To some, fantasy football is more than just a game

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- On Thursday, FOX 10 viewers were treated to a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Even if a football fan is not from Pennsylvania or the Carolinas, they may have cared about the game just as much, thanks to their fantasy football teams.

While it's all fun and games for some, it's a full-time job and obsession for others, with big money on the line. Fantasy football, the fake teams that people create, the game that people who don't play say is all luck, is generating billions in revenue each year, and it is estimated that more than 60 million people are playing this year.

If you're not familiar with fantasy football, here's how it goes. The real game is decided on the field, but the fantasy game is decided on your computer or phone. Those who take part in fantasy football will pick the right players, score the most points, and win.

Why people play can vary, but there is a common factor.

"I think obviously, there's money involved, so that always helps," said Brian Wright. "Watching games when your team isn't involved, it makes those more exciting."

"The money, and playing against your friends, and every game, like tonight's game, the Raiders, Niners, nobody cares, but I do because I have three players playing," said Victor Palafox.

For some, it's an obsession.

"I play in 7 leagues, and I turned down 15," said Paige Dimakos, a fantasy football expert in the Valley. Fantasy football is her job. Every day of her life, she's obsessing over fake teams.

"That would be an understatement," said Dimakos. "my phone is constantly linked to Yahoo, CBS, I'm looking at every single possible outlook that I can"

Her obsession turned into a job, but people who don't get paid to dole out advice are playing for the money.

As for money, how much are we talking? A neighborhood game could get you $100 to $500, and much more if you are a big money player.

"The most I ever won -- I was 21 years old, after taxes I won $15," said Dimakos.

"My next goal is to compete in scout fantasy top 100. You have to be one of the best fantasy football players, and it's a $10,000 buy-in"

The victor gets the spoils, but fantasy loser punishments have become legendary. One person had to dress up as a football, holding a sign that said "I am the worst at fantasy football".

"You know it was just a tough year for me, I drafted with my heart instead of my brain," said that person.

But he might have gotten off easy.

"Our league is pretty vicious, one year when I won, I forced my buddy to get a Green Bay tattoo on his right buttcheek," said Dimakos. "There's really not much worse you can do than make them get a team that they hate the most tattooed forever on their body."

If you're still not convinced just how obsessed some people are with fantasy sports, try going on a cruise with all of them, before next season.

Yes, that's a thing.

"Fantasy Football at Sea, it's the first time it's ever happened," said Dimakos. "There's going to be, like, 10 different influencers. We're going to be doing cheat sheets, drafts kits, live on a cruise."

The best way to turn your fantasy in to a winning reality? Have fun, do some research, and, at least for this year, avoid the Cardinals offense.

"I have to tell everyone else, I told ya so, this offensive line is not good, and I knew since Bruce Arians left, David Johnson was not going to be the same player, and neither was Larry Fitzgerald," said Dimakos.

All told, some estimates have the fantasy sports industry valued at around $7 billion.