High Stakes Interview - Chris Carlson
By David Dodds
July 18th, 2012

Over the last decade, we have seen high stakes leagues explode in popularity. Several high stakes leagues have come and gone in that time span, but the Fantasy Football Players Championship and, its online sister, the Footballguys Players Championships are alive and well. While many maintain fantasy football is far too luck-oriented, there are several players that consistently perform at a level above the average participant. We've asked them to give us some insight into how they approach the high stakes leagues.

Name: Chris Carlson

Occupation (when not playing fantasy football): Investment Analyst

Family life: Married with two daughters.

Years playing fantasy football: 17

Your biggest score(s) in fantasy football: Taking down the 2012 FFPC Main Event. Think I'm joking? Stay tuned.

Do you prefer drafting live or online? Why? Live. A competitive advantage can be gained drafting live. Additionally it is much more fun.

Name two players that you expect will be undervalued in most fantasy drafts this year. Explain why you think these sleepers could drastically outperform their ADP.

Isaac Redman RB Steelers. Redman is far superior to Mendenhall skill wise. Anyone who does not understand that has not watched both players enough. As a Steelers fan I've been screaming for Redman to take the lead role and now it has happened, he is a 3 down RB. The Steelers have already indicated that 2012 is likely a lost season for Mendenhall, and after watching Redman in an extended role, there will be no looking back. Adding Todd Haley as the OC only makes it better, as he made it a focus to include RB's who can catch the ball in KC.

Kellen Davis TE Bears. Davis is a very talented TE who was re-signed by Chicago and with Mike Tice as OC he will be utilized early and often. Finally it looks like Chicago will be taking advantage of Cutler's arm, and with Marshall, Forte, Jeffery, Bennett et al, Davis will take advantage of opposing DC's focusing on the other weapons that Chicago presents. He will be a top 10 TE you can get as others are drafting their kickers and defenses.

Name two players that will not be on your roster at any draft position. Explain why you think these busts could drastically underperform their ADP. There is no player who will not be on my roster regardless of draft position. Every player is draftable at a certain spot. Two players who will not be on my roster I can tell you are Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton as I do not take QBs until round 5 at the absolute earliest. As far as two players I believe who will bust their ADP I would select Demarco Murray and Victor Cruz. Fine players, but for where they will be drafted I want no part of them due to limited past performance and in Murray's case injury history.

Give us a snapshot of how you prep for a fantasy draft once you know your draft position? I draft dynamically using AVT, so it doesn't matter when I receive my draft position, 30 days or 30 minutes before draft time.

How do you go about evaluating talent that you will add via the waiver wire? Sore subject with the early WW periods due to Thursday Night Football being every week this year. I like to watch the DirecTV Short Cuts to gauge changes in player usage. The WW process this year being so condensed to Wednesday nights will make it much more difficult to prepare and properly bid for the WW talent.

How much of fantasy football is skill? How much is luck? Yes, the Rubik's Cube of FF. In terms of consistent league winning performance I'd put it at 75% Skill and 25% Luck. However, with the increase in injuries experienced last year as well as the concussion issues the NFL is dealing with, they could bump up the Luck factor to 40% or more. And that is very bad for this hobby.

What advice would you give a player taking a shot at high stakes for the 1st time? Without giving away all of your secrets, how can a newbie get up to speed quickly in the world of high stakes? Visit the message boards of the contest they are joining. Lots of good stuff there. More importantly, seek out the players who win consistently and observe them. That is the quickest way to jump to the head of the line.

What is your favorite high stakes format? (Main Event, Draft Experts, Dynasty, Auction, etc). Why do you prefer this format? FFPC Dynasty by far. Best bang for the buck. While I will always be a redraft person at heart, these Dynos are the best. Shameless plug, but if a team ever becomes available in the $500 FFPC Dyno #1 grab it and prepare for the most fun you've ever had in a FF league.

To TE or not to TE? With the FFPC dual flex (and awarding 1.5 points per reception for TEs), this position is extremely valuable. Do you generally pay a premium for a top 5 TE or do you seek value at RB/WR and look to grab your TE later? I've gone both ways in the past. Going forward, unless I get a good deal on Graham or Gronk I will be waiting awhile on TE. Like QB, taking a TE will require finding a spot where the player has slipped enough to take him, otherwise I will be waiting and bolstering my RBs and WRs.

Give us your top 6 picks in the FFPC Main Event:

  1. Arian Foster
  2. LeSean McCoy
  3. Ray Rice
  4. Calvin Johnson
  5. Ryan Mathews
  6. Jimmy Graham

Many of the best players in the FFPC wait on their QBs. But with the NFL moving more and more to a passing league (and guys like Rodgers and Brees putting up ridiculous totals), when will you be looking to grab your QB in the Main Event? As I said earlier, 5th round is the absolute earliest I would take a QB, and would only take a Rodgers or Brees at that point. QB is the only position you can gain immediate production on the WW at any point in the season, and the scarcity at RB and WR compels you to devote as many draft picks as possible early on in a draft.

Make a case for why someone should come to Vegas and participate in some high stakes events. I'm sure it's a Helluva good time and you get to meet a bunch of great people.

What's the biggest mistake you see high stakes players make? Caring about ADP. In HSFF, even being aware of ADP can be a huge detriment.

Aside from the obvious payout and competition level, what's the biggest difference between high stakes leagues and regular leagues? Any "secret" you think you know in HSFF is not a secret. Unless you want to hang your hat on the "Luck" factor, following FF is a year round proposition.

What's the thing you wished you'd learned 5 years ago? That the FFPC is the only place to play.

© 2012 Footballguys - All Rights Reserved