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. Here David Dodds sits down with high stakes veteran Josh Neblett.
Name: Josh Neblett
Occupation (when not playing fantasy football): Entrepreneur (IE unemployed)
Family life: Married
Years playing fantasy football: 11
Your biggest score(s) in fantasy football: FFPC $200k Grand Prize (2012)
Do you prefer drafting live or online? Why? Drafting live is certainly more of an “event” and you must do at least one team live while online is cheaper, quicker and more efficient. So long as I'm in Vegas I like both.
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. It is too early to tell, momentum builds so much to the point where guys who are undrafted at this point in the year (May) end up being top 5 round picks by the time the “real” drafts begin – Look back on Ray Rice, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis.
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. Any QB w/ an ADP in Rd1. Too much depth, won't do it.
Give us a snapshot of how you prep for a fantasy draft once you know your draft position? Ultimately, I end up doing multiple leagues each year so it's exciting to find out where my picks are but doesn't alter my preparation.
How do you go about evaluating talent that you will add via the waiver wire? Fantasy football is all about opportunity. No name or hot shot, if a player is being put in a position where he will have an opportunity to make an impact, I'll take a chance.
How much of fantasy football is skill? How much is luck? 50/50. Year over year I'm able to make a return on investment (at least that's how I explain it to my wife), yet if you're going to win the big prizes you better have lady luck on your team.
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? Unfortunately, like poker and other forms of gambling you really need to take on some losses, get your feet wet, learn what works for you and the start working your way up. In Poker you might start at a 3/6 Limit game, than a 1/2 NL game, before you know it you're playing $10/$20 NL… But early on unless you have a thorough understanding of the rules and a proven strategy it's tough to win right away.
What is your favorite high stakes format? (Main Event, Draft Experts, Dynasty, Auction, etc). Why do you prefer this format? All for different reasons. Dynasty because it's is like a expensive version of playing Madden. DE for lower dollar leagues because it is good practice. Auction because you get to decide exactly who you want and spend as much as you'd like to make it happen. Main Event for the opportunity to win the big cheese.
To tight end or not to tight end? With the FFPC dual flex (and awarding 1.5 points per reception for tight ends), this position is extremely valuable. Do you generally pay a premium for a top five tight end or do you seek value at RB/WR and look to grab your tight end later? I always focus on BPA (Best Player Available) regardless of position or draft trending for the first handful of rounds.
Many of the best players in the FFPC wait on their quarterbacks. 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 quarterback in the Main Event? BPA but not too early. Try to avoid missing a run.
Make a case for why someone should come to Vegas and participate in some high stakes events. Because it is a great excuse for a guys weekend in Vegas and there is no better place to be kickoff weekend.
What's the biggest mistake you see high stakes players make? Panic and make questionable picks because of the way the other 11 teams are drafting.
What's the thing you wished you'd learned five years ago? How poorly other high stakes leagues managed their balance sheet and cash flow.
More from David Dodds:
The 2014 Perfect Drafts - August 22
Interview with the Head of FanDuel Nigel Eccles - August 20
Perfect Draft - 12 Team PPR - August 18
Interview with ESPN's Matt Berry - August 7
FFPC Interview with Dave Gerczak and Alex Kaganovsky - July 21
High Stakes Interview with Shawn Coots - July 10
High Stakes Interview with Jeff O'Dell - July 8
High Stakes Interview with Dave Asrani - July 8
High Stakes Interview with Billy Wasosky - July 8
Footballguys Magazine Sneak Peek - June 16