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Don’t Be Afraid of Fantasy Football

Fantasy football is a polarizing topic — at least among my friends. Some are obsessed with the pseudo-sport and spend more time during the football season selecting their lineups and trash-talking within their leagues than they do working at their full-time jobs. Others have never participated in a fantasy league and refuse to even talk about it. When you ask the question, “Do you want to join our league this year?” they don’t even let you finish before they say, “NO!”

Not everyone loves the game of football. We get it.

However, we believe that everyone can learn to love fantasy football. This hobby allows you to keep in touch with friends and be entertained along the way.

Before you hate on fantasy football, let us dispel some myths.

Fantasy football takes too much time.

Fantasy football can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. We have some friends who labor for hours, analyzing matchups and recent performances before making the decision to start David Johnson, ARI (this year’s No. 1 draft pick in most fantasy leagues) over Frank Gore, IND. It does not need to be this complicated. Choose the better player or the one you like more.

Weekly start/sit decisions can easily take less than one minute per week. Most platforms give projected scores for each player every week. Pick the players projected to score the most or who you have a good feeling about and walk away. Quick, easy, and it will make watching a football game, or even just the highlights, more fun.

Most fantasy drafts take between one and two hours. This happens once at the beginning of the season, and it simply determines your lineup of players to start the season. After that, the only time commitment is managing your lineup, which can easily be done in less than five minutes per week.

Worst-case scenario: 200 minutes of time for a 16-week season — about the same amount of time as watching one full NFL game.

You need to know a TON about the sport and players to enjoy fantasy football.

Fantasy football, like many things in life, is not that complicated. It’s admittedly more fun when you’re well-informed, but it is not required. Over time, you’ll learn about the players on your team and when the news or ESPN mentions them, you’ll feel more engaged.

Most fantasy football decisions come down to one thing: minimizing risk. When making decisions, simply ask yourself, “What is the most likely thing to happen in any given week?” Keep things easy and stress-free by simply picking players who are doing well and you think will continue to do well, whether you know their names or not.

We learned about this concept from a great podcast, Fantasy Focus Football, from ESPN. Cohosts Matthew Berry, Field Yates, and Stephania Bell cover everything from who to select first in your next fantasy football draft to mediocre dating advice. It’s definitely worth checking out. Berry also writes an informative, annual Draft Day Manifesto. Even if you know nothing about football or fantasy football, you could read this article alone and have enough knowledge to outperform many competitors in your league.

Success in fantasy football does not require a specific skill. Truly great teams are built with a combination of consistent team management and luck. And beginners often get rewarded with a healthy portion of the latter.

Only guys play fantasy football.

This could not be further from the truth. Some of our friends play in leagues with their wives and girlfriends. They adamantly believe that these leagues are the most competitive and fun. Plus, the females in the group often win. We’re not ashamed to admit that we’ve been beat by a girl more than once. It truly does not take a genius to see who is projected to score the most points (any fantasy website will show you that).

Competing in the same league with your significant other is a great idea. It may result in an competitive argument or two, but it’s another way to talk and connect — well worth the risk. When your team meets during the season, try a friendly wager involving cooking, cleaning, or a night out together.

Plus, if one of you is going to watch NFL games on Sundays anyway, it’s more fun to enjoy the games together and commiserate over great and terrible games from your fantasy players.

By Mitch Reinholt with Ben Higgins

Have you played fantasy football? What are some of your crazy league traditions?

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