Small Business

Fantasy Football Costs Employers Billions: Study

By Drew Guarini, The Huffington Post
Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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Fantasy football is costing employers billions due to lost worker productivity, according to a study by Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. (Hat tip: the Denver Post.)

Sort of a Dungeons & Dragons for jocks, fantasy football players (or "owners") draft their own teams from NFL rosters and compete head-to-head each week for the length of an NFL season.

(Read more: The Most Expensive NFL Tickets 2012)

On its own, fantasy football is a $1 billion business powered by 24.3 million players, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. And with buy-in often involved, attention to one's fantasy team—along with a lot of luck—could mean a lucrative payout to fantasy league members.

But how much time is spent managing fantasy teams when employees should be managing their real-life work?

After taking unemployment into account, Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that 22.3 million employed fantasy football owners spend at least an hour a week managing or tweaking their rosters—a conservative estimate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $19.33 is the average hourly wage, so that comes out to $430.9 million per week lost, or $6.5 billion across a 15-week fantasy season.

(Read more: What the NFL Season Is Saying About the US Economy.)

Despite the cost of lost productivity, Challenger, Gray & Christmas swear the effects of fantasy football are merely a blip on the economic radar, noting the study is "non-scientific" and "very rough."

"Employers will not see any impact on their bottom line and, for the most part, business will proceed as usual," CEO John Challenger noted in the firm's blog post about the study. "However, even if the economic impact is faint, it is important to acknowledge fantasy football's overall impact as a societal and workplace phenomenon. Companies that embrace the growing popularity of this activity could actually see a positive impact, particularly in terms of employee sentiment and loyalty."

So let your fantasy football flag fly. The NFL season kicks off Wednesday night with the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants taking on the Dallas Cowboys