Prior to the 2009 season, it was estimated that over 27 million individuals would be participating in fantasy football leagues across the country. While each league has its own competitive banter, rules, scoring systems and prize, only one is considered to be the league for fantasy football participants to claim that they are in fact the best.
The World Championship of Fantasy Football (or WCOFF) is the high-stakes money league that has an up front cost of $1,750 for a single team and drafts every September in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each year, only one team can claim that it was in fact the best and it just so happens that this year’s winner was owned by a Clevelander.
Jason Conn is a 39-year old resident of Cleveland’s west side and has been playing fantasy football for quite some time. While he and his colleagues have had some success over the years, this year’s team – named “Team Shocker” – was the one that topped all other 875 teams that participated in the 2009 WCOFF and brought home $300,000 in prize money.
While his name was the one that was tagged on to this very team, Jason was quick to point out that this was by no means a one-man operation over the course of the last few years.
“We started out playing [WCOFF] in 2004,” he said. “Back then it was only one team. Last year, six of us went in and split two teams. This year, we had a little more interest and ten of us split four teams.”
Jason and six of his friends flew out to Las Vegas in September, where each team was given one main “owner” who would select a team. Each team was a part of a 12-team league and would go on to select 20 rounds of players whom would compile the statistics (hopefully) needed to win their respective divisions.
“It’s a league with the best of the best,” Conn explained. “Every guy that owns a web site or a magazine, they are there trying to win the same league that we are.”
Conn’s team averaged 144 points per week through the 11-week regular season; a very high total for a given week let alone an average of 11. And the key to Team Shocker’s success? Look no further than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson.
“Chris Johnson was a player that you had to have,” said Conn. He had an amazing year and will likely be the first overall selection come next season.”
Other players that paved the way to the big win included Houston’s Andre Johnson, Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco, San Diego’s Antonio Gates, Dallas’ Tony Romo and a late-round selection of Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.
Another key to success may have been Conn’s unintentional avoidance of all things Cleveland Browns. Though admittedly not by design, Conn claimed that (to his knowledge) the four teams were all absent of Cleveland Browns players.
So what does a guy in his 30s do with his prize money? With the $300,000 being split 10 ways via the investment set-up, Conn claimed that most of his share would be going to pay back some outstanding debt.
“Unfortunately nothing sexy or exciting,” said Conn.
But by no means would he rule out using some of the funds to enter again next season. With Team Shocker’s recent success (Conn’s team also won his division back in 2006 as well, earning $6,000 in prize money), there may even be a fifth team come 2010.
“We could pull back, but I think we will have the opposite problem,” claimed Conn. We will likely have people coming out of the woodwork to be a part of next year’s teams.”
For the next several months, Conn’s fantasy team will be touted as the world’s best. Come this September, hundreds of others will be converging on Las Vegas vying for his place among the best. Here’s to a repeat championship for an excellent group of Clevelanders.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)