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Interviewing the Interviewer

 

When I was contacted by Zach Law in July of last year via twitter to do an interview on fantasy football, I was hesitant.  I had recently taken a volunteer position with DLF managing the site’s twitter account and did not feel qualified to be grouped together with “fantasy football experts.”  Here we are almost a year later and I continue to feel honored and humbled to be included in that category.

Since my own interview with Zach, he’s went on to complete at least 37 other interviews since then, including our own Paymon Shokoohi, Jarrett Behar, Tim Stafford, Steve Wyremski, and hopefully more to come.  You can find his complete list of interviews here.  This time I get to turn the tables and see if he can answer questions as well as he can ask them.

DLF: How did you decide to start interviewing so-called “fantasy football experts” for your blog? What’s been the biggest eye opener so far?

Zach: I started because about seven years ago I had a one-season stint with a now defunct site called xpertsports.com. Now that approximately 10% of Americans have a fantasy blog, I thought why not go niche and interview the experts. It would give me unique content, a platform, and folks I could ask for fantasy advice because I’m no expert. The biggest eye opener is that just about everyone I’ve asked has said yes.

DLF: What do you feel has been the most positive experience that has come from conducting all your fantasy football interviews? Who are the next few guys you have lined up that we can look forward to?

Zach: Everybody’s so darn nice. I had my first Twitter meetup in Chicago with Chet Gresham, Andrea Hangst, Dexter of Dexter’s Library (his real name is Kenneth) and Brian Sibila, aka bfat65) who does the F*Ball Podcast with Andrea. I can find a fantasy expert in just about any town in America now. In all honesty, I have a community of friends on Twitter now and that’s more than I imagined would come from a few dozen interviews. I have reached out to Josh Zerkle of Bleacher Report (NFL writer who lives in Atlanta near me) and John Paulsen from 4 for 4 for future interviews. I do not plan too far ahead.

(Editor’s note: Zach has since completed interviews with Josh Zerkle and John Paulsen. You can find those interviews here.)

DLF: How beneficial have you found the fantasy football interviews to your own improvement in the sport/hobby?

Zach: If you ask Chad Parsons, I have not improved. I know I can ask people questions when I have tough fantasy decisions to make. Sometimes I get more feedback than I need. I’m not like you crazy people who can maintain 73 leagues while cranking out 12 articles an hour and keep one of those “jobs”. I’m the guy who lost to his dad twice in the playoffs last year, so what does that say? The downside of knowing so many fantasy freaks is that opportunities come up to join great leagues and I’m already maxed out.

DLF: How did you fall into the new gig at the Bleacher Report? What do you primarily focus on there?

Zach: I got a Featured Columnist gig at Bleacher Report which is as unglamorous as it sounds. Mike Schottey, who I interviewed fairly early in the series, brought me on when the other Titans blog I was working on died a quiet death. I mainly cover the Titans, which is the least popular NFL franchise at the good ‘ol B/R, along with writing general NFL assignments. To put it in perspective, two articles I’ve written for Bleacher Report have more views than my Web site does in its history. The site is a tidal wave of content and I am one drop of water.

DLF: As a fan of the Tennessee Titans, but a resident of Georgia, how often do you find your loyalty being questioned? What’s life like in Atlanta for a Titans fan?

Zach: It’s probably like being a fan of a second-division Russian volleyball team in Atlanta. No one really cares. When you get a new job, one of the first questions you get is “what school did you attend?” It’s SEC country and I’m happy to report that my alma mater Missouri will be joining the fray this fall. Jon Hamm and the SEC. How can you top that?

This town’s never going to embrace the Braves or Falcons like they do the Dawgs. College football has been here for 100+ years while NFL and MLB are still youngsters. I did attend one Titan bar, but it was just one table of guys. There’s a reason why I refer to it as Titan Cul-De-Sac as opposed to Steeler Nation. Titans fans: We are small in numbers but timid in attitude.

DLF: What’s your take on the Titans wide receiving corps? What should we expect from Kenny Britt coming back from injury and the rookie, Kendall Wright? Do you see Nate Washington or Damian Williams playing a significant role in 2012?

Zach:  A big moment in my local keeper fantasy league’s 2011 draft was when I came to the board determined to draft Britt but took Jimmy Graham instead. I was upset for the first two weeks.

Britt did sustain his injury early in the season. I think he’s going to start and play well. The problem with Britt is he’s always getting nicked up. That and he got arrested about once a day last August. I love the duo of Britt and Nate Washington. Washington was a trooper last year but he’s better against a team’s second cornerback. I’m really excited about Kendall Wright and somewhat excited about Jared Cook. Cook’s pretty much a receiver. If you can trade Damian Williams for anything, including a warm Bud Light that’s been sitting in the sun, now is the time.

DLF: What fantasy draft strategy have you never tried out that you’d like to in the next season or two? What are the odds of it working?

Zach: I was thinking of keeping Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Graham in my local keeper league (can keep one guy per position) and taking a WR in the first round. I get too enamored of shiny objects like rookie picks so my idea of trading all of my rookie picks for veterans in my dynasty league is a scheme I’d probably never do. I’d like to do an auction league, but my two main leagues take up enough of my free time.

DLF: What is your biggest pet peeve about fantasy football? Do you have a solution to the problem?

Zach: Kickers and team defenses. They should be eliminated. No fantasy baseball league has a team pitcher. Stop being wussies and play IDP, or just skip defense altogether and add more flex spots!

