Ask Your Football Detective: Fantasy Gumshoe of FakePigskin and RotoViz

"Of all the running backs to come into the NFL post-merger, Steve friggin’ Slaton had the 15th best fantasy season ever as a rook. Gross."

When a new writer, or new to me, anyway, floods my timeline with articles and a fantastic avatar, I have to take notice. This is how I discovered a young degenerate who likes to go by the name of Fantasy Gumshoe. His real name is Jeremy. It’s on his website, this isn’t a major discovery. Just like a young Jim Carrey made a nearly unwatchable premise of a pet detective turn into art, this man is taking lumps of fantasy coal and turning them into titles. Let’s find out how the locker-room environment is when working for multiple sites.

How did you get started in fantasy writing, and exactly what brand of gum is stuck to your shoe? I’ve been an avid Twitter degenerate for a few years, and I’ve been addicted to fantasy football for almost a decade. I can attribute my unwavering love of football to years of fantasy addiction. Sharing thoughts and opinions on Twitter was great, but it wasn’t enough. Keeping all this passion for the game to myself seemed like a waste, so I decided it was time to take the head-first plunge into the wild world of fantasy writing.

As for the gum I can’t seem to stop stepping on, I’d thank you to stay out of my personal affairs! It’s likely a mixture of spearmint and Percy Harvin. I just…can’t…quit…

Can you compare and contrast the hazing rituals at Fantasy Pigskin and RotoViz? I won’t ask you to share text messages. That’s a great question, Dan! Do you mind if I call you – DAN? While I haven’t been a victim of a ridiculous number of back-to-back beer bongs followed by a bull-charge into a snowman at either site, both have brought a different kind of hazing.

At Fakepigskin.com, we share a collective tenure smaller than that of most other sites in the industry right now. There’s a handful that have been with the site for a year now, including the visionaries Regan Yant and Adam Rainbolt, site founders. Hazing comes in the form of tireless efforts to build a solid brand for our energetic team and our devoted followers: passion and creativity above all while putting out solid content, and trail-blazing a new way to become and one-stop fantasy shop. I’d say our collective break-out age is right on track to put us in the cross-hair of long-term fantasy value.

Is there a better way to segue into Rotoviz.com than a break-out age reference? Undeniably known as innovators in the fantasy analysis community from a statistician perspective, I’ve been a big fan of the way their collective think-tank works since the start. I can candidly say I’m a bit of a film-brat, however I see so much value in both approaches. Understanding the stats as well as the behaviors behind them makes for quite an equation to a new and aspiring writer.

Fantasy Douche and Spider have both been unbelievable coaches while getting a finished product out the door. The hazing on RV comes down to learning to think differently – dissecting articles from Rotovizers and understanding how they got there. Anybody can continue to do what they do well and carry on, but to be great – that entails stepping outside of my comfort zone and immersing myself in a new culture and a different way of thinking. That’s what being a great writer is about. Damn it, I need to figure out how to quantify that, huh…

Aren’t third-year WR breakouts so 2008? Why is Michael Floyd the exception to this new rule?It’s interesting because you’re right; 3rd year break-out wide receivers have become a thing of the past, and it certainly seems like we’re seeing a shift toward 2nd year receivers as the potential break-out candidates. With Floyd, we’ll just say that while the train was at the station it was high-jacked by John Skelton and Kevin Kolb. We can arguably say that this is kind of like his 2nd year in the league. Is this a good time to insert a shameless plug to the “Shakespeare in Floyd” piece on fakepigskin.com? [Zach note: Thought you’d never ask.]

Who else are good dynasty buy-low candidates this offseason? On the other side of the country, Rueben Randle’s train was hijacked by Eli Manning and Co, and I’m expecting big things from him as well. Add any 2nd year player to this list that was all the rookie buzz last year that hasn’t come to fruition yet. While the draft world is understandably goo-goo for Ebron, Amaro, and ASJ, Eifert and Kelce are nice names that can be had for much cheaper than a year ago. With Norv Turner branding purple and gold now, Kyle Rudolph is a must-buy. [Zach note: What, no love for John Carlson?]

