Ever since he exploded onto the fantasy football scene in August 1999 with the first overall pick of Eddie George, who would go on to rack up 1,304 yards and 9 touchdowns—Fantasy Football Guy has put together a seamless blend of trash talking, personal barbs, terrible waiver moves, controversial trades and zero championships. Of late, Fantasy Football Guy has become a harsh critic of fantasy “experts” especially those from Yahoo! calling Brad Evans “my bitch” and a “lifeless hack” on his message board. He’s also not showing signs of backing off the throttle with his league mates, posting animated .gifs of Kate Upton’s boobs for his opponents when he wins with the caption, “Next time keep your eye on your lineup instead of these.” Gearing up for a “decade-and-a-half of dominance” with his draft set for after work this Friday, Fantasy Football Guy sits down with Death of the Press Box and talks about his new formula for winning, why he’s not a buyer on Chip Kelly’s offense and the surprising turning of his back on Red Zone.
Death of the Press Box: Congratulations on taking third runner-up in your league last year. After all your months of prep and making a record 171 waiver moves, how did it feel to end up losing in the playoffs to the guy you beat weeks one and seven?
Fantasy Football Guy: I was playing really loose at the beginning of the season but I always get a little nervous come playoff time. When you’re curating your spreadsheets and making wire moves, dropping a Kenny Britt and picking up a Mike Williams, you can lose sight of the big picture. The biggest takeaway from last year and what I’m learning—what I’ve learned—is to look at a fantasy season the way this girl I dated looked at a season of Downton Abbey. By the way bros, don’t pronounce it “Downtown” Abbey, you won’t get laid for like weeks. Sure there’s a lot of down time, a lot of slow time, a lot of talk; but in the end someone bangs someone or someone dies and there’s a payoff. I’m looking at the regular season as a build-up now and hopefully someone gets fucked in the end—and that someone isn’t me.
What keeps you going after 15 fantasy seasons?
I always grew up with the idea that in order to be a successful fantasy player, I should be successful in life first. Good job. Happy household. I feel like I lost sight of that the last few years. That resulted in me picking up TJ Houshmandzadeh in 2011 after he signed with the Raiders. I was drinking a lot, At work (mostly in the parking lot) …then and, well, the pressure just got to me. I also feel like I wasn’t keeping promises to myself, like every year saying, “This is the year I shock the league and take Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and AJ Green one, two, three” then I get on the draft board and Matt Forte is there at number seven and I can’t resist, I puss out. I’m sticking with my game plan this year. I have a Post-it on the desktop my computer, you know, the digital kind. It says, “I can do this. Let’s do this.” And that’s sort of the direction I’m going, a more Zen approach. Instead of junking out over commentary and bloggers, I’ve just been watching season three of Friday Night Lights over and over. Because it’s about loyalty. It’s about the right personnel.
You reveal a lot of your personal life on the fantasy boards every year, perhaps no more than last year when you chronicled the death of your Labradoodle and your breakup with that girl you’d been kind of seeing/texting.
People always ask me how I find strength to be so open about things, and I explain to them that I took the Myers-Briggs test, like, eleven times, failing it the first five. Every single time, I ranked a 92-percent extrovert, so it would probably take more for me to keep my trap shut on the boards. But really, it’s about fun too. People highlight my more controversial posts, like the one in ’01 about Jano knocking me out with GHB at the club still gets mentions and that’s more than a decade old—but that wasn’t personal, that was me just trash talking and doing what I do best—taking the focus away from the game because when I have guys thinking “Oh shit, he’s in bad shape, he just got dumped.” That’s when I trade you Steven Jackson for Jordy Nelson and Jackson sits with a knee and Jordy goes off for three teeders.
Your fantasy franchise has evolved to be more more about you and your take on the game in general as opposed to just pure weekly moves. Has that been intentional?
When I started playing fantasy, I never intended it to be about me. But then you think about the name, Fantasy Football, and it’s like, well—we can live out any life we want to on that screen. I mean, I can literally be making roster moves and have three porn windows open at the same time. You don’t know what I’m thinking. You don’t have a glimpse into my browsers and you don’t know what keeps me running. It’s the same as the Fox dancing robots when they cut to commercial—it looks like a silly CGI robot doing awesome moves, but really, it’s a distraction, it’s hypnotic, it’s subterfuge—it lulls you into sticking around through the next Geico ad. Similarly, every time I made a post about me and what I thought about, say, Cadillac Williams leaving the game, and a hole in my roster—and heart—it just got a lot more traction with the rest of the league. It is a fantasy, but it’s a reflection of us. So I make it about me.
You’ve already been vocal that you’re not a buyer on Nick Foles this year, why is that?
I hope that every year I get a little smarter, a little sharper. I got Foles off waivers last year week two, because that’s what I do. I see something I like and I go out and get it. This year he’s what, seven or eight on the QB depth chart? And all I see is a glorified Charlie Batch—and that’s no offense to Charlie. I think there will be third- or fourth-round quarterbacks out there that’ll put together a better season than Foles. You’ve got a guy like Jay Cutler who’s just had his second kid—a son called Jaxon. A name like that takes balls especially when your first son has a doucher name like Camden. And I like balls. So, yeah, if Cutler is on the board, I’m taking him. (Laughs) Spoiler alert!
