All Star week is nearly over and with it another Interrogate the Industry. This week I was able to get Nick Raducanu (@projectroto) to answer some questions. It is hard to believe that this is the eighth one already, but with so many fantastic options in the industry to interview there could be countless more.
Having a week off from fantasy baseball matchups and being able to focus on the All Star festivities in Minneapolis, roster tweaking, and of course my latest addiction MFL10′s, it was very nice. Hopefully some of my injury plagued teams are getting back on track I am planning on having a special insider for the tenth one, so get ready, or feel free to guess away. I am asking more questions so I will keep the intro on the short side this week and get right to it. Enjoy! – Chris Meyers
Interrogate the Industry No.8: Nick Raducanu
1. Everyone got their Fantasy Industry start somewhere. Talk about yours as brief or detailed as you like.
I never really started out with a master plan to become a fantasy analyst or anything like that. I had been playing (and relatively succeeding) in fantasy sports for a while and one day just decided I’d start a Twitter account to dish out advice to anyone who wanted it. I had just finished 17th on the ESPN fantasy leaderboard that year, so I figured that gave me some credibility and I started the whole “FantasyTrade411/TraderX” thing on Twitter. People seemed to get into it and I eventually decided I wanted to give advice in more than 140 characters, so I bought a web domain and started a (very shoddy) blog using GoDaddy. I won’t bore you with the details of the twists and turns along the way, but that was just over three years ago and my road has involved many hours of late-night writing and drawing the wrath of a wife who (rightfully) thought I was spending too much time writing about fantasy sports. Writing about fantasy sports is most definitely a labor of love sometimes, but it’s been a fun journey that I’m thankful I’ve been able to explore.
There are way too many people to name who have helped me along the way, but a few that come to mind are Derek Van Riper (Rotowire) and Patrick DiCaprio (FantasyPros911) for giving me my first bigger outlet gigs, Rick Wolf (of Rotoworld at the time) for giving me a needed reality check when I was getting a little big for my britches after “whole” five months of writing, Goose of FantasyRundown for always posting my articles, Dr. Roto (of RotoExperts) for having me on his SiriusXM Fantasy show every week, Steve Alexander (Rotoworld) and Justin Salbich (New York Times) for being great bosses, Jake Ciely (Football.com/RotoExperts)/Josh Moore (4for4.com), David Gonos (DavidGonos.com!!), and countless others for always being willing to serve as a sounding board or give me advice. And that’s not including anyone who has ever written for FantasyTrade411/ProjectRoto (too many to mention, but you know who you are)…without all their hard work, the sites would have had died on the vine a LONG time ago.
2. When it comes to fantasy leagues would you rather be in ten leagues and win one championship? Or make the playoffs in ten of ten and fall short of a championship?
That’s an interesting question. I actually play anywhere from 10-20 (sometimes more) leagues for all four major fantasy sports, so my first inclination is to say 10 leagues. I like being able to own different players, try out different strategies, and see how different league mates manage their team, but that’s obviously quite a time consuming endeavor. I’d also be voluntarily signing up to be the early-90’s Buffalo Bills in that scenario, however, so I think I’ll follow Ricky Bobby’s “if you ain’t first, you’re last” way of living here and choose this mythical Peyton Manning/Jamaal Charles/LeSean McCoy/Megatron/Dez Bryant/Jimmy Graham team that you’re offering me.
3. Are there any players in Fantasy Baseball you can foresee turning it around and having a great second half? If so who and why?
I don’t think he’ll finish with 50 home runs, but I still (maybe stubbornly) think Chris Davis is in for a big second half. His BABIP has never been fantastic, but he’s about .75 points below his career norm, he’s been showing better plate discipline this year, and his HR/FB ratio is on-par with his career averages. He won’t finish as a Top 10 player like most drafted him to be, but there are indicators that make me think Davis is a good buy-low guy right now, considering he’s currently the 27th-best first baseman in fantasy.
I also think Jason Kipnis is another good buy low. Most owners drafted him in the second or third round and he’s currently the 18th-best second baseman in fantasy. After an injury-plagued start to the season, he’s finally starting to (sort of) turn things around. He’s hit .267 with nine steals in June and July and he also has a HR/FB ratio this year that is a good 6% lower than his career norms. I don’t think we’re going to get a first or second round value out of Kipnis, but I still think you can get a nice high-upside player on the cheap if you can convince a frustrated owner to sell low (and if you’re looking for another Indian to buy low on, give Carlos Santana a long look).
I’m not as sold on this one, but if you can get him really cheap, I think Matt Cain might be on the verge of turning things around. His walks are up and his strikeouts are down, but he also hasn’t lost any velocity and his HR/FB ratio is a bit inflated as compared to his career averages. I don’t think Cain will be a Top 20 pitcher or anything like that in the second half, but he’ll be better than his first half performance that should have his owners selling cheaply.
4. Is there anything your site projectroto.com doesn’t cover, and if not is there any reason my readers shouldn’t visit it?
