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With the new NFL season nearly here, fans are getting ready to play fantasy football. And U.S. Air Forces in Europe is looking to get in on the craze.

Starting this month, Headquarters USAFE Services will have its own fantasy football competition.

Through Project CHEER, which works to give young airmen things to do, the USAFE fantasy football program will be the Air Force’s first command-wide initiative to latch on to the pastime’s huge following.

Through the Web site www.projectcheer.org, any USAFE airmen, family member 18 or older or civilian assigned to USAFE can enroll and play for free.

So far, more than 100 people have signed up, said Roger Braner, a community support specialist with USAFE Services who came up with the idea.

“We hope that number grows significantly,” Braner said. “A lot of times it’s a word-of-mouth thing.”

While the number of entrants make a typical fantasy football draft, Braner said the system, which will be run by CDM Fantasy Sports Corp., will involve participants building a 22-player roster with a $60 million value cap.

“I did it myself a few nights ago,” Braner said. “At first you pick all the great players, then you realize you don’t have any money left and 10 slots to fill. There’s a lot of strategy to that.”

There will be weekly cash prizes, as well as replica jerseys for second-place winners, Braner said, adding that jersey winners can pick the players they want.

There are also Sports Illustrated subscriptions up for grabs, as well as a free spot in CDM’s playoff challenge.

Divisions will be broken down by wings, and the overall USAFE winner at the end of the season will net $1,000, he said.

If the program takes off, Braner said he’d like to see it implemented throughout the Air Force.

“It would be great to have grand prizes such as going to the Super Bowl and everything, but little baby steps right now,” he said.

For the uninitiated, fantasy football involves participants selecting a predetermined number of running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers and a few other positions to fill out their team. NFL players get points in fantasy football based on their real-life performance in games each week.

“It enhances the viewing experience of every game,” said Braner, a fantasy player for a decade. “Before, I would just watch the Redskins. But with fantasy football, every game has some value.”

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