We’re a big fantasy football family. Have been since we started our own league in 2014. My daughter and I never paid much attention to the NFL prior to this, but when the guys in your life love football, you find it in your heart to love football as well — or at least to participate in the family fantasy football league.

Draft day is in early September. We all gather — in person or virtually ­— to pick our respective teams. The draft order depends on your performance the year prior. Those who bombed get first choice for draft pick; those who did well go to the back of the line.

For some, draft choices come naturally; for others, like me, it requires research, guesswork and lots of luck. I also rely heavily on recommendations from drafting pros who live over at ESPN. I am proud to announce, that after seven years I can confidently distinguish a running back from a tight end, and know which should be drafted before the other — unless you are talking about a superstar like Kelce or Kittle.

There are a number of rules for draft order, some of them counterintuitive (in my opinion). Any fantasy pro will tell you that first in the draft order are running backs and wide receivers (and maybe the exceptional tight end), but not kickers, defensive teams or even quarterbacks. You wait on those. It’s hard to wait on a quarterback, at least for me, but if you’re smart you follow the rules.

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My husband had his favorite players each year. Rob Gronkowski was one; Adam Thielen was another. He’d draft them well before they were recommended by the draft pros just because he wanted to make sure they were on his team.

We have a family fantasy trophy; it accompanies bragging rights each year. I won those rights in 2017, my daughter in 2019. Despite his vast football knowledge and keen expertise in draft picks, my husband never won the title; he was typically near the bottom of the pile. He didn’t mind. He was always a good sport about it and was quick to laugh at himself. For him it was about family fun. For him it was always about family. So he didn’t mind losing; and we didn’t mind beating him.

Until this year.

He started the 2020 season slow and slower. After six weeks he had but one win (against me) and was at the bottom of our family bracket. Odds of him winning the season at that point were slim to none.

But things were about to change. His losing streak moved to the “W” column week seven. He was still helping to manage his lineup at that point and got a couple of unexpected and legitimate wins. He was winning at football, but we saw he was losing his other battle. And, somehow, collectively, without even discussing it, we decided he would win the trophy this year.

During the last eight weeks of the regular season and two weeks of playoffs, he averaged 90 points per game while his opponents scored an average of just 23 points.

In layman’s terms, we threw the games against him because we are family. Because it felt like the right thing to do. Because he always wanted to get his name on the trophy and it was the least we could do to make sure that happened.

The trophy is officially yours for the year, Thom. Your name is inscribed in permanent ink and will stay there forever, or at least until family fantasy football is a thing of the past, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.

This year, you are our champion. And you’ll continue to be next year, and the year after that because as far as we are concerned, you are our GOAT (greatest of all time). Always have been, always will be.

And next September, I promise I’ll do my best to draft both Thielen and Gronk for my team. You always knew how to pick the good ones.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.