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Ask Your Fantasy Football Fishbowl Expert: Pat James

“Started two #MFL10 drafts simultaneously. One is in the 6th round, the other is in the 18th. yikes.”

Today’s interview is a combo platter. I reached out to Pat James regarding his article covering the entire, almost endless 2014 Scott Fish Bowl fantasy league and its participants. We’ll talk about his article predicting the division winners (there are 240 participants, making up 20 12-team divisions) and talking about some of his favorite picks and such. We’ll also get into Fantasy Council.

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When you were able to absorb the Scott Fish Bowl 2014 league rules, what was your strategy heading into the draft?

I wanted to make sure I had a very good 2nd quarterback. Last year, I scratched and clawed my way into the playoffs of the Fish Bowl with QB streamers. Being that you can start two quarterbacks, I wanted to have advantage at that flex spot. I ended up with Nick Foles as my QB2, so I’m thinking most weeks I should have a sizeable advantage there. After that I just wanted to select the best player available. This league allows for tons of flexibility with draft selections because half of your starting roster are flex plays. [Zach note: Starting lineup is QB-2RB-3WR-TE-4flex (one can be QB).] So you don’t necessarily have to be concerned with roster construction as much as you would in a normal league. You can start 5 RBs if you’d like or 6 WRs if that’s your best bet.

Is it a little bit creepy that we drafted four players in common, with no more than 12 picks separating where we got the players? Aaron Rodgers (me 1.02, you 1.11), Andre Ellington (me 4.11, you 3.11), Terrance Williams (me 8.11, 8.02) and Charles Johnson (me 22.11, you 21.11).

This probably explains why I chose your team to finish first in its division. Man, I really love all four of those players. Rodgers is in for a big bounce back. Ellington should ascend to fantasy glory with the touches he’ll see this year. Scott Linehan’s arrival and Miles Austin’s departure create an amazing opportunity for Terrance Williams to catch a ton of passes this year. And Charles Johnson may be the most skilled WR in Cleveland now that Gordon will miss the season. Nice picks Zach!

How insane would the drafts had been had Scott kept the option to flex a third QB?

The premium on QB would have been unbelievable. Some teams wouldn’t have even be able to draft a 3rd starting QB. I’m pretty sure the first three rounds would have seen a slew of QBs taken, even more so than with 1QB flex spot. [Zach note: When we received the first email about the league, the QB spot said we could start 1-3 at that position. Scott immediately backtracked and I think that was good for everybody's sanity.]

What made Micah, aka FF Magic Man, the top overall team in your mind?

He somewhat ignored running back early, but still ended up with quality backs on his team. Most other teams that held off on one position ended up being weak in that spot, but the draft just happened to pan out for Micah. Despite neglecting running back for a few rounds, he still ended up with Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings as starters, which is solid considering he loaded up elsewhere.

The main reason I chose Micah, which broke the tie for me between his team and other teams I liked was his weekly management. I’ve been in a bunch of leagues with Micah, so I’ve seen first hand his hawk-like tendencies when it comes to the waiver wire. I have faith he’ll be a great manager of this team, which is what ultimately made my decision.

If you could choose your draft slot in this kind of league, where would you pick? Did you like picking from the 11 slot?

This year, definitely. I feel as though there is some great talent from players 7-16 in 2014. So, if you can get a late draft slot, you’ll be able to grab two of them. But then there is a drop off after 16 or so. If you notice, guys like Keenan Allen and Doug Martin are being taken in the late second round. While they are decent fantasy options, I’d rather double up at the 1.11 and 2.2 with guys like Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Demarco Murray, LeVeon Bell, or Brandon Marshall.

What was it like reviewing 240 fantasy teams, in short 20 full leagues with 440 players each?

Time consuming. I had a ton of fun doing it, though. If it wasn’t fun, I probably would have stopped after the first few leagues and there would be no predictions. But it got easier as I went. Basically, I just went through every roster to see which ones stood out and narrowed it down from there. I did base it on players that I am particularly high on, so it may not make sense to everyone.

OK, back to “normal” questions:

How’d you get started in fantasy football writing?

A few years ago, Jim Day posted on twitter that he needed contributors for FantasyTaz.com so I wrote a few articles for him and loved it. From there I co-founded FantasyCouncil.com with my real life friend. He shares my love for all things fantasy, but he’s also a techy. Which makes a HUGE difference in the every day maintenance of the website.

Is it tough dealing with multiple sites? Is Fantasy Council your main home?

FantasyCouncil.com is definitely my baby. I do write most of my articles on FC, however I’ve found myself being more of an editor/content manager as times has gone on and we’ve grown our own contributor base.

