Ask Your Daily Fantasy Football Expert: Dave Kitchen of Fantasy Insiders

"RIP Bud Adams… thanks for bringing the Oilers/Titans to Nashville."

David Kitchen has been nice enough to give me some press in his recent Fantasy Sports Journal, so I thought it was time to do an interview with the busy fantasy entrepreneur. He has an industry site, a daily fantasy site (he already gave me a headache talking about daily NBA on his Twitter feed), and a TV show to support the daily habit. If you want one of those draft boards with the stickers for 2014, he’ll pre-order for you. Maybe next time I’m in Nashville, I’ll get to meet the dude.

How did you get started in the fantasy football industry? Fantasy Sports had always been a big time hobby. I was a sucker for up to 10 RT Sports pay leagues in 2011 when a friend approached me about weekly contests where you could play for money.

Long story short, I made enough money that football and basketball season to purchase FantasySports.org. I decided ,”Why not get involved in something that I love so much?” Since then, I also jumped into another startup with FantasyInsiders.com. So two fantasy startups in less than two years has been a LOT of work but I can’t think of a better “job.”

Am I missing out on daily fantasy football? Talk about Fantasy Insiders and how you’re trying to get into that hot daily fantasy action. Yes, Zachary (can I call you that?). Yes you are.

Weekly fantasy football contests are where it’s at. Two years ago, I had a dozen active seasonal ($) leagues and now I’m in my home league and a few draft masters. Everything else is all about the weekly contests and I have action across six sites. The adrenaline that you get from entering lineups up until kickoff can’t be matched. [Zach note: If by “adrenaline”, you mean “weekly heart attacks”, that sounds like me.]

As far as Fantasy Insiders, our goal is to help people with their daily contests. Education is a big part of this — so it’s not just who you play, it’s how you play. We want to get in-depth with our analysis and really provide some substance to player suggestions. Of course there is risk associated with daily fantasy sports, but if you provide the proper reasoning behind each pick, it’s a lot tougher for readers to get mad at us. :)

I’m blessed to work with three other co-founders (Ben Pritchett, Dan Gaspar, and Steve Finkelstein) and it’s a blast every day. Everyone brings a unique skill set but we’re tied together by our love for daily fantasy sports. The whole “by players, for players” angle was very important to me in establishing a team.

Do you have a recommended strategy for first-time daily fantasy footballers? It’s all site specific, but a good “strategy” is to stay away from the tournaments for the first few weeks. I also advise newer players to play games that have a large volume of players and a small entry fee. Each site has what is called a 50/50 or Double Up game — look for the big games. If you finish in the top 50%, you win.

As far as specific strategies regarding what athletes to play, there are many and again, it’s site specific. A general rule for beginners is to pay for an elite QB that has a good matchup that week. Then get one RB and one WR that have nice matchups… After that, fill in the rest of your squad and feel free to play one “wild card” play that has a low salary but a potentially high ceiling.

Since you’re in the draft board biz, do you think that the physical board with the colored stickers will ever be replaced by online versions? There’s nothing better than the stickers on draft day. I agree about the stickers — there is certainly something to be said about tangible products. For the draft boards on fantasysports.org, I just wanted to make sure that we were adding something of value to leagues. That’s why we went with personalized draft boards where league names and slogans could be printed on huge 3′ x 4′ boards.

We’re still going to continue the printed boards, but we also want to provide something of value to leagues that are opting for digital draft boards. So right now we’re in the creative phase of developing something that hopefully will be really special for the 2014 season.

What’s the Fantasy Sports Journal and why should folks download it? The Fantasy Sports Journal is an industry magazine that is produced digitally that is meant for creators and consumers in the fantasy sports world. I presented the idea to David Gonos and he did an incredible job of taking the ball and running with it.

It combines analysis (“Top Apps”, fantasy site stats, etc.) with entertainment and also really cool stories within the industry. One of my favorite pieces was about the #FFHelpMadi campaign, where the industry raised thousands of dollars for the daughter of Ladd Davies, a fantasy football writer. I’ll let people go read the rest of the details on their own.

