Study: Fantasy Football Costs Businesses $1.1 Billion a Year

Office workers combing the league waiver wire for running backs or back-up quarterbacks are part of a growing number of fantasy football owners costing employers as much as $1.1 billion a week in lost productivity, according to a study released Wednesday.

During the National Football League regular season, nearly 37 million people spend an average of 50 minutes a week at work managing their fantasy teams comprised of real-life players tallying points based on statistical performance, according to outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Fantasy sports ranks with shopping on eBay Inc.'s (EBAY) Web auction site and online poker as the biggest waste of productivity at the workplace, said John Challenger, CEO of the consulting firm.

However, Challenger encourages employers to embrace fantasy sports in order to foster a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

"The potential damage to morale and loyalty resulting from a fantasy football ban could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 minutes of online team management," said Challenger.

The study also cited a survey saying average fantasy sports owners spend 34 minutes a day just thinking about their teams and spend close to $500 a year on fantasy sports.

The 17-week NFL regular season kicks off on Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh, where the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers will host the Miami Dolphins.