First Ladies of Fantasy Football: Part 2
Welcome to The First Ladies of Fantasy Football, a panel of female fantasy football analysts that want to share their stories with you. These ladies are here to show you how it is for a woman in the fantasy football industry as well as give you some insight into this season. The amount of women who are playing fantasy football continues to increase, and more and more women want to be involved in writing and analyzing as well. Hopefully, these women can inspire you to get involved in the fantasy football world if you don't already.
There will be a few installments of this panel, and for this second installment, you’ll read answers to fantasy football related questions as answered by three females in the fantasy community. These questions were asked almost a month ago, so answers regarding certain players could be out of date.
Installment two’s guests, give us a little insight into who you are:
My name is Jen, a lot of times people call me Jersey Jen and it just makes me giggle, my name is Jen Ryan. I originally put Jersey Jen in my Twitter to sort of hide from co-workers and people I know since they don't all know I'm this crazy fantasy and gambling nut, and truthfully I am not social media savvy at all so I just never changed it. Twitter handle is @FFdeJENerate. I write for FootballDiehards.com, Sportsline.com, and ScoutFantasy.com which are part of CBS Sports Fantasy. Once a week I am lucky enough to hop on Sirius XM Fantasy for a segment on the Football Diehards show with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey that is every Wednesday at 7 PM.
How did you become interested in fantasy football?
Sarah: I started playing fantasy football the same way many people get into it. A spot opened up in a family league and they needed a player last minute. I figured the entry fee was very reasonable for almost four months of entertainment.
Plus, I have always enjoyed games of chance that involve an element of number-crunching to improve your odds. Before playing fantasy, I really enjoyed going to the horse track and handicapping the races.
For the last couple of years, I have been the commissioner of an all women's league. It’s super competitive and I would feel confident that these ladies could hang against some of the best fantasy players out there.
Lisa: I joined my first league, a family league, years ago. I was instantly hooked. I ended up adding a 16 team league the next year and getting into dynasty a few years after that. I just kept adding leagues and exploring different aspects of fantasy from there.
Jen: When I was in college, a good friend of mine asked me to join her league. It was her boyfriend's league and she was the only lady in it and I figured "Well, I watch the Cowboys every week, I should be good at this as I know football." I knew football pretty good, but not fantasy football, so needless to say the first 2 seasons I was awful. Then I thought I should put a little bit into it beyond grabbing a magazine from 7-Eleven on my way to the draft. I started doing some research and realized it's a numbers game, and I'm pretty good with numbers. I created a Twitter, was just a Twitter Egg for the longest time and shamelessly asked people who I was a huge fan of questions. Eventually, I got addicted, started winning, created my family league, and then finally discovered bestball in 2015. I haven't looked back.
How did you become a fantasy writer/analyst/podcaster? What made you decide to do this?
Sarah: I don’t know if I would call it an existential awakening or an early mid-life crisis, but I challenged myself to think about something in my life that I truly enjoy. (What’s that saying? If you are passionate about what you do, you’ll never work a whole day in your life). I found that I could go on and on about fantasy football for hours, so I figure I might as well put virtual pen to paper.
I started this journey by getting on Twitter and actively engaging in conversations with the community. I can honestly say that the fantasy community has some of the kindest, honest people I have engaged with in a long time. After a few weeks, I had a couple of editors of different sites reach out about writing. I am now writing weekly for The Fantasy Authority. The contributors are all very passionate about fantasy, and more importantly, are very supportive of each other.
I would also like to add that there is a lot of toxicity and division in this country right now. Fantasy football is one of the few things that people find enjoyment in, regardless of politics, race, age, gender, sexuality, and economic status. It’s a nice reprieve from the news, Facebook political posts, and awkward family dinners.
Lisa: I always loved writing and I loved fantasy football but I never really put the two together until a few years ago when I was doing some slow auctions. I ended up writing a how-to article and creating Rabid.Football. A few months later I was fortunate enough to be approached by Fantasysharks. They are a great site and have been fantastic to write for.
Jen: One of the sites I read every week for research was called The Fantasy Football Librarian, it was run by one of the first ladies I can remember being associated with fantasy football, her name is Sara Holladay. Her site was basically links to all the top content out there with some analysis for her and it was perfect for a research junkie like me. One day, she put up a posting that she was looking for some guest writers. I had always been drawn to writing, I majored in video production and screenwriting in college, but sort of quit the hobby a few years into starting my career. I had just turned 30 and figured "Why not try something I used to love?" So I submitted a guest post to her, began writing a weekly piece.
That gave me some experience and the following year I saw Fantasy Pros put a post up on Twitter that they were looking for people to write news blurbs and compensation was a $500 freeroll on DraftKings. So that hooked me right in. That led to, eventually, two gigs at Blindside Football and Gridiron Experts. A good friend from Blindside, Justin Lonero, began doing work for Football Diehards shortly thereafter. I, of course, knew about Football Diehards from the magazines I bought every summer.
On a whim, I shamelessly reached out to Bob Harris and asked if I could submit a few samples to him. He got back to me in less than 30 minutes and said: "Send them over, kid!" So I did, and I've been with them ever since. This is my fourth year as an "analyst", but truthfully I'm a fan first, I am a much better reader than I am a writer and I read EVERYTHING.
What kind of advice would you give someone who is interested in becoming involved in the fantasy community (whether it be writing, podcasting, etc)?
Sarah: I think Twitter is a great place to start. Early on I followed the big names in fantasy football, but the real gold is the people that engage with those accounts. It’s important to be active when you can, which can be hard if you are not a professional fantasy football analyst. I would say be yourself, talk about what interests you and be open to feedback. And this is probably good life advice, but don’t take things too personally and even the best of the best fantasy professionals aren’t perfect.
