If you actually make it to the game, however, it’s prolllly important to know #thegist of football. We’re going to give you a quick run-down of how football is played in the US of ATo start, it’s important to know that football is really only played in North America. And, in North America, there are two main leagues: the National Football League (NFL) played in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) played in Canada.
Let’s start with giving you #thegist of the NFLThe NFL is the more popular league and is also seen as the more elite league in terms of player talent (but that doesn’t mean the CFL isn’t amazing, it is too!).
NFL football is played on a 100 yard field with goalposts at each end. There are 11 players from each team on the field at once. Through passing or running the football, the point of the game is to scoretouchdowns andfield goals to have the most points at the end of four quarters (this is also the same in the CFL). Each team gets four attempts (called downs) to advance the ball 10 yards, before the ball is turned over to the other team. TBH, football is the hardest sport to get a grasp on, but stay with us! The rules are somewhat similar in both the NFL & CFL; however, there are some differences. Keep scrolling down to get #thegist on the CFL.
How’s it Organized?
There are 32 teams in the NFL, which are divided into two conferences (NFC and AFC) and are further split up into four divisions (North, South, East, West). There are 16 regular season games leading to the playoffs, all with the hope of winning the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is known best for the insanely overpriced commercials, the star-studded halftime show, eating until you faint, and drinking your pain away when your team loses.
The Best of the Best
The best team from the 2018/2019 season was the New England Patriots who beat the Los Angeles (LA) Rams SCORE in one of the most boring Super bowl games we’ve ever seen. The Patriots are a dynasty. Since 2001, they’ve earned six Super Bowl rings, setting an NFL record. The Pats are led by their exceptional quarterback, Tom Brady, (who is married to the talented model Gisele Bundchen). Determining who’s the best player in the NFL is tough because there are so many different positions that require different skills. Tom Brady is, quite literally, the greatest quarterback of all time, closely followed by rookie QB Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City) defensive end, JJ Watt (Houston Texans), and wide receiver, Antonio Brown (Oakland Raiders).
Football is a little bit tricky as the sport is 100% contact and is v. reliant on being physical. That said, there are some seriously tough women that play in the Women’s Football Association (WFA). It’s the largest league in North America with over 60 teams. What’s most popular is called Powder Puff, which is basically playing football in the snow. Although we take offense to the name, playing is quite fun because when you get tackled, you’re ideally landing in the soft white powder.
Ramp Up Your Trivia Game
Only six teams have won a playoff game without scoring a touchdown (aka field goals only)
Brett Favre (another personal favourite) and Tom Brady are the only 40-year-olds to ever win a playoff game, and Brady is the only QB above 40 to win a Super Bowl.
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Okay, so we assume (and yes we know what “assume” means) that you’re popping onto this page from our general football guide above. Now that you have #thegist of football, let us break down how the CFL is different from the NFL:
A CFL field is 110 yards long vs. the 100 yard NFL field. It’s also a little bit wider.
The CFL has 12 players on the field at any one time vs. 11 players in the NFL partially because the field is bigger.
In the CFL, teams only have three attempts (downs) to advance the ball 10 yards, vs. four attempts in the NFL. We feel this makes the game more entertaining because it forces the QB to throw more and for teams to rely less on the running game. It also keeps the game moving at a brisk pace.
How’s it Organized?
As you can imagine, the number of teams in the CFL is quite a bit fewer than the NFL, mostly because of Canada’s wee population compared to that of the USA. There are nine teams in the CFL, which are divided into two divisions: East and West. There are 18 regular season games and then six teams make the postseason for the chance to win the Grey Cup. The season runs from June until the end of November, meaning the playoffs are generally played in sub-zero/snowy weather. “I said bur, it’s cold in here!”
The Best of the Best
The reigning Grey Cup champions are the Calgary Stampeders who beat the Ottawa Redblacks 27-18 in November 2018. The Stampeders also made it to the Grey Cup in 2017 and are favoured to win the whole shebang yet again this year.
The first Grey Cup was won in 1909 by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, because back then, many teams that competed for the Cup were not professional. In the modern era, the Toronto Argonauts (aka Argos) have won the Cup the most — a total of 17 times!
Did you know…
There used to be some American teams in the CFL? The first team from the U.S., the Sacramento Gold Miners, was admitted to the league in 1993. American teams only played in the CFL for three seasons during the glory days of the 90s.
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Football is played in four, 15 minute quarters to make up a full game.
Is the same as attempt. In NFL you get four downs (attempts) to get ten yards. In the CFL this is only three.
A touchdown is worth six points. The touchdown zone is the big area at either end of the football field that the teams are trying to get to, or trying to prevent the opposing team of getting to. Football is known for some wacky TD celebrations. Check out some of these creative celeys.
There are yellow goal posts that look like a T + H had a baby in the touchdown zones. A field goal is worth three points. It happens when the football is kicked through the uprights (another word for goal posts).
In football, the red zone is the area of the field that’s between the 20-yard line and the touchdown zone. It’s called the red zone, b/c there’s a higher probability for the offensive team to score when they’re only 20 yards away from the touchdown zone.
