Several years ago I began working remotely for a startup non-profit after spending most of my career in retail and corporate offices. As any quality researcher would do, I immediately began looking into tips and tricks of how to be successful working remotely. I stumbled across an article series by Lifehacker, called “How I Work,” which essentially was a collection of interviews, focusing on best practices, workflows, workspaces, and gadgets used by successful business people.
This article series is a nod, or rather a direct copy of their idea, from a fantasy football perspective. I’ll seek to interview the most interesting minds in fantasy football, procuring their secrets, routines, bookmarks, and more in an effort to pull back the curtains and provide you with resources and information. I hope you enjoy!
Your Twitter handle
Your location (city/state)
Las Vegas, NV
Current day job
Selling vintage video games, toys, electronics, etc.
Current fantasy job(s)
One word that best describes how you play fantasy football
Who is your favorite (non-current) NFL player? Why?
Walter Payton. I grew up a Bears fan as a young child in the mid-80s. A few years later I had the opportunity to see him speak at a banquet. He was as eloquent off the field as he was Sweetness on it.
Current mobile device
iPhone 6s Plus.
I build my own PCs. My current rig features a 1TB Samsung SSD, 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM, an Intel i5 overclocked to 4.3k, an EVGA 1070 GPU overclocked to the gills, and a dual monitor setup, including a 24″ Acer Predator 144 Hz for gaming.
First of all, tell us a little about how you got your start in fantasy football. How did that evolve to what you’re doing now?
Back in the late 90s, I was a hardcore fantasy baseball guy, playing in multiple NL and AL-only leagues. At some juncture, one of my league-mates got me into his football league, but it took a decade or more before I left baseball behind to take the football side more seriously.
The real tipping point was in 2012 when I worked for the parent company that founded the DFS site DraftDay.com. I helped with the development of the site, managing bug testing teams, writing and reviewing copy, and setting up their customer support system. When my duties were done at DraftDay (DD), I was brought on as a blogger and prop player, receiving a percentage of my rake back if I started a certain number of head-to-head contests on a weekly basis.
Because I like money, I poured myself into DFS that season, developing a system on my way to achieving moderate success (a low five-figure profit margin). At the end of the season, I realized I enjoyed the writing part more than the time and stress involved with playing a big slate, so I left DFS behind and landed a gig at numberFire. After a year there under the fantastic JJ Zachariason, Mr. Dickens came calling, I moved to DLF, learned to play dynasty, and here I am.
How many fantasy football leagues do you currently play in? What is your favorite league and why?
I am in 11 dynasty leagues, three of them salary cap, and seven others which are either two quarterback or super flex. Then there are two best ball ladder leagues, the Scott Fish Bowl, and a lone remaining, boring redraft league. That makes 15 by my count, but I lost three fingers in a mustache accident, so I might be off by one.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or fantasy hack?
I read everything former DLF scribe George Kritikos writes and then do the exact opposite.
In order to be successful in fantasy football, you have to do at least one thing better than the average owner. What’s your secret?
I am very good at the strategy side of the game, which is an area most owners don’t concentrate enough of their efforts.
What’s your greatest weakness in fantasy football? Startup drafts, mining the waiver wire, making trades, lineup decisions? How do you make up for it elsewhere?
Undoubtedly my lack of knowledge of college players. I watch virtually zero college ball during the season, which puts me at a disadvantage come February. I make up for that knowledge deficit by having the knowledge deficit. It is like knowledge deficit inception over here.
Allow me to explain: I enter the combine/draft season with zero bias. I don’t have a favorite high school recruit from three years before who disappointed, but I am still attached to. When I sit down to study players, I have no preconceived notions. Whether or not the positives in my method outweigh the negatives is anybody’s guess, but it has worked for me.
How would you describe your fantasy football philosophy?
There are five main prongs that make up my philosophy:
1. I don’t get caught up in hype trains and don’t give up on players I have a good reason to like. Sometimes I am too slow to adopt the Tyreek Hill’s of the world. Other times I hang on to players too long. But I’ve also avoided far more Christine Michael’s and Cordarrelle Patterson’s than your average owner.
2. Player evaluation is an overrated pursuit for 98% of us. There is no way Joe Average Owner can live up to what Matt Waldman or our Dynasty Scouts team does. I leave the bulk of player eval to others, and instead spend my time on things I can control.
3. Make more trade offers than anybody else in your league. Or at least more than That Guy who offers up Golden Tate for Sammy Watkins the week after Watkins gets traded to the Rams.
4. Numbers, metrics, and film all need each other more than Huey Lewis needed the News. Without one another, they are both nearly pointless.
5. Read everything former DLF scribe George Kritikos writes and then do the exact opposite.
Walk us through what your week looks like during the season as a fantasy owner. When do you watch games, process waivers, propose trades, etc?
The week really starts on Tuesday for me. My first tasks are to go through all my leagues, setting preliminary lineups and hammering the waiver wire. I also use Tuesday, and often Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to catch up on film of any players I have an interest in.
