Hey Fantasy Rookies, We Can Help You Crush Your League

From left to right: Courtney Kirby, Brandon Marianne Lee, Ashley Williams Noah Begley/paperandlight.photo

As little girls, our weekends revolved around two things. On Saturday, our family watched Colorado Buffaloes games. Sundays were devoted to the Denver Broncos.

We were a football family, and that was before we -- "we" refers to the Her Fantasy Football team of Brandon, Ashley and Courtney, or the Sisters Williams -- were even born. Papa Williams played safety and wide receiver for CU until injuries ended his career. Mama Williams fell in love with football as a young girl, and became particularly infatuated with defensive backs once she met Dad.

So we were destined to become fanatics. We were all going to watch football as a family, and we were all going to love it. And we do.

That's why a year ago, we decided to take our obsession with the game to another level, and we started a podcast dedicated to the female fantasy football experience. We called it Her Fantasy Football, and we specifically aimed it at the people -- oftentimes women -- who feel intimidated by the sheer volume and presumed complexity of the game.

It's not that hard! Seriously. Don't be intimidated. Stick with us this year as we join forces with espnW.com to speak directly to you every week. ESPN.com has the best stats, analysis and league management in the business, and we'll send you there frequently. But for the basics, the stuff that's going to help you feel confident enough to sign up, then eventually win ... we can help you there.

So now you're wondering, Why should I trust these three sisters?

Well, as mentioned a little bit above, we have loved and followed the sport of football for 30 years now. It's practically in our DNA! We were lucky enough to be season-ticketholders during the John Elway glory days. When Mile High was torn down, our seats ended up in Mama and Papa Williams' basement, in the game room.

Then we fell in love with fantasy football.

Brandon was part of a theatre message board -- wait, come on, don't go ... stay with us here -- and one of the guys put up a post asking if anyone wanted to play in his league. She responded with an immediate, "Yes!" Once she started putting together spreadsheets -- another love of hers -- she knew she was in the right spot.

Then she realized that she had to get the whole family involved! Fantasy football became the perfect family bonding experience.

We each threw in $20 (unless we aren't allowed to talk about money pots here at espnW, in which case, uh, we were totally kidding; we only ever play for love of the game) and we were on our way, like ducks in water.

Want to guess who won that first year? Mama Williams. Boom.

By Year 2, Papa Williams had purchased a traveling trophy and decided that he could not allow anybody else in the family to win. He's won once, and seems pretty confident he'll be going for No. 2 in 2014. Mom bought an extra laptop because she didn't want to share the computer with Dad on Sundays. They both lay in bed and watch "Fantasy Football Now" with their own laptops. It's hardcore.

The league has grown from the five original Williams family members to eight current players. To fill it up, each of the sisters was allowed to pick a friend. Courtney and Brandon found keepers -- they ended up marrying their invites!

It's super serious business for the Williams women, and we're not alone. In 2011, ESPN reported that 5.8 million women play fantasy football. They made up 20 percent of the fantasy community. Through all of our interactions with fellow players on our podcast podcast, on Twitter and Facebook) we know that the numbers of participating women have grown.

That also leads to a key part of the way we play fantasy football. You can find all sorts of incredible analysis and debate about whether Peyton Manning is a better pick than Aaron Rodgers, and we read all of it. But sometimes it feels like fantasy analysts end up competing over who can apply the most obscure stat to each player's projections. Seriously, no one cares if a quarterback has the fifth-best completion percentage on balls thrown 38 or more yards down the field. Especially since he probably only does it once a game.

So we have tried to simplify things, and that's why we have a simple relationship-based rating system that cuts through all of the clutter. LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson are two of the very best players in the game, so we consider them "Marriage Material" (elite players). Arian Foster and Andre Johnson? "Boyfriend Potential" (terrific catches). Wes Welker and Vernon Davis -- "It's Complicated" (pretty good placeholders until you find something better). And so on.

We want to become the home for levelheaded people who love fantasy football, but don't want it as their second job. Games are supposed to be fun. No one should feel too intimidated to try. Trust us, you will love it.

Editor's note: espnW aims to speak to all women who love sports, from the deeply engaged to the casual fan. For the already knowledgeable, serious fantasy football player -- female or male -- ESPN's extensive fantasy football coverage offers everything they might need.

Given that, we were struck by the unique voices of the women at Her Fantasy. Far from being a patronizing effort, we saw the sisters' voices as an entertaining layer to supplement ESPN's existing coverage. For fantasy rookies, they offer an alternative, tongue-in-cheek approach that we enjoyed and think readers who are new to the game might, too. In this particular post, one of several already on espnW.com, they were deliberately playful with relationship tropes and categories -- all in the spirit of having fun with the game and having a good laugh. Understanding that the lighthearted approach here was misunderstood as perpetuating the very stereotypes we intended to have fun with, we will not use the relationship category conceit moving forward. We look forward to working with the Her Fantasy team this season to develop their voices with espnW.