by Nick Barene, Sports Writer

It’s not real life, just fantasy — fantasy football that is. Fantasy football is a virtual competition that allows participants to pick players from around the National Football League and use them to compete with one another.

Each team is made up of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player, one team’s defensive or special teams unit and one kicker. The flex player is defined as a running back, a wide receiver or a tight end.

The value of a player is determined by how well he performs in each game, and depending on how well he plays, he earns a certain amount of points. For example, this weekend, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos threw for 414 yards, four touchdowns and one interception against the Dallas Cowboys. He earned 1 point for every 25 passing yards, four points for each touchdown, and -2 points for his interception. This gave him a total of 36 fantasy points, which is a lot.

Different positions and point values for certain statistics can be altered to suit the players in the league. Typically, there are eight to 10 people participating in the league, although there are larger and smaller leagues.

The attraction of setting all-star lineups each week but never actually getting to see your team play against another team lies in the experience you gain through management. The participant takes over the role of general manager, picking and choosing players, setting the most effective lineup, going over stats and, most importantly, reviewing match-ups.

Match-ups are key to fantasy football success. For instance, if your quarterback is playing against a team with a stingy pass defense, you may want to swap him out for your backup quarterback who is playing a weaker team.

Another challenge that comes with fantasy football is depth. This is particularly an issue in leagues with many people, because the players who consistently put up gaudy fantasy numbers will be spread thin.

This leaves managers constantly searching for the player who may not necessarily be a consistent point earner, but who is matched up with a weak opponent and has a chance to earn big points. It is also important to have depth in the event that you would like to trade for a different player, one of your players gets injured and cannot play or when one your players has a bye week and won’t be earning any points.

For someone who is not familiar with players around the NFL, fantasy football is a good way to stay updated on how players and teams league-wide are faring. Fantasy football is the ultimate game for casual fans and sports nerds alike.

The quest to be at the top of your league is a long and arduous process, but those who skillfully manage their teams will find themselves basking in the glory of a fantasy championship.

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