Fantasy Football is a trend that is reaching classrooms across the country as teachers search for lessons that go beyond traditional textbooks and worksheets to tap students’ interests. Empirical data show that classroom fantasy-sports programs help improve grades and test scores. In a 2009 survey of middle and high school students by the University of Mississippi, 56 percent of boys and 45 percent of girls said they learned math easier because they played fantasy sports in class. And 33 percent of boys and 28 percent of girls said their grades improved.
- Students will be engaged in math with a real-world connection.
- Students will research football teams and players and make predictions based upon historical data.
- Students will analyze and calculate statistics to determine point values and percentages.
Build Framework for Learning
Provide students with the books and give them an opportunity to read, share, and discuss the players, teams, and stats that they find interesting. Give the students a copy of the Research Web handout and ask them to complete it based upon their pick for the best player. Allow them to compare and contrast their best choices for the best players. Discuss which achievements are the most important and what contributes to the value, or worth, of a professional football player to his team.
Create a Fantasy Football League
Assign values to professional or college players and decide upon a salary cap for the students to build a team of eleven players and two defenses. Post the draft picks on the board or butcher paper for students to review. Remind them to use the books as references as they build their team. Give each student a copy of the Fantasy Football Roster Worksheet to identify players.
Math in the Real World
Decide the criteria for the scoring. For older kids, you may decide to use the standard Fantasy Football formulas. Or, you may decide to create your own scoring process that reinforces grade-appropriate math skills. For example:
To calculate total points
TP = (Passing yards + Rushing yards + Points) — Interceptions Thrown
Calculate rushing yards: Total yards rushing x 2.5
Calculate points: Total points / 6
Calculate interceptions thrown: Total interceptions x 3
Challenge older students with more difficult equations. For example:
TP = Points + Rushing Yards + Passing Yards — Fumbles — Interceptions
Each point is worth .025
Each rushing yard is worth .30
Each passing yard is worth .10
Each fumble is worth -.083
Each Interception is worth -.063
Once you have established the scoring criteria, have a class discussion about which of the factors will impact the team scores the most and the least. Then, ask the students to finalize their team player choices.
Collect the Data
Each week, use newspapers or online resources to analyze the stats. Give each student a Team Total Worksheet so they can calculate totals. Once they have calculated the total, instruct them to exchange with two students to check the work. Students will enjoy the competition and will forget that they are actually practicing math.