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‘Fantasy’ is certainly the right name for this fall fling

We all look for things we can count on in life. I have discovered that fantasy football is not one of them.

 Former Pioneer Journal publisher and editor Steve Schulz introduced it to the office three years ago and he scored a bullseye in the morale department. People who had as much interest in the pro football as they had in jumping out of a plane without a parachute came on board. Since I knew the players much better than most of my competition, I was told I would dominate the league.

 It did not quite work out that way.

 I was so bad at fantasy football the first year that all I won was the booby prize pot they gave the guy with the poorest record. My only consolation was that Steve, who was a fantasy football veteran, did not do well either. The best record belonged to a gal in advertising who picked her players based on a family tie with New England quarterback Tom Brady. Her team killed everyone until the playoffs when - wonder of wonders - she was knocked off in the first round. This was a shocker to us all but it confirmed something Steve had pointed out when we started the league. A good regular season record only gave you a shot at the playoffs.

 I thought I had a terrific team going into that first season. Phil Rivers, Michael Turner, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Lloyd, Sebastian Jankowski and the New Orleans defense.  As it turned out, very few of my star players enjoyed good seasons. The guy who ended up scoring most of my fantasy points was my second-choice quarterback, Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

 Luck (and not the Andrew kind) continued to smile on me last year. We pulled our draft positions out of a hat and I was dead last. This turned out to be a small advantage because our league rules stipulated the guy who picked last in the first round was able to pick first in the second round. I was able to select Drew Brees and LeSean McCoy. After that I grabbed Jordan Nelson, Cedric Benson, Steve Gronkowski and the Pittsburgh defense. My longshot was Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, a guy who had been told by the doctors a year earlier he would never play again. Manning fooled everyone. He threw 37 touchdown passes and led the Broncos to the playoffs.

 After our 2012 draft I told myself I was set. I had every player I needed. I actually felt a little guilty for what my powerhouse team was going to do to the competition.

 After an 0-3 start I was wondering where the snake had bitten me. Brees could throw nothing but interceptions and McCoy, who had scored 17 touchdowns the year before, was lousy. I got busy. I dropped the Steelers and some of my sure-fire picks and went with young, hungry types like Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, Washington running back Alfred Morris and Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams.

 The season turned out well. After the terrible start my team went undefeated over the next eight weeks and I qualified for the playoffs. After squeaking out an upset in the first round of the playoffs I faced Steve for the league championship. He had players like RG3 and Adrian Peterson so I expected to lose but instead my team of rookies and cast-offs won and I was awarded the coveted “Blue Smurf” award (actually two blue koala bears sitting on a loveseat holding a small plastic trophy cup).

 May all of you who play fantasy football enjoy a good season in 2014. For the people out there who are not in a league I have one piece of advice - lose no time in joining one real soon and see for yourself how much fun it can be.

 If you are looking for a tip from a fantasy football “veteran”  here it is - if you think you have it figured out, remember that it’s called “fantasy” football.