It’s a lack of engagement that’s my biggest pet peeve. If you’re in a league and people aren’t posting in the message board or talking smack or making moves, victory feels hollow. It’s even hollower when you do not emerge victorious. You must know your leaguemates to be able to properly dismantle them. That’s why it will be hard to top the local keeper league because we all get together for one weekend a year, even though a few of us do not live in town. I’ve been in a dynasty league since 2006 and I still don’t know what half of the guys look like.

DLF: You recently sent Michael Vick packing from your dynasty roster in a rather controversial trade. Tell me a little more about it and how do you feel about it now that you’ve had time to reflect on it?

Zach: I had Cam Newton and Vick in a dynasty league. I traded two of my rookie picks away in the league and wanted to stock up. I put Vick out there and the first offer was Carson Palmer and a rookie pick. The owner had Matt Schaub, and he’s had a couple of 4000-yard seasons so I figured him plus a rookie pick would be good value for Vick. We dickered and the final trade offer was Schaub, T.J. Yates and a third-round rookie for Vick. I was somewhat skewered for that, mainly by Chad. I interviewed him when he was a wee boy, and this is how he repays me.

I know the Texans are more of a run and defense team now, which means Schaub will throw for 4,000 yards and not 4,500. I’m going to start him once a year, I was going to start Vick once a year, and Vick’s still a bit injury prone and older than Schaub.  Maybe I’m off on his value. I probably undersold the deal, but those shiny rookie picks are so shiny and new. They’re like diamonds for guys. I picked up Mark Barron with the rookie pick.

DLF: Speaking of trades, what is the worst dynasty trade you’ve ever made? How about the best?

Zach: My worst is an all-timer. I was in another dynasty league that started in 2004. I got the number one overall pick in LaDanian Tomlinson, but I did not get a quality RB2. I traded six rookie picks to move up from 1.05 to 1.02 and get…drum roll please…Julius Jones. The league really came down hard on me. Sadly the 1.05 ended up being Larry Fitzgerald. I recovered a few years later by trading LT for Peyton Manning right before the LT wheels came off and won two titles with Mr. Manning.

In my local keeper league, I was a dealin’ fool last offseason. I traded Darren McFadden and Hakeem Nicks for Peyton Manning (ouch), Frank Gore and a second round pick for Calvin Johnson (un-ouch) and took a flyer to pick up Ryan Mathews for a seventh-round pick (surprising for Mathews, un-ouch).  I’m not afraid to trade, or be ridiculed by strangers on Twitter.

DLF: I know you play both redraft and dynasty fantasy football. Which format do you prefer and why? (No pressure, by the way. It’s not like we have the word “dynasty” in our name.)

Zach: I like every league to have a different set up. The keeper situation is good for the local league because the owners aren’t that die-hard but this lets us hold on to a few favorites. I do prefer the dynasty league because of the deep rosters (53 man), the annual rookie drafts and the large starting lineups.

DLF: Now it’s your turn to answer some of the tough questions you normally pose. Does your wife/significant other have any issues with your obsession?

Zach: My wife is more accepting of my hobbies (football, more football, writing about football, talking about football) because she has her own (guitar, voice lessons, stalking bestselling authors). I think it would be boring for both of us to be into exactly the same things.

DLF: Football or sex: which do you think of more?

Zach: I think of football more often but my thoughts about sex are more interesting.

DLF: Where are you on the usual football Sunday? I assume there’s a man cave.

Zach: One of my close friends got me a “Man Cave” sign for the room so it was aptly named. I actually don’t watch a ton of NFL football there because my tree-infested yard makes it impossible to get the Sunday Ticket, so I watch games at my friend’s house when I’m not at a Titans game. My parents have season tickets.

DLF: Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football.

Zach: I’m working on a book called Pride of the Lions. It’s about a season in the life of a fantasy football league that has to scramble when one of the owners suddenly dies. They follow the dead man’s team, the Detroit Lions and find creative ways to dispose of the ashes.

Talk about a boring hobby. I like to grill and I even purchased a White Sox grill cover recently. Yes, I like sports teams that torment me. I was a big beer fanatic until a recent diet has kept me away for three weeks. I’ll drink just about anything by the Fat Tire Brewing Company. I read a ton as well.

DLF: How has twitter changed the way you follow fantasy and football in general?

Zach: My Twitter followers and follows are about 80% football related. It’s nice to put out on Twitter that you have a rookie pick coming up to get some feedback. I may do my entire 2012 live keeper league draft via Twitter. Let the public decide.

DLF: Which fantasy writers are on your must-read list?

Zach: Everyone I follow. I feel like I discover five new ones every week. Hard to keep up when you interview one per week. Go to my fantasy football list on Twitter. I probably missed a few there.

DLF: Tell me about any plugs that you’d like. Podcasts, sites that you write for, expert leagues, anything.

Zach: I’m real easy to find. @zach_law on Twitter. My interviews were listed above and you can visit zachlawonline.com for all my writing. I created sub-pages for my interviews and Bleacher Report stuff to keep it nice and clean. I was on the 2 Mugs podcast recently with Mr. Rumford Johnny). Come for the head trauma talk, stay for the guy who sounds like he’s had head trauma.

Follow this DLFootball guy. He’ll retweet you like a ninja.

DLF: Zach, I thoroughly enjoy our interactions. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and allowing me to plagiarize some of yours.

You can find Zach on twitter here.

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10 years ago

Very interesting. Another new source I didn’t know about. Very nicely done Eric.

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