You’re obviously passionate and knowledgeable about fantasy sport, but it’s not just about spreadsheets for you.
Like I said, the game is about intangibles as much as anything else. I have a buddy who’s come up with an algorithm for making quality late-round picks because late rounds is when guys have already crushed four or five Lime-a-Ritas or have to go sit down with their families and eat or some shit. His formula works, to an extent. What I look more at is the stuff like what player just got dumped? What teams are traveling to New York from the West Coast and will be out at Scores all night? Who’s not on Hard Knocks? I went a little crazy last year after I fell in love with Gio Bernard. I thought his girlfriend was cool, so I took him in the third round.
What is a typical day in your life?
It’s not as cool as you think it is. It’s like I had this buddy who worked with this guy who dated Melissa Stark. Remember her?
Yeah, well and he said, she was just like a normal chick in real life and got moody and after awhile it kind of sucked and he would’ve been better off with Hannah Storm, propane burns notwithstanding. That’s pretty much my life. Get up. Have coffee. Get to my desk around 8:30. Check some blogs. Answer some work emails. Mostly start g-chatting about where lunch is going to be and what time. Check on some other issues—I don’t even know what that means. Do lunch. Most of my waiver moves are done by Sunday afternoon, so I want to check and see if those came through. Prepping for bye weeks is huge for me. I’ll usually go crack a beer in the bathroom nobody uses over by the IT guys around 3 p.m.
You said you stopped drinking at work.
The bathroom doesn’t count as work—unless you’re working one out.
You’ve been a big critic of Yahoo! since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO.
Yeah, I feel like I was a little tough on her. It just seemed like easy pickings when she took over the best fantasy platform in the world just before the 2012 season and then got pregnant right away. A lot of the fantasy site’s functionality either stayed the same or didn’t improve—mobile especially. Someone told me I should go easy on her, that Yahoo! is a search engine? (Laughs). I had to laugh because, what the fuck, you know. Anyway, mobile is getting a little better. I can change my lineups, but still can’t really make trades or waiver moves. I have to log in for that. And of course, trash talking or whatever. Still, on Mayer, she’s making $200 million for her first 5 years on the job and still my background is all blurry and LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles sit atop the draft board like it’s late 2012, and my lineup changes don’t save until I log out and log back in. So wake up Marissa!
Do you think you’ll expanding your team’s brand?
I would love to. Work gets in the way sometimes, but spreadsheets are spreadsheets, you know. My boss could care less as long as certain stuff gets done or whatever. But for me, and this may come as a surprise, it’s been more about doing my fantasy stuff at home, where I can give it total attention. It’s like stalking hot chicks on LinkedIn. There’s only so much of that you can do and it starts to seem futile—plus they know you’re looking. That’s how I feel about fantasy at work. This year, I’m making work about work and fantasy about fantasy. Compartmentalizing. I’m also investing in a software one of my buddies—the late-round algorithm guy—is making that we’ll basically turn into a fantasy football consulting firm. We hope to expand to start a real-life fantasy football camp, which will be similar to a kind of Spring Training meets actual OTAs, except we’ll be using computers and crushing more Bud Lights.
Draft Week is upon us; what’s the plan this year?
I sort of miss the days where I would go and buy a magazine: the Athlon Sports Fantasy Preview with, you know Terrell Davis on the cover. As an aside, I hope they make the Terrell Davis story one day with Taye Diggs as the lead, I just think that’d be a natural. Anyway, I miss the Post-its on the big board and the pencil and lined graph paper. It’s the same how I miss buying a Club magazine in a wrapper from the back of a liquor store and getting it home and running to the bathroom, like a mini Christmas morning. Everything’s at your fingertips now and you can make a million bad moves with an itchy trigger finger. So this year, I’m taking it old school. I’m writing down—physically writing down—my picks beforehand. I’m sticking to my one-pager and seeing how that goes.
You posted about Richard Sherman’s post-game rant on your league’s board last year during the NFL playoffs long after everyone else had long since logged off. Why did you feel the need to say something?
Yeah, I just feel like I wanted to be heard, to add to the conversation. I think he was just trying to ask Erin Andrews out, you know. He got all excited and that shit just came out. I feel him. I could feel his nervousness. But he needs to save that for the lobby bar, you know. He’s a guy just like the rest of us. I’m sure he’s checked out her slideshows, especially that pic when she’s walking around with a mic and black stretch pants. But, I just felt like he needed to dial it down. Suffice to say, I won’t be taking Seattle D this year unless they’re still around in the sixth.
How long do you think you can keep losing and still keep such a good attitude?
I hope a long time. Again, this year, I’m kicking it old-school. No Red Zone, that’s just for ADHD kids and guys who don’t make time to think about the intangibles. No SportsCenter for me either. I just want to evolve past this need for information all the time. If there’s a player I like, like Frank Gore, and he’s around in the second or third round, I’ll take him. If he’s up against a defense, like Miami, that’s not going to stack the box, I’ll play him. Like coach Eric Taylor says, “Don’t whisper yell at me. Don’t whisper yell at me, please.”