Fantasy football drafting season is in full swing! Some of you have drafted already, but many of you are going to draft today through Wednesday to avoid picking injured players. For football fans, this is the greatest time of the year.

A long, long time ago, I used to think that fantasy football team owners were nerds. Football is the greatest game on earth …. JUST ENJOY THE GAME. Let’s not overanalyze this.

But then I actually played fantasy football …. And I was hooked.

Yes, I once stayed up late on a Sunday night when I long should have been sleeping to watch the fourth quarter of a blowout game between 1-10 Jacksonville and 3-8 Houston not because I loved football. Moreso, because I needed Maurice Jones-Drew to grind out 22 fourth-quarter rushing yards to beat my fantasy football rival.

If you don’t like football to start, it’s not likely that you will ever understand why 10-12 guys (and more often girls) need to spend 5-6 hours in a dank basement on a sunny, summer day to arrange a pretend super team of players that they will follow incessantly for the next 120 days and alienate everybody that has ever loved them in the process.

But if you do like football, you get it.

As fantasy football evolves, it has definitely gotten more diverse. It’s no longer exclusively for white men and has surged right past Craft Beer Festivals and Renaissance Fairs in diversity numbers. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association notes that 80% of all fantasy sports players are male and less than 90% are white. More than half are unmarried. Anecdotally, my fantasy football draft coming up on Wednesday has four black guys, a Latino guy, and two women. That’s some diversity.

Fantasy football has become big money, too. Huge. Fantasy sports services revenue is expected to grow 7.3 percent annually to $2 billion within the next five years, according to market research firm IBISWorld. Advertising and sponsorships on fantasy sports websites are one of the largest drivers of industry revenue. IBISWorld suggests that increased sports viewership and participation may also help fantasy sports grow.

So, if you are interested in winning some of that big money, here’s some advice from a guy who wins fantasy football championships slightly more often than the law of averages says that he should:

Know thy scoring
Don’t come to the draft with a draft sheet with players listed for a 4-point passing touchdown league when you are playing in a 6-point passing touchdown league. Every league has different position and scoring quirks. Get to know them BEFORE the draft. Use the Internet.

Side note: Don’t come to the fantasy football draft with a fantasy football magazine from June unless you are attending one of those hipster 1999 Retro Fantasy Football drafts. And if that is the case, make sure to bring along a CD of “Smooth” by Santana (feat. Rob Thomas).

Again, use the Internet

Don’t get caught up on stuff that really doesn’t matter
There’s an early run on tight ends? You have to have an oompa-loompa, too? Right now!
You came to the draft with the plan, don’t ruin that plan by having to be like everybody else. Somebody like undrafted Julius Thomas will end up being the best tight end, anyways.

Don’t over worry about Bye weeks
They don’t matter that much in the end. You will make trades. You pick up players and cut players. I’ve seen people freak out about which players were on what bye weeks. Don’t ever pick a worse player because of a bye week. Don’t let it change how you draft.

Don’t draft a defense or kicker too early.
Just don’t do it. Why? Because I said so.
If Gary J. Packerfan wants Mason Crosby in the 9th round, let him have him. You don’t need to counter his move.

Know thy injuries
Jordy Nelson is out for the season. If you don’t know that and you are participating in a fantasy football draft in Wisconsin, perhaps fantasy football isn’t for you.

Other injuries you should know of:
◆Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin out for the season
◆Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (groin) will miss an undisclosed amount of time. Some estimates range from two to four weeks, while others suggest half of the season.
◆Buffalo Bills RB Shady McCoy has a “small tear” in his hamstring which could keep him out of week 1.
◆Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Kevin White (shin) could miss the entire season.
◆ Aforementioned Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars had successful hand surgery and the early word was that he’d be ready to play by Week 1
◆Bears No. 1 WR and potential top-10 fantasy receiver Alshon Jeffery hasn’t practiced mid-August due to a calf injury and the Bears coaches have been a little bit mysterious about him. No real advice here; just information.
◆Miami Dolphins rookie wide out DeVante Parker is iffy to be 100 percent for the season opener after foot surgery.
◆Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd suffered three dislocated fingers but is expected to be ready for Week 1.
◆Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham was lost for the year and replaced by veteran Garrett Hartley who was then lost for the year and replaced by Josh Scobee, who is now a sleeper.

Have fun!
Relax and enjoy this unique, once-a-year event. Don’t be discouraged from trash talking. These are your friends! Intricate and complicated trash talking is nice, but simple stuff also works. After your rival picks: “Oh, that guy is still in the league?” or “That was a great pick …….. if this was 2004.”

People are inclined to talk and joke and sing and riff a lot during fantasy football drafts as beer flows and the pure inanity of a 17-round draft wears on. I say, “Let ‘em.” If you can’t cut loose and be a little annoying at a fantasy football draft, where can you be?

We always had one guy in our league who would start loudly singing: “When the moon hits your eye like a pizza pie, that’s O. Mare!” every time former Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare would inevitably get drafted. Every year he would do that. He got a great kick (pun intended) out of it but everybody else would groan and roll their eyes. But then one year he couldn’t be at the draft. Olindo Mare was taken in the 17th round and there was silence.

Such awkward silence.

Always keep it friendly and always keep it fun. Remember that this is, indeed, fantasy.

In the end, just remember that fantasy football is mostly luck.

Unless if you win. Then, it’s pure skill.