Sunday, August 09, 2009

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume II, Issue XXXI

Welcome to our 47th edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on Our archive of past editions is available right here on The Blog and specific links to past editions are available on the front page of

Before we go any further, we would be remiss in failing to remind you about our brand new and free FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2009 guide, the only resource you need to dominate your league this year.

This week’s newsletter is completely given over to a review of the First Annual FDH Fantasy Sports Summit, which was held on the 68th episode of THE FDH LOUNGE on on August 5, 2009. The full audio of the event can be found on the show archive here, with the summit starting at about the 56-minute mark of the show and proceeding for almost exactly an hour.

We brought on four heavyweights from the world of fantasy sports:

^ Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of
^ Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at
^ Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog
^ Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at

Dave was on for more than half of the segment; the others were on for every segment. Managing Partner Rick Morris moderated the event and also provided his own answers to a handful of questions, particularly those about the upcoming football season. All questions as they are posed here are paraphrased from the actual event and all answers provided are paraphrased as well. We refer you again to the actual audio archive of the proceedings for the exact transcript of how this extraordinary event transpired.

We cannot thank the participants enough for their contributions to this wonderful collective accomplishment and we can announce that we have plans to reprise this event twice in 2010, once right before fantasy baseball drafting season and the next one in late July or early August again next year.

At the end of the 2000s, the first full decade of Internet integration with fantasy sports, how do you see the landscape evolving?

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of There is a temporary plateau in terms of fantasy sports growth, but that may be partially due to the economy.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at Social media and new applications are the next stage of the evolution of the industry.

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: Customization is the next frontier of fantasy sports; while traditional league structures may well hit a plateau, new forms of participation are the key to industry growth.

Right now, football is the biggest fantasy sport out there, followed by baseball and then hoops and NASCAR to a certain extent. Hockey pools are big in certain regions of the US and Canada. This has been the industry structure ever since football surpassed baseball at some point in the 1990s. With this having been the dynamic for so long, are we basically locked into this picture, or might something happen to change it, including the possible growth of some niche fantasy sports?

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of Football will be tough to surmount as #1, just because it demands so little of the participants and thus is all about casual participation. NASCAR also has room for growth for similar reasons; there are not many key moves to be made in-season. Golf actually has some upside if the PGA Tour can find the right ways to leverage public interest into fantasy participation.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at “Streak” contests may continue to grow and globalization could come into play as world soccer circuits could become bigger playgrounds for fantasy sports.

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: While football looks likely to be #1 for a long time, innovative ways to craft fantasy participation for other sports could help change the overall hierarchy. Soccer does indeed have room for growth in this country, as does college football. The growth of fantasy bass fishing is surprising to some, but the large participation of the sport leads to a great sense of identification with the pros.

Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at College fantasy football is already very popular on the CBS Sports website and shows great potential for growth.

How do you see the Top 5 overall players being slotted for this season in fantasy football?

Rick Morris, Managing Partner of 1 Adrian Peterson 2 Matt Forte 3 Steven Jackson 4 Michael Turner 5 Drew Brees

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of 1 Adrian Peterson 2 Maurice Jones-Drew 3 Michael Turner 4 LaDainian Tomlinson 5 Matt Forte

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at 1 Michael Turner 2 Adrian Peterson 3 Maurice Jones-Drew 4 Matt Forte 5 LaDainian Tomlinson

Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at 1 Adrian Peterson 2T Maurice Jones-Drew 2T Matt Forte 4 Michael Turner (phone cut out before fifth pick)

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: 1 Adrian Peterson 2 Maurice Jones-Drew 3 Michael Turner 4 Steven Jackson 5 LaDainian Tomlinson

Respond to any or all of these “devil’s advocate” points about the worth of any of these top fantasy players in 2009 (or throw out any observations of your own): DeAngelo Williams risks getting vultured on the goal line – and maybe suffering more loss of playing time than that – by Carolina’s top draft pick in 2008, Jonathan Stewart. Maurice Jones-Drew is completely unproven as a back with the anticipated workload he will face this year. History shows that running backs with the workload carried by Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson generally suffer great adversity the next year.

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of There should be some concerns with just about every top pick this year. Maurice Jones-Drew has been a top performer in the past few years and should benefit from more playing time and a better offensive line. Michael Turner may lose some touches as Tony Gonzalez will need the ball this year as well. Matt Forte could lose a bit of production with Jay Cutler now on board in Chicago and the fact that the team’s offensive philosophy will be at least somewhat more tilted towards the pass. Balancing risks in the first round can be very tough, but the failure to do so successfully can be fatal.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at Matt Forte should benefit from the defenses having to play more honest with Jay Cutler now in the fold for the Bears. The offensive line in Jacksonville was not healthy for much of last year and now they will be, thus benefiting Maurice Jones-Drew. Steven Jackson is probably the biggest wild card of the first six or seven players on the board. He hasn’t played at the highest levels in the last two years, although he had some nice stretches last year, but he should be healthy and able – assuming that his bulldozing running style doesn’t leave lasting damage on his body. Jonathan Stewart has no place to go but up in Carolina, which could cut into DeAngelo Williams’ production.

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: Matt Forte may suffer in terms of production as the Chicago passing game becomes more prominent with Jay Cutler. Steven Jackson has to stay healthy, but has tremendous upside.

Who do you think is a key sleeper for 2009?

Rick Morris, Managing Partner of Kevin Walter.

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of Matt Schaub – and don’t worry about getting a consensus #1 QB if you take him.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at Carson Palmer. James Davis is a very deep sleeper.

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: Darren McFadden.

Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at Fred Jackson.

