Scott Atkins is a respected high-stakes fantasy player and President of the Fantasy Players Association (FPA). He also co-hosts the popular "Red vs Blue" Podcast. He joins David Dodds for a quick chat.
Tell us about the Fantasy Players Association and your role with it.
I've been a high stakes player since the beginning. Roughly 10 years ago, there was just something about being crowned the World Champion that became an obsession of mine and many others like me. After the AFFL and Fantasy Jungle defaults that cost fantasy players hundreds of thousands of dollars, my dream started becoming a nightmare as I saw friends and colleagues deceived again and again. I reached a boiling point so to speak and decided that the players needed something that would look out for them and their interests. I formed a 12 player volunteer board with plans to expand it to 16 once the site passes our "beta" mode. I would like to see the FPA continue developing into the voice for fantasy players as well as a hub of honest and unbiased information about everything that's important to fantasy players.
What are the goals for 2012 and beyond?
To be perfectly honest, the immediate goal for 2012 is completing and launching the FPA site which has not been without some issues or delays. This has become a passion project for me which also means that I am funding it myself without any revenue or player dues to offset costs. But I will get it done. The site is almost finished and just needs some fine-tuning. Beyond the initial launch, I would like to spread the word and let the fantasy community know that the FPA is here for them.
What's the latest status regarding the collapse of the World Championship of Fantasy Football? Do players that are are owed money have any chance at getting some of their money back?
From what I am hearing, it is all in the hands of the lawyers at this point, as well as the Missouri Attorney General who is going after the WCOFF (Gridiron) ownership. As I understand it, there has to be proof of fraud or illegal activity for the corporate veil to be pierced and the involved parties to be held responsible. And while everyone who is familiar with the situation probably agrees that this is exactly what happened, proving it in the court of law is a completely different matter.
WCOFF, Rapid Draft, AFFL and other companies have failed to pay promised prize payouts over the years. What advice would you give to the players so they can ensure their dollars are safe with contest operators?
I encourage players to be weary of big promises and encourage them to be cautious as a general rule, especially of any contests without a track record. As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Demand transparency and ask questions of the contest operators: What happens if you don't meet your goals? Who will cover the losses? Who is financing your company? Who are the actual owners? Where exactly is the money? Who has access to the funds? Generally speaking, players who play in specific contests are a bit biased for whatever reason, which is why I feel building a strong FPA community is so important to unbiased opinion.
Outside of prize pool protection, what are the biggest issues from the players?
Customer service is vital. Answering players questions in a timely manner. Responding to problems and fixing them. Players want to be sure that the software that is used is 100% reliable and user friendly. Players also want to be sure that the contests and its operators are competent, that they will make the right decisions either as commissioners or business people that hold the player interests in mind as well as the contest's. And of course, players like to get their prizes quickly after the season has ended.
You have been a high-stakes player since the beginning. What advice would you give to a 1st time player making the jump to the world of high-stakes contests?
Don't follow the herd mentality. Throw ADP (average draft position) out the window and take the guys you like. There's nothing worse than leaving a draft with a bunch of guys you didn't want anything to do with but you grabbed them because ADP told you to do so. Trust your gut! Oh, and don't take a kicker until the last round.
Tell us about the Red vs Blue podcast. How long have you and Mike been doing this? What separates this podcast from the other podcasts covering fantasy sports?
Mike and I flat out don't like each other! Okay, that's not entirely true, but we are totally different people with drastically different opinions on players. In fact, I'm not sure I know anyone that thinks like Mike does! Red is for me, I'm the Cardinal fan and Blue is for Mike a Wildcat fan. Two friends, but heated rivals. I still can't get over that Final 4 game!
Red vs Blue started in September 2008 when Mike mentioned to me he wanted to do radio again. Within a week we had started our first show and we've been going ever since. I believe we were the first podcast to do the live play by play pick by pick commentary drafts. Those shows are a ton of fun because we let it rip right there during the draft, explaining to the participants in the draft who they should take, who they shouldn't have and who they hope better fall in the next round. It adds a totally different dynamic to drafting because in the past, everyone is hush hush about cross table talk etc. Its our opinion that it's time drafts face real-live publicity and honestly, I doubt we impact their decision making all that much, most of these guys and gals that draft in these leagues are pros.
Give us a couple of players that you expect to outplay their draft position this year. How about a couple of players that you are likely to avoid at any price?
CJ Spiller for one. He led me to a championship last year and I expect he'll be a draft day bargain in the 5th round. Expect top 10 numbers from CJ. At WR, I also really like Dez Bryant, another 5th round guy right now. With the departure of Robinson to Jacksonville, combined with Dez's raw talent and chemistry with Romo, I think we're in for a monster season from Dez. Anquan Boldin - Even though he's getting up there in age, he looks like tremendous value in the 10th. Remember where you heard it first!
I won't see Mike Wallace on many of my teams this year. Why would I spend a 3rd round pick when I can get similar production from Antonio Brown in the 5th? The answer is no on Beanie Wells also. I just don't like him so I won't draft him, ever! I prefer the injured 2nd year back there Ryan Williams.
If given the choice in a serpentine draft, what draft spot would you prefer and why?
The 1 spot. If you are awarded this pick, there are no excuses! You get your choice of guy to lead the team and build around him. I've already drafted from the backend of the draft and I didn't care for it much. First half of the draft is a good spot to be.
How can people find out more about the FPA?
On the web at fantasyplayersassociation.com, it should be ready soon. In the meantime you can also catch us on facebook.com/fantasypa and twitter.com/thefpa. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org