Ask Your Fantasy Football Party Crasher: Jen Ryan of Blindside Football

"Bachelorette party, managed to come back w my dignity and severe sunburn lol"

Some parties have no sense of timing. Jen Ryan aka “JerseyJen22” spent her entire NFL draft weekend on a beach with no sunblock. She probably thought it was heatstroke the first time someone told her that her Cowboys drafted zero running backs. Let’s see what this Dallas fan far far away from Texas thinks about her football.

Jen Ryan with arm.

The arm’s not Eli, or Romo.

How’d you get started in fantasy/football writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, I was a screenwriting major in college. I’ve been playing fantasy for about 5 years casually, but was terrible. I picked all Cowboys and didn’t really pay too much attention. Then I was sick of being the girl in the league who always came in last and realized with research I could be good at it. So 2 years ago I won my first fantasy Super Bowl, then last season I came in 2nd in that league and first in my all family league, which is super competitive. My sister and I actually took first and second, which was a nice slap in the face to my brother in laws and cousins.

Last season, one of the sites I regularly read, had a post up looking for guest writers. I sent an email to Sara on a whim, and I’ve been writing for them ever since. Then was looking for writers and I sent over links from the fflibrarian, and have been writing for them as well. After that, I got into Finally, for fun, I contribute to a great Cowboys blog True Blue Nation Blog, which is nice because I can really fan out and be all about my ‘boys and ditch the statistics. [Zach note: She’s legit now, qualified for the FSWA with a minimum of four sites.]

A Cowboys fan in New Jersey? Tell me that you’re a hit at the local bars with your “22” jersey.

My mother, who was raised in Queens, was raised a Cowboys fan by her father who is a big Stauback fan, so I was proudly born into this. And locally, everyone knows about my team fandom. Our small town knows my mother is a Cowboys fanatic, also my sister and I. Then we have a brother who is a Jets fan, and another sister who is a huge Giants fan. So it’s a lot of fun on Sundays. When the Cowboys were consistently going 8-8 it was really tough at the local bar scene – Giants fans are awful to me. But last year, was wonderful obviously, and there was no shame in me wearing my Romo jersey all over town on Sunday mornings. Also my Miles Austin jersey – he grew up a few towns over from me so I get a lot of “F*ck the Cowboys, but Miles is cool he’s Jersey”.

Was it odd for you to see the team (a) draft smart and (b) pull out a playoff win last year?

Last year for me felt like a big change in the tides down in Texas. When the Cowboys were on the clock all I could think to myself was, “Ok, Jerry is red faced so he’s probably half a bottle deep in some scotch no one can afford, and here comes Johnny Football.” Then when we selected Zack Martin it became clear to me that Stephen and Will McClay have more influence than ever. My QB, whom I adore, is getting old, so I’m thrilled we got another young buck to protect him. [Zach note: That’s the first time Brandon Weeden’s been referred to as a “young buck”.]

I’m one of those anxiety-riddled fans, so the playoffs were awesome for me, but also a nightmare. I get insanely nervous during the games, and wear slippers because for some reason I tend to throw shoes at my TV so I make it a point to wear slippers during games. [Zach note: The NFL needs to start marketing team straightjackets.] I’m also a gambler, so there is money on the line every game which only makes my anxiety worse. It was odd for me to see my team get the play off win only because I literally haven’t felt that way since I was a little brat in the 90’s. Keep in mind that for three straight season we were win and in, so it was nice to finally get in, but not necessarily a shock. And yes, it should have been 2 playoff wins because it WAS a catch. And no, that play didn’t determine the game, DeMarco’s fumble did. [Zach, the unreasonable fan who won’t let that 2009 playoff loss to the Ravens go, approves.]

Were you sad to see DeMarco go?

Very. I believe in team and locker room chemistry, and this season really felt like the Aikman, Irvin, Emmitt era with Romo, Dez, and DeMarco. With that said, I’m happy we didn’t over pay. So while I will always love him and thank him for his service, I’ll probably stay away from him in fantasy and wish him well in his new life in a backfield committee. I also personally hold Frank Gore responsible. If he would have just signed with the dirty birds, DeMarco would have stayed home because he clearly wasn’t going to Jacksonville and no one else was throwing money at him.

Did you already buy your Darren McFadden jersey? I mean, who are the Cowboys drafting to be their future RB starter?

I did not waste my hard earned pennies on a McFadden jersey because my early bold prediction is that he doesn’t make the final roster. I’m personally a Dunbar fan. I’d probably like Randle more if he wasn’t a little sh*t. I’d like to see Ryan Williams get a chance, but at the end of the day I think Dallas will use a committee approach, and hopefully self professed Cowboys fan Melvin Gordon is in the mix. [Zach note: I asked the question before the draft, and funny enough, Darren McFadden is rushing up ADPs, and future BACs.]

What’s your favorite type of fantasy league? Are you a redrafter/dynastyer/DFSer?

I love my redraft leagues. My “friends” league has been going on for 5 years, and it’s with 11 random people who I grew up with. My “family” league kicked off last year, and it was really great. Not just because I won it all, but my cousins moved away in the last few years, so our league consisted of family living in Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, and Washington. The nasty text messages that fly around on Sundays between us are insane. Never done dynasty but that is something I’d like to try next. Last season, I saw a commercial for this little site called Fan Duel that told me I could be a millionaire. I’ve been chasing that ever since, and have become a little obsessed with DFS.

