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 Mark Moyer.
Name: Mark Moyer
Occupation (when not playing fantasy football): System Administrator
Family life: Single
Years playing fantasy football: Since 1997
Your biggest score(s) in fantasy football: Winning $25,000 for winning the Fantasy Mastermind's VIP Championship and being the only 2-Time Overall Winner in any WCOFF event in WCOFF history.
Do you prefer drafting live or online? Why? Definitely live. Especially in Las Vegas! Nothing beats a live draft. Being among a group of other die-hard drafters is a great experience. Watching everything going on during the draft, rather than staring at your computer screen, is great and being able to talk to someone, that isn't related to you, during the draft about fantasy football, makes it even better. Seeing the stickers on the Big Board and going around to look at all the other Big Boards between drafts is priceless.
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. Danny Woodhead and Andre Brown. Ryan Matthews will most likely either underperform or get hurt or both. Woodhead will fill in for him and get the touches he needs to be fantasy relevant. He knows how to find the endzone, scoring 7 TDs last year with NE, and will be involved in the passing game even if Matthews is playing and playing well. I just like Andre Brown. He scored in 7 of the 8 games he touched the ball last year and average over 4.9 yard per carry in each of the 3 games that he received more than 7 carries. David Wilson put up very good numbers last year, too, but isn't a proven player. I think Andre Brown will get enough work to be usable and could get a significant bump if Wilson ends up back in Tom Coughlin's dog house.
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. I'm trying hard not to think like this. I still do, but I'm trying not to. Jared Cook and Stevan Ridley are two that I do not think I have drafted at all this year. Cook did nothing to earn my trust while he was in TEN and STL has been a place for TEs to go to die for a very long time. They have drafted several TEs over the years and none of them have worked out. I know they have a new coaching staff in place and a new scheme, but it is definitely a situation where they will have to show me, probably multiple times, before I believe it. I don't trust NE more than I don't trust Ridley. Taking a 0 in any given week because he fumbled early in the game and got yanked, doesn't rank high on my "Things I Like" list. The fact they stopped targetting him in the passing game also hurts.
Give us a snapshot of how you prep for a fantasy draft once you know your draft position? I look at old drafts from last year and earlier this year. I get an idea of what positions go where in the draft and make any adjustments I think might need to be made based on recent news. If I draw an early pick where I know I'm going RB and I can make a good guess as to which RBs I might get, I can mark down what round I need to take their backup in, if I want to handcuff them. In a Draft Experts draft, I can mark off the Rounds I will most likely have to take my Ks and DEFs in, just to remind myself. I'm not a big fan of ADP because it is usually hard to find info that is specific to the scoring system, starting line-up requirements, roster requirements, etc., that your draft is using. However, it can be useful to give you a general idea that you need to take Ben Tate by the 8th Round if you want to handcuff Arian Foster. Personally, I would plan where I want to take Ben Tate, and if he makes it there, then great. If he doesn't, then, "Oh, Well."
How do you go about evaluating talent that you will add via the waiver wire? Flip a coin. If I can't find my Magic Coin, then I will throw a dart. I hate the Waiver Wire. I'll do all of my work, overbid on the RB I want just to be sure I get him, and then still lose him because someone bid $999 on him because they drafted a RB that was already on the IR and they also want to replace Arian Foster because Ben Tate got 15 carries in mop up time. I think this is the weakest part of my game. I don't see many of the games during the season, so I go off the numbers, the highlights that I see, and the research done in the off-season.
How much of fantasy football is skill? How much is luck? At the highest levels, it is mostly luck. Everyone puts in the time. Everyone puts out the effort. There are only a few players that two people will have drastically different opinions about, so it comes down to the luck of the Head-to-Head matchups, the luck of the Waiver Wire, and the luck of getting hot at the end of the season rather than at the beginning.
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? Reseach! Almost anything can be found on-line now. Find old drafts. Find out which teams from those drafts did well. Formulate a drafting strategy. Do mock drafts using the same scoring rules as the real draft you will be doing to see if your strategy works. Keep paper records and notes of all drafts that you do. Review and update your notes as you do more drafts. Note the difference in drafts done in June versus the drafts done in July versus the drafts done in August. This will help you determine what changes you might run into in your drafts in September. Most of all, ask questions. Most of us long-timers love sharing our experiences and are more than happy to help.
What is your favorite high stakes format? (Main Event, Draft Experts, Dynasty, Auction, etc). Why do you prefer this format? Draft Experts are my favorite. It takes away the luck involved in: Head-to-Head matchups, Blind Waiver Bidding, which Division did you get stuck in, choosing the wrong good player to sit while your opponent's Waiver Fodder scores 2 TDs, short season variances, etc. It places a premium on preparation and adjusting during your draft. You can't fix a screw-up during the first week of Waivers. The season lasts 16 weeks and it doesn't matter if my team gets hot at the beginning of the season or at the end of the season. Consistency can be rewarded.
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? It depends on what kind of draft it is. If it is an Auction, I generally try to get one of the Semi-Top TEs, Hernandez or Witten or Gonzalez, at a reasonable price, rather than Graham or Gronk or punting the position. If it is a redraft, I am going to grab Graham or Gronk after the Top RBs are gone. You can replace the WR or RB you missed out on from the Waiver Wire. The Top TEs can rarely be replaced. If I miss on Graham or Gronk, then I definitely get at least one of the other Semi-Top TEs. This year, in Draft Experts, I am usually passing on the Top TEs because the RB depth is so good.
Give us your top six picks in the FFPC Main Event: In no particular order the Top 5 are:
- Adrian Peterson
- Arian Foster
- Ray Rice
- Calvin Johnson
- Jimmy Graham
My #6 changes depending on which way the wind is blowing, but it is definitely a RB.
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? I think that the QB depth is at an all time high. Using FFPC scoring rules, in 2010 the preseason projections for the Top 3 QBs were about 30 points lower than the current preseason projections for the Top 3 QB for the 2013 season. But, the key point is, the projections for the QBs rated 10th, 11th, and 12th are about 50 points higher in 2013 than they were in 2010. There are now 3 to 5 more "startable" QBs than there were in 2010. Waiting on a QB is definitely the way to go this year.
Make a case for why someone should come to Vegas and participate in some high stakes events. I've been going to Las Vegas for so long now, I forget what it is like not to go. There is nothing like the experience of doing drafts live. Especially, the auctions. Additionally, there are so many drafts that you can do 2 or 3 drafts in a day and also do them 2 or 3 days in a row. Have a bad draft? No problem. You have another one starting in 2 hours or the very next day. Learn from that draft and go kick butt in the next one.
What's the biggest mistake you see high stakes players make? Coming to the morning draft after a long night out. It is tempting to spend some "quality" time enjoying Las Vegas, but that can wait until the drafting is over. You worked all summer to be ready for the draft, don't blow it by staying out too late the night before.
Aside from the obvious payout and competition level, what's the biggest difference between high stakes leagues and regular leagues? The only thing that you should be doing different is preparing for a live draft. Prepping for your regular league will help you prep for high stakes league, but some people get nervous in a live draft. Practice definitely helps make perfect. If you have a tough time this year in a live draft, don't worry. You'll do better next year. And better the year after that. And better the year after that. Before you know it, it'll be old hat to you.
What's the thing you wished you'd learned five years ago? To draft players I "hate" because I'm probably wrong to "hate" them. I don't believe I have drafted Chris Johnson more than 3 times in my life. I don't like him and I don't trust him. But, this year I am finally drafting him every once in awhile. It is hard to overcome a bias. It has to be worked on. I wish I had started working on overcoming my biases 5 years ago.