1 Point Convert:
After a touchdown, the kicker needs to kick the ball through the uprights to get additional point.
2 Point Convert:
If a team rly needs points to tie/win a game, they’ll sometimes go for 2 point convert vs. one. This is when the team sets up a full play (no kicking allowed) to get back into the touchdown zone. This is definitely a trickier play.
If a team doesn’t make it the ten yards they need to with three downs, they usually a “punt” the ball. A punt is when the football gets snapped back to a kicker and they drop kick it as far down the field as they can.
The guy who’s ass the quarterback has to look at the whole game. They’re the ones who pass the ball from between their legs to the quarterback.
Literally just means throwing the ball. In other sports, it also just means movement from one player to the next in order to maintain possession of the ball/puck/etc..
The beginning of each football game starts with a kick to the other team. Normally you want to kick it as far as you can. An “onside” kick is one that’s kicked rly short on purpose so that your own team can recover the ball. This is normally a tactic that happens at the end of the game if a team is down by points. It’s really risky because if the opposing team still recovers the ball, they have amazing field position.
You don’t have to throw the football every play in football. A running play is when the QB places the ball in fastest guys hands and he tries to run as far as he can.
When times running out, you’re down by a touchdown, you have nothing to lose, you just CHUCK IT as far as you can and pray to mother Mary that someone on your team is able to catch the ball and run for a touchdown.
When you do something outside of the rules. These are called penalties in hockey. Instead getting a timeout, the referees generally move the team BACK by a certain amount of yards (5, 10 or 15 yards). That means the team is further away from the ever precious touchdown zone, so you really don’t want to get a foul. You know if there’s a foul on the play, if the referee throws out their yellow flag onto the field during the play.
The head coach of each team can “challenge” a call twice a game when they disagree with the referee’s call. They can call a challenge by throwing out a red flag onto the field. If they lose a challenge, they lose a time out.
Each team has 3 timeouts per half and cannot carry over unused timeouts from the first half to the second half. These are normally taken when the head coach is like “WHOA NELLY” we need to sort ourselves out, when the players are like “durrrr don’t remember what we’re supposed to do here”, or as a stalling tactic against the other team.
When one team’s quarterback throws the ball, but the other team catches it. Accidents happen even to the pros.
When there’s an interception and the other team is able to run it all the way back to get a touchdown.
This is when a player tackles the quarterback before the quarterback is able to throw the ball. Normally, a member of th defensive line makes the tackle, as it’s their goal to block the pass, or get the QB. This is HUGE because it means the offensive team loses a lot of yards.
This one’s for all the marbles for the NFL (National Football League). After 16 games in the regular season, followed by three rounds of playoff games, it’s time for the Super Bowl. This is where the best team from the AFC squares off against the best team from the NFC to be named the Champion of the football world. The Super Bowl is also known for the insanely overpriced commercials, the usually star-studded halftime show, eating until you faint, and drinking your pain away when your team loses.
AFC & NFC:
Stands for American Football Conference and National Football Conference. The AFC and NFC have 16 NFL football teams in each, further divided into divisions. The conferences were formed back in the 70s b/c there used to actually be two major professional NFL teams in the States - the American Football League, and the National. Once they combined, they created the NFL, and just divided the teams up into conferences. #history
On our side of the border, the CFL (Canadian Football League) is playing for the Grey Cup. The best team in the East and the best team in the West go toe to toe to win the coveted trophy. Although the party is not as rowdy, the Grey Cup still has half-time entertainment, including the most recent Grey Cup halftime show being performed by the ever-young babe, Shania Twain. Impress me much.
Calling an audible:
Calling an audible basically just means a change of play. Most of the time, before the play begins, players “huddle up” to decide what set play they’re going to run. This means deciding where each player is going to run and where the quarterback is going to look to pass the ball. However, when the quarterback is at the line of scrimmage, if they see something in the opposing teams defense whereby they think the existing play won’t work well OR if they see something in the other teams defense they could exploit more, they can change the play. To do this, they generally yell out some sort slogan referencing another play to a run. This is calling an audible. You may also here people use the phrase “called an audible” for last minute changes they make in their life/at work.
We wrote a GUIDE on this one for you. Check it out here.
Wide receivers (WR):
WR are an offensive position in both the NFL and the CFL. They are considered “wide” receivers because they generally line up at the “wide” side of the field closest to the sidelines. These players tend to be the fastest on the field and are the best at catching the football.
Running Backs (RB):
okay, so these homies are offensive players too. But, instead of catching the ball, the majority of time these players run it - hence the name running back. To get the ball, the quarterback normally hands it off to a running back. These dudes tend to be v quick, but also agile as possible in order to find the seams in the defense. Also, they tend to get tackled A LOT so while they are quick, they’re also strong AF. They tend to have a little bit more of a solid build, in comparison to wide receivers that tend to be more lean and mean for the long sprints and high jumps to catch the ball.
