Once upon a time, Fienberg roped me into joining his fantasy football league. This was a huge mistake for all involved, given how quickly I became obsessed with the game, and finding ways to "improve" my roster, to the point where I'm pretty sure I ended one season with more roster moves than the rest of the league combined. (Yes, I was That Guy. Sigh...) I eventually kicked the habit, but now Dan has talked me into trying out a different kind of fantasy game - one that, so far, doesn't seem like it has the capacity to damage either our friendship or my marriage.

HitFix has started up an "American Idol" fantasy contest, which is really simple to both join and play.

It's solely about ranking: you take the 24 semi-finalists and rank them in the order in which you think they'll be eliminated. If the person at the bottom of your rankings goes home that week, you get the maximum amount of points, with the number of points dropping the higher the bootee was on your rankings. (There's a page of the basic rules, as well as an elaborate FAQ that explains permutations like mass eliminations in the semi-finals, people being voted out and then made wild cards, the Judges Save, ties, etc.) You can change your rankings as you go, but you get penalized for each position switch you made (to discourage insufferable tinkerers like me, and to reward those who can best handicap the field from the start).

There are a bunch of individual leagues, including ones run by me, Fienberg and season 6 "Idol" alums Melinda Doolittle and Phil Stacey. You can join as many as you like, though your rankings will be the same across every league. (It's our first time trying something like this, so we wanted to keep it simple; if it turns out people prefer to have lots of different combinations, perhaps we can try that next year.)

Whoever gets the highest score on the whole site wins a shiny new MacBook Air. In terms of individual leagues, you're playing for pride (just as I did in Dan's football league).


My league is called, easily enough, What's Alan Watching? (include the question mark) and the password is alanidol. You can play with either a HitFix login if you have one (and it's easy to sign up if you haven't already), or connect through your Facebook account.

I'm horrible at ranking this stuff - a couple of years ago, I gave Kris Allen the worst odds of any finalist to win his season - so I'd say any and everyone who joins has a pretty good chance of beating me. But since Fienberg is also in my league (as well as running his own), you can take pleasure in the opportunity to beat out a genuine "Idol" expert and such.

So go, join, play. And if my productivity suffers over the next few months, we'll know what to blame - just like the year I had DeAngelo Williams on my roster three different times and never kept him. Grr...