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The increasingly high cost of winning your fantasy football league

We've known each other for a lot of years now, so I hope you don't mind if I speak frankly: Is it time to admit you have a problem?

Perhaps I should be a little more specific, because in a trillion-dollar bailout recession kind o' world, we all have problems. I'm asking if you have a problem with one of the things we use to escape those day-to-day demons: Fantasy Football.

I'm not talking about losing your league championship because a coach decided to rest your quarterback in the third quarter of a meaningless game. I'm not even talking about finishing in the basement of your league five consecutive years because you insist on drafting players from your favorite team, and your favorite team happens to be the Lions.

I'm asking you if the escapism of this wonderful pursuit is getting between you and a pesky little thing we call reality. Has it taken over your world? Is it coming between you and meaningful human relationships?

The signs are pretty obvious ...

» Have you ever snuck a peek at the stat crawl on a muted TV while someone you love is telling you that they are finally leaving you?

» On the eve of your fantasy draft, do you spend the night sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber for that "extra edge" in Round 12?

» Do you snap awake at 4 a.m., glazed in Mountain Dew sweat, compelled to hurl yourself out of bed so you can re-rack your pre-draft tight end rankings while the rest of the world is sleeping?

» Have you won your money league, only to put the proceeds toward a tattoo artist to juice up the logo for your team that also incorporates type and design elements that obscure your ex-girlfriend's name?

» Do you sketch championship ring doodles during your own trial?

» Do you set your cell on vibrate so you never miss a live scoring update during your daughter's piano recital?

» Do you find it impossible not to grin like an idiot when one of your running backs scores the winning touchdown against your favorite team -- you know, the one you grew up living and dying for?

Sound familiar? Well, I only have one thing to say to you: Welcome to the club, brothuh!

Sometimes I think the only way to tell if you're a true fantasy player is if you experience a moment like that and live to tell the tale. A "Who the hell am I?!" moment. A "What have I become?!" crossroad. Of course, there is only one way to answer this question.

You shrug and confess, "I am the owner of the Joplin Jailbreak, I am the master of my own destiny, and the rules have changed, baby."

It says here you aren't truly alive until the game within the game literally pulls you inside-out through your own belly button, and to hell with anyone who refuses to get on board, or get the hell out of your way. Never forget: People judge your passion in direct proportion to how much they resent not being the object of your fascination.

Your boss, your spouse, your seed corn -- all must make their ugly peace with a simple truth that everyone who bought this magazine holds to be self-evident: The road to Fantasy Football Nirvana is paved with obsession.

At long, long last, Sunday is about me. Hallelujah.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a championship-caliber team that needs building ...

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