Teachers tackle the fantasy football season head on

Matthew Mulcahy

Football lovers crowded around their televisions on Thursday, Sept. 7 to catch the opening kickoff of the 2017 NFL season. This kickoff was especially symbolic for fans who participate in their respective fantasy football leagues nationwide. The 2017 fantasy football season had commenced.

According to a recent Bark survey, 37 percent of students have drafted a personalized roster of NFL players for a fantasy football league at some point in their lives. However, students are not the only ones on campus who have drafted a roster, joined a fantasy league and have their own fantasy football team to stand by this season. Chemistry teacher Marissa Peck, World History and Leadership teacher David Plescia and Physical Education teacher Ryan Lloyd have all drafted their own fantasy teams to tackle the competition in their leagues.

Peck and Lloyd have distinct memories of watching sports growing up. Peck’s father was a sports fanatic, who familiarized Peck and her siblings with football, hockey, soccer and basketball. Lloyd grew up in a household where football was the most popular sport. His father played football in his high school years and his brother played all the way up through junior college. However, neither Peck nor Lloyd had a passion for the game.

Looking over her fantasy lineup, chemistry teacher Marissa Peck prepares to select players before the game.
Looking over her fantasy lineup, chemistry teacher Marissa Peck prepares to select players before the game.

“Personally, I had always watched football but I was never a big lover of football,” Lloyd said.

Plescia first learned about fantasy football during the 1995-1996 NFL season when his college roommate introduced it to him. He remembers scouring the Monday morning paper for the previous week’s game’s box scores, which were sent to be cross referenced and added up by hand by his roommate who was the league’s commissioner.

“My college roommate was and still is an actuary, a man of statistics. He was one of the people who got my friends and I into fantasy sports,” Plescia said.

While teaching his first year at Redwood in the fall of 1998, there was a school-wide league that a majority of the staff participated in. They would pick the winners of the upcoming week’s football games, and whoever picked the most winning teams would receive the most points for the week.

“Everyone would mark the winners and it would be posted in the teacher lounge about how many points each participant had, how much money and who was leading,” Plescia said.

Currently, Plescia plays in a league with some friends from his neighborhood.

Similar to Plescia, Peck first learned about fantasy football through her friends while participating in a coed flag football league in San Francisco.

“I started playing fantasy football with my flag football teammates,” Peck said. “I’ve been playing with them for about eight years, which is a pretty long time.”

Before fantasy season, Peck likes to conduct light research on team predictions and lineups to prepare for the draft. She looks for teams with strong offensive lines.

“If a team is going to have a good offensive line in front of the quarterback, that’s super important, so I always keep that in mind come draft season,” Peck said.

This year, Peck’s family started their own fantasy football league. Peck finds the inter-family competitive spirit fun and engaging for the whole family.

“I talk to my sisters a lot more about fantasy football and it’s all my dad wants to talk about now,” Peck said with a chuckle.

Lloyd began playing fantasy football when a group of friends from his high school asked him to join their league after they had all graduated from college in 2007.

“They asked me to play to complete the league line-up and I did it. I’ve been in it ever since,” Lloyd said.

Physical education teacher Ryan Lloyd places his hands on his face, in a gesture of despair, after losing to his fantasy football opponent.
Physical education teacher Ryan Lloyd places his hands on his face in a gesture of despair after losing to his fantasy football opponent.

Lloyd, Peck and Plescia all note that fantasy football has helped them stay in contact with their friends. For Lloyd, due to family responsibilities and the fact that his friends live throughout the East Bay, it’s often hard for them to meet up. However, fantasy has helped solve that problem.

“For our league’s draft, it’s mandatory that each member shows up. You get to see people that you [normally] see once a year. It’s fun. We make a day out of it. We cater in food, just like a nice get-together to hangout with everybody,” Lloyd said.

Overall, Peck, Lloyd and Plescia enjoy the fun and competitive nature of their fantasy leagues.

“The fantasy league is fun because you have friends to joke around with and smack talk with in a good natured way,” Lloyd said.

Peck and Plescia have found that fantasy has increased their knowledge regarding football and the players and teams of the NFL.

“Fantasy has encouraged me to watch more football and learn more about the game rather than just pay attention to the teams I like,” Peck said.

Although the three teachers have their own fantasy teams, they all stress the importance of rooting for the success of their favorite NFL teams before the players on their respective fantasy rosters.

“My rule of thumb is that you always have to root for your team first but if my players are competing against a team other than the [San Francisco] Forty-Niners, I root for them,” Plescia said.