Tight Ends (TE):
This position is seen as a hybrid “role” on the offense. They play similar to a wide receiver (but not as close to the sidelines), but they also are similar to the offensive line - the big boys who are lined up to protect the quarterback. These guys are HELLA athletic because they have both roles. They also tend to be a little bit larger in size, height and weight. One of the best in the league is the forever jokes, Rob Gronkowski.
There’s two types of kickers - a punter as well as a field goal specialist. A punter is the person who drop kicks the ball when the possession turns over on downs. The field goal and kick off specialist kicks the ball from when it’s on the gone ground.
Stands for injured reserve. When players get hurt in the NFL, they can go onto what’s called the “IR”. When they get put on this list it “frees up” a spot on the roster so that another player can be called up.
Metric for the distance of a completed pass a quarterback throws. The record for the number of yards is 5,477 made by Drew Brees in 2013.
Touchdowns that are made by the quarterback throwing to another player on the team not having a player run the ball in.
A metric that records the total number of yards a single player runs as a result of a rushing play. A rushing play is where a player carries the football, as opposed to receiving it from a pass.
This is a touchdown you get from running it across the goal line, not receiving a pass.
There’s a number of yards gained by a receiver (remember those wide receiver guys mentioned from above?!) on a passing play. So basically, it’s the yards that include the distance from the quarterbacks hands, to the catches hands, and then the yards the catcher runs with it after the catch. Basically, it’s the amount of yards a play makes from the line of scrimmage to where the player goes down.
A fumble is basically when a player drops the ball. When they ball is fumbled, whichever teams picks it up takes possession.
Okay blocked kicks are v unlikely. But, it is exactly what the definition says. This can happen when a player is kicking a convert or a field goal, and the defensive team manages to stick up a hand and block the football from going through the goalposts.
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Guide | Glossary | FAQs | Grey Cup | Fantasy | Superbowl LII | Back to Top
What does the “pocket” mean in football?
You might often hear the announcers in a football game say the word pocket. Contrary to popular belief, they are not talking about the pocket on your jeans. A pocket is this safe little space, created by the offensive linemen, where the quarterback stands to throw the football.
Okay, so what do the announcers mean when they say “scramble”?
Basically this means that the quarterback is “scrambling”. This occurs when the QB leaves the comfort of the pocket and has to run outside of the pocket in order to pass the football. This is normally chaotic AF and makes fans v. stressed.
What does “quarterback hovering at 6 ft mean?”
This literally just means that the quarterback is approximately 6 feet tall.
What else does the kicker do? Or do they literally just kick?
Alright. So there’s actually not a position termed “kicker”. In the NFL, there’s a punter and a field goal/kick-off specialist. Let us break it down for you:
Field goal/kick-off specialists are kicking the ball from a static position. The kick-off occurs at the beginning of the game, halftime, or after a field goal/touchdown. This occurs when one team kicks the football from their side of half over to the other side of half to the other team. There’s generally a little stand that holds up the football for the kicker.
Now, a field goal is when the kicker (in this case field goal/kick-off specialist) kicks the football through the uprights… those goal posts in the end zone. What happens during a field goal is: the ball is hutted to a player (usually the punter), who places the football on the ground and holds the top with their fingers, and the field goal specialist kicks it. There are laces on a football, and the laces always must face away from the kicker.
A punter is the player who drop kicks the football. The punter comes out on the field when the team hasn’t advanced the ball ten yards after their designated 3 (in CFL) or 4 (NFL) downs. Their goal is to try to kick the ball as far as they can, kick it as high as they can so that their teammates have time to reach it, and they also generally try to aim for one side of the field so that it helps to force their opponents out of bounds.
After the ball is kicked, both of these players (whichever one is on the field) stay on the field for that play, as there is a chance that the other team catches the football. When they catch the football, they try to run it back to the end zone, so the punter/specialist might actually have to tackle someone.
How do those fat players run so fast?
OK LOL AT THIS QUESTION!!!! Those “fat players” are generally the big boys that play offensive line or defensive line. These guys’ jobs is either to protect the quarterback or to go after the quarterback. The answer of how they run so fast is AGILITY. They are quick like cheetahs. They don’t need to run forever, they only need to take a handful of V QUICK steps, and often times they’re shuffling back ‘n’ forth too. Kind of like a dance. What’s impressive is that they’re able to be so agile and have great recovery time in order to keep up this agility play to play.
Why is the CFL not as popular as the NFL? Is it becoming more popular?
CFL (Canadian Football League) isn’t as popular for a couple of reasons. First, the CFL isn’t of as high quality as the NFL. Generally, when players don’t make the NFL, they come to play in the CFL - cue Johnny Manziel. Outside of the "quality" of play, we think a lot of it also has to do with marketing. The NFL has some very deep pockets and capitalized on creative marketing, fantasy football, sports betting, The Super Bowl halftime show, etc. to get fans onboard.
Why is college football not really a thing in Canada? Because I love FNL!
