A couple of weeks ago, I had the crazy (okay, not crazy--not even by my standards--but still kind of fun) idea to ask my fantasy football league commissioner if he'd be willing to do a brief interview with me to celebrate the release of Three & Out. Trevor and I met several years ago when we were both corporate journalists for a newsletter company (yeah, that's a real thing) and shortly before we both left for greener, or at least different, pastures, he started a workplace fantasy football team, and I joined up. That decision is ultimately responsible for the Queen of the League series. That means Harper Duquaine, Brook MacLaughlin, J.J. Sanchez, and the rest of the gang never would have existed if I hadn't met Trevor.
More than allowing me to crash the boys' club and join their fantasy football league (I'm pretty sure I was ready to whine and accuse them of sexism if they didn't kindly accept my first request, but they did, so I didn't have to be a brat), Trevor also served as my guide into the world of fantasy football. He coached me through my first mock draft, talked me through setting my first lineup, and stole Aaron Rodgers from me, even though he knew how badly I wanted him on my team. In short, Trevor was the Obi Wan Kenobi to my fantasy football Luke Skywalker. (It's also worth noting that his wife's team recently destroyed mine in fantasy football, proving that these two are a dynamic duo.)
Even though our OG league disbanded a few years ago, Trevor has continued to invite me to participate in one of his leagues (I say one, because he's in several), which means every fall I get a chance to fret and delight in the world of fantasy football. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know the guy who helped to inspire it all.
Trevor has been playing fantasy football for over a decade and has won several championships along the way, along with being a perennial playoff team. He has always been fascinated with the ratio of luck to skill that comes along with playing fantasy football. He even researched the topic and after acquiring a hefty file of articles and journal research, nearly wrote his Master's thesis on whether fantasy football was skill or luck and if daily fantasy sports should be labeled as gambling or sports betting. He is married with two kids and his family is the most important thing in the world to him . . . even during fantasy football season.
Laura: What is your favorite part about playing fantasy football?
Trevor: My favorite part about playing fantasy football is the people. The people I have met in my life that I felt were worthy of being a part of my league I commission. I have played for over a decade now and I have lived everywhere from Washington State, where I am originally from, to California, Nebraska, and currently, Texas. The people that play in my league span every time zone, different friends I have made over the years, people who LOVE fantasy football. It is a great way to keep in touch, something hard to do these days, even though social media etc. exists it still is hard to find time to touch base with all the people you were friends with. But it’s fun to negotiate a trade over email or messenger and then side chat about the family or how the career path is going. My league consists of friends from my college, friends from one of my first jobs out of college, and a few friends I have known since elementary school. It is quite the motley crew. It is just a fun way to be connected, even if it is just through a game; it just keeps that person in your life and I think that is something really cool.
Another thing I love is that a random game could mean the world to you. Fantasy expands your knowledge of other teams besides your home team. There are times that certain games like the Browns vs. Titans you would never watch because they aren’t your home team and are not great teams to watch (Sorry Browns fans, I have family in Ohio so I have sympathy).
One more thing . . . I LOVE seeing everyone’s clever team names. Here are a few of my favorites: Stafford Infection, Dread Pirate Rodgers (Editor's Note: That's my team!!!), Corn on the Cobb, Pretty in Pigskin, It Ertz When I…, Zeke-A Virus, My Vick in a Box, Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles, Do the Sankey Leg, Golden Tate Bridge, Blount Force Trauma, and finally, Red Hot Julius Peppers.
Laura: Who has been your all-time best player on one of your teams?
Trevor: Wow, that is a tough one . . . I have had so many teams over the past decade. I think for me that honor goes to Jamaal Charles back in 2013. I have won a title since then and won ones before that, but in that particular season, I was 7-6 and grabbed the last spot in the playoffs in a 10-team league where 6 made it in. Charles had a great stretch of games in the playoffs for me and brought me home the title in a year I believe I had started off 1-4, before storming back to claim the playoff spot and then eventually win the league. He outscored anyone else on my team, including my QB, which is saying a lot for how standard scoring is tallied.
Laura: What prompted you to take a chance on a fantasy football rookie like me back in 2012?
Trevor: I think it was because you were eager. I love people who are excited to try fantasy football and want to win. Playing is fun, but you wanted to jump in, learn, and win right away. I don’t have people in my league who aren’t actively making roster changes, adding waiver wire pickups and proposing trades (and actually negotiating and not just rejecting them with no explanation, that’s a pet peeve of mine). I think fantasy football is a great way to try something new and some people discover they absolutely love watching the games through a new lens of cheering not only for your home team, but for “your guys” on your fantasy team. Little did I know that inviting a new friend and co-worker would lead to you writing a book series about fantasy football! I feel like a Jedi Master who has a young Padawan with whom the force is growing. That was a nerdy thing to say, but hey, that’s how I feel.