If you’re reading this, you’re either here because you’re a fantasy football fanatic or wanting to see about the 2014 Zach Law Calendar. If it’s the former, you’ll love the FSJ. If it’s the latter, maybe we can include some Zach Law photos in the 2nd issue. [Zach note: That is not recommended. I do not have that bikini body.]

I noticed a link in your fantasysports.org site called “Interview Series”. Are you trying to take my corner? Ha! One of my first ideas was to have an interview series with all of the experts. I land an interview with Sigmund Bloom and then I come across this archive of interviews by a guy named Zach Law. So I guess that makes the Sigmund Bloom interview a collector’s edition, because it was the only one. [Zach note: It’s worth it for Sig’s Steve Zissou expression.]

Are you happy with the Titans’ start? Oh yeah, what the bleep happened to Vandy against Missouri? I am. I really thought that Locker at QB would’ve beat Seattle. Our defense is nasty, and now we just have to figure out how to get the offense producing some points. I actually think the division is wide open for the taking.

As far as Vandy, I was pleased when we finally saw the Mizzou punter in the 4th. They looked like a well-oiled machine on offense and it was a clear indication of how good they could’ve been last year with a healthy James Franklin at QB.

Now they’re undefeated, but ol Jimmy is injured again, sooooo yeah… it was a good run. [Zach note: We’re both happy with Missouri winning with a redshirt freshman QB and Vandy beating Georgia last weekend. The Titans, well there is the bye.]

Which fantasy football league that you’re in do you want to win the most and why? The DraftKings Millionaire tournament. I actually won a ticket (valued at $1500) so that will most likely be my one shot to make my first million playing fantasy sports (we can dream, right?).

Other than that, it would have to be my lone “home league” with high school and college friends. No one knows what goes on in each others’ lives from January to July, but everyone flies / drives in for the draft, typically held in a cabin in the Smokies.

Are you stashing injured guys like Percy Harvin and Andre Brown for the stretch run? Since I’m more of a weekly guy, I’ll say “no.” However, one of the beautiful things about weekly fantasy contests is finding the “value” of a certain site. A lot of times, those values come either from backups thrust into the starting role or players back from injury — typically both of those types of plays will have low salaries … for that week. [Zach note: I bet the cost of a guy like Gronk goes up a ton after his great initial week.]

Can you talk about Fantasy Insiders TV? Absolutely. So Fantasy Insiders TV is a live webcast, catered toward the daily fantasy scene. There are a few experts — and then myself — and we’ll give advice for certain plays across the different daily sites.

We have a dedicated server for the show and it allows us to do quite a bit. Since it’s a live show, there is a chat and we’ll answer questions live from other players who are tuning in. We also construct lineups live on the site and have lots of games / side bets during the show.

With football, the shelf life for a show is much longer than an NBA or MLB show, so you’ll be able to watch the recorded version. Also, if you tune in during a live show on your mobile device, it plays perfectly.

Does your wife have any issues with your football obsession? Yes. And that’s okay, because she was also the one helping me ship draft boards out in August… at 3 a.m.

Football or sex: which do you think of more? I outkicked my coverage with my wife, so…. sex.

Where are you on the usual football Sunday? I assume there’s a “Dave” cave. There is — it’s my office. However, I’m frantically creating lineups until noon across six sites, so once the clock strikes noon CST, I’ll crash on the couch and see how my Titans can implode that given week.

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. I love pickup basketball … I play at the local YMCA on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5 am… Yes 5 a.m. … and it’s great. There’s typically 20 of us there and we all know each other after the years of playing.

Which football writers are on your must-read list? Tough question because of my industry / DFS ties — there’s a lot! If you’re holding a gun to my head and asking about whose Twitter account I’m paying the most attention to —

Fantasy Football – Josh Moore and Sigmund Bloom
Daily Fantasy Football – Drew Dinkmeyer
Daily College Fantasy Football – Ben Pritchett
Industry / Entertainment – David Gonos and Chet Gresham

David refused to offer plugs, but I’ll give him some anyway. Check out Fantasy Insiders for daily fantasy advice. Go to Fantasy Sports dot org for industry news, and follow Dave on Twitter.

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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