FNL for all of y’all out there is Friday Night Lights. College football in the US is literally like a religion. Some of the most popular school’s teams actually pull more of an audience than the NFL. It’s a big thing.
Still though, you should know that college football is a thing in Canada! Unfortunately though, the Canadian universities run into the same problem as the CFL. Our schools don’t give full-ride (pay for everything) sports scholarships because our tuition is already so subsidized by the government. On the other hand, in the US, the top college players have legit EVERYTHING paid for, meaning that the top talent will go there first.
Still. Go out and support your university team. Go watch your alma mater and definitely make sure you experience homecoming.
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Guide | Glossary | FAQs | Grey Cup | Fantasy | Superbowl LII | Back to Top
The GIST’s Guide to The Grey Cup
So, we’ve all heard of the Super Bowl, right? Even if you’ve never watched the football game itself, you’ve probably tuned in to watch the star-studded halftime show and the over the top commercials. Well, up here in our neck of the maple-covered woods, you may have also heard whispers of the Grey Cup…
Ah yes, the good ol’ Grey Cup - the Superbowl’s quirky Canadian sister. While the Super Bowl is like a flashy and excessive PARTAAAAY in Vegas, the Grey Cup is more like a backyard bash - it may not be flashy but it will leave you talking and reminiscing about it for decades.
Speaking of decades, this year is the 106th Grey Cup - the ONE-OH-SIX! The Grey Cup is the oldest sports trophy in North America, which is a pretty BFD, and over the years it’s gone through a lot. Like, A LOT.
Recap on the Regular Season
As you may have guessed, the Grey Cup is the culmination of the Canadian Football League (CFL) season. The CFL features nine teams from major cities across Canada, split into two divisions (East & West). The 21-week regular season runs from mid-June to early November, with each team playing a total of 18 games regular season games. Normally at the end of the regular season, the top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. However, in the CFL, a fourth-place team in one division will qualify ahead of the third place team in the other division if they earn more points in the season. This situation has occurred this year, with the BC Lions crossing over to play in the East semi-finals. That means only two teams from the East Division are in this year’s playoffs.
Who’s Not Playing
There are three teams that didn’t make the playoffs:
The Toronto Argonauts were the first team eliminated. The Argos won the 2017 Grey Cup, but with their starting QB, Ricky Ray, sidelined with a scary neck injury, they ended up having a terrible season! Argos coach Mark Trestman ultimately paid the price of their 4-14 (4 wins, 14 losses) season and was fired immediately after the Argos last regular season game. Ouch.
The Montreal Alouettes, who, in fairness were never expected to make it to the Grey Cup, were the second team to be eliminated this year. And that’s even with the notorious ‘Johnny Football’.
Finally, the Edmonton Eskimos were the last team to be eliminated. They didn’t have a bad season per se, but they still just didn’t make the cut.
We Talkin’ About Playoffs
The CFL playoffs will begin with the east semi-finals on November 11th when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-10) will host the BC Lions (9-9) at 1:00 p.m. ET (as mentioned, the Lions are coming over because of the crossover playoff format). Then, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (10-8) will take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders (12-6) for the West semi-finals at 4:30 p.m. ET
That leaves two teams, each of whom had the most points during the regular season in their respective divisions. The Ottawa Redblacks (11-7) who won the East Division and the Calgary Stampeders (12-6) who won the West Division. As a result, they’re both bypassing their division’s semi-finals and will meet the winner of the semi-finals in the division championships on November 18th.
The winner of each division final scores a ticket to the Grey Cup! This 2018 Grey Cup will be hosted in Edmonton, Alberta at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25th and let us tell you, it will be FKN COLD!
The lowdown on the ‘Road to the Grey Cup’
We all know the saying of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Forget the bear, but we’re still saying “oh-my” to the battle of these fierce cats. It’s a toss-up for who will win the East semi-finals. One could argue that the BC Lions have the edge over the Ti-Cats because they won more games in the regular season; however, a West division crossover team has NEVER represented the East Division in the Grey Cup since the crossover format was implemented.
What’s more, the Ticats have home field advantage, which is a major deal in football. It’s also important to note that there’s some dah-rama with these two teams. Why? On September 29th the Lions danced on the Ticats field logo before the game - disrespecting a team’s logo. This is a big no-no in football and you can bet the Ticats will be looking out for some feline vengeance in the playoffs.
Look out for Jeremiah Masoli, starting Ticats QB, who has been the CFL Top Performer of the Week three times this season!
In the West semi-finals, the Roughriders will host the Blue Bombers at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. And man oh man, do these teams ever have a rivalry. The bad blood really started to boil in 2004 when one of the Winnipeg players allegedly called people from Regina a “bunch of banjo-pickin’ inbreds”...and the fight was on! Since then, when these two teams meet in the regular season, the game is affectionately called The Banjo Bowl. You can bet the playoff atmosphere will be cranked up for this game!
This is a matchup of contrasting talents as Winnipeg’s offence is a force to be reckoned with, while Saskatchewan has one of the best defences and special teams squads in the league. And because many people think that defence wins you championships, the Roughriders are the favourite to win this game.
