Fantasy Football Draft Night: Where number nerds, football fanatics and middle-aged parents get out of their respective basements, apartments and homes to select the teams that will surely deliver glory in the coming months. And where adults turn into children, and NFL players are drafted onto teams they know nothing about and mean nothing to them. It is a magical escape, in what can be a less-than-perfect adult reality.

Being a Denver Bronco fan in the Peyton Manning Era was a well-lived fantasy for residents of Broncos Country. Star Wars numbers and excitement in the ‘almost got there’ years were followed by a strategic season with a more-than-dominant defense enabling the Broncos to gain the one ring which rules them all. It was a story that, if not known as elegant fact, would have seemed like terrific fiction.

Now, Broncos fans are coming back to reality.

What were once known as bad words and forbidden four-letter predictions could be closer to fact than fiction.

From 2013 to 2016 if someone dare speak of “8-8,” their mouths would be washed out with soap, or, as Joe Williams says, “buttermilk”.

Today, predicting anything better than 9-7 for the Broncos is seen as lunacy: A true orange and blue fantasy prediction.

So what is fact vs. fantasy for the Denver Broncos? What is the known, and what is conjured?

What is Known:

The Broncos have the deepest and most talented secondary in the NFL. Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby at the corners. T.J. Ward, Darien Stewart, Justin Simmons and Will Parks at safety. The Broncos are three if not four deep in the secondary, and in a pass first ask questions later league, they will be making their presence known. The Broncos defense/special teams will be selected early and often in fantasy drafts and for good reason. The ‘No Fly Zone’ alone is good for a few wins. This defense will not only stop teams from scoring, but it will also be a top team in scoring points on defense. The No Fly Zone is the truth.

Another truth is the right leg of Brandon McManus. “The Kid McManus,” as he calls himself on Twitter, started his career going undrafted out of Temple. He was with the Indianapolis Colts, then started the 2014 preseason with the Giants before he was traded to the Broncos for a conditional seventh round pick (No. 245). McManus has been a great kicker for the Broncos, but really shined in Super Bowl 50 where he hit all three of his field goals and one extra point. McManus has proved himself to be a great acquisition for both the Broncos and fantasy owners. He will go undrafted no more.

Now, the Unknown:

The offensive line, with additions of Ronald Leary, Menelik Watson and first-round draft pick Garret Bolles, is a total mystery. What will these guys become?

There is no doubt that Leary is a road grader who improved the position of right guard. No offense to Michael Schofield, but Leary is a quality player on the interior. Watson on the other hand still has something to prove, as he has struggled this preseason showing that he still needs to get better protecting the passer as well as in the run game. Bolles has shown that he was worthy of pick No. 20, but he will still have some struggles, just as all first-year players do. Even Matt Paradis is a question. He will not play against San Francisco  as he recovers from matching hip surgeries.

Will this O-line be better in 2017? The answer is probably, but it is still no guarantee. If there is a bigger mystery to be solved other than the starter at QB, it might be just how this O-line will fare in 2017.

Now, the Fantasy:

Fantasy football has a draft, and no one who ever drafted in fantasy football feels as though their team will not succeed. Every manager of a fantasy team sees a perfect season after the final pick is made. Never a bad pick, never a mistake made. Only perfection and glory awaits.

The same could be said for the diehard NFL fan. Legendary Denver sports radio caller ‘Bronco Billy’ has roamed and menaced the Denver air waves for decades. Calling the likes of Irv and Joe every year to give his Broncos prediction of 16-0. Never missing a moment to proclaim his love for the orange and blue, and never wavering from his fantasy of a perfect 16-0 season. But fans like Bronco Billy have not been as loud in 2017. They are not as fanciful as before, not as boisterous and willing to proclaim and predict excellence. They are still there, but humble, awaiting.

For where is Bronco Billy? Broncos Country’s lonely eyes turn to you.

While his may be the most fantastic of fantasies, Bronco Billy is not alone.

Listeners call in and say “With this defense, with those weapons at wide out, with C.J. Anderson and Andy Janovich, and an improved line, all the Broncos need is just a spark, just enough Mile High Magic, just enough QB.”

The fantasy that Broncos fans see with eyes clinched and fingers crossed is that Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian will have a magic moment. A light goes off, or a trigger is pulled. Someone or something spectacular ignites within one of them, and them POOF, BANG, POW it happens.

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat, Vance Joseph says alakazaam and a QB appears. That is the fantasy in Broncos country: A QB who makes all the right moves to get the Broncos into the promised land that is playoff football.

This is not so far-fetched, and very well could happen. Both Paxton and Trevor are young, and can get better with time and coaching. No doubt, either QB will make some sort of stride forward in 2017.

Yes, a spark, or a light could come on. The fantasy could very well be real, but odds are…

Well, let’s just say, I am not drafting a Broncos QB for my fantasy team, and neither should any of you.

Happy Drafting!