Well, I win.
No, I'm not referring to a game or a championship. I'm talking about a goal.
I get the question, "How did you get this job?" all the time and now I would like to share a large part of that journey (cue the wavy flashback lines)...
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When I was in middle school, I first noticed my step-dad Troy taking part in a fantasy football league. I had no idea what it was or what it entailed. But, I knew it had to do with watching football and competing, and that's all that I needed to know.
Every week, we would set the lineup of the Chicago Fire in his touchdown-only league. Then, I would sit in front of the TV with a legal pad and chart the points scored between our team and our opponent for that week. There wasn't a site to check how the teams were doing, but every Wednesday there would be a newsletter in the mail from the commissioner with the results and standings.
For years I would be the "assistant GM/coach/talent scout/etc." We had great teams and not so good teams, but we always had fun.
Last season was my final year as an assistant. We made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but lost in the final game (thanks a lot, Andrew Luck).
I say that it was my final season as an assistant not for sad reasons, but because there was finally an opening in the league and I will now be a full-time owner. I actually wouldn't mind staying as a co-owner, but I saw how happy it made Troy knowing that I was an official owner of a team in the NFFL. Plus, we doubled our chances to win and keep the trophy in the family.
Now, I say that "I win" at the beginning of this piece because I go from a middle school sports geek to working in the fantasy football business, and I know that the chance of becoming an owner in this league was a big motivation through it all. I wanted to keep my skills sharp.
It was in that league where I would write matchup previews before every Sunday. I took that passion and humor to my own league that I started in college with my friends. In fact, I still write previews (I think I turned it into "recaps" now) every week...when time permits. One of my friends in that league is Ryan Fowler. For those who don't know, Fowler is the head fantasy sports editor at FOX Sports. He saw my abilities and knew that it would translate well into a larger scale. Heck, most of this research and articles I would do on my own even if I wasn't a member of the FOX Sports family.
So, here I am, a fantasy sports contributor at FOX Sports and providing you with the same information that I will use for myself in the upcoming season.
Now, let's get to the keeper league advice...
1. Who do you keep?
It seems as though everybody is transitioning their fantasy football league into a keeper format. And, while it takes a lot of commitment from the fellow owners, it also changes the drafting drastically. There are some leagues where you can keep a player based on the round he was drafted (Ex. If Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted in the 13th round in 2014, then it would cost you your 13th round pick to keep him. That way, the better drafters are rewarded). There are also leagues where you just keep two or three players with no stipulations at all. If you league is the latter, I would consult our 2015 Fantasy Football Rankings page and do the math based on how many keepers you get and how many teams are in your league.
For instance, if you are in a 12-team, three-player keeper league, I would only hang on to the people listed in the top 36 (12 x 3 = 36).
2. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon?
One of the best things about keeper leagues is that every rookie is up for grabs on draft day.
In that TD-only league I mentioned before, I have the first pick and I'm torn on who to select (my three keepers would likely be Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, and Lamar Miller).
Do you take the explosive running back who rushed for over 3,200 yards (6.4 yards per attempt) and scored just as many TDs rushing as he did receiving (36), but has ACL issues and will likely miss the start of the 2015 season? Or, do sign the rookie RB who tallied just over 4,900 rushing yards (7.8 yards per carry) and notched 32 total TDs in his senior season?
Gurley has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson and could be one of the most dominant running backs in the NFL. However, you can't escape the fact that eyes will constantly be on his legs and guys will hold their breath with every cut and tackle.
Gordon is a solid running back in his own regard. He has been compared to players all across the spectrum. From Jamaal Charles to Andre Ellington to Chris Johnson, it seems as though no one really has the perfect match for Gordon. He will likely start immediately for San Diego, especially now that Ryan Mathews is no longer in the picture.
So, the question I present to you is, "How much do you like to gamble?" The safe move is taking Gordon. Gurley has the bigger upside, but comes with a heavy risk. I like to roll the dice.
3. Play for the future
As you draft, while one idiot will spend a 10th round pick on Stephen Gostkowski, make the smart decision and pull the trigger on rookies or backup running backs. We all know the players like Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon will get selected earlier than expected in a keeper environment, but don't be afraid to look farther down the list at guys like David Cobb, Javorius ("Buck") Allen, and Tyler Lockett.