One of the great joys of professional sports is their strong connection with history. Fans of all ages talk passionately about the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 1927 New York Yankees, the ridiculous 100 point game by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962, and the masterpiece that is Pedro Martinez' 1997 season. I believe that it is comforting for people to relate to something as dependable and steady as football or baseball; decade after decade, while music and fashion and politics evolve wildly, the distance from the mound to home plate is still 60' 6".
There is something special, as well, in the ability to compare eras so easily and fluidly. Is it accurate to say that Avatar was the greatest movie of all time, because it was the highest grossing movie ever? Such an argument is easily thwarted, and it is hard to quantify theatrical quality. However, I am perfectly capable of pointing out the best teams in football ever, because we can compare statistics, win/loss, and any number of quantifiable metrics that relate to team dominance in any given year.
With that being said, I want to present the history of the Draft and Draught league, which begins way back in 2007. Like baseball in the 1800s, the game was very different in the past. For one thing, ESPN did not archive our league page, and so our team names, win/loss totals, and even rosters exist now only in our memories. I will try to give as good an account of the season as I can, but I am only as credible in this case as anecdote allows.
2007 was the inaugural season for our league, and it featured a nearly-full complement of rookie owners. Unfortunately, ESPN.com required that leagues have 10 teams, and we only had 8. Geniuses that we were, we invented a goofy, prehistoric "auto-draft" that created two "ringer" teams - teams that would be league controlled but designed to be below average. What would happen if one of the ringer teams won the championship? We tried not to think about it. We knew one very important thing, however - we should draft our teams in person, and we should bring lots of beer to this draft. Hence the name of the league.
The most important thing at the beginning of any fantasy season has nothing to do with strategy: it was time to come up with a team name. For 2007 my franchise was known as The Laserwolves. What does a Laserwolf sound like? I'm glad you asked! I punctuated every message board post with our war cry: "Owwwooooooooooo.........BANG"! It turns out, I don't know how to write out the sound of a laser.
The second most important thing is, of course, draft strategy. I was fortunate enough to draw the number one overall pick, and 2007 was a year where only one player was 1st overall caliber. "With the first pick of the inaugural draft of Draft and Draught, the Laserwolves select LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, San Diego!"
After that, I wanted to nail down a superstar at the rest of the skill positions. With my picks at the end of the second round and beginning of the 3rd(we do a snake draft, which means I picked twice in a row, 20th and 21st overall), I chose Indianapolis WR Marvin "My Favorite Martian" Harrison(copyright 2007 Chris Berman), and superstar rushing quarterback Vince Young. If you are a veteran of fantasy football, you are grimacing slightly right now. If you are not, let's just say they weren't QUITE the 20th and 21st best players by 2007's end. Or even close. Whoops.
With my 4th round pick I selected my ace in the hole - San Diego's tight end, Antonio Gates. The Gates of Hell, as I called him, was far and away the best tight end in football for several years, and even today he is a highly rated star. With a stud at four positions, I spent the rest of the draft drafting best available wide receivers and running backs.
The highlight of the season for me was what I consider to be the Greatest Fantasy Trade of All Time. My buddy Sam had a wide receiver problem - he simply could not find a receiver who could reliable produce fantasy points. I had a similar issue at running back - Tomlinson was great, but the rest of my team was not as solid. So I offered a young, up and coming receiver named Javon Walker for Sam's rookie running back, a guy named Adrian Peterson. At the time, I felt the trade favored me slightly, but helped his team as well since he could afford to trade depth at running back to fill a need at wide receiver. One week after our trade, in the next game played, Javon Walker broke his shoulder. Out for the year. At the same time, Adrian Peterson set the single game rushing record, obliterating the San Diego defense for 296 yards and 3 touchdowns. He's been the best running back in the world ever since. I love this trade.
My team finished 10-3 and I made the playoffs. I won my first round game and faced Queen Sarah's Fairy Realm Funtime in the championship game. My team went cold, however, and hers had a banner day, and I lost. Little did I know that this would be the closest I have ever been to winning the title.