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Lions know dealing with fantasy is a reality

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Dan Orlovsky has had to have serious conversations about fantasy football with some of his friends.

The backup quarterback, like a lot of Lions players, doesn’t want to talk about the popular activity for fans. He doesn’t want to share details of who’s healthy or who will have what role as he focuses on preparing to play the games that actually count.

And free safety Glover Quin agrees.

“Oh, I shut that trash down,” he said Wednesday.

But, even though he doesn’t participate in fantasy football or provide advice, Quin has found a way to benefit from the activity players acknowledge has helped increase the popularity of the NFL.

The Lions’ star safety said his team of investors put money last offseason into DraftKings and FanDuel, two daily fantasy sports websites that have become incredibly popular in 2015.

“Fantasy is a huge thing and a bunch of people play,” Quin said. “Everybody plays it and FanDuel and DraftKings are two companies that are blowing it up right now.”

The two companies could also be blown up in a different way in the near future as the legality of gambling on fantasy sports has come into question. But Quin compared the regulation of the fantasy sites to the popular transportation service Uber, which faced lawsuits from taxi companies.

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“When you do stuff to change the world, there’s going to be regulations you have to go through,” he said.

Whether or not daily fantasy websites have changed the world is certainly up for debate, but Quin has seen how fantasy football has altered the fan experience.

“Fantasy changed the way people looked at game, honestly,” he said. “When you think about it, if you grew up and you were a (Washington) fan, you didn’t like the Cowboys. But if you got Dez Bryant on your fantasy team, you still might not like the Cowboys, but you want Dez Bryant to score.”

Players have a varied level of involvement in fantasy football. Tight end Eric Ebron is among the players who participate in leagues.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford played for the first time last year, but said he didn’t know what he was doing.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he has no issue with Quin’s investments as long as they’re legal, which they are for now. Quin said he’s currently invested in six or seven companies, including SmartyPants Vitamins that makes the gummies he eats.

He doesn’t know how the fantasy football investments have done as he lets his investors handle his money, and his team suggested DraftKings and FanDuel would be a smart bet.

“I love private equity,” he said. “I love helping businesses grow and seeing how it turns out. It’s fun; it’s a rush.

“I play football. That is my job, and I have other people that do other things.”

The only fantasy sport in which Quin has participated was NBA, but he said he didn’t like it because there were too many games.

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Even though he doesn’t play, Quin said he supports fantasy football and might play after his career.

Quin and Orlovsky, of course, aren’t alone in being prodded for fantasy advice. Even Stafford said fantasy questions pop up frequently when he talks to fans. Sometimes, fantasy issues take precedence over an autograph, though “selfies are big these days, too,” Stafford said.

Star wide receiver Calvin Johnson can’t escape fantasy questions either. He said the discussion over the game is “nonstop.”

“(Fans) just (say), ‘I’ve got you on my fantasy team, you’ve got to do this and that this week,’” Johnson said. “I’m like, ‘All right.’”

Even though the questions can become an annoyance at times, the players understand what fantasy football has done for the sport.

“It’s great for the game,” Orlovsky said. “It’s grown our game to demographics and really people who didn’t care about football or like football that much.

“It’s made it much more relatable to them and they feel part of it, so it’s great for the growth of the game and obviously it brings revenue to the game.”

And Quin hopes it’ll do the same for his bank account.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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