"Football is mad."
After I reminded myself to not forget the ladies when searching for fantasy experts, I remembered that fantasy football expertise occasionally travels beyond the pond. Authentic Brit Matt Lane is one of those gents. Floor guy by day, football obsessive at night (and overnight, if you consider the time change), he covers IDP for the Fake Pigskin, when not thinking of creative ways to make fun of American beer commercials.
Before we begin today’s interview, check out the cool new contest with my books as a prize. If you sign up to receive the new Fantasy Blurb newsletter between April 14-20, you can win a copy of both of my interview books. That’s interviews 1-100, just for signing up to a newsletter.
How did you get started in fantasy writing, and how did you end up at Fake Pigskin? I was at university a couple of years back and rather than revising for my exams I found myself endlessly poring over stats and articles about fantasy football. I didn’t want to write as such, but I felt I needed to get this enthusiasm out of my system somehow and that seemed as good a way as any. I met a guy over the NFLUK forum who was setting up a website and he let me write for his new site, which was entirely British writers. They guys were great fun to work with but the site died a death near the end of the season – I think I was the only person writing for a few weeks! So come the offseason last year I was ‘freelance’ I suppose. I approached Regan Yant from Fake Pigskin and asked if I could do a piece for them – they liked what I wrote and the rest is history!
Which member of the Fake Pigskin staff would you most like to get a pint with? Now this is a tough question! Well Regan has been there with me from the beginning – always makes time for me whatever the issue. That’s all well and good but the Irish part of him loves Guinness and so do I. Saying that We couldn’t go for a pint without our resident Irishman Luke O’Neill, so i’d say the pair of them and myself would cause havoc around Dublin!
How does a Brit select the NFL team furthest away from him as his fave? Are you still looking to punch anyone wearing Seahawks colors? Well I started watching the NFL after Super Bowl 42. My uncle had always been into the sport when he was younger and as such he got his son, my cousin, into it as well. Ben’s phoned me up one night and asked me to watch the Super Bowl at 1 am on a Sunday. I was like, ‘no chance, it’s rugby for girls’ etc. But eventually I relented, watched the whole game and whilst I hadn’t a clue what was going on – I knew there was something special about it (Ben had filled me in on the details of Brady’s unbeaten season) and I was hooked. Strangely I wanted to pick a team totally at random – and my favourite band at the time were Alkaline Trio – who began their career in San Francisco and then moved out to Chicago, so naturally, I was instantaneously a die-hard 49ers fan. However, I learned about a month later that the guys from Trio actually lived in Chicago and moved to San Fran – So technically I should be a Bear, but by that point I’d already got a background of Alex Smith on my computer and learned the name of two other players – it was too late to turn back! [Zach note: Of all the QBs in the storied 49ers history, you came along for Alex Smith.] Regarding the Seahawks, I actually struggle to hate any team, there are teams I dislike like the Patriots and Cowboys, but I have nothing but respect for Seattle because they are built like the 49ers, impenetrable defence, strong running game, young dynamic QB… There’s a lot to like there.
Who are some guys who are going to jump up and become IDP fantasy stars this year? Feel free to list some DL, LB, and DBs. There are a few rookies from last year that were disappointing, but for many of them their situation has adjusted and IDP players need opportunity more than offensive players to give them value. Damontre Moore had 136 snaps last year and with Tuck leaving the building that will inevitably rise. Even if he has say 600 snaps next year I think he could be in the 5-8 sacks range as a minimum. The same applies to Dion Jordan at Miami though he’s going to have to force his way into that DL as it’s pretty stacked for talent at the moment. Looking at Kevin Minter in Arizona as well, he’s looking to fill the void left by Dansby so he could have sneaky sleeper value. I’d move for him in dynasty for sure. Finally, I think Paul Worrilow over at Atlanta is going to come into his own. He became the starter for Atlanta at ILB in week 7 and from weeks 7-17 he was the 17th highest scoring LB. Quite a feat for an undrafted rookie! These are all guys i’d hold onto or buy low if you can.
How come a guy from a country that doesn’t like to touch the ball with their hands plays IDP yet so many American fantasy players are afraid? I threw myself into fantasy sports the season after Super Bowl 42 – I managed to make the championship game that year in fact (my stroke of genius was taking Gore at about 6th overall instead of Brady… Who then got injured in week 1 and was out for the year.) And after a couple of years I was running that league. I always wanted to take on a new type of league each year and so it was only natural to move onto IDP formats. We started with just 2DL/LB/DB and moved it up progressively. It really worked because we were all Brits and all playing IDP for the first time. Now I run a Dynasty League with 11 IDP starters. I always wanted to challenge myself further and IDP was just the next logical step. Now I hate leagues without IDP but I have to grin and bear them (COUGH* THE TWO FAKEPIGSKIN LEAGUES LAST YEAR). [Zach note: Regan better step up.]
Does there need to be a scoring adjustment in leagues to bump up IDP value, since I can find guys much easier on the waiver wire than offensive options? I’ve never played in an IDP league that I don’t run – and that’s not cos i’m a fantasy snob (Is that a thing?) but because I like to try lots of different formats each year. But recently me and Andrew Hardt (Fantasy Gumshoe) took over an orphaned dynasty team and the IDP side is pointless. I mean really why would you have a scoring system that puts the highest scoring IDP player at 37th overall for points. J.J. Watt is probably the best player in the NFL on both sides of the ball and he is 117th. Some league seem to put IDP in for decoration and if you’re going to do that then there is no point. If you credit players properly for big plays like Sacks, Tackles for Loss and INTs then it makes their value more in line with the offensive players and a team can be built just like a real NFL team – isn’t that what we’re after in fantasy football anyway? A simulation of the real thing? (That and prize money, a whole lot of prize money.)
