Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert: Salvatore Stefanile of XN Sports

"As much as I love Vick, the injury risk is always going to concern me."

You’ve thought about two quarterbacks at the same time in your fantasy league for years, but didn’t think that your leaguemates would be into it. Salvatore Stefanile has been blowing that trumpet (I’ll exit the gutter shortly) for a while, and I thought he deserved an opportunity to talk about this league format that used to seem weird and outside the realm of normal societal behavior. Turns out, it’s just fun.

How’d you get into fantasy football? I read about this salary cap manager fantasy football game on Yahoo! one day when looking up box scores for NFL games when I was in Grade 8, and it interested me. [Zach note: Here’s another guy I’ll try to not hate for his youth.] I always liked playing around with numbers, and watching sports. At that time in my life I wasn’t a big football guy, but creating my own fantasy team full of players I liked watching on TV sounded like fun. I was immediately hooked, and had to ask my best friend if I could use his parents’ computer to set my line-ups each week. You can say I was an early #degenerate. Been playing fantasy football ever since.

When did you get hooked up with XN Sports (RIP, Sports Jerks)? It was around February of this year when I got a DM on Twitter out of the blue from Billy Ray Cyrus’ hairdresser, C.D. “Denny” Carter telling me that I should talk to the founders of XN Sports, which used to be Sports Jerks. Yes, RIP the Sports Jerks name.

Why Billy Ray’s hairdresser was stooping so low as to talk to me, I don’t know. At the time I had just started hanging out on Twitter and following some outstanding fantasy writers such as Denny, the LRQB guru, JJ Zachariason, and the Fake Football zen master Chet Gresham.

It was cool getting a DM from Denny, and if there is such a thing as a fantasy football fanboy, I was one, and still am, really, and I was really excited he had contacted me. Denny is one of the hardest working, not to mention, most knowledgeable fantasy experts out there, and it was cool that he had get in touch with me.

Eventually I emailed Tom Fitzgerald, one half of the XN Sports brain trust, the other being Tom Laverty, and they bought my 2-QB pitch. As they say in the fairytale world, that was the beginning of a beautiful virtual friendship, and I’ve been writing for XN Sports ever since. All thanks to Denny.

Why are Two-QB leagues the leagues of the future? Since you are already in the future, when do I get my flying car? You’ll be glad to know that you got a flying car in the year 2075. But traded it to me for Terrelle Pryor IV in our 4-QB league. Yes, in the future, 2-QB leagues are extinct, and 4-QB leagues are the new norm. Might have something to do with the NFL and the EPL merging to create one big super football league.

As for why 2-QB leagues are the leagues of the current future, I think it has to do with how much more fun and competitive it is to play in leagues that require double the usual required starting quarterbacks. A lot of people that play fantasy football adhere strictly to the LRQB strategy, and when everybody is doing that, it kind of takes away from the competitive nature of playing fantasy football. In some cases, it even makes fantasy football boring.

2-QB leagues are fun because every league is different. In some 2-QB leagues you might see a run of 6 or more quarterbacks drafted. In the first round. In others, you might only see three or four drafted altogether in the first round. You just never know. Strategizing and game planning for 2-QB drafts go much deeper than your regular 1-QB league, and with the current depth of the quarterback position, in both real life, and fantasy, it makes for a completely different, and uniquely challenging way to play fantasy football. I imagine this is how those that play in IDP leagues feel.
Plus you have to spend some time researching the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Terrelle Pryor and Drew Stanton. You don’t get to do that very often. Researching is part of the appeal of playing fantasy football to me, and the more I’m researching, the more I’m having fun.

Who are you stashing in 2 QB leagues, seeing as most starters are probably rostered at this point? Every 2-QB league is unique in its own way, and I’ve heard of leagues where guys like Pryor and EJ Manuel are on the waiver wire. I hope they aren’t any more, because those are the types of QB3s you want to stash.

Right now, the biggest marquee name to stash would be Nick Foles, and I bet that’s not something you get to hear very often.

It took me some time to get on board the Mike Vick fantasy train in 2-QB leagues this off-season, and once I did, I fully committed to him. But everybody knows about his injury history, and after watching the new Eagles offense in play, whatever shiny toy Chip Kelly gets to play with at the quarterback position will have fantasy value this year. Vick seems like the perfect fit for that offense at the moment, but if he were to miss time, Foles would instantly jump into the QB2 discussion.

With the dysfunction going on in Tampa Bay, Mike Glennon is another name to keep an eye out for. You just never know when Bucs’ head coach Greg Schiano has had enough of Freeman, and decided to bench him. Maybe it’ll be after a secret team vote.

In my local keeper league (6-point passing TDs), 20 QBs scored at least 20 points in Week One. Are we in the era of the high-scoring QB, as this week’s record 63 TD passes suggests? As JJ Zachariason of lateroundqb.com and numberfire.com pointed out, 2011 was when the era of the high scoring quarterback really came into fruition. Looking at the stats from that year, the top five scoring fantasy players were quarterbacks, and a total of eight quarterbacks made up the top ten. In 2010, nine of the top ten were highest scoring fantasy players were quarterbacks, with only Arian Foster, in fist place, the lone exception.

The difference being that the highest scoring quarterback in 2010 was Vick, with just over 310 points, and all five of the top fantasy quarterbacks in 2011 eclipsed that mark, with a shattering 397.18 points scored by Rodgers. It’s safe to say things are a little different now in the fantasy football world, compared to ten years ago, when only two quarterbacks were in the top ten overall of fantasy scoring.

The NFL has become more of a passing league over the years, and it will continue to do so.

