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We’re all champs in fantasy football

Editor’s note: Luke Basha of Rock Hill is a senior at Wofford College studying history, government and Chinese. He also has a passion for football, especially fantasy football. He claims to study football as much as the Carolina Panthers do when they’re on the Wofford campus for preseason training camp. Throughout the NFL season, he’ll write a regular column for The Herald and offering insight on players and suggesting strategies for each week’s fantasy games.

Football season is a magical time for us sports fans. It’s a time of tailgating, trash talking, dreaming of that elusive championship, and dropping every football thrown your way in the backyard.

Okay so maybe that last one only applies to myself. See, I was gifted with the athleticism of a walrus that just recently had its eyes dilated. I’m pretty sure this makes me the most unathletic football fanatic imaginable.

So for me, football season is also a time of poring over spreadsheets that have nothing to do with my Wofford homework, following daily developments, and slaving away over the most creative team name imaginable.

“What does any of this have to do with football?” you ask. The answer would be that I attempt to compensate for my lack of athletic ability with success in fantasy football.

In case you are not familiar with the wildly popular world of fantasy sports, here’s a little tidbit. According to one study conducted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in 2012, more than 32 million people above the age of 12 in the United States and Canada play fantasy sports, with fantasy football commanding 90 percent of that total. That’s 4 million more Americans than those who play golf.

Let that sink in a bit. This may be because in fantasyland, you can assemble a championship-caliber team, prove the extent of your sports knowledge, and tell a 6-foot-5 NFL tight end to hit the road without having to look him in the eyes. It also has the effect of making all NFL games much more enjoyable. The Panthers are on a bye week? No problem! You can watch just about any other game and have at least one or two players to root for or against.

In essence, fantasy football is the equivalent of owning and operating your own NFL team, which competes against your friends’ teams in a “league.” A team is composed of real-life NFL players from a variety of NFL teams, and your team’s total score is directly related to your players’ performance in that week’s game. Different player positions accrue points for different accomplishments. For example, a quarterback gets points for throwing a touchdown pass (as does the player that catches the pass) and a defensive unit achieves points for making an interception or keeping the opposing team out of its end zone.

To build their team, team owners take part in a fantasy draft. Much like the real NFL draft, teams take turns selecting players out of the pool of all NFL offensive skill players (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends) defenses, and kickers. Variations to this system exist, but this is by far the most common system.

With the NFL season set to kick off tonight in Seattle, I’ll be here all season to offer advice and answer your questions throughout this season as you navigate through player injuries, come-from-behind-wins, disappointing losses, and, maybe, your fantasy Lombardi trophy.