I like football. I love to watch live college stuff on Saturdays, and I curl up with my blanket and TV remote on Sundays. A few years ago, some of my co-workers asked me to join a fantasy football league, and I did not like it. My fantasy league mindset has changed. I am currently in a fantasy league, and it’s completely different.

THEN: I didn’t research any of my players for my draft. I actually just had people pick them for me because I couldn’t make the draft.

NOW: I didn’t research any players until the day of my draft. I had the list in front of me during the draft, and I tried to make educated guesses. All in all, I think it worked out well.

THEN: I never maintained the team. I left the same players in for the duration of the season. I only checked on the league to see if I had won or lost. I didn’t really care.

NOW: I set a goal to maintain my team. I picked some good players and gave myself options, and I will make sure that I’m taken care of each week.

THEN: I never tracked my players or paid any attention to their game performances (except for the Ravens players I had on my team; I never miss a Ravens’ game).

NOW: I actually watched a Panthers’ game Sunday because Cam Newton is my fantasy quarterback. I actually paid attention to other games besides the Ravens. I had to keep track of my players and root against players I didn’t have in fantasy league. If they did well, that would mean my team wouldn’t.

THEN: I was naive to the fantasy point system.

NOW: OK, nothing has really changed. I don’t understand how points are awarded, but I do know which players score the highest amount of points and where to look for those scores now.

THEN: I never trash-talked or talked bad about people I was playing. I was new to the office and was still intimidated by everyone there.

NOW: It’s game on. My league this time is with my family: two brothers, Mom, Dad, future sister-in-law, cousins and the adopted brother (not technically a brother, but I have known him my entire life, so he might as well be my brother). We talk smack all the time. It can get pretty intense, but since it’s family, I know they will still love me.

THEN: I didn’t make the fantasy league fun for myself.

NOW: I was bound and determined to make this league more fun. I hated it last time because I didn’t care, and I thought it was annoying. I have put in an honest effort to keep track of the league. Who beat who, player trades and, of course, the smack talk have all contributed.

Fantasy football can be taken way too seriously, but it can also bring a simple joy and enhance your NFL watching experience. I have had a bad and a good fantasy experience, and it can be enjoyable if you make it that way, but don’t take it too seriously, because that makes it less fun for everyone.

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