The 2016 Fake Football Writing Contest: Round 3 July 29, 2016  |  Chet

Hello all you fake football writers and aspiring writers! Welcome to round three, the final round of our 2016 writing contest. First off, let me thank our sponsor Fantasy Pros for providing prizes. Second off, a reminder of our prizes for the overall winners here:


Overall 1st Place: $250 cold hard PayPal cash & a fully loaded Draft Wizard from Fantasy Pros.

Overall 2nd Place: $150 cold hard PayPal cash & a fully loaded Draft Wizard from Fantasy Pros..

Overall 3rd place: $100 cold hard PayPal cash & a fully loaded Draft Wizard from Fantasy Pros.

PLUS! If you are so inclined, first place will be given a weekly platform on The Fake Football to spout off fake football knowledge.

PLUS! PLUS! You will get your work read by some of the best fantasy writers in the business and a ton of experience in writing about fake sports for a deadline and with a predetermined topic, both integral parts of making it in the freelance fake sports writing business.


Thank you to everyone who has participated so far in the contest. As the judges will attest, this has not been an easy task. If you haven’t been mentioned or are just out of the top 3, don’t get too down on yourselves. The competition is great and we’ve seen plenty of deserving entries. We’re now on our final leg of this journey and I can’t thank everyone enough for all the time and effort you have put into this exercise. And yes, it is an exercise and you must keep exercising your writing and analytical skills to get better. If you’re really interested in writing as a hobby that might lead into a real job, then practice is of course the only way to get better. I hope we’ve helped you get started on a fun journey!

I’d like to thank our celebrity judges, Jody Smith, Dalton Del Don and Phil Alexander for all their help! It’s not an easy job reading through 30 plus articles with an inquisitors eye!


Before we get to the winners, here’s judge Jody Smith with some thoughts on judging this round:

First I’d like to say that it was an honor to act as a guest judge for The Fake Football Writing Contest Round 2. I think there were 31 entries and I read each and every one of them.

I wasn’t sure how to approach critiquing these pieces. Part of me realized that most authors are probably fantasy football fanatics and are eager to explore the glory of a zero-to-low paying career writing about fantasy football. But as someone who climbed that ladder and has edited countless articles over the years, I knew it was necessary to take a professional approach- even if the feedback was tough.

In the end, I found my inner-Simon Cowell and looked at things as an independent editor. I took into consideration many factors, including length, humor, data, flow and grammar. The fact that the top three here are being given a substantial cash prize and, more importantly, a path to a great job writing for an established site means I have to be tough, but fair. This is a wonderful opportunity that many of us, including myself, never had.

While a couple of pieces were dismissed as they clearly weren’t proofread, I came away impressed with the overall quality of aspiring writers out there. Our industry is heading into new and exciting places.

Some free advice I’d give to those lucky enough to move into Round 3 is to get your names correct. Jamaal Charles, Ezekiel Elliott, Philip Rivers and Le’Veon Bell have tricky names and were misspelled quite frequently. It’s not a huge deal, but to the trained eye, first impressions matter, and just know that there is a big percentage of trolls out there who love nothing more than tearing people apart for minor typos.

All that said, by in large I am encouraged that many of the budding writers here have a future in this should they pursue it. For those that don’t make it, don’t let that discourage you. If you’re passionate enough about being a fantasy writer, then keep working hard to improve your craft and knock down those doors. If you work hard and are good enough at what you do, you’ll find a way to make it.


Now onto the winners!


Honorable Mention


Brennan Gray — Brennan’s piece about not heading into the draft married to a rigid strategy was outstanding. This was one of the more data-centric contest entries and Brennan did a great job presenting his research in a way that didn’t overwhelm the reader. When he cited another author’s work, he didn’t just present it as his own argument. Instead, he used it as a springboard to launch into his own research, which allowed him to hammer his point all the way home. Brennan has an original and entertaining voice. This was a professional fantasy football article by any measure. — Phil Alexander

Brennan Gray — Superb use of advanced metrics, charts and data. Excellent job linking to outside sources to validate your data. I enjoyed the traffic analogy, gif files and humor. Many websites would happily publish this piece as is. — Jody Smith

Jackson Safon — I’m a sucker for “Breaking Bad,” but what I really liked about this one is how it spoke about specific players. That not only made it stand out among many that were based solely on general strategy tips (it’s tough to have truly new ideas there these days), but Safon brought relevant and interesting stats to back up his arguments (while still relating to strategy). Whether Safon is right or wrong ultimately about his “attack” and “avoid” stances, his defenses definitely back up the main premise regarding upside versus floor. — Dalton Del Don