Keep an eye out for Riders QB Drew Tate. Tate literally just came out of retirement to sign with the Riders for the playoffs! He announced his retirement from the Stampeders earlier this June to pursue a coaching career.
You mentioned a party? GIST point me to it!
Similar to the Superbowl, the Grey Cup brings out the celebs. While the Grey Cup may not have Beyonce, Lady Gaga, or Justin Timberlake basking us with their glory, the Grey Cup does highlight incredible Canadian artists during the half-time show. Last year, the one and only, Shania Twain, arrived on a sleigh (LOL, so extra we love it) and put on a performance to remember!
This year’s halftime performer is another bad@$$ Canadian woman, Alessia Cara. We are high-key obsessed with this Grammy-winner and we can’t wait to watch and sing along to her performance. “But still the growing pain, growing pains, they’re keeping me up at night.”
What’s unique about The Grey Cup is that it is not just a one day event; it is a 5-day street festival! So, if you’re #blessed with being in Edmonton for this event, get your snowshoes ready! The party starts off with the Kick-Off Event Party on the Wednesday before the Grey Cup followed by pub crawls, performances, breakfast parties, AND tailgate parties (both outdoor and indoor ‘cause COLD).
Let’s play Trivia!
The first Grey Cup was won in 1909 by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues because back then, many teams that competed for the Cup were not professional. In the modern era, the Toronto Argonauts have won the Cup the most…a total of 17 times!
So it turns out earl grey is not just a delicious tea you have in the morning. Earl Grey is also a Canadian sports legend. Yup, the Grey Cup was donated to the CFL in 1909 by Canada’s Governor General, Earl Grey.
How to watch
Can’t make it to Edmonton or want to stay warm and cozy while watching the game? You can catch all the playoffs and Grey Cup 2018 action on TSN, ESPNNEWS, and ESPN2.
Guest Written by: Samantha Brewer
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The GIST's Guide to Fantasy Football
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, as much as we all want it to be, Fantasy Football has nothing to do with The Bachelor’s Fantasy Suite. Sad, we know.
You may be thinking WTF is fantasy football … and why can’t all of the office bros stop talking about it? Don’t fret, The GIST is here to break it all down for you.
Here’s the deal: fantasy exists in any-kind-of-sport (yup, there’s fantasy hockey, baseball, etc.) and is kinda like a computer game with real-world counterparts. We all know that football exists IRL and we all cheer for our favourite teams/players. BUT, as viewers, we don’t have any decision-making power or skin in the game - players are chosen by the teams’ owners/management, and viewers don’t have a choice in who the teams sign. So. The idea for “fantasy” is that us regular folk can create our ideal team … our “fantasy” team if you will. The catch is, this team is built online. You heard us right. Basically, in fantasy, you choose players from across the league that make up your dream team. Your fantasy team then squares off against other people’s fantasy teams. What’s cool is that as much as your fantasy team exists online, the statistics of actual players in real life games dictate how your fantasy team does.
This may sound a little bit complicated, but we guarantee you, you really don’t need to be a die-hard fan to participate in fantasy sports. Having a basic understanding won’t make you basic; any smart and strategic babe (that’s you!) can take it all. Before we get into it, there are a lot of football references in this guide (duh), so make sure you brush up on your football 101 before diving in.
WTF is Fantasy Such a Big Deal?
It’s important to understand why TF fantasy is as huge as it is. As we at The GIST say all the time, sports have a unique way of uniting people, and fantasy sports are no different. It allows fans to feel like they’ve got a bigger stake in the game; like they knew a rookie would have an incredible season before anyone else, or to claim bragging rights in a part of their life that brings them so much joy. There’s also the less poeticized aspect of having cash money on the line. Would watching a horse run around a track in circles be as entertaining if there was no betting involved? The same adrenaline rush applies to fantasy sports.
In fact, the market for fantasy football is so huge there’s an entire TV show dedicated to it. There are radio stations dedicated solely to fantasy football, and the NFL website even has its own fantasy football section. Basically, FF is a BFD, so it’s time to get on board.
Okay But What’s a Sports Pool, and What’s Fantasy?
In terms of betting on sports IRL against other people, there’s generally pools and then fantasy. A “pool” in sports typically means you’re picking one team to beat the other. “Fantasy” on the other hand usually means you’re picking players to make up your team, which will then face other fantasy teams.
To start, the simplest type of pool is a standard pick ‘em. That means you just pick who you think is going to win in each head-to-head match-up each week. The person in the pool who guesses the most victories wins that week. AND GUESS WHAT - The GIST is hosting our very own football pool that you can join for FREE. Stay tuned for more details on that shortly.
Another type of pool is a survivor pool. Each week, you check the matchups and pick one team that you think will win their game. For example, if the New England Patriots (all-around awesomeness) are playing the Cleveland Browns (general sad pandas), you would choose the team you thought was going to win and then hopefully move on to glory. As long as the team you choose wins, you move on. The catch is you can only choose each team once throughout the 17 week season ... so you may not want to choose all the obvious winners upfront. Oooo some strategy, we love it. Choosing a wrong team means you’re kicked outta the pool. Bye Felicia!
