OpinionJanuary 17, 2008


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Fantasy Sports Writer Review

By Jeff LaGrassa

I’ve been a fantasy football enthusiast since the beginning of the decade, so I have read and continue to read a ton of fantasy football articles. In reading articles, I’ve come up with some strong opinions about certain writers and the following is an attempt to explain my likes and dislikes. No attempt is made to actually quantify the expertise of these writers; if someone had the time or the inclination it might be useful to track the success rate of the predictions made by these writers. Failing that, I can only offer my general opinion on the extent of their fantasy football knowledge and writing styles, which may be biased.

On that note, here’s a word of caution: I’m typically biased towards writers who use a little humor in their work, those who format their articles for ease of reading, and those who go out on a limb with their predictions. In reading all these articles, it’s difficult to get excited about someone who may have a ton of fantasy football expertise but whose work comes off as dry and boring to read. Additionally, practically anyone can make vanilla predictions to start commonly known studs and bench weaker players with poor matchups, and I give kudos to those who think outside of the box and put their necks on the line, right or wrong.

The Best

• Brad Evans (Yahoo! Sports) – His ‘Bring The Noise’ weekly column is everything a great fantasy football article should be: it’s one of the funniest in the business, easy to read, and Evans goes out on a limb to recommend ‘flames’ and ‘lames’ each week. He also prints the worst e-mails from his readers and takes the abuse in stride. One of my favorites.

• John Tuvey/Bo Mitchell/Paul Charchian (Fanball) – The editors of Fanball have long balanced expert analysis with witty writing. They seem to have an uncanny knack for slipping in an amusing metaphor or simile into their articles that references current events without seeming contrived or forced. “Vanderjagt displayed all the accuracy of Dick Cheney with a rifle” is a good example of one that gave me belly laughs. Unfortunately, where Fanball used to be based primarily on fantasy football, they have expanded to other fantasy sports which has detracted somewhat from the football content, in my opinion.

• John Hansen (Yahoo! Sports) – The “Stock Watch” article that the Fantasy Guru writes is a weekly waiver wire article which is candid, funny, and easy to read despite usually being a very lengthy piece. My only suggestion for John would be that his article typically comes out too late in the week after prime waiver wire pickups have long been snatched.

• Matthew Berry (ESPN) – Despite the awful choice of moniker, “The Talented Mr. Roto”, Berry’s articles are very funny and well written, and I look forward to his Love/Hate article each week. The only thing with Berry is that as strong as his fantasy football analysis is, it seems to pale in comparison to his fantasy baseball knowledge and the effort he puts into the latter. Sometimes I wonder if fantasy football is almost an afterthought and just something he does to pass the time in between baseball season.

 
The Rest

• Greg Rosenthal (Rotoworld) – Rosenthal’s writing, especially in his “The Morning After” column on Mondays, is simply a joy to read. He usually picks out the funniest moments from the previous day’s action, but he also delivers some solid fantasy advice.

• Vinnie Iyer and Ladd Biro (SportingNews.com) – Next to Fanball, the SportingNews guys provide arguably the highest quality fantasy football analysis. Their articles might be a little on the dry side, but they try to spice it up as best as they can.

• Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Sports) – As the relative newcomer on the scene, I like Behrens writing style and his aggressiveness. Although he got roasted this year (justifiably so, imo) for recommending that people draft the Chicago defense in the 5th round in re-draft leagues, which is simply just an enormous waste of value.

• Brandon Funston (Yahoo! Sports) – A few years ago I used to hammer Funston on his questionable knowledge and advice, but I think he’s come around significantly in recent times. He updates his ‘Big Board’ throughout the year and it’s supposedly “a cheat sheet designed for a fantasy owner who is planning to participate in a draft today.” Funston gets tons of abuse from both sides – some folks gripe when he is overly rigid with his list and struggling studs aren’t demoted fast enough, and this year the pendulum may have perhaps swung too far the other way – he moves recent shining stars up the board too fast. His NFL Skinny articles are a more useful resource, imo.

• Dave Richards and Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com) – Similar to the SportingNews guys, the CBSSports.com articles might not be the most stimulating reading material in the world, but the fantasy football analysis is usually solid.

• Mike Harmon (FoxSports.com) – I liked Harmon’s work a lot better when he was with Yahoo! Sports. His articles at FoxSports are typically dry and boring to read. Sometimes I struggle making it through the entire article.

The Bottom Dwellers

• Peter King (SI.com) – King, along with many other NFL insiders and talk show hosts, may have vast expertise, knowledge, and inside connections within the NFL but aren’t able to translate that to the world of fantasy football. They have little experience and participation in actual fantasy leagues and their understanding of common concepts such as average draft position, tiering, lack of stud repeatability from year to year with kickers and defenses, etc. is poor. They may recommend drafting a player several rounds too early, or trading for a player long after the trade deadline has passed.

• Michael Fabiano (NFL.com) – I have not read an extensive amount of material from Fabiano since he transitioned to NFL.com, but he did not hold a very high reputation in the years preceding that. In fact, along with Roger Rotter, Fabiano is one of the very few fantasy sports writers that people deliberately asked that his advice NOT be posted on fantasy football message boards for fear of inadvertently leading newbies astray.

• Roger Rotter (FoxSports.com) – Rotter is one of the few fantasy sports writers whom I’ve seen openly lampooned. I’ve frankly seen far too many head-scratchers from him over the years. It doesn’t help that his articles are usually sleep-inducing.

 
Jeff LaGrassa is a Steelers fan and Cafe regular. Besides fantasy football, he enjoys disc golf, skiing, winemaking, and playing the electric bass. You can catch him posting in the Cafe's forums as The Lung.
 
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