Here’s a quick intermission to remind you that yes, this site offers other content.

Check out the previous Ask Your FF Expert interviews.

I write about beer, too (go figure). The latest Beer of the Week covers the Gose style.

Watch “our” weekly Going for 2 youtube hangout channel with Sharona and cool guests (and beer).

The spouse question: Does your boyfriend/husband have any issues with your football obsession? Is the arm around you in your profile pic not Eli?

I’m single, so I don’t really have to worry about that. I do know who ever the poor bastard is that does eventually wife me up, he will either have to be a football fanatic or not be into it at all for us to work out. We’d either be that crazy couple who is 24/7 football, or he will be my nice outlet when I need to unplug from the game – I’m serious when I say it makes me a nervous wreck.

And no that is not Eli in my profile pic, someone way cooler, Theo Rossi. You may know him better as Juice from Sons of Anarchy.

Football or sex: Which do you think of more?

Well, it’s the off season so……well, actually probably still football right now because for me it equates to dollar signs. I think a lot about MFL10’s right now, but I’m going away this weekend with a bunch of my girl friends, so I’m sure the single ones out of us will be husband hunting.

What’s your usual Sunday NFL football tradition? Is there a go-to beer?

I live in a 3 family house with 2 sisters, so Sunday tradition is at my house. My brother-in-law is an amazing cook, so he provides the food. Before kick off, I go visit my grandmother to see who she is betting – never, ever bet against her, it’s bad luck. Then I head home and kick off the early games with a mimosa usually. My one sister is a beer lover like myself, so we are really into trying new hard ciders. If it isn’t cider, she is strictly Heiniken Light, but I prefer to try new beers rather than drink that Poland Spring-esque beer. I’d say my go-to is Smith & Forge Cider, and then Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale when it hits the shelves. If I feel like going to work with a hangover, I’ll try anything that is above 8% alcohol content.

Which football writers are on your must-read list?

I’m huge fans of everyone over at RotoViz, and Evan Silva over at RotoWorld. I also love Jamey Eisenberg’s start/sit and watch his and Dave Richard’s Fantasy Football Now during my lunch hour. Also Michael Fabiano because he’s Cowboys Nation also. I’m also a regular on during the season.

Twitter has been a huge resource as well, I especially like anyone who throws out great statistics. Pat Thorman and Mike Clay come to mind at the moment. For my DFS needs, Chris Raybon is really, really good. Also my pal Armando Marsal, who writes for Blindside as well. I’m also a very big fan of Adam Pfeifer and “Manuel Retweet” (I don’t know his real name). When I started taking fantasy seriously and I was still an egg icon on twitter, they were the only 2 people who would answer my start/sit questions. Manuel Retweet suggested I ditch the egg if I want people to answer me, and I’ve had people like Glenn Colton replying to me ever since.

All my writer friends at fflibrarian, Fantasy Pros, and Blindside – I read as much as I can during the season, just so I can change my line up a thousand times before kick off and make myself crazy. Finally, I’m a bit of a Street Free Agent fan girl. He kills me during Thursday Night Football with the crazy things he says to Goodell on twitter. During TNF, I have my laptop running and I have numberFire live open and the Street Free Agent’s twitter feed. If he isn’t drinking and tweeting during TNF the games are unbearable. I also love when he writes for football savages, it’s fun to get away from the statistics and get right down to the filthy and hilarious stuff that flies out of his mouth.

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football.

I’m a reality tv junkie and I’m not embarrassed by it in the least bit. I love it and can’t get enough of it. All of the housewives, the trash on VH1, right now I’m particularly fascinated by Married at First Sight. It’s great. I work in scripted television, so I understand my love for the garbage that I watch after work when I need to wind down. I have good taste also though, huge fan of pretty much everything on HBO, Showtime, and FX. I’m also a book worm. I’ll read any autobiography or non-fiction book. I have two cousins who served in the military, and when they were deployed I had this real desire to try to understand what life was like for them overseas as infantrymen, so I’ve read a ton of great books by journalists and soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I skipped the 50 Shades of Grey nonsense, but the Sookie Stackhouse books that True Blood was based off of were probably my favorite series since I was a Goosebumps girl when I was little.

Other than that, I spend a ton of time with my family – my sisters and brother are all really close in age so our friends/interests really blend. When I’m not kicking it with my family and friends, I like to go away to the parts of Jersey that you don’t see on TV out in the mountains. There are great mountain dive bars out that way. I work in Manhattan, and never take it for granted. When the weather’s nice, it’s so easy to jump on the train, grab a boozy brunch, and just walk around and find new stores and things like that.

Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

Well sure, I’m a people person! How long have you been doing this? I always see that you have interviews and stuff on twitter, are you job hunting and if so how is that going? Also, I notice that you love beer too, does that mean you’re Irish like me :)?

[Zach note: My family is from Eastern Europe and Scotland, so the liver is strong. Job hunting is going better than public hope in the Titans’ front office and coaching staff.]

Let me know about any sites/podcasts/contests that you’d like to ‘plug’.

Check out Jen on Fantasy Pros, Blindside Football, FFLibrarian, and True Blue Nation.

Thanks for answering my questions. Follow Jen on Twitter.

If you want to read my previous fantasy football interviews, check out The There Is No Off Season Series.

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