WRITTEN BY FRANK STAMPFL

The online world of fantasy football takes the casual fan and turns them into crazy general managers.

Fantasy football is a competition in which everyday people get to draft a team of NFL players and go head-to-head with their buddies every week. The actual draft can be performed online or in person. Each team earns points based on the production of their players. For example, if a running back scores a touchdown, that would be worth six points (although point values will vary). Whoever produces the most points that week, is the victor. Leagues usually consist of 4-24 teams but the most common leagues have ten or twelve teams.

The fun part is, anybody can participate in a league, regardless of age, gender, or location. Even a person who has never watched football before can draft a team. All he/she needs is Internet access.

Kenneth McLoughlin is a student at St. Francis as well as a first-time fantasy football player.

“I like fantasy football for the social purposes. All of my friends play” said McLoughlin. “Also, I’m playing to prove a point that anybody can win.”

Fantasy football league gives an ordinary person the role of general manager. If somebody has ever dreamt of running an NFL team, fantasy football makes that a reality. Although the word “fantasy” is in the title, it becomes extremely real. First time owners will come to learn that this is much more than a game; it becomes addictive.

The main reason fantasy football becomes so addictive is because it requires hours and weeks of work if an owner is passionate about winning the league championship. After a team is drafted, the owner must make all the right decisions to ensure victory. They must be able to set a weekly lineup based on matchups, monitor players’ injuries, pickup free agents and possibly even make trades. Throughout a fantasy football owners’ career, they will also learn that a substantial amount of luck is needed at times during close games. An owner will develop a sense of pride in his/her team. Like any other job there is in life, a person wants to see their hard work and dedication turn into something positive.

Another reason fantasy football can become addictive is because of money. Gambling is a serious addiction, and there are fantasy football leagues where an owner may have to “buy in” to get a team. Every owner pays up and suddenly there is another reason to be the best in the league, besides pride. Fantasy football now becomes an investment where people can win serious money if they make the right decisions.

Justin Worsley is another student at St. Francis who participates in a fantasy football league on his free time.

“I think it brings a whole new aspect into how we watch football”, said Worsley. “People still support their own teams, but now they keep an eye out for individual players as well.”

Fantasy Football starts way before the season even gets under way. Owners that have played before will always want to get an edge on the other league members. Owners begin their pre-season rituals usually around the time when NFL players report to training camp, although some fanatics will start even before that. These owners will begin studying and doing research any way that they can. They will purchase magazines, read online articles, make notes, take part in mock drafts, and eventually make their own rankings.

Next up is draft day, where things can get hectic. The reason owners spend all that time studying is to get an idea of what players they can draft in certain rounds. He/she sits and waits impatiently as they wait for their pick but there is always that chance that somebody else will draft the player they want. This happens numerous times throughout draft day, which often results in outbursts (screaming during live drafts or emotional messages during online drafts). There is no better feeling then walking away from a draft as a winner.

Fantasy football is great way to experience the NFL as it adds incentive to watch teams other than your favorite. It can create strong bonds with friends as long as it is played the right. It should be fun and competitive but should never get out of hand.

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