Fantasy Football Sweeps the Nation, especially North Dakota

Judging by the selection of fantasy football guides at a local bookstore (I found 8 magazines devoted solely to helping you in your draft) and all the spots on television, it seems that fantasy football is bigger than ever. While off-line coverage is a good indication that the game has hit the mainstream, the real scope of fantasy football can be best seen where the game is played — online.

ESPN and Yahoo! dominate the fantasy football world, with Yahoo! being the overall leader with over 135% more session since the beginning of July. The map above shows which geographical areas the traffic is coming from and is relatively in line with the U.S. population density. The ESPN and Yahoo! fantasy football traffic shows a slightly different story when indexed against the state population.

The above map shows the intensity of fantasy football participation on the two major sites by state. For example, North Dakota had the highest intensity with 185,543 sessions from a state population of 635,867 for an intensity measure of 29%. This methodology evens the playing field and eliminates the bias of population density to show the truly impassioned fantasy football states.

  • Three states have three professional football teams, yet none of them finished in the top half of the state rankings in terms of intensity. New York was the highest at 29 with, followed by Florida at 38 and California at 45.
  • The Colts Super Bowl run last season may have helped increase Indiana’s fantasy football intensity — coming in third behind North Dakota and Delaware.
  • Wyoming ranks as the least intense fantasy football state, coming in last with only 3%.

Four of the top ten states do not have an NFL franchise, which helps show just how widespread the popularity of fantasy football has become.

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