Addicted to Fantasy Football

Fantasy football is a drug. It’s prescribed to enhance the football season experience. But like so many over-the-counter medication drugs these days, the side effects can often outweigh the benefits. In the case of fantasy football, side effects may include irritability, frustration, insomnia, excessive computer use, sudden fits of rage and hallucinations (all I need is for Jeff Reed to make 15 field goals Monday Night and I win!)

Yes, fantasy football is a drug, and I’m addicted. Honestly, I tried it once when I was young because I was curious and it looked like fun. The next thing I knew, I was hooked.

Now, more than 15 years sense my first fantasy football experience, I’m still doing it. And it’s worse than ever. My tolerance is up. One league isn’t enough any more. And playing for bragging rights doesn’t cut it like it used to. Now, I want a prize at the end of the season.

The Raiders’ woes of the past several years have only made things worse. With Oakland always out of playoff contention by November, I just spend more and more time focusing on my fantasy team. Each week, it consumes me. On a regular week, I spend Tuesday through Saturday logging onto the site multiple times a day to go over my roster and wade through the pool of free agents to see if I can upgrade my roster. Then, Sunday comes and I have last-minute debates with myself about who should make the starting lineup. Finally, I spend all afternoon using StatTracker to follow the real time results as heart rises and falls with each 10-yard point gain.

I know I’m not alone in this habit. I realize that millions of people partake in fantasy football each year. But is it really worth it? We spend hours drafting a team and hours more shuffling our lineups and adding/dropping players from our rosters. And for what? In an average league of 10 players, you have a 10 percent chance of winning the championship.

Would anyone put this much time, effort and energy into anything else for 1 in 10 odds?

Factor in all of the things we have no control over—injuries, schedule, coaches who decide to give goal line carries to the unknown fullback or call the tackle eligible pass—and fantasy football can becoming frustrating fast.

This season, I’m in two leagues. In one league, my first three picks were Brian Westbrook, Tony Romo and Darren McFadden. All three have been sidelined for multiple games by injuries. In the other league, I’ve scored more points than every team in the league. Yet I have a losing record, and need a win plus help just to make the playoffs. With the league’s best team. I just can’t buy a break.

Of course, I’ll do it all over again next year. And, if and when the breaks finally do break in my favor, I’ll probably do my best to construe the evidence in a way that suggests my fantasy genius. But that’s all part of the addiction.

I know that luck has as much, if not more, to do with fantasy football success than skill. My rational side knows that. But addiction doesn’t operate on rational terms.

That’s why I’ll be spending the next few days debating my lineup options for Week 13. After all, my underachieving 4-8 squad has the chance to play the role of spoiler and keep my brother’s 6-6 team out of the playoffs. Pennington or Cassel? Fargas or McFadden? Should I play my Eagles (Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson) while their quarterback situation is in flux? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

This is fantasy football. My addiction.

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