Fantasy Football Popularity Across America

Put down your eggnog and grab your draft roster—it may be too late to pick a killer team name, but there are still a few weeks left for 2017 fantasy football. Whether you and your keeper league sprint to the finish or just dip a toe in with a daily contest, you could still eke out a few more wins!

How popular is this virtual sport? Take a look below at America’s top cities for fantasy football and the mega-business behind the nation’s new favorite pastime.

The Country’s Top Cities for Fantasy Football

Heatmap of Fantasty football popularity

Depending on your city, fantasy football might be about to take over your office. The top cities in the US for fantasy football share a unique mix of die-hard sports fans, locally beloved teams, and wonderfully cold weather.

Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin and Minnesota are America’s top states for fantasy football. Green Bay is always a contender for the top slot, and the Cheeseheads are looking to keep their title; an estimated one in twenty-nine residents in Green Bay regularly take part in a league.

Residents in Mankato, Minnesota, live and breathe fantasy football, and the sport permeates local radio stations, newspapers, and nearly every water cooler conversation in the city. Mankato is America’s top city this year, and we’re betting it’s the cold Minnesota weather keeping everyone indoors and able to check on their favorite teams.

Fantasy Football Numbers at a Glance

Fantasy Football Statistics

The Nation’s Top Cities for the NFL

NFL Football Heatmap Popularity

Nearly every state has a favorite football team, and allegiances across the United States run deep. Still, America’s favorite sport has hot spots across the US. America’s number-one, and likely most popular, sports team, the Dallas Cowboys, brings Texas firmly into the top of the list for number of fans per capita: both El Paso and San Angelo, Texas, make a showing in the top five cities. The Cowboys’ popularity covers the entire south-central US and, surprisingly, a good chunk of Nevada as well.

Parkersburg, West Virginia, makes a confident appearance as the top city for NFL fans. The enthusiastic Steelers fans of this eastern state share their allegiance with Pennsylvania, and that fan loyalty is fiercely regional. While baseball fans tend to disperse across the US, football fans stick closely with their states’ home teams. States like West Virginia could almost draw their state lines with Steelers fan bases alone.

This Year’s Fantasy Football League

As fantasy football’s popularity soars, it will be easier than ever to get a draft together each year. Standard snake drafts are still a leading format for fantasy football leagues, but teams with other marginal features, like number of points per reception, are gaining popularity. These features offer more variants for stat geeks to pour their time into as they participate in competitions during the year.

This season may set new records for fantasy football’s popularity, but can the online leagues beat out the NFL itself? You’ve still got time to find out with one of DISH’s all-inclusive TV packages.

Fantasy Football Industry

The Industry

The NFL and fantasy football may be intimately tied, but thanks to intellectual property cases, the football league misses out on a lot of the payoff. Still, the value of the NFL’s thirty-two teams is estimated at approximately $63 billion dollars, making the NFL one of the largest sports franchises in the world.

Last year’s Super Bowl brought in 111.3 million viewers, a staggering number of sports fans that dwarfs—and incorporates—fantasy football’s total fan base. In fact, twenty-six out of the top twenty-seven television programs in 2015 were NFL games, giving football a comfortable lead as America’s favorite sport until fantasy football came into play.

Fantasy football may have humble beginnings, but today’s industry is anything but. In 2017, the average American will laid down an average of $556 for their fantasy football league and related costs, contributing billions of dollars to the US economy. And depending on which drafting site you run your league through, you could be eligible for millions of dollars in prizes during the season. Unfortunately, that number pales in comparison to the number of lost work hours per week. We’ve all checked our favorite players’ stats in the break room—and that distraction contributes to around $17 billion in productivity losses annually.

If we’re counting productivity losses, ad revenues, and the money spent in the actual leagues by the millions of fantasy football players, the fantasy football market’s value is estimated between $40 to $70 billion.


We pulled Google Trends data by metro to identify Fantasy Football interest and NFL interest across America with key search terms “fantasy football” and “NFL schedule 2017” respectively.

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