On Thursday I go through and check all my lineups to make sure I’m good for that night. In most cases I either skip, or only watch part of the game, depending on who is playing. You can always tell if I am watching because I live-tweet about how awful the game is.
At least two or three times a week I look through all of my leagues for potential trades. Sometimes it takes minutes, other times it takes hours. The process is helped by a well-curated list of buys and sells I keep on Google Drive.
Sunday I get up early, which is a downside of living out west. I give a final lineup check, answer start/sit questions on Twitter, and plop on the couch to watch the games. If the Bears are on, they always get priority. If they are losing, my commercial break channel surfing ends up with me watching a bunch of Redzone.
Sunday and Monday Night Football, especially when Chicago plays, are shared events with my wife, who sits next to me playing games on her phone, and my daughter, who talks so much I can’t follow what the hell is happening. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your favorite article you’ve ever written? Why?
When I wrote “The Case Against Cordarrelle,” I was a brand new writer at DLF. I’d been here barely a month and I’d already pissed off half our readership. How mad were they? The article received 125 comments, most of them telling me how big of an idiot I was. So if I made so many people so upset, why is it my favorite article? Because I had an argument, presented it clearly and with ample evidence, and stuck to my guns when it would have been easy not to. I’m proud of that.
Who is the best fantasy football owner you’ve ever played with and why?
All 11 other owners in my old home league are tied for first. Despite approximately one of them having any semblance of an idea what they were doing, in the six or seven years I played in the league, I won exactly zero titles. Hell, I don’t think I made the playoffs more than a few times.
What’s your current workspace (for fantasy football) like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Home office with a standing desk?
I have a decent sized home office that I use for fantasy, writing, and my video game business. I sit here maybe 60 hours a week, wrecking my eyeballs and back, all to bring entertainment to the masses.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
I use the hell out of my Nintendo 3DS XL. My daughter is an ice skater, so I spend 10-15 hours a week sitting at the ice rink. Without the 3DS, Twitter, and comic books, I’d be bored out of my mind.
What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?
I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter, but I’ve become at peace with it. I also use Excel, NFL Game Pass, Voxer, and Coby Fleener’s cam app obsessively. If we are talking non-football, Yelp, the Apple podcast app, and especially Spotify are in heavy rotation.
What is your go-to site for your tough start/sit decisions?
I use 4for4 to set all my lineups, then ignore their expert advice and muck it up by making my own (poor) decisions.
If you could only read one website (other than those you contribute at) for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I’ve done a few guest pieces for Rotoworld, but we are going to ignore that so I can pick them. While I don’t always agree with the takes in the blurbs, the central forum for player updates is a huge help. They also have two of my Mount Rushmore of analysts in Rich Hribar and Evan Silva. Add in Josh Norris, Ray Summerlin, Graham Barfield, Pat Daugherty, and another of my Mount Rushmore writers in DLF’s own Ryan McDowell, and you have some fantastic content.
Take a quick peek at your bookmarked sites. What are the top 3-4 sites on the list?
Youtube, Amazon, CNN, Rotoworld, and Twitter are by far my most visited sites.
What podcast is currently queued up on your phone?
Twinnovation. It is hilarious and absolutely worth checking out.
What are you currently reading? A novel, comic book, website, magazine?
All comics all the time. I am mostly a DC guy, but read some Marvel and Dynamite as well. My pull box has about 15-20 series in it, but my favorites are Batman, Detective Comics, Deathstroke, Action Comics, Superman, and I really enjoyed the first issues of The Shadow and Mister Miracle. DC is also doing a big event with Dark Knights Metal that I’m digging. Oh, and I just got done reading all of American Vampire. It is outstanding.
What do you listen to while you play? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe a podcast? Or do you prefer silence?
I listen to lots of classic and hard rock on Spotify. Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless are on rotation at the moment. For podcasts I am into the aforementioned Twinnovation, If I were You, High and Mighty, The Joe Rogan Experience, and Stuff You Should Know. I also listen to Hardcore History whenever they drop new episodes.
Do you have any superstitions on game day? Wear the same lucky T-Shirt? Always make homemade chili before the games?
I read everything former DLF scribe George Kritikos writes and then do the exact opposite.
How do you recharge?
Comics and video games. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Escape From Tarkov, and Overwatch all have me engrossed at the moment. If you are a PC gamer, hit me up and I’ll add you on Steam!
What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?
I get far too little sleep. Most nights I cash it in around 2am. Wake up calls differ depending on my daughter’s skating schedule, but they range from 6am to 8am. One or two days a week I’ll either hit the hay early or sleep in a bit to keep the batteries at least semi-charged.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When my daughter was born, my mother told me to be loud when she was sleeping. Mother knows best, as my kiddo has slept like a rock from an early age.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
This is Brian Quick’s year. Trust me, I’m an expert.
The How I Play series asks writers, developers, editors, and fantasy football degenerates to share their secrets, bookmarks, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Eric Dickens or start a conversation with him on Twitter.