Many devoted readers of the fantasy page have asked in person and via the weekly Web chats for some elaboration on the league in which I participate. It's a fair question and probably one I should have addressed in more detail at the beginning of the season, so with permission from the 13 other teams in my league, here goes. . . .
The league's inaugural season was 1991, when two ambitious graduates of the University of Virginia gathered a group of football-loving friends and formed the Old Salem Memorial League. The significance of the name? Old Salem was the complex in Charlottesville in which the league founders shared an apartment and hosted the first draft.
One of the founders, Jon DeNunzio, has been the commissioner since the league's inception. He is the high school sports editor at The Washington Post. The other co-founder, Rob Daniels, dropped out of the league after last season but continues to monitor it as time allows. Rob is a sportswriter for the Greensboro News-Record, covering a great deal of college football and basketball.
Other members of the league include newspaper editors and writers, a lawyer, a graduate student and a middle school principal. Another fantasy football writer from a major daily newspaper is also in the league. They are all the kind of guys who routinely win bar bets when football trivia is the category.
The defending champion, Karl Rothman, is a close friend of Jon's and a fellow devotee of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Karl is a certified public accountant currently working as a consultant, and his hours are such that he was crunching numbers until 4 a.m. the day of the draft. His team is Exhibit A as to how much luck can affect fantasy outcomes. His top two picks were Julius Jones and Terrell Owens, both high on all draft boards. Injuries have plagued Jones this season, and the Owens saga continues to confound fantasy owners.
I am trying to reclaim the title Karl took from me last season and looking for a third fantasy crown in six years. Through a combination of a sound draft, calculated free agent and lineup decisions and a lot of luck, I am fortunate to be 10-0 and ensured of a playoff berth. At least that's what the commissioner said on Tuesday.
The breaks have been favorable this season. For instance, my opponent last week had won six in a row thanks to solid performances recently from Heath Miller, Reggie Wayne and Jerry Porter. All were non-factors on Sunday. Two weeks ago, my opponent started Domanick Davis, who wound up being a game-day inactive. In Week 1, Courtney Anderson carried me with his only two touchdowns of the season. In Week 3, my opponent got 32 points from LaDainian Tomlinson and accumulated the second-highest team point total of the week, but Shaun Alexander and Jake Delhomme combined for 50, and three other players on my roster scored touchdowns. Free agent additions that have paid off include Mark Brunell and Ernest Wilford.
Here's hoping that good fortune doesn't run out anytime soon.