Writer’s Block: Fantasy Football is worth a try

I’m blown away, but not at all surprised by how much of a phenomenon of fantasy football has become.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

I’m blown away because I remember the time when fantasy football enthusiasts were the few guys huddled in a corner checking box scores in the newspaper and calculating their points.

I’m not surprised, however, because football is America’s most popular sport, websites calculate your scores and there are still a lot of free leagues out there if you want a casual experience.

I’ve read that the fantasy football industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Hollywood Reporter in an August 2011 article called it a billion dollar business that is thriving even during the recession and even after the 2011 offseason players lockout pitted billionaire owners against millionaire players.

Even some professional football players have fantasy teams.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings told the NFL Network that one of his offensive lineman came up to him during halftime of a game and asked if he should bench Jennings because of his rough first half.

This is honestly one of my favorite times of the year because fantasy football drafts are an annual reunion with some friends that I hardly see the rest of the year because of hectic schedules and driving distance.

Skype voice chat has been a useful tool for those who cannot make it.

One year we had a guy drafting from the Middle East when he was a pilot from the Air Force, a second guy drafting from Boston, Mass., and a third guy in Austin, Texas.

Our draft is coming up on Aug. 18 in La Crosse, Wis. I am in a keeper league with a convoluted system that I will not bore you with.

Needless to say, I will be keeping Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, which my fantasy football magazine ranks as the best running back this year.

I am debating whether to keep New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham.

My main goal is to get the best available quarterback that was not kept.

I somehow finished in third place in my league last year even though I had Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills and Peyton Manning, who was injured all year for the Indianapolis Colts.

This is a pass-happy league because of the current NFL rules so having a stud signal caller is just as important in fantasy football as it is for real NFL teams.

If I totally lost you after “Bounty Gate,” my apologies. That whole story would take a full column to write about.

If you do not know anything about it, you probably would not be reading this column.

I joined a second fantasy football league that involves current and former co-workers at ABC Newspapers.

This is not a keeper league, so all players are fair game. There are 12 teams so the talent on every team is more diluted than my 10-team keeper league.

We split the 12 teams into two divisions and award prizes for the division winners and the top few teams at the end of the fantasy playoffs.

The nice thing about fantasy football is you can choose how involved you want to be.

I want to be in leagues that are very competitive and have consistent membership. My keeper league has a rule book that is a few pages.

Or you could join a free league with total strangers on ESPN or NFL.com, for example.

These sites usually have articles explaining how to play if you are completely lost.

Just don’t be one of those people who quit in the middle of the season because you are struggling.

Good luck to you this fantasy football season, except for all of my opponents…