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Lessons of real-life stories from Tom Brady owners in 2008

We know how this story goes: You normally never do this kind of thing. You know, never pick a quarterback in the first round. You're just not that kind of fantasy football owner.

But nobody could blame you if you were swayed by Tom Brady.

He wooed Bridget Moynahan and Gisele, for crying out loud -- heck, ended up marrying the former Ms. B√ľndchen. What chance did you have? Even though you knew better. Teams and quarterbacks coming off a Super Bowl loss seemingly always struggle the following year.

But this was Tom Brady.

Fifty-touchdowns-in-2007 Tom Brady. Sure, he was going to slump -- to what, 40 touchdowns? There was no downside. Brady hadn't missed a start since, well, ever after taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

Bill Belichick was so confident in Brady that he employed a backup who didn't even start a game in college.

Brady was a stone-cold lock. A Manly pick, if you will (thanks, Nick Bakay). What could possibly go wrong?

Well, how about everything.

Brady attempted 11 passes -- count 'em, 11 -- before the Chiefs delivered the season-ending stunner. Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard rolled into Brady in what seemed like just moments after the opening warmups, and the enduring image of 2008 was the reigning NFL and fantasy MVP being helped off the field at Gillette Stadium.

What were those fantasy owners supposed to do now? The people who drafted Brady were standing there on the curb, like a young starlet who had been kicked off the "Rock of Love Bus" with Bret Michaels. What was the next move?

The first thing was to scan the waiver wire and try to pick up Matt Cassel. (And really, don't be ashamed if you didn't handcuff Brady after drafting him. Again, Brady never missed a start.)

The only problem is that guys in fantasy football aren't always ethical. In fact, if you claimed Cassel off the wire when Brady wasn't your quarterback, well, you are a weasel. An unscrupulous weasel with season tickets in hell. Not that claiming Cassel was illegal.

But doing so was akin to being the guy who tries to trick opposing players to throw you the ball in a pickup basketball game. The kind of guy who does a quick snap in the playoffs to score a cheapie touchdown.

But those guys never seem to win, and hopefully never will. The fantasy gods rule with karma, and a couple of our readers were able to lose Brady and still thrive. Their stories can inspire you this season when (insert name of superstar player here) goes down.

Our first reader took Brady with the fifth overall selection. He backed Brady up with Vince Young and Rex Grossman. So you can tell where this is going. Let this be a lesson as to why you shouldn't ignore the backup quarterback position. Our reader traded Torry Holt for Gus Frerotte, then dealt Frerotte and Matt Forte for Matt Cassel and Steve Slaton.

That owner went on to win his fantasy league.

Mr. Steal-Cassel-off-the-Waiver-Wire (who was the dude's own father -- can you believe that?), not so much.

Karma 1, Malefactors 0.

Another reader, Mark from Canton, had an awful lot of work to do. He drafted Brady (even though he "never" drafts a quarterback that high) and also had Willis McGahee. Mark must have felt great after the draft with a belly full of chicken wings. Both meal and picks quickly turned into indigestion.

Right after Week 1, he dealt Brandon Marshall for Marshawn Lynch to fix his gaping hole at running back. Then he packaged McGahee and Torry Holt for Aaron Rodgers and Kevin Smith. He then added DeAngelo Williams and John Carlson off waivers.

These are the kind of shrewd moves that fantasy owners should always be looking to make. (Though you can't always rely on owners leaving top-10 running backs on the waiver wire.) Too many fantasy owners draft teams, then go on autopilot minutes before that beer and chicken wings have passed through their system.

Those people are called losers.

Mark identified an owner who already had strength at quarterback (with Rodgers and Tony Romo) and made a quality offer. He could have sat back with Jake Delhomme and tried to ride out the season, but instead made a deal for Rodgers, who finished as one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in 2008.

As an added bonus, that owner who dealt Rodgers to Mark? He was the same guy who was rude enough to snag Cassel off the waiver wire.

Those fantasy gods -- vengeance is swift.

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