Fantasy football is ruining my life

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I endured another insomnia-ridden night by updating my scheduled waiver claims at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. I noticed that I now had five total transactions listed, and wondered where it all went wrong.

I started playing fantasy football back in 2003 and have been addicted ever since. It all started out simple – an online snake draft, rotisserie scoring, focusing on high volume touchdown scorers, etc. – but it has blossomed into a time consuming obsession.

All I remember from that first year was my constant disdain. I should’ve taken it as a sign of things to come, but instead I continued acting like I actually had the ability to construct a winning roster, mocking actual NFL general managers in the process.

Priest Holmes was by far the most valuable fantasy running back that year, and was the only reason I managed any success. I was somewhere near the middle of the standings, and was racking my brain to understand why. I considered my football knowledge superior to almost each member of the league, but I was losing.  So I did the unforgiveable.

I hacked (I use this term loosely, in reality I just guessed his password) into my friend’s account – in my defense his team was completely dormant and only afforded life support because of Holmes’ presence – and sent Holmes and his eventual 27 touchdowns to my group of underperformers for a measly backup quarterback and a broken down back.

Obviously the trade skyrocketed my team, “Quincy Carter for President,” to the top of the league and a bittersweet championship victory ensued. I had cheated to win. I felt bad about it, but the taste of victory was still distinguishable.  I have to believe that the joy I experienced is what I sought after by continuing to play each year – most years with two or more teams – and developed into a miserable addiction.

I have spent countless hours researching the amount of passing yards allowed by opposing defenses to determine who to start as my signal-caller, completed more than two dozen mock (preseason) drafts/auctions, and spent my Sundays preoccupied with the projected point total of my competitor’s kicker.

There is no reason for it. What good comes from the incessant second-guessing? It is nothing but a distraction that helps fabricate a feeling that you are more connected to the game than you actually are. Unless the league awards a cash prize following the championship, what is the point of putting oneself through a cycle of anxiety, anger, jubilation and shame?

Sure its fun to pretend that you can run your own team, but playing fantasy football is like cheating on your wife. You might enjoy it for a short amount of time, but the overwhelming remorse and guilt that follow are guaranteed to trump any brief happiness experienced in that dirty motel room.

Instead of just cheering for one team, you elect to follow the achievements of each individual player on your roster. You rue your horrible decision-making due to the fact that your bench is outscoring your starters, and you curse the players that were supposed to lead you to glory. Often the latter can result in an idealistic hatred of players, dismissing them as mediocre and pretending like they personally attacked you.

The vitriol always outweighs the love. When you own a stud like Megatron, who hauls in two Matt Stafford passes that fall just short of the goal line, resulting in short touchdown runs for his teammates, you’re left to ponder the point of existence. If you take it the opposite direction you’ll end up sending Calvin Johnson hate mail, imagining that his reaction will lead to a subsequent 30-point outing next week. But you’re wrong.

NFL players care about their stats, but Roger Goodell’s most successful employees place winning above everything. They could care less if this year’s squad, “Deztiny’s Child,” beats “The Icebox.” Dez Bryant is not playing on a sprained foot just to deliver me from torment.

As hard as I might try, I am yet to locate weekly fantasyholics anonymous meetings. Instead I sit in class, occasionally shifting my vision from my computer screen to my lecturing professor, but all I can focus on is whether Willis McGahee is a viable option as the Browns’ featured back.

If you haven’t yet injected your blood flow with fantasy football, avoid it all costs. It will bring only pain. If you are one of the owners lucky enough to find joy at the end of a frustration-filled week of analysis, it will be so short-lived that you’ll rush to add fullback Jason Snelling and spend the next 15 minutes contemplating how he’ll score 10 or more points to propel your squad to a win.

I can’t quit yet, but I am trying.  The first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem.