Fantasy football can be a ton of fun, but winning your league requires months of careful research, late nights searching for updates on players you barely even know exist, and the toll of an emotional roller-coaster played out in fifteen minute increments. It also requires math! Specifically, it involves reading and understanding a wide range of player statistics, optimizing your team player by player based on an ever-dwindling pool of prospects.
Our Rational Football League activity was like a full season of fantasy football injected with targeted math standards and stuffed into a single class period. Students, working in pairs, drafted a six-player team given just two statistics and three options for each position. These statistics were randomly generated, so each pair of students was presented with a vastly different set of players. To understand which player to draft for a given position, students had to use ratio and proportional reasoning (the focus of the unit) to compare the three options, then decide which of the two stats they deemed more important. They justified their choices on paper, including both their mathematical reasoning and their football strategies.