Now, it’s time for fantasy standard draft leagues. These require more effort and understanding, but once you get it, it’s hella fun! Let’s base things off Yahoo Fantasy because it’s the most common website used. So, we’re gonna walk you through how to play fantasy:
First you draft your teams, which means selecting 16 players. These are real pro football players who are top-dogs at their positions. Imagine an all-star season of your favourite reality show: only the best are worthy.
This is what the Yahoo draft page looks like once it’s live:
While this dashboard looks a little complicated, here are all the parts you need to know:
Time in the top left corner: how much time you have to make a player selection. You only get 1-2 minutes to make your selection, which sounds like a lot, but it goes fast!
Red bar underneath: Your spot in the drafting order (see below on how that’s decided).
Draft Order: This is where all the teams in your league are listed, so you can see the order in which each team will select their player.
Middle top: When you click on a player, this is where his face and stats pop up. If they haven’t been drafted yet and you want to pick him, you can click “Add to Queue,” which is basically a waiting spot on the top right of the screen. This makes it easier to find the players you’re interested in.
Middle of the screen: This is where all the available players are - you can search by position to make it easier to navigate. If they have a little red plus sign, it means they’re injured.
Top right: If you’ve added players you want to your queue, this is where you’ll see them. If someone drafts them before you can, they’ll disappear from there.
Middle right: This is where you’ll see the players you’ve taken that make up your team!
Drafting works as a snake. What the heck do snakes have to do with sports? Let’s say your league has 10 people (it has to be an even number). The computer uses an algorithm (#math) to randomly assign you a number from 1-10 and then the order for picking your player will go from person 1 to person 10, then start with person 10 down to person 1, and then repeat, until everyone has filled their rosters. So if you’re drafting 8th, 9th or 10th, you should have two picks ready to go cause that snake moves fast.
Standard leagues draft the following positions: quarterbacks (QB), wide receivers (WR), running backs (RB), tight ends (TE), kickers, and a team defence (meaning you choose the whole Green Bay Packers defence, not an individual player). Some leagues will allow you to draft two WRs and 2 RBs as opposed to just the one.
W-R-T means you can fill that spot with either a WR, RB or TE - it kind of acts like a wildcard. BN is your bench. The bench is like a holding spot for the players you aren’t using that week. IR stands for injured reserve – the place you put #1 pick David Johnson when he dislocates his wrist in the season opener. The IR is strictly reserved for players that are hurt, so there’s no chance you could play them anyway.
Once you draft your players, you set your roster each week. Yes, you’ve got to pick a roster EACH week! Also, FYI: The football week is Thursday to Monday with usually one game on a Thursday, 14 on a Sunday, and one on a Monday. Setting your lineup means deciding who you think is going to get you the most points. So, if one of your running backs is facing a team that has a killer defence, it might be better to bench him for the week. Yahoo provides predictions to help you out.
How Do You Get Points?
Your commissioner (a fancy way to say organizer of the fantasy league) can change how each player earns your team points, but the standard Yahoo scoring is super easy to understand. Here’s a quick breakdown:
|Player||Gets points for:||Loses points for:|
|QB||Passing yards |
|RB||Rushing yards |
|WR||Receiving yards |
*Some leagues are PPR, which means you might get a Point Per Reception
*Sometimes leagues will also allow for running points, but this more rare
|Anybody||Returned touchdown from a punt |
Offensive fumble returned for a touchdown - this means that the team on offense fumbles the ball and the team on defence picks it up for a touchdown. As a result, only the team on defence could win this point.
|Kickers||Field goals (the longer the kick, the more points)|
|Defence||Points allowed (less scoring allowed = more points for you)|
Kickoff and punt return touchdowns
Extra point returned
|Example: if your defence allows more than 35 points, you lose 4 points|
There are two kinds of standard leagues: head-to-head and total points. Head-to-head means your team faces off against another team in your league each week, and whichever team gets the most points, wins that week. Therefore, the ideal season is 13-0. Total points leagues are similar, but instead of a winner and loser each week, your team’s total points are counted over the entire season to determine who finishes where. [A week’s worth of points could be as few as 90 or as many as 175.]
Here is an example of what a head-to-head matchup could look like:
TBH, it sounds more complicated reading it than it is actually playing it.
In a FF League for the First Time? Here Are Some Tips & Tricks:
Step One: come up with the best team name ever! A common formula is a player’s name + something culturally relevant = a pun-tastic FF team name. Some examples include Turn Down for Watt, The Big Gronkowski, Pimpin’ Ain’t Breesy, and Diggs in a Blanket. Think outside the box!