Matthew Irby — I thought this was a very strong read and extremely well-written. Stats and data referenced were all excellent- as was linking to the outside source. I wouldn’t hesitate to publish this piece with some minor polish, like adding a title and bold headers to break up the flow. — Jody Smith

Ryan McCann — Really enjoyed the opening and the use of personal rankings. This one was close to making the top-three for me. — Dalton Del Don

Robert Riegel — Strong title and it paid off well at the end. Excellent use of AP-style, headers and flow. The topics were well constructed and the information and advice were solid. Most importantly, this didn’t need an edit and I felt like it was publish-ready. — Jody Smith


Third Place

Ian Braden

I knew immediately after reading Ian’s introduction his article would be tough to knock out of first place for me. The Charlie & The Chocolate Factory opening was laugh-out-loud funny but more importantly, it did what any good intro should do — grabbed my attention and made me want to read the entire article. Ian’s writing was clean, his advice was sound, and he did a nice job backing up his assertions with data (without going overboard). In particular, I found myself rethinking my own tight-end strategy after reading his thoughts on evaluating tight ends as if they were receivers. Overall, this was an entertaining, informative and concise fantasy football article. I would look forward to reading more from Ian. — Phil Alexander

I liked the opening. Thought it was humorous and set the article up to be a unique comparison Flow was excellent. Kept me engaged and interested. Data/charts were informative. Consistently, and not overwhelmingly kept the Chocolate Factory jokes flowing in a sensible manner — Jody Smith



Second Place

Chris Manni

Clean, well-written and with a good use of informative charts, this one was my favorite, but I want to be clear there were many worthy entries, including others I don’t mention here. Manni’s anecdote about his brother made me laugh while hammering home what seems to be an emerging theme entering this season (being contrarian to the previously contrarian Zero RB strategy since it’s become so common). I learned some things reading this piece. Well done. — Dalton Del Don

I would have zero problem publishing and promoting this right now- as it. It was that good. Word count and flow were good. Chris let the reader know what the article was about with an excellent opening paragraph that went well with the conclusion. I loved that he presented a case and allowed the reader to draw their own conclusion, rather than trying to force a particular agenda. I enjoyed the subtle humor and the colored spread sheets stood out as informative and professional and would easily encourage a reader to read on. — Jody Smith



First Place

Scott Cedar

Very strong opening statement with the Indiana Jones and Saved by the Bell references. I also enjoyed the strikethrough later. Scott did a good job with use of humor, but also didn’t overdo it. The first spreadsheet used looks great- especially with the color, but the second charts with the side-by-side ADP breakdown were superb and a unique reference point that no other entry utilized quite as well. He also used outside links and bold type for player names, nearly to perfection. The conclusion also reexamined the intro paragraph, and the styling, use of data, and humor throughout were enough to overcome 3 minor misspelled names and make this my favorite in a deep class. — Jody Smith

I enjoyed (and related to) the Indiana Jones analogy in Scott’s intro. He has a conversational style to his writing that made this an entertaining read and he did a nice job mixing in humor throughout (his line about plodding running backs who come to your party, clog your toilet and then hang around like nothing ever happened gave me a chuckle). While the article mapped out a quality draft plan, a darkhorse candidate for the best advice Scott gave was not drafting a kicker unless you’re required to, so you can hold onto a high upside position player until right before the season starts — one of my trademark moves. Great job here by Scott. This was very well-written. — Phil Alexander

A nice opening followed by a strong pop culture reference that he soon relates to overall strategy. Ceda utilizes charts well with strong data and analysis in which he gives his opinions on numerous players throughout. There are many noteworthy stats in here that are both useful and not necessarily widely known. — Dalton Del Don
Congratulations Scott and everyone!

The final round starts now!

Prompt: For this prompt finding sleepers is your task. Defining “sleeper” is an impossible job, but we mostly understand what it means: a player you can get “late” in a draft who you believe will finish the season as a fantasy value. You can go in-depth on one player, choose a position, list 100 players, however you would like to give us a player or players you believe will greatly outplay their current average draft position. Good luck!

Where and When? Send all submissions attached in a Word document with the file named after you — “Your Name” and the subject line: “TFF Round 3” to by Friday August 5th, 10pm central.

Our final round judges will be Rich Hill, David Gonos and Bob Harris

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