If you know me you know I live and breath fantasy football. I'm constantly researching, reading, writing and listening to podcasts about this time consuming hobby. When I stumbled upon CBS' fantasy football podcast I discovered Dave Richard, who quickly became one of my favorite fantasy writers. In a world of injuries and uncertainty he's right way more often than he's wrong. As the 2012 season rapidly approaches, Dave agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about his thoughts on fantasy sleepers, his pro wrestling Mount Rushmore, and how he got the coolest job in the world.
You went to the alma mater of the best linebacker in NFL history. The U must have been an awesome experience. Any good stories?
Dave: My best story is unbelieveable, but I have friends who can back it up. Part of my time at The U was when we were on our probationary period, so we were thin on scholarships, not to mention student athletes who wanted to play. I'm about 6-foot-4 and at that time I was probably right at 300 pounds, way more fat than muscle but a big guy. A coach came up to me as I was leaving the cafeteria and asked if I'd like to try out for the team. Specifically, he asked "Would you like to play football with us?" I turned down high school coaches who asked me the same thing four years earlier but thought about this offer until my Dad said, "I'm not paying all this tuition money for you to play football and break something." That ended my football career.
You got your start at a pro wrestling website and I remember you mentioning you went to Wrestlemania earlier this year. Who would be in your Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling?
Dave: I'd go with Stone Cold, The Rock, C.M. Punk and Jake Roberts. Keep in mind, that's *my* Mount Rushmore of wrestling and not who I consider to be the four best wrestlers of all-time.
How did you go from covering pro wrestling to the Fantasy Football biz? Were you a fan of fantasy sports when you were hired?
Dave: When I worked for WrestleLine.com, I was part of the CBSSports.com (then CBS SportsLine) family. About 18 months after I started they moved me to work on NFL.com as part of an agreement with the league and I did that for five seasons. During that time I wrote a lot, mainly doing quirky Q&As and Fantasy Football. When I started, I was their only Fantasy Football writer, so I feel like I was the NFL's first guy. My first uncovered gem was Antonio Gates.
What's the best and worst part about your job?
Dave: The worst part of my job is being wrong. I take the responsibility of being a Fantasy writer very seriously. I push myself hard starting in July, watching as much football as possible, reading as much as possible, listening and talking to people as much as possible. And I do it all so I can provide the best analysis that I can. So when I put in all that effort and get a sleeper or a bust wrong, I really beat myself up over it -- pretty much to the point where people who write me telling me how much I suck can't come close to doing any damage to my psyche because I've already smacked myself around.
There's literally about 50 things I love about my job but the best part is that I'm not a ditch digger or a chimney sweeper. I'm not an accountant or a lawyer. I'm not stuck in a routine job doing something I don't genuinely love. The best career advice I can give anyone is to do something you love, work to be the best at it, and you'll be happier than you could ever imagine. I learned that in life it's better to be happy than rich or revered.
I listen to alot of fantasy football podcasts (more than the normal person should) and I gotta say Jamey Eisenberg, Adam Aizer, and you have the best balance of information and personality of all of them by far. Where does that chemistry come from? How do you figure out the topic for each show?
Dave: You know, that compliment really means a lot to me and I will pass it along to Jamey and Adam. Thank you. The chemistry comes from us being friends, working in close proximity to each other for a long time and going to lunch often. And we happen to be exactly the same way off-air as we are on-air. We've had listeners come and visit us and they're surprised, almost giddy, to learn that we're basically the same whether we have a mic on us or not. We all have a very healthy respect for each other and we all love Fantasy Football, so it only makes sense that we get along.
Adam usually collects the news and notes and we collaborate on the topics to discuss. A lot of the ideas we get come from what people are talking about on Twitter. Our most recent podcast featured a friend of mine, NFL capologist Joel Corry, who talked about the dangers of trusting players who get huge contracts. That all started on Twitter when LeSean McCoy signed his big contract.
Whats the best meal you've ever had?
Dave: Dude, I've made eating a priority in my life. I can't narrow it down to one single meal. For my 35th birthday I had all my family and friends meet me in Chicago and we got pizzas from every established pizzeria in town. My wife and I go on vacation every summer before the season and we once had Delmonico's Steakhouse in Las Vegas and it was impeccable. I was literally pounding the table in delight as I chewed. My wife is an incredible cook in her own right and can make a killer lasagne or anything else I can think up. And one of the best burger places in America is like a 30 minute drive from my office (Charm City Burger Co.). Don't make me pick.
Give us some good sleepers for 2012. I'm talking DEEP sleepers.
Dave: Are we talking deep as in Round 12 or 13 in a standard league or Round 28 in a mega-deep league? Are we talking IDPs or not? And are you asking me this for your teams?! Here are some names of players I would consider drafting after Round 11 in any league, in order of most general leagues to deeper/dynasty leagues: Joe Flacco, Mike Goodson, Brandon LaFell, Jerome Simpson, Emmanuel Sanders, Isaiah Pead, Martellus Bennett, Curtis Brinkley, Michael Egnew, Brandon Weeden, Randall Cobb, Chris Rainey, Taylor Thompson, Travis Benjamin, Ladarius Green, Bryce Brown.
What is your favorite type of fantasy football league to partake in?
Dave: I started a league at CBSSports.com where we have anywhere from 22 to 30 owners every year. It's 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (can include QB), 1 K, 1 DST with weighted scoring for every position. I think it's 1/2 point PPR for RBs, 1 point PPR for WRs and 1 1/2 point PPR for TEs. I think passing touchdowns are worth four points each. And you have only five bench spots. It's madness!
What are some fellow fantasy football writers you enjoy reading/watching/listening to?
Dave: OK, I'm probably going to come out sounding like a jerk on this but so be it: I don't want to be influenced by a competing Fantasy writer. During the season I won't read any of them other than what they Tweet, and I only follow a few -- most of whom most people have never heard of. The point is that I want to form my own opinions and do my own research and not read or hear something from someone else that could change my mind without doing the work. I also don't ever, ever want to get accused of plagiarism, which I consider to be the ultimate sin in journalism. It's got to be my own take, period. People read, listen and watch CBS because they want my opinion or Jamey's opinion, so I sure as heck won't give them someone else's opinion.
Who are some big name guys you plan on staying away from in drafts this summer?
Dave: Adrian Peterson is the biggest. I know a lot of people compare him to Superman but he's still coming back from a devastating knee injury. I'd be stunned if the Vikings gave him 20 touches per game in September. One aspect no one's talking about is that the Vikings are still rebuilding and in a tough division. Expectations aren't high. Why would the Vikings put their franchise player at risk any more than they have to? They want him available to play when they get that shiny new stadium in a few years, right? Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they put him on the PUP list to start the season. You won't catch me drafting him with a Top 30 pick unless it's a dynasty league.
Tell the readers why they should do their fantasy football leagues thru CBS instead of the "other guys".
Dave: Well, we've been hosting Fantasy games since 1996, back when we were CBS SportsLine and the Internet was a figurative infant. We've served as the industry standard for reliability since that time. Our site is easy to use and easy on the eyes, and our draft room as been consistently simple and fun. And starting this year, we've opened our fantasy platform to app developers to come in and build products and tools integrated directly into our games to help people with their drafts and leagues. So now people can find their "secret edge" to help them win. You've heard the term "You get what you pay for?" I'm confident that people join and stay with CBSSports.com for fantasy sports because they realize our Commissioner game as well as our Premium games are superior to the other options.