Next, you need to do some research – don’t think of it as boring, going to the library, citing your sources research; but rather using your incredible intellect to assess the scene of the NFL. Plus, there are a lot of websites that kinda do everything for you. These include:
Each site has articles, lists, projections and rankings. Don’t feel like you need to read everything and try not to feel overwhelmed – most of these sites say the same things. They’re valuable for newbies to get an idea of who’s hot and who’s not (although we all know Tom Brady is hot hot hot). Once you have a basic knowledge of who’s injured, sleeper picks (those guys who are fairly low key, but could have high potential to get you a lot of points), the top defences, etc., you’re ready to draft!!
Some hot tips to get you started:
Most importantly, it’s key not to stress too much during the draft because nothing is really permanent. You have the ability to drop and add different players throughout the season, or even trade with other people in your league. If you took someone you regret, do some more research after the draft and drop that player for another one. If your QB gets injured or that one RB just isn’t performing well, get some new ones! You learn a lot as you go.
Don’t pick a quarterback first! While he may be Queen Bee (but not the real Queen Bey), he doesn’t get you the most points. And grab a spare for your bench.
Go for RBs and WRs first. They do most of the scoring.
Take your defence second-last and your kicker dead-last.
Don’t take too many players from one team. Each team gets a bye week (a week off), so you’ll be f***ed if they’re all on your bench.
Stay relaxed, especially if the player you want gets taken, cause it’s def going to happen. Have a few lined up so you’re always ready. Remember, you only have a certain amount of time to choose each player.
Bonus: watch out for injuries during the season. If any player goes down, whether they’re yours or not, try and get their backup!
Here are our top five picks:
Todd Gurley - RB for the Los Angeles Rams
Antonio Brown - WR for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Rob Gronkowski - TE for the New England Patriots
Aaron Rodgers - QB for the Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings defence
*Bonus: Take JuJu Smith-Schuster earlier than he’ll be ranked - he’s the ultimate sleeper/value pick! Plus his name is awesome to cheer!
Good luck and have fun, GISTers!
Written with Guest Writer: Kara Steyn
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The GIST’s Guide to Super Bowl LIII
One of the best sports nights of the year is upon us - it’s the Super Bowl! The Super Bowl is strictly reserved for eating an unhealthy amount of food, watching insanely overpriced commercials, fangirling over the halftime show and drinking to your heart’s content (because it’s socially acceptable to show up late and/or hungover to work the Monday after).
This year is Super Bowl LIII. That’s Roman numerals for 53. Fancy, fancy. After their dramatic AF overtime wins in their Conference Championship games, the New England Patriots (reppin’ the AFC) are playing against the LA Rams (reppin’ the NFC) at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3rd. It’s the Patriots’ third straight Super Bowl appearance (insane) and they’re entering this one as the slight 2.5 point favourites over the Rams.
Deets on the Teams
These teams squared off in the Super Bowl all the way back in 2001 (when the LA Rams were the St. Louis Rams… more on that later), with the Patriots winning 20-17. The Patriots have won a total of five Super Bowls whereas the Rams have won it only once, back in 1999. To put that in perspective, in ‘99 Lou Bega’s banger Mambo No. 5 was released. We said 1,2,3,4,5.
During the regular season, the Patriots had an 11-5 record while the Rams touted a slightly better record at 13-3. HOW-EV-ER, like a night out in Vegas with your best friends, anything can happen in the Super Bowl.
Players to look out for
Obvi both teams have star studded line-ups, or else they wouldn’t be in the Bowl. Here’s the three players from each team you need to know:
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Tom Brady, Quarterback (QB), #12:
Not only is Tom Brady really really really ridiculously good looking, but he’s also arguably the best QB of all time. Brady has played in the NFL for a whopping 18 years (the average career of a football player is six years), is one of only two players to have won five Super Bowls, and is the only QB ever to do so. He’s played in 12 AFC Championship Games winning a record eight of them. On top of that, at 41 years old he’s the oldest QB to ever win a playoff football game and is married to the most beautiful woman on the planet. Simply stunning (literally).
What makes this story all the more impressive is that Brady was a bit of a loser in college. While he might look like this now, he used to look like this. Sure, today he’s arguably the GOAT QB, but he was selected 199th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL entry draft—most sixth rounders rarely get a chance to play, let alone become the most dominant the league has ever seen.
Hate him or love him, if Brady wins this Super Bowl, he will solidify his title as the GOAT. It doesn’t look like this old man is going to slow down anytime soon.
Gronk is Brady’s #1 target. Although he’s a big guy, like 6’6” and 265 pounds big, he has great hands. And, thanks to his size, once he catches the ball, he literally just bulldozes the opposing team out of his way. Off the pitch, Gronk is a fan fave. This guy doesn’t take himself too seriously and is pretty jokes. Want an example? Look no further.
After being sidelined for the entire 2017/18 season due to an ACL injury, Edelman came back this season with a vengeance. While Edelman’s physique is the opposite of Gronk at only 5’10” and 198 pounds, this guy doesn’t let his small size stop him. Edelman is known for his roadrunner-like speed, making clutch passes and taking hard hits for the team. Look for Brady to throw to Edelman A LOT this Super Bowl.