Can Charles Woodson be injured by conventional weapons? Dude had 97 tackles last year. Woodson is a timeless wonder. In my IDP league I grabbed him from waivers early and the guy finished with the 12th most points at Safety. I don’t care if he’s old and it’s a dynasty league. He does not age! It’s sad to think that a 37 year old signing a 1 year job extension thousands of miles away can provoke a celebratory dance, but yeah, that happened.
In a rookie draft, how high would you select Jadeveon Clowney? Who do you think are candidates to be the first LB and DBs off the board? It does partially depend on where he ends up – but I can see him being as high as a top 5 pick in fantasy drafts depending on the format. DEs are a real strange position because only a handful of pass rushers are listed at DE so there are maybe 10 DEs that can realistically get you 10 sacks in a season so if he can fit straight into that top tier from year one he’ll be worth his weight in gold. LB-wise Khalil Mack would be the first guy I’d want, but plenty of rookies that can get themselves a starting role on an NFL defense should come up with some nice fantasy numbers – it’s all about their role on the team. As far as DBs are concerned, I wouldn’t want to spend a rookie draft pick on a DB until the 4th or 5th round as their value is just not there. [Zach note: As a guy who took Mark Barron in the third round a couple of years ago, with Russell Wilson on the board, I heartily agree.] DBs can be streamed all season so all you’re paying for is a young guy. There are no consistently excellent DBs in fantasy so why pay a big price when you can find a guy on the street that can do his job?
When you drink your aftenoon “tea”, what kind of ale do you prefer? I suppose you have an image of me sipping Darjeeling with fine china decorated in rose petals and a muffin spread with cream and jam, discussing politics with my dear old chum Ponsonby… Well that’s only on Wednesdays. Seriously though I drink lots of tea, but only because i’m kind of obliged to in my family. I think the first words my parents uttered were ‘who wants a brew?’ As far as ales are concerned, there’s quite a big local brewery near me called ‘Thwaites’ and they do some fine ales. I especially like ‘Lancaster Bomber’ and their Best Bitter. My favourite kind of ale is probably IPA though, and I could live of Marstons ‘Old Empire’ IPA. I drink it like… tea. I still love lager in the summer months (yes we have two summer months in England!), but can’t stand the likes of Coors Light – how on earth can you advertise a beer based on how cold it is? I could drink horse piss chilled, it doesn’t improve the taste (apparently), now get out of here Jean-Claude. [Zach note: Can you tell that I dig this dude? Brits insult in a way that Americans can’t touch.]
How many leagues are you in? What’s the league that you want to win the most? This last year I was in 6 and I do like to limit myself. I find the experience is diluted if you’re in too many leagues. I don’t want to have to think about what a touchdown means to my fantasy teams and if a Stevan Ridley goalline fumble wins me one league but loses me two then my brain hurts. I find that draftmasters and MFL10s are the best way to fill that void because you get the fun of the draft without having to worry about it all through the season. This year i’m hoping to be in 3 leagues only but no doubt i’ll end up in about 10…
The spouse question: Does your wife have any issues with your football obsession? Hahahaha, to call it an obsession would be entirely accurate! I do spend a lot of time delving into stats etc but generally it’s not an issue. I’ve tried to get her into the sport but she’s just not interested. I’ve forced her to pick a team (Vikings) and she knows Adrian Peterson’s name, but generally when I talk Fantasy Football her eyes glaze over.
Football or sex: which do you think of more? Sorry Frank (Gore). But sex wins here.
What’s your usual Sunday football tradition? Do you get no sleep watching all the games? Over here we pay a subscription which gives us access to all the games live and on demand so I can actually watch 4 games simultaneously! [Zach note: Seriously, access to NFL games is probably better in every country outside of the U.S.] I tend to watch the 49ers whenever they are on but rarely watch the late games live – I usually just catch up in the morning with the no-advert version which is really handy. If the 49ers aren’t playing I’ll look out for the Raiders. If not i’ll tend to watch my fantasy QBs team. I have to earn some serious brownie points earlier on Sundays but I do watch football from 6 till midnight and drink a lot of beer. I used to hate Sundays as a kid but now it’s the best day of the week without question!
Which football writers are on your must-read list? Well all the guys at FakePigskin really roll out some premium content on a daily basis. We’ve expanded our writers and our scope but the quality of articles is brilliant. Away from our own site I love the work done at Dynasty League Football and if you’re a fan of MFL10s then Marc Hava is an absolute must read. IDP-wise, the godfather is Gary Davenport of IDP Manor – his knowledge is almost never ending!
Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. My Dad brought me up to be a Claret in true English tradition, so Burnley Football Club are my first love in sport. [Zach note: I like this, because I tend to hear only about the big-name EPL teams.] ‘Soccer’ is growing in the US and those who are interested in the EPL won’t really know my team at all. Burnley is a small industrial town (75,000 population) with nothing good about it aside from the football team. We’ve won every division in England including the top league in 1921 and 1960 but when the PL came around in 1991 we were at a low point. Fortunately I’ve seen us rise up from the bottom of the 3rd tier (My first game was a 7-2 win over York City when we were 24th in the 3rd tier, with almost 10,000 in attendance!) up to the verge of PL promotion this season. Hopefully this time we can stay there! I never thought another sport or team could grab me like Burnley but San Fran have left me emotionally drained more than enough times. I’m a proud Claret and 49er! [Zach note: I’ll never stop saying that the NFL could use relegation.]
We have a contest! If you sign up to receive the new Fantasy Blurb newsletter between April 14-20, you can win a copy of both of my interview books. That’s interviews 1-100, just for signing up to a newsletter.