Here at the Times, as in offices all around the country, you can feel the electricity in the air. Expectations are high and a large section of the populace is preparing for stiff competition and a chance for glory and bragging rights.
Fantasy football season is just around the corner.
To the uninitiated, fantasy can seem to be a mishmash of confusing statistics, rules, endless substitutions due to injuries, bye weeks and bad match-ups. Actually in reality, that pretty much sums it up.
We are light years removed from our father's old rotisserie leagues in which the players had to actually work to keep up on the scoring and league standings. There are multitudes of free on line leagues available that do all of that tenuous hard work for you.
The basic premise is that fantasy sports give the all knowing armchair quarterback the chance to actually draft a team, evaluate the players, make trades, cuts and strategic substitutions in order to back up all of their infinite wisdom with winning results in head to head match ups on a weekly basis.
The problem in the computer age may be too many options and too much information.
There are pay leagues in which you are charged a fee to join and actually have a chance to make your money back and more. These are not for the faint of heart, as they can be cutthroat serious affairs. Beginners are recommended to steer clear.
Once you have decided on your league, you will need to do some research. A trip to the local newsstand will be in order. Once there you will find approximately one million different fantasy football magazines all promising to make you a winner.
Next comes draft day, an exercise in frustration that cannot be beat. You can bet that whoever you really want, the guy in front of you will draft him first, leaving you to pick over the crumbs.
Usually I have a comprehensive draft plan in place that has me taking a few established veterans, some promising rookies and a few reaches on possible break out stars in the later rounds. Of course I usually end up with a 40-year-old quarterback, a starting back with arthritis and three kickers.
Before the start of the season you will need to invest in some essential supplies. You will want to get the NFL channel and Sunday Ticket so you can watch as least four games at once. Otherwise, you will break the bank buying batteries for your television remote.
A glossary of terms can help a new player appear more experienced and perhaps delay the sharks from circling too quickly. Google words like sleeper, handcuff, reach, keeper and flyer in order to sound literate to your buddies.
Once the games start the fun really begins. You will never be able to watch a football game in the same way again. Everyone has their own favorite teams and players, but fantasy has a way of making strange bedfellows.
For example, you may hate the Colts, but you drafted Peyton Manning as your starting quarterback, so when he is playing your Bengals you still have to root for him to throw for a zillion yards and five touchdowns and just hope Cincy can outscore them.
It gets worse. You could have a back like Adrian Peterson running for you against your own team defense in say San Francisco?do you cheer for AP or do you hope the 49ers shut him down? Migraines are born in this manner.
Fantasy does things like that. You will cheer for players you hate and be glued to the tube for meaningless games featuring teams you never paid any attention to before.
You will also never have a completely happy weekend again, ever. The odds of having all your favorite teams win their games, while your fantasy team wins and doesn't lose any players to injury, are just about as likely as hitting the lottery.
A wealth of information will be at your fingertips, and stuck in your mind when you try to go to sleep. Need to know who the third-string wide receiver is for the Giants? Ask a fantasy guru, he will tell you its Mario Manningham.
You will know more about the players than ever before and look forward to the weekend with almost fanatical glee. If you are like me however, about halfway through the season you will experience information overload and just start using anyone on your roster who is healthy. But don't worry, once the season winds down and the fantasy playoffs are over, you have a few weeks to prepare for fantasy baseball.
Jim Markley is a Marietta Times sports writer.