Lisa: Just go out and do it. Don’t spend time wallowing in self-doubt, if you want to do something go for it. The Fantasy community overall is amazing. I have connected with so many fantastic people who have so much to teach. I feel like I learn something new every day. It is a wonderful experience so embrace it.
Jen: Get on Twitter. It's really where I feel the connections are made and it's where the jobs are listed. A perfect example is my latest gig with CBS. I saw one of their editor's post on Twitter that they were taking pitches and I just went for it. I would have never known if I didn't have a Twitter page.
Everyone in the Fantasy Twitter world, they are your football friends. Everyone is cool, supportive, and there is always a site looking for content. Just go for it.
What take did you have at the beginning of the season that you think will be spot on when the end of the season rolls around? What is a take that you had that you think you were way off on?
Sarah: I rolled the dice by drafting a lot of shares of John Brown in redraft and best ball. His speed is supersonic and exactly the weapon that Baltimore needed. I think of him as a fresh take on Steve Smith. It’s a make or break year for Flacco, and Brown has been a big contributor to his success so far this season so far.
And I thought the Redskins were crazy for signing Adrian Peterson. My opinion was he was past his prime and since he hadn’t had a solid season in a number of years, he was best left of the waiver wire. He’s doing great so far, and even though I am waiting to see a drop off in production, it hasn’t happened yet.
Lisa: I can’t quit on Garçon and I wonder if Beathard might make that whiff turn into a hit. Jordy Nelson, Kenny Golladay, and Calvin Ridley seem to be working out well. Jared Cook looks good as well. I missed hard on ASJ. Bortles hasn’t been looking his way. Peyton Barber’s quiet start hurts a bit too.
Jen: This is tough, haha. So for my spot on, I think I'd have to say so far I am liking my Quincy Enunwa over Robby Anderson love. His cheap ADP was much more appealing and, as of now, it's paying off pretty good. I know Robby broke out last week, but Enunwa is the superior receiver, despite the ADP.
I am way more off than I am on, and my complete whiff was Patrick Mahomes. I was very much "I don't care about the college tape, the kid has played in one professional football game." I could not have been more wrong. I am also, so far, dead wrong on David Johnson RB1 with 1,000 rushing and receiving. But I blame the coaches for that. :)
Who do you think will be the fantasy MVP this season and why?
Sarah: Easy, Alvin Kamara. A lot of people said that he would regress this year, but I don’t buy it. He’s explosive out of the backfield, and more importantly, he’s consistent. With Mark Ingram, Jr. back from his four-week suspension, we’ll see how it plays out over the season. I believe there are plenty of points to go around and I believe the will compliment each other as they did in 2017.
Lisa: The quarterback numbers have been stupid good this year so Mahomes might top the league in points but given the numbers put up by quarterbacks like Trubisky this week and Matt Ryan over the last few weeks I think the real MVP will be the top tier running back that stays healthy for the season. Right now Gurley and Kamara are my top picks.
Jen: Mahomes because people love quarterbacks, and he probably finishes QB1.
What is one thing that you think more fantasy leagues should implement?
Sarah: I really wish more leagues would implement FAAB-based (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) waiver policy. It is a fairer process so players who do well are not at a disadvantage. Some people ride the waivers weekly, which definitely makes things interesting, but FAAB adds an extra element of strategy to the game.
Lisa: Blind bid waivers. There should be parity on the waiver wire.
Jen: Eliminate the voting on trades. Adopt the rule I implemented in my family league that, we all pretty much agree, saved the league.
A few years ago, a husband and wife tried to trade Philip Rivers for Matt Forte straight up. The league went nuts and vetoed it. I expressed that I didn't agree with vetoes and that we are adults who can manage our own teams. But we had to come up with a collusion solution. I proposed that all trades are immediately accepted and at the end of the season, if someone feels collusion occurred, we vote on that. If the league votes that the two teams colluded, they are kicked out of the league.
The following season, my brother-in-law tried to trade someone who was injured, I can't even remember who, to his father for Calvin Johnson. His father was 0-6 and hadn't set a lineup in like 3 weeks. He logged in under his dad's account and made the trade.
Within 30 minutes of the email going out, the family group text blew up and everyone told him they were voting him out of the league at the end of the season. Sure enough, he logged back in and canceled it. So, that process worked for our crazy family, it can work for any league.
What do you think the biggest misconception about women playing fantasy football is?
Sarah: I am not sure if people know that a large community of women fantasy football players exists. I used to make small talk with female strangers and acquaintances about the weather, but I am discovering more and more that I can fantasy football is on the list of easy conversations. And not only are there plenty of casual players, but there are a ton of serious fans that all have great input to add on the game.
Lisa: That women don’t love football. It is sometimes presumed there is a man behind a woman’s winning team. Everyone can enjoy football, regardless of gender…except for Dolphins fans. We are pretty much doomed.
Jen: That we can't really understand football, and therefore fantasy football, because we probably didn't play it. I didn't need to play football to understand it growing up, my mom is a psychotic Cowboys fan. Every Sunday of my life was devoted to football. I was so confident as a child in my football knowledge that, when the Cowboys and Jimmy Johnson parted ways, I wrote a letter to Jerry Jones explaining to him that I was ready to ditch the 4th grade and come coach his team to another Super Bowl. (He did not accept my offer, or write back).
Fighting Chance Fantasy is excited to have these wonderful women take part in this roundtable, and we look forward to the next installment. Please feel free to check out the work of those previewed in this article as well as the first installment.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @thekaceykasem