Laura: This one is a two-parter: Why did you callously steal quarterback Aaron Rodgers from me during the draft that same year when you knew he was the linchpin for my team and did you regret crossing me in such a traumatic way?
Trevor: Wow, it just got real in here. First off, let me again express how proud I am of you, Laura, and how fond I am of you as a person. That being said, I feel zero remorse for my actions. Rodgers fell to me and I took him. I thought you may be upset, but I have done that kind of thing to my own wife and I share a bed with her and she is the mother of my children. That matters not to me in fantasy football. She is just another team owner standing between me and the title. Sometimes you have to just break a few eggs to make an omelet you know? Let it be known, the fantasy football gods may not take kindly to it though; you actually finished 4th that year, one spot ahead of me and then finished fourth overall in the playoffs, while I finished 5th. However, I will say, if I know people in my league, and I know most of them very well for years, have a soft spot for their home team or certain players, I will try and make them overpay in a trade for them or hold them for ransom. I consider myself a good person, but in fantasy football, I am a ruthless negotiator and get a rush of finding a deep waiver wire pickup then flipping them for a premium to someone who overvalues them or is the replacement for their starter who got injured.
Laura: What is one piece of advice you'd offer to a first-time team owner?
Trevor: Hard to pick just one! Can I do a couple? I am going to be a rebel and do more than one. First off, don’t overvalue QB position. With the new league rules, guys throw for a bunch of yards and defenses find it hard to stop them. The ADP (Average Draft Position) of the top QBs like a Cam Newton or Drew Brees or in the past, Peyton Manning are tempting, but save for an outlier season where one of those is head and shoulders above the rest, go back and look at the point differential between the top-tier QBs and the middle of the pack ones. You may have a QB who scored 300 points for the season and another who scored 270, but WHAT round did you take them in? ADP matters. Everyone knows Cam Newton is a better fantasy player than Philip Rivers, but if you take Cam really high like 2nd or 3rd round and he scores only 25-30 more points over the season, which breaks down to about 3-4 points a week, is that too hefty of a price?
Albeit, there will be varying discrepancies certain weeks depending on the opposing team’s defense. But for me, this year for example, I grabbed Matt Stafford in the 10th round and at the time of this writing, ranks 3rd among all QBs in points. He is above Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer, who were all going no later than the 5th round in most drafts. Do you want to know who I took in the 5th round? Marvin Jones Jr., who at the time of this writing, is leading all WRs in points in a standard league. He is beating guys like Jody Nelson, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, and even Antonio Brown. The point differential between the WR and RB tiers drop off a lot quicker than that of the QB crowd, of whom there are plenty of good, if not at least viable, options. Between bye weeks and the inevitable injuries, you will need to have a solid starting WR and RB corps first before overspending on a QB.
My second thing is to scour the waiver wire. Your starting lineup may look great so you don’t think you need to go to the bargain bin on waivers or in free agency, but I routinely shop for my 4th and 5th WR on my team outside my 3 WR starters. Now every league is different but mine is QB, 3WR, 2RB, TE, D/ST and 6 bench spots. Use those bench spots to stash players who have potential. You never know when an injury will force that player either into a starting role, or even better, a featured role. Then you have a real asset on your hands. And really, think of your players as assets. Like the stock market, it can be volatile so your goal is to buy low and sell high in trades or acquisitions. If you see someone in the league got hurt who is a starter on a team, go see if the backup is a free agent or on the waiver wire. If the injury is serious they could become a late-season gem, or what I love to do, is grab backup RBs and then demand a king’s ransom to the owner of the person who had the starter who just got hurt and is left high and dry with no legitimate starting RB2. See I told you I am ruthless. In fantasy football, just like Gordon Gecko says, “Greed is good.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t NEED that player, you want to acquire the most talented players or most coveted asset. Then it’s your decision whether you believe the production or potential of that player is worth keeping him or if it behooves you more to flip him and upgrade somewhere else on your roster.
Thanks so much to Trevor for answering these questions for me, and bonus thanks for introducing me to fantasy football.
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At least that’s what she thought. Harper suddenly finds herself the manager of not one but two fantasy football teams—each with its own set of drama. Between the added pressure of her new marriage, an unexpected career prospect, and the hiccups created by people from her past and present worlds, Harper quickly finds herself going from bored to overwhelmed.
Can she hold up under the pressure, or will Harper learn the hard way that the turf isn’t always greener on the other field?
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First & Goal
Going for Two
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