I love football, and I love participating in group activities, so Fantasy Football seemed like a natural fit. But my love affair with the sport has been a slow burn.

At first it seemed like too much work. I didn’t understand the scoring, I only had a vague knowledge of individual players outside of my beloved Broncos and it involved installing and figuring out an app. But everyone I knew played Fantasy Football and I didn’t want to be left out.

My boyfriend at the time would say things like, “Let’s go set MY lineup.” My job was to sit next to him and make ridiculous suggestions. He would smile, pat me on the head and set his lineup however he damn-well pleased. But the appeal of it was becoming obvious. I was suddenly invested in games that I typically wouldn’t have cared about. “Our” team did pretty well that year. But I’m not the bystander type of girl.

Boyfriend No. 2 was more helpful. I had finally joined a league with people from my work, and he helped me strategize for the draft. I listened as he talked about the waiver wire and injured reserve, and I only giggled a little during the lesson on the importance of tight ends. When draft day came, he woke up early and made breakfast and coffee. We laid in bed as the minutes to the draft ticked down. I got my phone out. I was ready. Boyfriend smoothed his comforter down, adjusted his pillows and then pulled out two laptops, his phone, the Rotowire Fantasy Football guide and his spreadsheets. I suddenly felt like a kid with a box of crayons watching Picasso paint. Clearly I was learning from the master. My teams got steadily better over the years we dated.

Months after we broke up, he sent me a chat at work, “Drop Ronnie Hillman and pick up Willis McGahee, he’s about to be signed by the Browns.” This was a person who hated me, but he wasn’t about to stand by and watch my Fantasy team go to shit.

This year there are no boyfriends. There will be no unsolicited advice. I’m on my own. And as with the other areas of my life, I’m doing just fine. I’ve picked up some good players, tweaked my lineup and I’m looking forward to this season as the only manager of my Fantasy team.

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