Yes, we still have fliers posted at local cricket and rugby clubs searching for fantasy analysts, but we haven’t had any good (well…any) candidates respond yet.
I would actually like to expand our coverage beyond the “Big 4” to include some golf and English Premier League fantasy, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to go there just yet, We will be expanding a little bit this fall and will be adding Fantasy College Football as our next expansion project.
(sidenote: I’ve actually played fantasy cricket and fantasy rugby. Don’t judge me.)
5. Do you play Fantasy Football? If so do you prefer a certain Fantasy sport over the other? Why?
I do, indeed…and I’ve even managed to get my wife addicted to it.
I enjoy fantasy football because it makes Sundays more interesting than they would be otherwise and it is also less of a grind than other fantasy sports, but I think I’d probably put it third on my list (above hockey).
I started playing fantasy baseball when I was 12, so I think that will always be my first love. I used to pore over the box scores in the newspaper every day while I was eating breakfast before school and there’s just such a nostalgia that’s involved with fantasy baseball for me that it’ll always occupy a special place in my heart.
I may lose you some readers here, Chris, but I also tend to enjoy fantasy basketball over fantasy football too. There’s just much less variance in terms of performance and (here’s where I really lose you readers) less luck involved. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than having a player on your fantasy football team get benched because of a fumble, get scratched at the last second, or miss out on points because his team got behind and stopped running, because it can completely submarine a full week. Things like that may happen in one game for basketball or baseball, but we’re talking about a much smaller percentage of your season it affects. Don’t get me wrong…I love football (and there’s luck involved in all fantasy sports), but the luck element of football can drive me nuts as compared to fantasy baseball or basketball.
6. Who are a few Fantasy Football Sleepers on your radar this season?
With how popular fantasy football has become combined with the easily-accessible information that’s out there, I’m not sure “sleepers” even exist anymore, but I’ll take a shot on a couple guys here…
QB – I generally think Geno Smith is not a good football player, but sometimes opportunity trumps talent. His supported cast was majorly upgraded with Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, and Jace Amaro coming to town and he did surprisingly have five games with 20+ fantasy points last year. As long as he keeps his starting job (which is no given), Geno should be able to finish a lot higher than QB30 (which is where he’s being drafted right now)
RB –Call me a homer (I’m a New England born-and-raised-and-still live-there Patriots fan), but do you really feel all that much confidence with Shane Vereen staying healthy and Stevan Ridley holding onto the ball? Me neither. The Patriots haven’t drafted a running back since Vereen and Ridley (who are in the last year’s of their contracts) until this year and James White could find himself in a nice starting situation if Vereen can’t stay healthy and Ridley can’t stay out of the dog house.
WR – Is it OK to say that Josh Gordon isn’t going to play this year? Assuming you’re on that train with me, are we really going to buy into Miles Austin and Nate Burleson staying healthy? At 5’7”, Andrew Hawkins doesn’t have the big play ability of Josh Gordon, but he could benefit from a TON of targets from either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel (or both) and should be a fantastic late-round pick in PPR leagues.
TE – Consider this as more of a “guy being drafted outside the Top 10 TEs who will end up as a Top 10 TE” more so than a “sleeper” pick, but I think Charles Clay has just as good of a chance as finishing as a Top 5 TE as Jason Witten, Greg Olsesn, Jordan Reed, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph, Zack Ertz, and Martellus Bennett (all of whom are generally being drafted ahead of him). Clay finished as the 7th-best tight end in standard leagues last year and emerged as a solid-but-not-spectacular fantasy tight end option. I’d like to see a little more red zone production out of him, but I’d rather take him a few rounds later than those guys I just mentioned if you decide to pass up the Jimmy Graham/Rob Gronkowski/Jordan Cameron/Vernon Davis/Julius Thomas tier.
7. If there is one television show, movie or book you would, or have watched/read multiple times what are they?
As much as the last episode frustrates me, I will almost ALWAYS watch LOST if I see a re-run when I’m flipping through channels. I had just graduated college and started my first real job when the show started, so it was really my first “I have to be home to watch my program!” shows (as my grandma would say). The concept/style has been copied over the last 10 years, but there was nothing like it back in 2004. The way they developed the characters and mythology, the way they told stories, the way they sucked you into caring about these made-up people…it was all just so well done and I’m genuinely jealous of people who tell me they’ve never seen it before, because that means they get to watch it all again or the first time! I keep hoping they’ll come out with a movie that ties up the loose ends that the finale missed, but I think I’m gonna have to start a kickstarter if I want that.
I can’t say that I’ve ever re-read a book, but here are a few more TV shows/movies I’ll always watch when they’re on: Big Lebowski, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, True Romance, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Deadwood, Oh Brother Where Art Thou (and ton of others that I’m sure I’m forgetting)
Oh, and while I was writing this, Phil Collins just came up on Spotify. I know you didn’t ask about music, but I’ll never turn off a good Phil song. Sussudio!