Bill Belichick, Head Coach:
Okay. You can’t talk about the Patriots without talking about the Wizard of Oz head coach, Bill Belichick. Belichick started with the Patriots back in 2000—the same year as Brady. Talk about a match made in heaven. Belichick is one of, if not THE best coach of all time as he is the only NFL coach to win five Super Bowls. Casual. On top of him being a coaching genius, we love him for his stoic yet jokes press conference demeanor and his ugly AF crop sleeve (that he clearly cut himself) grey hoodie.
Jared Goff, QB, #16:
The Rams are led by 24-year-old young buck Jared Goff. Unlike Brady, Goff is fairly new to the NFL, joining in 2016. Not everything has been sunshine and rainbows for Goff in the NFL. In his first season he lost all seven games he played (yikes) and in 2017 he took the Rams to the playoffs but lost in the wild card round. But now, in 2018, he’s in the Super Bowl. Started from the bottom now he here. The question is… will this inexperienced QB be able to handle the pressure that is the biggest game in football? Only time will tell.
Although he had an absolutely sh!t NFC Championship game, Todd Gurley is arguably the best RB in the NFL. He rushed for the third-most yards this regular season thanks to his explosive running style. Same as Goff, Gurley is only 24 years old and already has so many highlight videos about him it’s nuts. Let’s see if he’ll be able to shake-shake-shake off the disaster that was the NFC Championship game and turn things around for the Super Bowl.
Brandin Cooks, WR, #12:
The theme of young players keeps on going for the Rams. Twenty-five year old Cooks is the best WR for the Rams and is Goff’s go-to target. Fun fact? Cooks was traded from New England in April 2018 to the LA Rams. So, you better believe he’ll be seeking sweet sweet revenge against his former team.
Sean McVay, Head Coach:
At only 32 years old, McVay is the youngest (and hottest) head coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl. While Patriots Coach Belichick is a bonafide football genius, many are calling Sean McVay the ‘new school’ answer to the 66-year-old’s old-school domination. McVay has also earned the nickname ‘Rain Man’ because he apparently remembers every single play call he’s ever made. Freaky.
Alright. We recognize that we’ve only talked about the offensive players for each of these teams. Offence just seems more fun and both of these team are offensive power houses. HOW-EV-ER, as the old adage goes, offence wins you games, defence wins you championships.
The dude to look out for on the Rams is defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He’ll be putting the pressure on Brady all game long. For the Patriots, keep a close eye on the McCourty twins - yep, twins! Devin is a free safety and Jason is a cornerback.
On top of winning the Super Bowl, each player on the winning team receives $188k USD from the league while the losing team walks away with $59k. And, most teams pay a bonus to each player on top of that. Not bad for a day’s work!
But What About the Food & Entertainment?
Because let’s be honest, we’re all really here for the halftime show, the commercials and to eat copious amounts of unhealthy food after being limited by Whole30 and Dry January. This year’s halftime show artist is Maroon 5 because they have the moves like jagger. Also joining them on stage is Travis Scott (Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend) and Big Boi (random). But, choosing performers for the Super Bowl didn’t come without controversy as the NFL’s first choice, Rihanna, declined to perform in support of unsigned QB Colin Kaepernick.
Speaking of dah-rama... rumours are swirling that Travis Scott might propose to Kylie at the Super Bowl this year! In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, Scott said he was waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ to propose to Kylie... and what’s more perfect than proposing onstage while over 100M people watch? Nothing. Honestly, these rumours aren’t too crazy. Last year, the couple used the Super Bowl to announce the existence of their daughter Stormi, and the Kardashian family is used to being proposed to in sports stadiums. Nothing’s out of the question!
Anyway, we digress. Moving on to the commercials. A commercial for the Super Bowl costs about $5M USD for a 30 second spot. $5M for 30 seconds - that’s $167k per second! Does anyone else find this absurd or is it just us?! This year there are some new companies making their Super Bowl commercial debuts, brands like Bumble (who will be debuting what looks like a kick-@$$ campaign starring the GOAT Serena Williams), Proctor and Gamble, Olay and Kraft. Staple Super Bowl brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev (who apparently is airing eight different ads… spending about $40M), Avocados from Mexico (to be enjoyed while eating guac) and Kia are returning. To that we say, wwwaasssuupppp.
Some Super Bowl Trivia
For the next couple of weeks, everyone is gonna be talking about Super Bowl Sunday. Here’s some fun facts for you to toss out during the conversation:
Outside of Thanksgiving, Americans consume more food during the Super Bowl than any other day. Apparently, over 160 million avocados are consumed. Everything they avo-wanted.
The average face-value cost per ticket is between $950-$5k. To put things in perspective, that’s basically the cost of two months rent in Toronto.
The LA Rams team have relocated more times than your friend who keeps moving to ~find herself~. The Rams were founded in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams. In 1946, they became the LA Rams until they moved to St. Louis in 1995. It wasn’t until 2016 that the team moved back to California.
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