It's stupid how fun fantasy football is

September 04, 2012|By Ben Johnson | For RedEye

"Sure," I said. "Sounds like fun."

This was my answer when a friend asked me to join his new fantasy football league for insane people. I don't know a better explanation for a voluntary role-playing game in which 12 dudes agree to sift through almost every player in the NFL, including defensive guys, and then bid via an arbitrary auction value based on projections of their future statistical output, all to build a fake team that will exist forever.

It's like Monopoly, but with regressive statistical analysis and algorithm-laden Excel spread sheets computing the relative value of shoes vs. wheelbarrows. Fun for insane people.

You know what though? It IS fun.

The league completed its inaugural draft this week, a grueling marathon that lasted five and a half hours. Five and half. That's a couple of pee breaks shy of the first two "Godfather" movies. Spending five and a half hours pretending to buy football players is gloriously, dizzyingly, mind-numbingly excessive. It's like that DirecTV commercial with the Russian oil billionaire and the tiny giraffe, only for spending time instead of money. "Opulence. I has it."

A 2006 study by the University of Mississippi estimated the total economic impact of fantasy sports to be between $1 billiion and $2 billion. That study is now six years old. Given the growing popularity of fantasy sports, $2 billion is now an extremely conservative estimate of the money that changes hands each year thanks to millions of leagues like mine.

According to the International Monetary Fund, that's more than the Gross Domestic Product of 33 entire countries. Sorry, Liberia, we just bet you on Arian Foster.

After spending five and half hours of my life poring through reams of information about fantasy-relevant defensive backs, I have to say I've only rarely felt more thankful. Instead of fighting for scraps in the street somewhere, I'm researching Antoine Bethea's tackle totals. I feel blessed to be able to invest such an absurd amount of time in something so inherently meaningless. If you play fantasy football, so should you. Because the truth is, it's fun.

Ben Johnson is a RedEye special contributor.

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