Fantasy football: Back and bigger than ever

Jamal Bowens said he had no idea what he was doing at the beginning.

“My ex came home one day and said, ‘I’m in a fantasy football league with my co-workers, but I don’t know what I’m doing, and I need you to run it,'” he told WTOP. “But I’m sitting there thinking to myself: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing or how this works either.'”

“I had always loved the game and knew about football,” Bowens added. “But I never thought I could enjoy watching football any more than I already did.”

He said he’s never been happier to have been mistaken. And in his early stages, he had a guide to show him the ins and outs of fantasy football.

“WTOP’s own J.J. Green was my sherpa,” Bowens joked, saying that his first season was a learning experience.

Bowens worked on the building security staff at WTOP’s old headquarters on Wisconsin Avenue in the District years ago, and joined a Fantasy Football league just like several WTOP staff members whom he was friends with.

After that, he said he got hooked.

“When you have a vested interest in every game, it makes it that much better,” said Bowens. “Instead of just watching football for my favorite team, my Commanders, I now watch for all teams. Because even if you don’t have a player playing, somebody else does.”

For the uninitiated, the concept of fantasy football is simple: you draft a team of skilled players, based mostly on the offensive positions in football (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, etc.). You draft players from many different teams, and they score points for your squad based on their real-life on-field performance. The objective is to beat your opponent’s assembled team each week.

You can join leagues with family, friends, co-workers or even complete strangers.

Or, in Bowens’ case, all of the above.

“Right now, I’m standing at 28 leagues,” he said.

When asked how he still has time for a social life while being in 28 different fantasy football competitions, Bowens’ response was: “When you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s seamless.”

Over the years, the D.C. native has gone from a fantasy neophyte to a practical pro. He said his knowledge has made him a magnet for all types of inquiries from friends looking for a leg up in their leagues.

And he said he’s just getting started.

“The highest I’ve ever gone is 33 leagues,” Bowens said. “I’ve got one more day before the season starts, so I’ve got some decisions to make.”

“I had people trying to get me to do leagues for years, and to be honest with you, I just said ‘sounds like a lot of work,'” he admitted.

“But when you learn, and start to love the nuances and intricacies of fantasy football, it becomes even more addictive,” Bowens said.

This year could see the highest number of fantasy football players nationwide ever, with numbers rising each year. Bowens said it seems like more and more people are getting into the action, even if they don’t always follow the sport closely.

Even for those who are merely curious about football, but don’t know a ton, or those who don’t really care for the sport at all, Bowens said fantasy football provides a competitive atmosphere that can make the workday, weekend with the extended family, or the “Sunday Scaries” much more interesting.

“When they have a team, and they have to figure things out, it gets them watching the game,” he explained. “Then, they start having fun!”

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Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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