The Expert on Fantasy Experts
August 30, 2012 | C.D. Carter
Zach Law is the Mike Wallace of fantasy football.
And by Mike Wallace, I don’t mean the longtime preseason holdout and spur in the side of Steelers management, of course. I’m referring to the late journalism legend who interviewed what amounted to every important person on the planet during his four decades on 60 Minutes.
So yeah, Zach is fantasy football’s Mike Wallace, making a name for interviewing those deepest in the fake football rabbit hole, obsessives who shape the way owners draft, trade, and manage their squads. Zach, over the past three years, has interviewed 50 of the most prescient, best known fantasy pros on the Internet.
For your reading pleasure, Zach has compiled the reams of interview transcripts gathering on his computer and piled the words of fantasy gold into a thick electronic tome, “There Is No Offseason: The First 50 Interviews From The Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert Series.”
I recently snatched the recording devices from Zach and asked him a few questions about “There Is No Offseason,” available on Amazon.
The book won’t give you the lowdown on whether to risk your fantasy life on Chris Johnson or Darren McFadden in this year’s first round. It won’t tell you which QB2 has the most potential. In contains precious little about Alfred Morris.
The book does, however, impart lasting fantasy knowledge from people obsessed with figuring out the maddening game. Piecing together principles from the 50 interviews will create a reliable fantasy football framework, an outline of basics that, if followed, will give you a structurally sound roster, year after year.
(Side note: I’m auditioning to be Zach’s PR man. He’s an industry unto himself.)
But seriously, read it, learn, and apply lessons from 50 of the greatest minds in fake pigskin.
C.D. Carter: Picking the brains of fantasy aficionados, I think, is genius. Tell us all about how this idea burrowed itself into your feverish, fantasy-addled brain.
Zach Law: I wrote for a now-defunct fantasy site in 2005, and after taking some time off and writing blogs that I didn’t care if one person read (my dream often came true), I wanted back in. There were at least ten times the fantasy experts in the field and I knew I didn’t have the desire, work ethic, or time to get myself up to speed. I decided to interview the experts, and after making the acquaintance of a few on Twitter, I got to work.
C.D. Carter: How have your interviews changed? Have there been any interviewing techniques that work better than others? Tell us the secrets of your relentless, Cronkite-like prying.
Zach Law: I tried a combination of emailed questions and a phone conversation with my first interview with Andy Miley (cofounder of DynastyBlitz.com). I haven’t really strayed from the core concept of the interviews, which is to find out as much about the person as about their online fantasy persona. I have my standard boilerplate questions that change whether we’re talking about the regular season, the NFL draft season, and those sad late spring and early summer months when football seems furthest away.
Everyone’s been very generous with their time and I’ve had almost 100 percent acceptance for the interviews. Fantasy football folks are nicer than Mormons on the average, I’ve found.
C.D. Carter: What was the best piece of advice in all of the first 50 fantasy expert interviews you conducted? Was it just plain old logic? Was it Zen like? Did it involved mathematical wizardry? Did it, by any chance, involve animal sacrifices? Because I’ll do…anything.
Zach Law: I don’t think I can distill it to one piece of advice. There’s so much fantasy knowledge out there that you have to find the voices you like the best and always look for new people. The more input you get, the better you’re going to be when it’s time to put together a fantasy roster. Unless you’re like me and fall in love with more players than you could possibly pick up.
I could make a joke and say I’m doing the interviews merely so the experts will answer my questions when I direct message them on Twitter. I’ll do that plenty, and you’re on my list, Carter. I’ve found some real friends out of this process, and I sometimes imagine what it would be like if 50 fantasy football experts lived in the same neighborhood. The BBQ would be fantastic, I’ll tell you that much.
C.D. Carter: Your interview subjects hail from all manner of backgrounds, but what, exactly, seemed to be the driver behind their fantasy fascination?
Zach Law: There has to be a driver there, because I’d say that out of the 50 I interviewed, 10 at most make a living off the game. Everyone has a deep love for the sport, and the desire to humiliate their friends in local keeper leagues. There is no such thing as figuring out fantasy football, but that’s not stopping people from trying.
Adam Carolla infamously says on his podcast that if you’re doing something in life, it should either make you money or make you happy. The people who take a deep dive into fantasy football have those two bases covered.
C.D. Carter: Have there been any jarring responses to your questions? Does anything stand out to you as particularly shocking?
Zach Law: I wasn’t shocked that most people declined to take on the “football or sex” question directly. When they did, I got great answers like Cecil Lammey referring to himself as a “Sexual Tyrannosaurus” and a few responses that told me that for some fantasy experts, they review certain game film that has nothing to do with football.
There were a lot of impressive day jobs, from Austin Lee’s work at Pixar to Joe Bryant of Bryant Boats to Lammey working for ESPN, and of course, Fantasy Jedi, who is the only single dad in Houston, apparently.
C.D. Carter: When can we expect your next fantasy football expert interview opus?
Zach Law: I’m not sure if I will accelerate my interviews. For now one a week seems to be about right. If that’s the case, “There Still Is No Off-Season” could be on the electronic shelves late next summer. Featured articles will include C.D. Carter and my dad.
Finally I will say, buy my book. Sure, I had the interviews on my site for almost a year.
But here’s what you’re getting that wasn’t available for free: The interviews were actually proofread this time, and not just by me. You’ll find out “where are they now” for each interviewee. That’s a good thing because Josh Moore’s quite possibly in some kind of witness protection program and Chet is writing for another new dozen fantasy sites. Also, you get it all in one place instead of having to do all that annoying clicking. The finished product is almost novel length, more than 90,000 words of fantasy football expert goodness.
And unless you hate laughing or fantasy or both, check out Zach’s interview with his dad, Old Bob Law, and find out why Zach’s old man named his fantasy squad the Two Condom Knights.