My Fantasy Reality: Storytelling and the draft nerd

Oh, how I thought I wanted him. - Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

My first fantasy league had one of the most memorable draft moments ever. Oh, Drew. Oh, poor, dumb Drew.

I love to write narrative stories. I mean, there's a lot of value to news and advice writing like I do on the fantasy sites, but there's a fulfillment in crafting a whole story that isn't as present in simply writing an advice piece.

That said, there is something of a template to narratives - Chekhov's gun. It is a literary truism that states that a gun introduced in a first act must be fired in the third, or else there is no reason for the gun to exist. Bad guys get their due. Underdogs have to triumph. That sort of thing. When Urkel pulls up a chair to Carl's home poker game and they joke about how they'll take all his money, he has to be a surprisingly good poker player. If they joke that he is terrible, and then he is terrible, where's the story?

My first year playing fantasy football for money was 2004, and we had an Urkel in our league. It was put together hastily - like, I was at work Sunday, and DW came up to me around 6 that evening and asked if I wanted to join a fantasy league.

"Sure, I guess," I said. "When's the draft?"


That sort of league. We were amateurs. I took a kicker in the middle rounds, and only after my buddy Thurman took Sebastian Janikowski before me and I yelled at him for snaking my pick. We weren't experts.

But there are non-experts, and there is Drew.

Drew was the restaurant's resident awkward guy, with an Urkel-type voice, a penchant for dropping trays of food, and a desperate desire to fit in with the group. As a not-altogether-cool guy myself, I was fine with Drew joining the league, even as some of the other guys made jokes about easy money and the like.

DW had printed out cheat sheets for everyone, so we all had a list of players. That wasn't a problem. And we had a giant white-board, and a whole room, and only like half of the group was drunk. It might have been more, I don't know. I was too young to drink at the time, so I wasn't one of the drunk ones.

The draft went as drafts go. It was fairly uneventful. Every once in a while, someone would call out a name that had already been taken, or someone would take annoyingly long, all the sorts of things you expect out of an unprepared group not using draft software.

And then. It was, like, the eighth, ninth round. Drew was drunk, Drew picked slow, and Drew could barely read his cheat sheet. It had been his pick for five, six minutes. As we all fussed at him, finally, Drew threw up both his hands and, in his Urkel-esque voice, said "All right, I'll take, I'll take Denny Green!"

Silence for a moment. Like I said, we weren't experts. Had Drew stumbled into a sleeper we had forgotten about? Was Denny Green the rookie wideout from...


Denny Green? Dennis Green?

Drew had drafted a coach.

After an appropriate amount of "Wait, what'd he say?" silence, the room erupted. Raucous laughter, bright red face for Drew. All the normal "Guys giving each other the business" noise. And it took a full round of the draft to go by before Drew trotted out the "I meant Dennis Northcutt!" alibi that didn't fool anyone.

After that, the draft went pretty smoothly the rest of the way. Every few picks, someone would holler out that he was taking "Denny Green," but what's a draft without ragging on something dumb a friend did? To this day, if I see Dixon or Darrell or someone from that league, we end up laughing about Denny Green in no time.

Here comes the story's end. According to the rules of narrative, Drew has to have won the league, have gotten his revenge on all our mockery. But he didn't win the league.

I did.

Screw Chekhov, this is my story.

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