You are a Bears guy, or at least you play one on the Web. Is one of the most underrated considerations in fantasy how the team’s defense plays? I feel like Cam Newton, for one, hurt his fantasy production because the defense was so good. Can the Bears maintain their top offensive production in 2014? The Bears still have a ways to go in order to fix what ails on defense, and I certainly give credence to your thoughts on the parallel between bad defensive play and fantasy production. Much like garbage time production, its production all the same. Trestman lends proof to the belief that a change in offensive scheme can impact fantasy production, and Emery re-branded the Bears to a high-flying offense from the hard nose “small-ball” and smash mouth defensive approach.

Jay Cutler is also a great buy-low candidate. I get that he’s had his share of injuries and he’s very easy to hate based on his on-field behavior, but fantasy owners need to remove that from their fantasy lineup decisioning process. Cutler was almost on par with McCown in terms fantasy points per game, and that’s including the game when McCown shredded the ‘dem Boys. Any Bears quarterback is a shoe-in to be a top 10 option going forward. Together, they were actually top 5 in 2013.

Oh yeah, after Matt Forte’s great season, is this a good time to sell high? I ask because I was in a nearly identical situation with Ray Rice and boy do I wish I sold. This is a question that can stir up a dynasty debate for hours to come with many owners. Many see the value in riding that production into the sunset and leveraging him as a top option to help win another championship. For me, while it often depends on the landscape of the team, I usually favor capitalizing on value while it’s at its highest point. I traded Matt Forte away for Zac Stacy and Michael Floyd in a league. Many will say I gave Forte away, and many will say it was a great pull to maximize value and get younger at the same time. You already know how I feel about Floyd, so I will more often than not leverage known fantasy commodities that have depreciating value going forward to pull in a package of under-valued commodities today. A year from now, there’s a strong chance you won’t be able to get Floyd for Forte straight up. That’s all the reason why I sell Forte now. Bacardi and Cola – do it.

How did you end up blocking someone for stating a dislike for white chocolate? I just spit up my coffee! I didn’t block anyone from not liking white chocolate, rather, he must not have liked white chocolate because he stopped following me after I made my love of WC known. (He likely just unfollowed because of my non-football tweet.) It was hilarious because I quickly found out that I’m in the minority in a major way – milk chocolate is King, and white chocolate is a disgrace to the human race. I’m not giving up hope! [Zach note: If you are referring to Cadbury’s mini eggs, the bane of my stomach’s existence, I’m not sure if I can roll with you. I generally prefer dark chocolate to milk (hot fantasy takes here, folks), but in mini-egg form, it’s the original all the way.]

The Ace Ventura-inspired avatar is the best. Are you tired of being right? Many thanks to fantasygopher for helping me accomplish my Pinky-like dream of having the best avatar on Twitterverse to take over the world. I’ll chalk this one up in the “right” category, but I have many more in the “wrong” I’m sure.

What is your dynasty landscape? How many leagues are you in, what kind, and which one is the white whale you want to win the most? I’m now in 7 dynasty leagues after taking over an orphan team in the Dirty Dozen Auction League via DynastyLeagueFootball, and I usually join a handful of redraft leagues every year as well. It’s a balanced portfolio which ensures I’ll make a few bucks each year because I love to take over teams and make them my own. Redraft is a good way to off-set dynasty rebuild funds. My best fantasy partner in crime investigations and I purchased a 3-pack of satellite seat chances in the FBG Players Championship on RTSports.com in 2013 and won 2 of 3 $350 seats, so those 2 teams will be a big priority.

I completely farted out my white whale league in 2013. It’s a 16-team dynasty, and I thought I was on top of the world having Bush, Spiller, Sproles, and McFadden as options to roll out every week in a league in which you can start 3 running backs. As you would guess, I started 0-4. What did I do? I blew that team up! My philosophy is this: if you’re a middling team and are just trying to possibly get lucky and make the playoffs each year, what they hell are you playing for? I sold off most of that team, and I now have five 1st rounds, 6 2nd rounds, and a couple 3rds. Draft day is going to be extremely fun, yet I’m sure I will package a couple 2s/ 3s to upgrade in 2015. I’m crazy – I know. [Zach note: If you ask hard-core dynasty owners, their favorite thing is probably rebuilding/stockpiling draft picks.]

