. “Another idea of ours was having the loser play an instrument of their choice in public, and having to get a certain number of tips until they could stop.”

Although some fantasy football leagues enjoy the aspect of punishments, others decide not to have them at all. John McNitt ’25 said having a punishment can take away the aspect of winning.

“There are no punishments in our league,” McNitt said. “I think [they] make [leagues] worse because they don’t incentivize finishing first, just not last.”

Alexander Hudlin ’26 said although fantasy football can be competitive at times, it is still generally a light-hearted and fun activity.

“Sometimes someone will talk trash or send you a bad trade, but it’s all good fun and it’s not an actual competition.” Hudlin said.

Hudlin said playing in a fantasy league with his friends naturally brings him closer to the game of football.

“You have to watch a lot of football to know which players are good and bad,” Hudlin said. “Being in a fantasy league kind of forces you to get closer with those people in your league and watch football more.”

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Justin Tang, Assistant Sports Editor

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