(Editor's intro: The Scout Fantasy Football World Championships are well under way. If you want to step outside your comfort zone and challenge the best Fantasy Football players, join one of our high stakes leagues today!)
Those that have dabbled in high stakes fantasy football are surely familiar with the team name, Hawk and Roll. Mark Deming and Ian Ritchie were the brains behind the team that dominated the high stakes space for the last decade. Deming and Ritchie were in fact ranked #1 in the Fantasy Football High Stakes Global Rankings for two years. The dynamic duo have five Top 20 finishes in the World Championships and countless high stakes league championships on their resume.
Today, Deming sits in 36th place and it's not because he all of sudden forgot how to construct championship rosters. He and Ritchie stopped competing in 2011, making the contests more winnable to the rest of the world. The two co-founded the fantasy gaming group at FFToolbox and created the Fantasy Football World Championships. Deming now works to grow his contest in the competitive high stakes arena. When Deming is not attending to his various business ventures, he serves as a fantasy consultant to his large network of follows.
I sat down with Mark to talk about the Scout Fantasy Football World Championships, draft strategy, 2014 outlook and concepts that played a key role in his success. Now on the sideline, Deming was not shy in sharing his secrets.
Larry Gold: Hey Mark. The FFWC has taken off since entering the high stakes space in 2012. Last year, you saw 65% growth in year over year participants. You were the visionary. What is the appeal with this contest?
Mark Deming: Thanks Larry. So many people love competing in fantasy, yet the dollars to allocate to leagues is limited. It's important to listen to the players and deliver a product that entices them. For years, we heard the same commentaries echoed in forums over and over. Players want the same things: more action, more strategies, higher scoring. With the FFWC's unique lineup requirements of 11 starters and double flex, we effectively deliver on all three.
Gold: It's for sure a greater challenge to fill a deeper lineup week to week. Are you ever worried the more difficult criteria would intimidate newer players?
Mark: Not really. Most players really like to take ownership of their teams, as if they are a real life G.M. The extra flex spot affords drafters endless possibilities in flexibility and creativity in constructing rosters. Outside the box thinking isn't rewarded in other types of contests that have a more standard feel to them. In FFWC style leagues, there are so many diverse draft strategies that can prove to be effective.
Gold: So you're consulting more than drafting these days. The high stakes community thanks you. What's your thoughts on fantasy football now vs. 10 years ago?
Mark: Optimal strategy is always changing. Starting RB/RB was the way to go for so many years but now wide receiver is a more reliable position. There is a new breed of athlete coming in more NFL ready than ever before. NFL style offenses are being run in college and the guys are just better prepared. You can draft a rookie with an expectation for meaningful output. Look at Andrew Luck, Keenan Allen and of course last year's class of rookie running backs; Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard and Le'Veon Bell.
Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard
Gold: Well then surely you have a can't miss rookie that all the readers should be buying?
Mark: I love Brandin Cooks. He impressed at the Combine with his 4.33 40 but it goes beyond that. If you are not familiar with his college career at Oregon State, YouTube some highlights. Cooks is a gifted receiver and joins the New Orleans Saints, which may of been the most ideal landing area for him.
Gold: Would you draft him ahead of his ADP just to have him on your roster?
Mark: Absolutely. I am a big proponent of getting your guy. As a matter of practice, I used to bring a list of "my guys" to the draft and would often select off that list with little reliance on ADP.
Gold: Well the Scout readers want to know about some more of "your guys." Give us some Deming specials!
Mark: There's always a handful of players that fall in drafts because they aren't splashy picks. This year there's a ton of overlooked guys that are staying on the board too long; Rueben Randle, Charles Clay, Rashad Jennings, Danny Woodhead, Nick Foles, Marques Colston and Eric Decker come to mind.
Gold: That's a serious list right there. Are there any teams you are buying into or looking to avoid?
Mark: YES! I'd be hard pressed to go out of my way to target a Houston Texans or Oakland Raiders positional player. The reason is simple. Quarterback. Matt Schaub and Ryan Fitzpatrick just don't cut it, and bring down the value of any talent around them. On the flip side, I believe in Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers so I have no problem drafting Steelers and Chargers playmakers.
Gold: Good stuff Mark. One last question. Do you have some basic advice for new players on how to increase their chances of winning?
Mark: Trust your choices. Get a feel for the players on your roster and don't be afraid to make a mistake with lineups. If you do, learn from it. Dig deeper into your sources. There's a lot of information available on players. All the news and updates can be overwhelming. Make sure you are absorbing the real news and ignoring the hearsay.
Gold: Great advice Mark. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the Scout Community!