What’s the day job? I work for a well-known financial institution in Operations Practice Management as a Client Service Manager supporting an e-commerce solution for businesses to accept payments via multiple payment channels from their customers. It’s essentially customer service operations management for clients on steroids. Well, the clients aren’t on steroids, the job is. I mean – Hmmm – maybe the clients are on steroids? That would sure explain the extremes throughout the week!

Do you have a favorite Chicago-area brew? What’s your usual beer of choice on Sunday? There isn’t a better brewery out there in my opinion than Lagunitas. [Zach note: No love for Old Style?] Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is a year-round great brew for me, however there isn’t anything out there that gives me more bliss than a Hop Stoopid. It’s the perfect combination of hops and malts. It’s downright Stoopid. Full disclosure, I’m also a big coffee drinker. I tend to go balls to the wall in anything I do, so a portfolio of mostly coffee and some beer has been a good recipe for success for me. Nobody wants to see this detective pull a Frank the Tank…

What does your wife think of your football obsession? She loves it; she wouldn’t have it any other way. Next question.

Football or sex: which do you think of more? Ugh. I knew this was coming, but man – I’d like to ask if it can be both? I lie and say I’d love a little Action Jackson while watching the games. That would get in the way of the Bears game on the big screen, and the redzone channel on the computer. I mean, there’s only so much of me. Most men think about sex over 90% of the time according to studies. But I think about football 90% of the time as well. This is an inward battle I can’t solve! With another ‘lil Gumshoe in the processing lab right now, maybe I ought to say football as I’m quickly approaching more kids than arms. Football it is.

Where are you on the usual football Sunday? I assume there’s a man cave. Why yes, yes there is. We moved into a larger house early last year, and it has a partially finished basement just missing carpet. I used some spare carpet from the old house’s basement and laid it down in the section with my man-cave couches, TV, and entertainment center. It’s not optimal, but I at least have something below my feet. Since I started writing, I also started using a spare tote, box, and smooth wooden side-piece to an entertainment center not being used and turned it into a mobile desk. Now I sit down there, watch games, and write at the same time. A- for makemenship, A+ for nerdship.

Who are some of your favorite football/fantasy writers? I appreciate many different styles and approaches. The annual RSP is a must for me by Matt Waldman. His efforts and qualitative approach to his study is hands down some of the best work out there. I also really love what Shane P Hallam does, and he’s a down-to-Earth guy that’s always willing to talk football. On the other side of the fence, I’m in awe of anything Shawn Siegele and Chase Stuart put out there. I’m still at a point in which I need to get in the right mind-set to read their work so I can digest it all as it doesn’t come naturally to me yet. I also appreciate the entertainment aspect of fantasy writing while dishing out great content, so Chet Gresham landing a few steals to carve out TheFakeFootball dynasty platform encompassing a few different styles. Lastly, I always look to Ryan McDowell for the latest trends and analysis of dynasty football, and he’s a better dude as well.

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. Since I started writing, there isn’t a lot of free-time left over after spending time with my wife and kids, but I love every minute of it. I’m behind on my shows, but I’ll have to carve out some time to catch up. HBO, Showtime, and AMC are pretty much where I live on the tube. I also like to dabble a little on XBOX – FIFA and Call of Duty. I can’t wait for this damn snow to go away so I can shoot some hoops in the park out back.

Tell me about any plugs that you’d like. Podcasts, sites that you write for, expert leagues, anything. Oh, I think I’ve worn out my welcome by now! Be on the look-out for the new Fakepigskin Dynasty Podcast coming soon with myself and Asher Curzon (@realABC)! Many thanks for the time, Zach!

No, thanks you Gummy, or as I prefer to call you, Vanilla Thunder. Follow the Fantasy Gumshoe on Twitter.

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