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: Josh and Drew Miceli
Occupation (when not playing fantasy football): Josh - Financial Advisor for the firm of which Drew is CEO, Miceli Financial Partners.
Family life: Drew is married with a son(me) and a daughter. Resides in Los Gatos, CA a suburb of San Jose.
Years playing fantasy football: The 80s for Drew, about 13 years ago for myself. And High Stakes since about 2005 for the both of us.
Your biggest score(s) in fantasy football: This always brings back nightmares... My team with a 3rd place overall finish in the WCOFF M.E. With a monster lead going into Sunday night football and the articles already posted on the site claiming me the champ, DeAngelo Williams decided to go off for 4 tuts and 100+ on Sunday night football. Capped off with the torture of having Steve Smith(car.) scoring a diving TD on our team to have the play reviewed, reversed, ball placed at the 1/2 yard line and DeAngelo punch it in led to a slip into 3rd losing by 3.6 points.
1st place in WCOFF 5k Auction 2010 2nd place FFPC High Society 2011 2-3 WCOFF and 3 FFPC ME league titles
Do you prefer drafting live or online? Why? Live, its real fun to see the same people every year in Vegas. We have made some good friends that we always make sure to have a dinner or two and a round of golf with just through fantasy football. Plus it's VEGAS!
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. Sidney Rice up in Seattle. Believe it or not, he is only 26 this combined with a full training camp and new QB Matt Flynn will bode well for Sidney in 2012. By the time this is published it could be mute point, but Ronnie Hillman will be starting in Denver by mid-year if not by the end of training camp. He was hand selected by Lord Peyton himself.
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. As much as it pains me to say this but I think this is the end of the Frank Gore era in SF. Too old, too injury prone, and too many other weapons now with the emergence of Kendall Hunter and addition of LMJ. I think both Andrew Luck and RG3 are being drafted way to high. Cam Newton has clearly boosted the rookie QB value but Indy is terrible and RG3 isn't ready for this year.
Give us a snapshot of how you prep for a fantasy draft once you know your draft position? This year was a little odd as we already did a FFPC dynasty draft just days after the NFL draft. But normally we each read/skim 2-3 different fantasy football publications in late July, early August. We then transition our daily reading to Footballguys daily emails and website content as we've been with what WAS the best kept secret fantasy source until the rest of our home league caught on, for years now. From there Drew likes to run mocks, where I just use ADP and go through different scenarios. Drew does the majority of the calculation prep and tier slotting for our auctions as well.
How do you go about evaluating talent that you will add via the waiver wire? Great question as this has really become where championships are won lately. This is probably the area where we argue most as we each evaluate over the week and then meet for lunch on Friday's to make up our decisions. It really comes down to does this player have the fantasy stud potential, ie. replacing a RB in a RB friendly system, ect. and then position needs for our teams.
How much of fantasy football is skill? How much is luck? Can't put a number on it, but I think its a lot more skill than some outsiders think BUT avoiding the injury bug is ALL luck.
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? Go in with a partner if $ is the concern, plus it's fun to go in with someone else. My best advice is fairly common: go with best value over need and take players you like 1-2 rounds earlier than you would at home because there is no such thing as a sleeper in HS.
What is your favorite high stakes format? (Main Event, Draft Experts, Dynasty, Auction, etc). Why do you prefer this format? Main Event. There is nothing like all the tables together in one giant room, playing the national anthem like we are real athletes, and the hope of a few hundred thousand dollars.
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? Depends, again value over need. We used to take 1 or 2 of the top TE's and won B2B league titles with the FFPC (and then they took away the free team for accomplishing that feat) but everyone has caught on now and some were going top 8 overall. So we took better value and settled with Kellen Winslow, still did just fine.
Give us your top 6 picks in the FFPC Main Event:
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? Traditionally we wait, which worked out well getting Brees in the 5-6th round a few times last year. But that could change as he will go much higher this year and having a QB of that caliber was a nice change.
Make a case for why someone should come to Vegas and participate in some high stakes events. I think I've made it in my previous answers but 1. it's vegas, 2. it's vegas, 3. the event and everything surrounding it including the viewing parties are 1st class 4. you will meet people from all over the country who love this crazy hobby as much as you do. 5. it's opening weekend of the NFL and VEGAS!
What's the biggest mistake you see high stakes players make? Get attached to players they love so much they take them too early, too often, and they either bomb or they hamstringed their squad elsewhere. Oh and don't be a homer, Alex Smith hasn't done us too well the past 7 years.
Aside from the obvious payout and competition level, what's the biggest difference between high stakes leagues and regular leagues? There are no sleepers, no one falls through the cracks, very very few dumb picks, and waivers are much more competitive.
What's the thing you wished you'd learned 5 years ago? Where to find a sports almanac.