NFL training camps officially kicked off last week and even though the official start of the 2017-18 NFL season is five weeks away, most fantasy football fanatics have already started their “mental training camp” as they gear up for another fantasy football season. There is no such thing as too much preparation when it comes to fantasy football, and this includes doing countless online mock drafts, intensive player research, and reading every single preseason player rankings list that exists online. Fantasy football isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life, and most fantasy purists consider it the father of the mother of all fantasy sports.

Fantasy Football is a 32 billion dollar business and while many people believe it can become a rather unhealthy obsession, there are actual mental health benefits to playing fantasy football. Now, this doesn’t mean we’re encouraging fantasy football fanatics to be even more “fanatical,” we just thought they should know that fantasy football is actually good for their brain. These mental benefits can also be useful ammunition for any fantasy football player who is having trouble explaining why they spend so much time playing fantasy football to their significant other, family members, or even their cat. Best of luck to all fantasy football players in their upcoming season and please draft responsibly.

#5 Camaraderie

Technology has definitely helped people become more isolated, but fantasy football is one technological activity that actually improves social interaction and friendships. A 2009 study from the Journal of the National Medical Association surveyed 300 men and women at a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York. They discovered that both men and women with insufficient perceived social support or friendships were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

A study by Live Science also determined that people with stronger friendships live longer and are less prone to stress. Fantasy football involves a ton of social interaction that often includes a draft party, countless phone conversations with friends about roster moves, proposed trades and most importantly, why your team is better than everyone else’s team.

#4 Competition

According to Dr. Lisa Firestone, competitive feelings can be good for you. Dr. Firestone believes that allowing yourself to feel your competitive feelings cleanly and directly is not only acceptable; it’s actually healthy. Competitive feelings are an indication of what we want, and acknowledging what we want is key to getting to know ourselves better.

Don’t suppress your competitive feelings, channel them through your fantasy football league and your brain will thank you for it. Just remember to keep the trash talk relatively civil.

#3 Critical Thinking/Decision Making

Fantasy football is all about critical thinking and decision making. For some it’s an exercise in over-thinking, but players have to make decisions based on data and “expert” opinions almost every single day during a fantasy football season. Whether it’s contemplating what players to start based on weekly match-ups or deciding which players to add/drop from their roster, fantasy football involves non-stop critical thinking and decision making.

According to Filtered, there are many mental benefits to critical thinking such as saving time, enhanced communication skills, and a increased appreciate of differing world views. Like, for example, trying to figure out why your friend drafted Todd Gurley with the second overall pick in last year’s draft.

#2 Leadership

This one applies to all of the extremely distinguished fantasy football commissioners out there.  Being a fantasy football commissioner means you’re the leader of a group of at least 8-12 people. The commissioner sets up the league, establishes the rules, and the scoring system. The commissioner also has schedule the draft and make all final decisions regarding trades, scoring errors, and roster issues.

As ridiculous as it sounds, being a fantasy football commissioner means you are essentially the general of an army and the other members or your league are soldiers under your command. Even if you aren’t your own boss at work, you’re the boss of your fantasy league and Marcy Eisenberg, the President of Pathoras believes that being your own boss is extremely beneficial. Eisenberg says, “When you’re your own boss, you learn who you are like you never have before. You’ll learn your physical, mental, creative and spiritual limits far exceed what you ever realized when you’re the master of your own domain.”

Leadership Expert also believes their are many benefits of leadership including encouraging employees, team members or family members to hang in through tough times and creating enthusiasm through times of challenge or difficult change. All hail the commissioner… the fantasy football commander-in-chief.

# 1 Increased Co-Worker Engagement & Productivity

Finally, you can justify playing fantasy football at work to your boss! Quantum Workplace surveyed nearly 1,500 employees in 2015 from companies across the U.S. and found that employees who participated in fantasy football with coworkers were more engaged at work by nearly 12% than employees who played fantasy football but not with their office buddies.

The QW survey also discovered that employees playing in a fantasy league with coworkers have higher scores on survey items regarding teamwork and trust with coworkers. It should also be noted that a recent Mental Health America article stated that studies have shown being unhappy with or unfulfilled by work can take a toll on our mental health, relationships, and even lifespan.

Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments, and have higher rates of absenteeism. Stress from work can also impact their family life, mental health, and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.