"Free Agency absolutely sucked this year."
I give Doug Veatch’s podcast partner Chad Parsons so much quinoa-related crap that I was overdue to interview the other half of the Under the Helmet team. There’s a lot of focus on the big sites with dozens of writers that a two-man shop can go under the radar. You’d be making a big mistake if you did that.
How’d you get into fantasy football writing and when did you and Chad Parsons become platonic fantasy football soulmates? I first broke into the industry when DLF had a writing contest a little over a year and a half ago. I didn’t end up technically “winning” the contest, but they liked my piece enough to offer me a shot at writing member corner articles for them. After about another 3-4 months they offered me a position as a staff writer and I jumped at the chance. I always knew I was more into fantasy football than anyone else in my home town leagues, so I had to find an outlet to voice my opinion. Writing for DLF was the beginning of a beautiful addiction.
It’s actually quite a funny story how Chad Parsons and I first started talking fantasy football. When I first started up my Twitter account, I basically solicited my trade knowledge services on an hourly basis. I was new to the industry and was trying to gain some credibility.
So Chad ended up sending me a direct message asking me to explain my dynasty fantasy football philosophy because he had a “friend” that was asking him some related questions. So I went on this 15 Tweet bender explaining my thought process behind a dynasty setting. Then I looked at Chad’s profile, realized I was an idiot and was talking to the spreadsheet sensei.
We first started working together two Februarys ago when he asked me to join him on the Under the Helmet podcast. It was only my second time ever being on a podcast, but the initial response was overwhelming and eventually Chad asked me to be his permanent co-host and now we’ve also started up our own website too called UTHdynasty.com.
In general, why is being an ageist when it comes to your dynasty league assets a good thing? I think being an ageist (talk about putting a label on me) for dynasty fantasy football purposes has its risks and rewards, but so does any strategy. It’s just part of the game. However, when you take an age-based approach, it’s provides you with a certain amount of security you don’t get when investing in older/aging players. Take for instance Julio Jones. He broke his foot again in the same exact spot and what happened to his value? Nothing. You got no discount on Julio Jones whatsoever. Why? Because he is super talented and only 24 years old. [Zach note: I was 24 years old once. I think.]
Now I’m not saying every young player provides you with this type of insulation, because they don’t. I think about like this – if you trust your own instincts and player evaluations and have the stones to make some trades that may seem a bit unsavory to your league mates, you can build a young dynamic squad that should compete year in and year out.
When doing a startup draft you have a choice at every pick you make between an older (more proven) player, or a player that is five years younger who has shown flashes of being capable of the same thing. For me the choice is easy. I’ll take the upside every time, because I know whose tree the Andre Johnson owner is going to come barking up in 1-2 years. Mine.
Who are some players coming off good years that should be sold immediately to take advantage of the situation (leaning toward guys closer to the end of their career than start, like Matt Forte)? Matt Forte is definitely a guy I’ve been advising people to sell this off-season. Heck, I’ve been telling people to sell him since last off-season. Let’s face it, a guy like Forte is coming off a career high and as he gets older, the chances of him duplicating his 2013 season decline daily. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. Once running backs hit the ripe old age of 27, it’s usually all downhill from there. Of course there are a few outliers, but for the most part it’s a safe bet.
Aside from Forte there are so many guys from last season I’m selling, but the two guys that really stand out in my mind are Pierre Garcon and Antonio Brown.
With the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts I don’t see how it’s possible for Garcon to replicate his 2013 numbers. As a matter of fact, I’d say it’s damn near impossible. Most people value Garcon as a mid- to low-end WR1, so you can trade him for quite a haul. I don’t think his value will ever be higher than it is this offseason. Ideally, you wish you would’ve sold him before the DJax signing.
As for Antonio Brown, he’s a little bit different than Garcon because Pittsburgh has a lack of weapons on their team. However, Brown is not your prototypical WR1 and I’d be crazy to think the Steelers are not going to add multiple skilled position players in this draft. Also, there are a lot of people that think Markus Wheaton is going to break out this year, I can’t say 100% I’m on that train, but the fact remains the same, the addition of pieces in Pittsburgh is going to mean less targets for Brown in the very near future.
Are you getting the most out of your dynasty league if you are trade-averse? Share some of the secrets of trading by Doug. I honestly don’t even see the point in playing in a dynasty league if you are trade-averse. I think A LOT of owners don’t make trades because they are scared of losing a deal. If you’re scared of losing a deal, it’s probably because you haven’t been doing your research and have been sitting idle for four months after the Super Bowl. [Zach note: Drinking beer and watching TV is not sitting idle, FYI.] If that’s the case, you should probably stick to playing in redraft leagues.
Being from a sales background, I believe in the Law of Averages whole-heartedly. Basically the Law of Averages states that one out of every ten sales pitches (or trade proposals in our case) will get accepted. To me that means the more offers you throw out in the atmosphere, the more likely you are to have one accepted. Now, I know this can be a time-consuming process, but I guarantee you in the long run, it will pay dividends.
Ok, Michigan guy, is it much easier to be a fan of the NFL and fantasy football when your personal team is the Lions? Not at all. I have Honolulu blue and silver running through my veins. I’ve been and will always be a Lions fan first and foremost. Sundays are like church to me once the clock strikes one o’clock. For a while there, I’ll admit it was tough considering we were the laughing stock of the entire league. I’m just not the type of guy that is a fair weather fan, you’re either in or you’re out. If I ran across a genie in a bottle and had three wishes, one of them would be to see the Lions win at least one Super Bowl before I died.
