It's the most wonderful time of the year!

    But there is no marshmallow toasting, there is no caroling in the snow. No jingle-belling or mistletoeing.

    This isn't the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season, envisioned by crooner Andy Wiliams in the timeless holiday tune.

    It's football time, baby. To be more specific, it's fantasy football time. Somehow, the word "wonderful" doesn't do this point on our yearly calendar justice. It’s heavenly.

    But before I go any further, let me digress. Let me acknowledge the obvious while at the same time completely owning it: Fantasy football is, at its core, pathetic. It's sad. It's cringe-worthy. People, mostly guys with a bunch of their bros or buddies at work, form fantasy football leagues. They hold drafts, sometimes impersonal and online with many of the guys sitting alone in their homes while they pick their players, but more often than not the draft is another excuse to scarf down fatty snacks and drink beer, together. It's a celebration of 'Merica at its best, in the eyes of a bunch of guys who give their NFL fantasy teams nicknames that are sometimes corny, and often raunchy.

    Sometimes it's just for fun, for bragging rights with your buds. In other leagues, there are entry fees and there is money to be won. Often – and this goes back to the "sad and pathetic" angle floated a couple paragraphs ago – there is a traveling trophy. The league winner gets a legit, gaudy, gold-painted symbol of their lofty achievement - because his/her real, actual NFL players that he/she drafted onto their pretend team scored the most points according to the fantasy league's point system - while the owner of the league's worst-performing, last place team gets strapped with a trophy, too, which usually incorporates some sort of "toilet" or "toilet bowl" reference, and possibly even an actual role of toilet paper.

    OK, now that I've poked fun at it and ripped it all to shreds and in the process possibly made fellow fantasy footballers feel small and insignificant because of their worship of this hobby built upon people living their gridiron dreams vicariously through real players they've drafted for fake teams, let me officially get real. Let me bring it all home.

    Fantasy football is the greatest. The absolute, undisputed best thing ever. My primary league, run with tremendous aplomb, grace and acumen for many years by our commissioner, Jeff Dufault, is the bomb. I don't know some of the other team owners very well, but I'm just going to assume they're stellar human beings. The small family fantasy league my wife, our sons and I partake in each NFL season, it's the greatest, too. My family league-mates are the greatest. I love each and every one of them to pieces. I should also note that I am the three-time “Christopherson Generations” fantasy football league champ.

    If you're not participating in fantasy football, you're missing out. You're shortchanging your life, your very existence on this planet. Being involved in fantasy football makes your life better on too many levels to detail here.

    But it takes work. There’s a learning curve. It requires an investment of time. It takes research. If you want to increase your chances at success, that is. Of pumping out your chest and maybe even thumping it a bit with your fists because your pretend team is better than everyone else’s pretend team. The struggle is real, but so is the triumph, if you’re willing to do what needs to be done.

    Excuse me? What’s that you say? Oh, you want to see my 2019 roster? Oh, certainly. So glad you asked!

    Quarterbacks: Cam Newton, Mitchell Trubisky, Jameis Winston

    Running backs: Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones, Tarik Cohen, Rashaad Penny

    Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Julian Edelman, Mike Evans, Marvin Jones Jr.

    Tight end: Evan Engram

    Kicker: Justin Tucker

    Defense: Los Angeles Rams

    Best of luck to my DFFL-NFC league-mates. You’re going to need it.