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Fantasy Drafts and Other Nonsense

More by Ed Fulda
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Tom, the commissioner of the Fantasy Football league I'm in, has finally gotten around to scheduling our draft - for September 7. Never mind that the season starts on September 9. With some of the team owners we have, the draft could be held AFTER the season is over and it still wouldn't help. Like any league that's been around for a long time, we have a small core group that's been there from the beginning. The rest come and go but stability has been the rule the past few years. Perhaps I should rephrase that: The franchises have been stable - most of the owners are not. All one has to do is to look at some of the team nicknames to realize that a psychiatrist could support himself quite well by just treating our group.

The one new team this year is named the Squids. Who in their right mind would name their team after a family of marine cephalopod mollusks? On the other hand, it may be a fitting name for a team destined to be battered and fried on a weekly basis. One can be grateful that there's no such thing as cheerleaders in fantasy football. Thoughts of peppy, scantily-dressed babes screaming "Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for tentacled, ink-squirting mollusks, stand up and holler," are enough to turn your stomach.

Another team is named the Running Eagles. Will, the team owner, has never explained how he came up with that name. I suspect drugs or alcohol, especially since Will absolutely LOVES the Raiders. Listen, if it's running, it's not an eagle. It's a turkey.

The commissioner's team is called the "Hammering T-Bones." "Pounded steak" is a more accurate description. To be fair, however, the T-Bones somehow managed to pull off a '72 Dolphins two years ago. It was a situation very similar to the "phantom left hook" that decked Floyd Patterson in 1964. The T-Bones rectified that aberration last year by finishing in their more typical eighth place.

We also have the "Hoosiers." In St. Louis, the word "Hoosier" is used in lieu of "redneck," "cracker," "trailer trash," etc. Generally, this team languishes at-or-near the bottom of the standings every year. Last season, they finished second. I expect that Allen will celebrate his good fortune by showing up for this year's draft wearing a new bowling shirt.

Finally, we get to the "River Rats." They are also a perennial bottom-feeder as befits the plague-carrying vermin they are. There's a reason why even the PETA loonies NEVER complain when rats are used in laboratory experiments.

With this collection of characters, you can imagine what our drafts are like. In years past, our draft order was determined by drawing names out of a hat. It was the commissioner's hat and darn if he didn't get the first or second selection every year. Pure luck, or so he claimed. Not that it ever did him any good. He and his partner Hank usually argued for 10 minutes before wasting the number one pick on somebody like

Terry Metcalf (this actually happened). This year, draft order is based on last season's standings. The commissioner's team is still drafting near the top. Not that I'm the suspicious type, but..........

Everyone shows up on draft day with his stack of reference material. I do my own ratings on Excel spreadsheets and they're usually updated just before I head out to "draft central." Most of the others show up with one or more fantasy football guide magazines. Sometimes they're even this year's issues. With luck, one or two of the owners will actually read the magazines before draft day. Despite this intensive preparation, it's a given that one or more of our owners will waste a high draft pick selecting a player who was placed on injured reserve at least a month before. Several more high picks will be used to select players who are no longer on an NFL roster ("Why didn't you tell me he retired three years ago"?). Usually these picks are met with snickers or loud guffaws. Occasionally, however, you will hear someone cry "D**n! I was going to pick him!" Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You must be asking yourself by now why I stay involved with a league like this. The answer should be obvious and W.C. Fields said it best when he stated "Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump." See you at the bank.

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