As any industry grows, it faces increasing pressures in terms of commercialization. We at FDH do critique the biggest industry voices from time to time, because to a certain extent any of us in the business may be associated in the public’s mind with some of the more memorable takes put forward. This has led us to be critical from time to time of ESPN’s Matthew Berry, who has the biggest platform in the business – now, he has found some of our critiques at times to be a bit intemperate (hence, no ESPN participation here) and we have acknowledged as much and subsequently kept everything on point, for there are many matters of substance where we differ. Fairly or unfairly, he represents the industry in the public’s mind and when he says something dubious, we all bear the brunt of it to an extent. He is a proponent of such gimmicks as ironclad rules that don’t allow room for the nuance that drafts and auctions tend to demand and as such, we have sadly judged many pieces of advice to come out of the “Skip Bayless Show Biz Say Anything Worldwide Leader Culture” as opposed to sound, end-user based critical analysis. With these four gentlemen also occupying prominent places on the fantasy landscape, it’s worth examining what they think of the competing pressures of saying something that people will remember and saying something that people can take seriously from a basis of intellectual honesty. NOTE: Participants were not put in the position of taking shots at Matthew Berry and none did.

Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at People in the business need to take pride in their work. Most people outside the business don’t know just how many intricate details go into football analysis. Ideally, fantasy analysts approach their work as a scout would, with film analysis being included. The ability to research and having respect for football are critical elements. Lazy formulations (such as a running back over 30 being worthless and third-year wide receivers automatically breaking out) are very harmful. The business is getting better because more people who are willing to put in the requisite work are making an impact.

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of The industry has grown greatly in this decade. The marketplace tends to sort out the pretenders and reward those who are willing to put in the necessary work. Feedback from satisfied readers and subscribers is very rewarding and indicative of being on the right path. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it also can be problematic, because it gives anybody a platform of at least some size when they start up a website. It can be infuriating to dispel a rumor or opinion that starts from a dubious place that people buy into because they are putting their trust where they should not. The industry has many worthy people in it who do great work.

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: There is a tension between wanting to entertain and seeking to grow the business in that manner and taking pride in the professionalism necessary to maintain your level of pride. Entertainment is a necessary component in fantasy sports, but the end consumer is ultimately wise enough to also find the entities best able to provide the high level of analysis they require. Thus, entertainment really only works as a hook to draw people to a company which then has to deliver substantive help to content consumers.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at It is a fine line between entertaining people and feeding them the substance that they need. In some ways, outside factors can help. Fox Sports now has an endorsement deal with Hooters, so that provides a garnish that keeps analysts from having to go out of their way to sprinkle in entertainment value to the sound fantasy analysis. There has to be appeal to sponsors as well, especially in this economy, so targeting your package of work to the right demographic in an effective way that preserves professional integrity is a complicated balancing act.

For the final question, returning to the 2009 fantasy football season, we need to solicit some overarching thoughts.

Rick Morris, Managing Partner of For the first round or two in a draft this year, nothing will feel like a value at gut level. Even the very top players in this season have holes that can make you feel like you are making a reach – ignore that impulse and go with whatever your draft board tells you to do. This feeling has much to do with the trend in recent years in which lead running backs have yielded greater and greater amounts of production to their backups. The subsequent few rounds will be filled with players who will both feel like great values at gut level and will actually be if you draft wisely. Wide receiver is particularly deep this year as well, especially at the #2 and #3 starter levels.

Cory J. Bonini, Managing Editor of There is not as much pressure to draft a top quarterback early this year. Running backs are deeper than usual, if not in terms of dominance at the top of the draft, then at least in terms of potential for strong production down the line. Value for #2 and #3 running backs can thus be found later in the draft than in past years. The same is true of wide receivers. You are almost guaranteed three top receivers in the top 36 at the position if you draft smart. Tight ends are much deeper than usual as well. Fantasy players can be self-defeating when they look too hard for deep sleepers.

Mike Harmon, Fantasy Guru at Increasing prevalence of points-per-reception leagues is leading to more wide receivers being drafted in the first three rounds than in recent memory. People are being turned off of the “RB-RB” trend in the first two rounds because of the running-back-by-committee trend. Quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub and Carson Palmer even offer potential starter value in the middle rounds if you get shut out of any of the “top QBs.” Draft charting is going to be more important than usual in drafts this year because of the depth of potential value that figures to fall to the middle and possibly even later rounds.

Dave Richard, Fantasy Football Writer at There is a definite trend towards PPR leagues taking precedence in the industry and wide receivers becoming much more important as a consequence. Last year, Round Three was the “receiver round” in drafts and this year it’s Round Two because they have gained in perceived value. Larry Fitzgerald is going no later than the latter part of Round One in many drafts this year, with Andre Johnson and Randy Moss not far behind. People need to draft receivers early this year, because it will be sketchy after the top 25-30 are off the board. Kansas City’s signing of Amani Toomer may well be indicative of the running back trend of recent years migrating to wide receivers; that is to say, wideouts may now be signed for the same micro-niche utilization that we have seen with goal-line vulture backs, situational scatbacks and the like. Toomer may well be a receiver who earns his keep by solely taking the field on third down for the Chiefs. A stud wide receiver this year still may not perform at the level of a stud running back, but he could be at the level of a very good running back or a top quarterback. Relative to years past, that could make this “The Year of the Wide Receiver.”

Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog: Depth at the quarterback position this year diminishes the value of the top few to an extent. The industry’s increasing trends towards points-per-reception leagues is really skewing the perceived value of many players – and Michael Turner, who catches very few balls, is affected disproportionately in those leagues. Steven Jackson and Frank Gore are big winners comparatively in those leagues. The few running backs who don’t have to share significant playing time are again worth so much more than everyone else.


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