There’s no disputing that the NFL is a huge part of American life and leisure.  Each year the NFL generates around $15 billion in revenue.  Every week during the season, tens of millions of spectators watch their favorite teams battle it out, whether they’re watching the matches live or from the comfort of their own TV rooms.

But just watching isn’t enough for lots of these fans, especially the ones who live, breathe and sleep the game. They want to get even more involved – and there are a couple of ways of doing this. Gaming fans can get their hands on the latest version of Madden NFL (or maybe one from a previous season) and create their own action on-screen. People who are more keen on strategizing can try their hand at fantasy football where they use their skill, judgment, and knowledge to create a dream team that leaves others in their wake.

Of course, lots of fans play both but we’re here to decide which one’s the Super Bowl winner and which is the runner up.

The Origins of the Games

Way back long ago – well in 1962 – a man called Wilfred Winkenbach established the very first fantasy football league. “Bill The Gill”, as he was known, was a partner in the Oakland Raiders. On a cross country trip with the team, he came up with the idea of a fantasy game and gave it the fancy title of “Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League”, or GOPPPL for short.

The original GOPPPL draft
Wish I’d drafted Y. A. Tittle

Gradually more leagues began to spread out across the country, slightly altering the rules and scoring systems as they went. Today there are literally thousands of leagues and it’s been embraced by the NFL itself.

Madden NFL, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer only having appeared in its first playable format back in 1988. Up until 1993 it was known as John Madden Football but the name change was made to accommodate the yearly updates in the title as well as to reflect the fact that the rights had been acquired to use the league’s team names and players. It’s hugely popular, having sold an estimated 130 million copies worldwide.  It’s also a big money spinner for the NFL, generating increased fan engagement and brand awareness, as well as the hefty licensing fee paid by EA Sports.

John Madden Football (1988 video game) - Wikipedia
Boom!

Madden NFL and Fantasy Football:  The Head to Head

Madden NFL and fantasy football will always have their differences, but there are many similarities too. Let’s try to pick through both and see if we can reach some kind of conclusion.

The first major difference is that when it comes to fantasy football, there are countless different types of leagues to choose from. These range from head-to-head to all-play leagues in which every team plays every other one every week. There are even salary cap leagues that add an extra level of reality to the game.

Madden NFL is more of a straightforward game. You pick your team, you take on your opponents and you play – simple as that. So, when it comes to having plenty of choice about how you’re going to play, fantasy football has to be the winner.

When it comes to picking your teams, that’s a closer call. A huge part of the enjoyment of fantasy football is putting together the sort of team that you think is going to carry all before it.  You’ll find that there’s always going to be plenty of advice on NFL picks online with commentators and other experts at talent spotting making their contributions. Madden also lets you make your own picks and even create your own teams. Plus many of the player ratings that are released with each new variation of the video game are based on real-life evidence.

Both give fans the opportunity to be the manager of the team in question and make adjustments if they seem to be underperforming in their games.  This round is a tie.

But once the teams are chosen and the play is about to start, that’s where the real differences start to kick in.  Passive or active: that’s the choice.

Can you explain what my opponents rankings mean against each position? Yahoo fantasy football. First time user. : Fantasy_Football

Once the games kick-off, with fantasy football you’re nothing but a passive observer. It’s time to sit back and see whether the decisions that you made were the right ones. Is your offense strong enough and your defense capable of standing up to the opposition? But with Madden NFL you’re in the thick of the action, controlling the play and adapting to the conditions. The two couldn’t be more different in this respect, and this seems a clear win for Madden.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

Both Madden NFL and fantasy football enhance the player’s enjoyment of NFL action in different ways. In the case of fantasy football, it encourages a far more in-depth analysis of the professional players’ strengths and weaknesses to create a dream team. With Madden NFL it’s more a case of controlling favorite players to do exactly what you want them to do on-screen. For video game fans, and people who have the skills to play them, this is great. But for others, they’ll just never see the point.

One thing we haven’t mentioned so far is money. Both games can win money for players, especially if you become an accomplished Madden NFL semi-pro but it may be marginally easier to make a profit from fantasy football.

In the end, this adds up to a question of preference. For the more thoughtful, strategic types it’s probably going to be fantasy football all the way. But for gamers, Madden NFL is the clear answer. For both groups, there’s no doubt both games will provide many hours of entertainment.


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