Will you be doing the “Jim Caldwell face” a lot this fall? I’m sure I will. I also have my patented “Doug face” I’ve perfected over the course of 30+ grueling seasons. Let’s just go ahead and say, it’s not a pretty face.
You highlighted RBs on April 16th’s version of the UTH podcast. Does the injury history of Jahvid Best still hurt? It does and it doesn’t. I knew the risk we were taking when we traded up to select Jahvid Best in the first place. The concussion he suffered at Cal during his collegiate career was gruesome. He was definitely electric with the ball in his hands though. Some Detroit fans even went as far a dubbing him “Jahvid Beast” after that game against Chicago on Monday Night Football. It is a sad end to another “what could have been” story for an NFL player. Unfortunately, he won’t be the last player that suffers this fate, even with the league taking an active interest in player safety.
What are some of your Michigan-based beer favorites? Great question. I know this answer is probably going to sound biased (because I’m from Michigan) but not only is Bell’s Brewery my favorite Michigan-based brewery, it’s my favorite brewery period. No matter the season, Bell’s has the right beer for you. If you are a summer beer drinker, what goes down better than an Oberon? If you’re an IPA fan, Two Hearted Ale is the absolute best I’ve ever tasted. My personal favorite brew from Bell’s is their Christmas Ale. It’s amazing. It’s rough though because it is only available for two months before they take it off the shelves. [Zach note: Don’t we love our seasonals more because they are limited?] So I usually end up buying a couple of extra cases and hide them in my basement for special occasions. Unfortunately, every day for me is a special occasion (because we only live each day once right?) and I’m running dangerously low right now. October is a long ways away.
Talk about the premium content on UTH and how people can get a “taste” for free. We are currently doing a Twitter contest where if you re-tweet our promotion, it gets you an entry into our daily drawing for a free subscription for a week. Follow me and Chad Parsons on Twitter if you’d like to give it a shot. Our premium content is released daily and we are currently focusing on scouting profiles for this seasons incoming rookie class. [Zach note: It’s worth the price, like getting a sixer of Two Hearted instead of “cold brewed” Lite nonsense.]
Who are the rookies you like so much that you don’t care about writing about them so people in your leagues snipe them before you? Now there’s a loaded question. There are so many rookies in this class that I like, I’d have to opt-out of writing about them period. I realize I’m going to get sniped whether I write about a player or not. In the first round of this rookie class, player value is everywhere. Carlos Hyde could go as high as 1.03 and as late as 1.08, you just never know. At the end of the day, you only have so many picks. You can’t draft them all. If you think you can properly position yourself to draft a couple of your favorites, I’d consider that a huge win.
The spouse question: Does your wife have any issues with your football obsession? It’s really all about setting that fine line between your obsessions and spending time with your family. As long as my wife feels like I am being a good husband and father, she lets me do my thing. Also, I am a bit of a night owl, so I primarily do all of my writing and such after the family has gone to bed. That way, everybody is happy.
Football or sex: which do you think of more? I like to think I take a sandwich approach to thinking about football and sex. These days, football is the bread and sex is the meat of my sandwich. As far as ratios go I’d say for every two times I think about football, I think about sex once. Basically, football and sex are the only two things consistently on my mind. [Zach note: I won’t ask where Matthew Stafford fits in the equation.]
What’s your usual Sunday football tradition? Wake up, set my lineups, make breakfast, check injury reports, reset my lineups and pace the floor until one o’clock rolls around. From there, I am physically and mentally unavailable until Sunday Night Football is over. I also go to at least 1-2 Lions games per year and we have a very cool tailgating tradition. One of the local restaurants puts on an amazing tailgate for every home game. They have every type of meat imaginable on their massive grills, beer on tap, tons of finger food and also a huge enclosed tent with a projection TV so people that don’t have tickets can still watch the game. The best part is that it only costs $20.00 per person. It’s an absolute steal and a great time.
Which football writers are on your must-read list? I’ve always been a big fan of everything Chad Parsons puts out because he’s my boy, but also because I feel like he has the most extensive spreadsheet data in the business. Some of the stats he comes up with blow my mind. I also read pretty much everything that Ryan McDowell (DLF) puts out. I’m also a fan of the work Jon Moore (RotoViz) does. There are so many great resources out there these days if you want to truly dive into the nuts and bolts of dynasty fantasy football. It’s hard to narrow it down too much because of the amount of content I read on a daily basis.
Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. I have a lot of them. I’ve been playing on the same softball team for about seven years so that is a great spring/summer/fall pastime. I also golf every chance I get, even though I never get any better. Another hobby I recently picked up was hockey. I really never played as a child or even as a teenager, but one of my cousins who is really into hockey kept bugging me about playing, so I finally gave in. Low and behold, chalk up another obsession for this guy. I also play on a church basketball league with my brother and a bunch of our friends from time to time when they need me. Basically, if a sport is involved, I’m usually down to play.
I’ve also been playing guitar (and really anything with strings for that matter) since I was ten years old. I’ve played in numerous bands and have even recorded an album. It’s not as big of a part of my life as it used to be, but anytime I pick up an instrument, I go to another place in my head until I put in down.