It can be time consuming writing for multiple sites. Currently, I am FootballGuys.com’s in-season Tampa Bay Buccaneer game recapper. Basically, I watch every offensive snap and evaluate every fantasy relevant player on a weekly basis during the season. On ProjectRoto, I am the College Football DFS writer. While I love the NFL, I’d say I watch more College Football. So it’s fun to share my DFS plays with readers and help them win some money.

Congrats on finishing #4 in the FSTA player rankings. What was your strategy and how have you refreshed things for 2014?

Thanks! Considering the amount of high-profile Fantasy Analysts involved in that rankings competition, it was a great feeling to have the fourth best rankings. I don’t usually have a strategy to be honest. I just sit down and rank the players in the order in which I’d draft them if it was a live draft. Last year, I had Knowshon Moreno and Danny Woodhead way higher than most others, which probably helped in the conest.

For 2014, I plan on doing more of the same. Simply sitting down and ordering players how I’d draft them in a fantasy draft. Seems simple doesn’t it?

Do you love Julian Edelman, or love love him?

In a PPR league, I do love Edelman. He can turn in all the 13 reception, 75 yard performances he’d like in PPR formats. The interesting thing about Edelman is that his stats suffered when both Gronk and Vereen were healthy. I think we’ll see his numbers dip a little from last year, but he’s still worth his ADP at this point.

Do you think you can find a balance between your annual leagues and daily fantasy this fall? Do you have a preferred daily site?

I’ve found myself shifting more towards the daily game. I am limiting myself to only 3 or 4 annual leagues this year. I get my drafting fix in with all the MyFantasyLeague Best-Ball drafts, so I won’t miss out on the actual draft process. The daily game just appeals to me more. If you pick a terrible team, you bounce back the next week. If you draft a poor team in an annual team, you’re pretty much married to it.

I still have fun with annual leagues. I think limiting the amount I’m in will make it even better, since I won’t be spread too thin.

My favorite site was DraftStreet, but they’ve been acquired by DraftKings. DraftKings was the site I played second most, so it looks like that’s my go to for 2014.

Is there a league that you want to win the most?

I’m in the Pros v. Joes this year, which awards the winner a free seat in the FPPC Main Event for next year in Vegas, so I’d gladly take that.

More personal stuff: Where are you in the world, who’s your NFL team, and what’s the day job?

I’m a public school teacher from Northeast Pennsylvania. Sounds riveting, right? I actually love teaching. And I get the summer off, which is prime writing time for fantasy, so it works out. And I have a love/hate relationship with the Buffalo Bills.

The spouse question: Does your wife/sig other/girlfriend have any issues with your football obsession?

She’s a pretty big sports fan herself, so she doesn’t mind at all. In fact, we’re getting married almost exactly one week from the time I’m writing this, so she better be fine with it!

Football or sex: Which do you think of more?

Ha. It depends on the time of the year, I guess. From July-February, definitely Football

What’s your usual Sunday football tradition? Is there a go-to beer?

I have a big group of friends that I’ve known forever. We all meet at someone’s house and watch every game on the Sunday Ticket. It’s all members of my home fantasy league, so things get wild when big plays happen.

Beer is pretty much different every week. My buddies are all craft brew crazy, so there’s always something new to try each week.

Which football writers are on your must-read list?

There’s so many. I really like the series Jonathan Bales has going on, Denny Carter is a gifted writer, and all the articles at Football Guys and Pro Football Focus are great as well. And maybe most surprisingly I have to say Matthew Berry. Despite being about as mainstream as you can get in fantasy, he’s a very talented writer. All of his pieces on ESPN provide some degree of entertainment value. Often times when someone becomes mainstream, in any walk of life, the product that got them there tends to be diluted, but he remains one of my favorite reads.

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football.

Fitness and Golf. If I’m not teacher middle schoolers or writing a fantasy article, chances are I’m either at the gym deadlifting or on the course slicing my tee shot into the woods.

Is there anything I failed to ask that you want to address?

Any time someone asks for a football related fact about me, I like to tell them that I attended the greatest comeback in NFL History. The early 90’s wild card playoff game when the Bills came back from 32-point deficit at half to beat the Oilers. That was wild. I was only seven at the time, so I didn’t get to fully appreciate what I was watching at the time, but I look back on it now in awe. [Zach note: Does that make us even for the Music City Miracle?]

Let me know about any sites/podcasts/contests that you’d like to ‘plug’.

Basically just FantasyCouncil.com and then ProjectRoto this fall for CFB daily plays!

Thanks to Pat James for doing the interview and looking at 240 rosters, 239 of which were not his. Follow him on Twitter.

If you want to check out my interview work of the past, you can get There Is No Offseason: The First 50 Interviews from the Ask Your FF Expert Series, and There Still Is No Offseason: Interviews 51-100 of the Ask Your FF Expert Series.

About Zach Law

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