How is life in Vancouver? Vancouver’s great. It is hot as heck right now, and I pretty much have to walk around with one of those hats that have portable fans built into them. Needless to say, I’m stylin’ and profilin’. There hasn’t been a hockey related riot in years, so that’s always good, too.

Also, you and some of our fellow fantasy writers might be interested in this, not me, because I don’t drink, but a local brewery just opened up down the street from me. Beers on me, if you’re ever in Vancouver.

Who’s your NFL team? I’ve been a New York Giants fan most of my football watching life, and it all began the year before they went to the Super Bowl and got demolished by the Baltimore Ravens. Up until that point I hadn’t experienced any sort of crushing defeat as a sports fan, but that was pretty rough. But, two Super Bowl victories in my lifetime later, and I can say I’ve been a pretty blessed sports fan.

What’s your day job? If you can call writing a day job, then that’s what I do. Or at least pretend to do. Although it’s more of 24/7 job, if you ask me. Too bad the pay isn’t 24/7.

Is there a fantasy league you want to win the most? There’s only one league that I want to win every year, and that’s the 2-QB league with my buddies from back home. We all have that one league we try our hardest to win, stay up nights editing and re-submitting our line-ups, second guess our decisions constantly, and trash talk the most in.

I’m currently involved in a three day message board battle with a 185-year-old grandpa (Hey Wayne, even though you won’t read this), discussing the merits of streaming defenses versus drafting an elite defense, in his case drafting two, early. I don’t think Denny would approve of the argument in favor of drafting a fantasy defense early.

Does your wife/girlfriend/sig other have any issues with your football obsession? I wouldn’t say my fiancée has an issue with my football obsession. She supports me, and my stab at fantasy football writing, but she doesn’t get all the intricacies of the game of football, and how fantasy works, or why I want to spend so much time researching a fake game about real players.

Waking up in the middle of the night to secure a player off a first come, first served waiver wire is not her idea of how a normal person should act. But she just lets me enjoy this crazy game we call fantasy football, and makes her best attempts to understand what exactly the difference is between a 1-QB league and a 2-QB league.

Football or sex: which do you think of more? You know that movie The 40 Year Old Virgin? Shave off about a decade from Steve Carrell’s character, and that was me, before I got engaged. I gotta lots of catching up to do, so the answer should be pretty obvious.

Where are you on the usual football Sunday? I assume there’s a man cave. No man cave. In fact, this might sound blasphemous, but I don’t even watch football every Sunday. Yes, you can stop the interview now if you want. Being recently engaged, moving in with my fiancée and her soon-to-be ten-year-old daughter (happy early birthday, Maya), has led to some adjusting on both our parts. I can’t stay home all day long on Sunday couch potatoing *(real word, yes?) away, with a TV in front of me, and my laptop and iPad by my side.

I still devour as much football as I can, even when I’m not near a TV, and thank god for Tweetbot and The Score apps, always keeping me in the loop, if I do find myself away from a television screen during any part of a Football Sunday. I do make an exception when it comes to the Giants, and I try to find a way to always be home when they’re playing.

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. I used to be on the staff of impeached Mayor of Partridge, Minnesota, Ben Wyatt, but that was a sunken adventure.

I’ve never mentioned this much on the Twitter grapevine, but I used to dabble in screenwriting, and used to be a soap opera fiend. Young and the Restless represent. I grew up on that show, and as a son of immigrant parents, with my mom being a stay-at-home mom, I learned quite a fair bit of English from Victor Newman and company.

I also love really, really, really bad, but fun to watch movies, like The Room, Point Break and Road House (shout out to @FFRittle for his #worstmovieever tourney on TheKickerMonk.com) and Patrick Swayze is a movie screen God.

Which football writers are on your must-read list? Man. That is a list deeper than the quarterback position in fantasy football this year. I always feel bad leaving people out, like during Follow Friday shout outs on Twitter. Here’s a list of fantasy football websites that are always putting out insightful fantasy content and anybody that writes for them are on my must read list:

PFF Fantasy, Rotoworld, XN Sports (I’m a company man), The Fake Football, Football.com, numberFire, rotoViz, the Late Round Quarterback, 4for4, TwoQBs, FFMagicMan, FFOasis, Dynasty League Football, Money in the Banana Stand, Footballguys, 2Mugs, Gridiron Experts, Fake Pigskin, Sports Wunderkind, Forensic Fantasy, FantasyTrade411, FFGator, 100 Yards & Running, The Kicker Monk, Juan Elway, The Fantasy Bums, and, of course, Zach Law Online.

Just to call out a few names that have influenced the way I think about the game of fantasy football, I’d have to say that CD ”Denny” Carter, JJ Zachariason, Frank DuPont, Evan Silva, Shawn Siegele, and Patrick Thorman would be at the top of my must-read list.

Tell me about any plugs that you’d like. Sites, podcasts, projects, anything. XNSports.com would be the place to go if you’re looking for my 2-QB fantasy football articles. We have a great group of fantasy football writers on the site such as CD Carter and Rich Hribar, who have you covered when it comes to all your fantasy needs, hairstyling tips, and movie references.

Rich and I are currently working on putting together a weekly Google+ Hangout for XN Sports, so be on the look out for that. Other than that, if you have any 2-QB questions, or just like to talk 2-QB fantasy football, you can find me on Twitter.

Thanks Salvatore for doing the interview thing.

Want to support the site or just like reading about fantasy football experts? Then buy my book There Still Is No Off Season: Interviews 51-100 of the Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert Series. If you want to know more about the experts I interviewed, and what they’re up to lately, check out the experts page.

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