BRATTLEBORO — It's been 20 years since the last Fantasy Football draft took place at Hinsdale Greyhound Park, when a dozen of us gathered in a corner of the lower club and took turns choosing players that we had highlighted in our magazines.
Since then I've just been selecting a squad each August on ESPN.com, where your team name is the most important thing and being a good trash talker is a close second. Nobody really cares for those who use the entire 90 seconds to make each pick or make mid-season trade offers that only the 1989 Minnesota Vikings — think Herschel Walker — would accept.
After deciding on "They Are Who We Thought" as my team name to honor the late coach Dennis Green, I ran into the same problem that every owner is facing this year: I had no idea how far to drop the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Tom Brady and Josh Gordon on my big board, since all three have been suspended for Weeks 1-4.
I chose not to take any of them during the 12-team snake draft in which I had the fourth overall pick, but others must have felt as though they were stealing by taking those players in the middle rounds. They just had to deal with messages from their foes along the bottom of the screen, such as "No-show" or "Cheetah" or "What are you, high?"
Arizona's David Johnson, Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and Kansas City's Jamaal Charles were the first three names that I called out in this recent standard league lottery. My uncle Denny, who is a Fantasy veteran, will tell you that each of those is a risk — Johnson having to face rugged NFC West defenses, Lacy having only scored three rushing touchdowns last season, and Charles coming off of a knee injury.
Not to mention, I could only watch as the "studs" at other positions went rapidly. Receivers Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. Quarterbacks Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen.
I was forced to fill out my roster with a few "sleepers." I also took a "flier" on a rookie. And I even drafted the backup to my starting quarterback, just so I could use the word "handcuff" in the league's chat box.
For the first time ever, I will be running a weekly Fantasy Football League here. To enter, you must email me your Week 1 roster consisting of any two quarterbacks, any two running backs, any two receivers and any two tight ends by Tuesday, Sept. 6 at noon to email@example.com. One point will be awarded for each TD pass, TD run, TD reception and TD return, with the tiebreaker being the number of wins by the NFL teams that your players are on.
Week 1 schedule: Panthers at Broncos, Bucs at Falcons, Vikings at Titans, Browns at Eagles, Bengals at Jets, Raiders at Saints, Chargers at Chiefs, Bills at Ravens, Bears at Texans, Packers at Jaguars, Dolphins at Seahawks, Giants at Cowboys, Lions at Colts, Patriots at Cardinals, Steelers at Redskins, Rams at 49ers.