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football playerOK, you've probably never owned your own football team ...but you can still dream can't you?

With expert help around the Web just up can start your own league, or join one already established, make your team an all-star dream or a statistical powerhouse, and learn more about staying on top of your game.

To begin, here's a brief introduction to the obsession that is fantasy football:

How to play fantasy football

Unlike a neighborhood football pool -- where entering means plunking your name down on a grid -- fantasy football takes time, energy and sometimes the analytical skills of a real NFL football coach.

Although there is some luck involved, you'll initially want to keep your eye on the NFL teams that remain favorites year after year, like the Patriots and the Cowboys. Try searching online for "Top NFL standings" for the latest updates on who's hot, along with more information on other teams at major online fantasy football sites like Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and the official NFL site.

"Fantasy football takes time, energy, and sometimes the expert analytical skills of a real NFL football coach."

Next, follow the sports opinion pages to track teams that are doing surprisingly well this season compared to their previous (bad, or injury-prone) seasons.

Once you get comfortable as the weeks go on, you'll get a gut feeling for the strengths and weaknesses of each player or team.

Here's where your team management skills come into play and, after a time, you may even start picking upsets that nobody saw coming.

Finally, always remember: home team advantage is a plus in any game, so also keep track of where you're favorite teams are playing, and against who. Like a good chess player, you'll want to summon your patience and gather all the information you need before you make an executive level decision.

Whatever you do, don't get lazy and start making random picks or you're sure to come in last in the office pool.

Good luck as the season starts ... and may all your athletes stay off the injured list!

More about fantasy football on the Web:

Sports Outlaw - Join the fray at the fantasy football forums, or browse related articles, player rankings, who to start, and related resources including Fantasy Football 101.

Draft Sharks - Welcome to fantasy football central, including advice and commentary, the latest rankings, cheat sheets, and updates.

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