Another week, another Interrogate the Industry — this time with Ryan Rufe. Ryan writes for Rotowire.com as their Houston Astros beat writer. He also contributes to Rotoballer.com. He is someone who knows Fantasy Sports, Daily Fantasy and rankings and, in my opinion, has far too few followers for his ability.
As I stated in the beginning my goal is to try and catch an overall demographic of the Fantasy industry, and Ryan fits the mold of an up and comer. Like myself I suppose.
With football season officially over, many are shifting their Fantasy focus to Baseball and Basketball. Ryan will be active and ready for questions of all types this offseason, and likely participating in a few leagues with myself. Thanks Ryan, and be sure to follow him here @RyanRufe.
So with that I will get in to the interview after my weekly plug of Homers For Hope. The idea is to entice Fantasy Baseball players to donate and play in a league, but playing is NOT essential. Donations can be made without worrying about playing in a league. I want players of course, but most importantly I want folks in the industry to donate any amount they can afford to Jude’s cause. You can do it today — here is Jude’s go fund me. After donating be sure to write “Fantasy” in the text field. If you want to join a league be sure to let me know. Find out more here and thanks!
1. Everyone got their Fantasy industry start somewhere. Talk about yours as brief or detailed as you like. If possible, include ups and downs, and others in the industry who helped?
Before I pursued any Fantasy Sports writing opportunities, I was wrapping up a blog series that documented my past success as an online poker player. I wanted to be able to recount my adventures as an online “poker pro” with my grandchildren one day, so I put my stories in written form and thus Rufebert’s PokerRoom was born.
“Rufebert” was my online poker handle on the now defunct PokerRoom.com, so I just combined the two to come up with the name. Genius, I know. I invite any hardcore poker fans out there to read my posts dated between July – September 2011, as I explain how I qualified for the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event and parlayed my “pro” status on PokerRoom.com into a free Bahamas cruise and a chance to become an actual sponsored professional.
Once my interest in poker began to wane and my blog posts became less frequent, I decided to write about a bigger passion of mine: Fantasy Sports. I started playing at age 11 and was always successful at it, so I figured I’d set out to become the next “Talented Mr. Roto.”
As a frequent listener of the CBS Fantasy Baseball Podcast with Nando Di Fino, Al Melchior and Adam Aizer, I initially toyed with the idea of starting my own podcast, but decided to stick to blogging when my cheap recording software made me sound like I was in a cave. If you click the link to my poker blog, you’ll notice it has a very basic appearance. I knew that wouldn’t fly if I wanted to be a credible Fantasy Sports resource, so I decided to explore opportunities with existing Fantasy websites.
Through the power of Twitter, I was fortunate to connect with Alex Roberts from RotoBaller.com. The site was still relatively new, but Alex and the founding fathers of RotoBaller were looking for contributors and gave me my first break in the industry in March 2013. Unfortunately, I’m not able to contribute to the site as much as I used to, but I still do baseball and football rankings for RotoBaller via the FantasyPros Experts Platform. A few months after I started writing for RotoBaller, I noticed RotoWire.com was looking for MLB Beat Writers. I’ve been covering their Houston Astros beat since July 2013 and also contribute to various other features including the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Magazine, MLB Lineup Card and Ask An Expert.
It would be difficult to name everyone who has inspired or helped me grow in this industry, but Nando Di Fino (FNTSY) and Al Melchior (CBS) were very supportive of my aspirations when I first started out. Both even gave me the honor of following me on Twitter. Alex Roberts (RotoBaller) gave me my first “big break,” while the guys at RotoWire – Andrew Laird, Derek Van Riper, Jeff Erickson, Shannon McKeown – have been an absolute pleasure to work with. I love talking NFBC with Scott Jenstad and Vlad Sedler (also of RotoWire) and I have mad respect for Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich (NFBC), Michael Rathburn (RotoWire), Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports), Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, Dynasty Guru), Jake Ciely (RotoExperts), Nick Raducanu (ProjectRoto) and Derek Farnsworth (RotoGrinders). That’s probably the most rewarding thing about this industry — the connections I’ve made with people like you and countless others who are as passionate about Fantasy Sports as I am.
2. What is the most memorable (good or bad) Fantasy Sports or industry moment in your career?
Seeing my name in print as a contributor to the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Magazine was an incredibly humbling moment for me. I’m going to save that magazine forever.
I’ll also never forget sweating the DraftKings NFL Play Action GPP during Week 12 this past season. I was in fourth place out of 57,000 entries going into Monday Night Football’s Saints vs. Ravens game with Kenny Stills left to play. I had a real shot at the $10k first-place payout and a Stills catch late in the second half vaulted me to second-place overall ($5k payout), but Justin Forsett screwed that up with a 20-yard TD run with two minutes left in the fourth quarter to drop me to fifth place ($1k), which is where I finished.
An NFBC overall title would be my crowning achievement though. Last year, I put in countless hours of research both before and during the season and money-bubbled all of my leagues. This year I’m going to have to work even harder.
3. Are there any players who are on new teams this upcoming season who you will be pursuing more than before in Fantasy Baseball drafts?
I’ll be giving a boost to Jason Heyward with the move to St. Louis. Andrew Miller and Brandon McCarthy also come to mind as players who could build upon last year’s success with their new teams.
4. What is your favorite Fantasy Baseball League format? Why?
I love season-long 5×5 Rotisserie leagues with deep rosters. The NFBC Draft Champions format (15 teams, 50 rounds, no in-season roster moves) is one of my favorites, as I always come out from the draft with a really strong feel for the player pool. DC’s are a great way to prepare for the NFBC Online Championship, which I co-own a team with my friend Chris Hahn each year. I also love keeper and dynasty formats. This year, I took on two rebuilding projects — one through ottoneu (which I’m new to) and another through Fantrax for a full dynasty league. My home keeper league team is stacked, so I wanted some new challenges. I also participate in the RotoBaller Keeper League and have some nice pieces with favorable salaries.
3 spots left in @thenfbc Draft Champions league 73… come join me!
— Ryan Rufe (@RyanRufe) February 6, 2015
5. Is there a strategy you will be using in Fantasy Baseball drafts in 2015? Positional scarcity, power hitters, elite pitching?
I’ll likely employ a similar strategy to last year and target an elite starter or two in the first few rounds while loading up on power. I’ll have to re-evaluate my approach to drafting closers this year though. Somehow I always end up chasing saves and NFBC FAAB bidding for closers tends to be outrageous for a player who may only hold onto the role for a week or less. I don’t like paying for the elite closers, but I may end up targeting one this year based on who is available in Rounds 5-6. Obviously, I still have plenty of research to do and may end up adjusting my strategy as we get into spring training.
6. Is this the year Bryce Harper stays healthy and meets his lofty expectations?
I sure as hell hope so! Two years ago, I traded Miguel Cabrera, Matt Moore and Dylan Bundy for Harper and Trevor Rosenthal in my home keeper league. You can imagine how frustrated I’ve been with the trade since, but I’m not giving up on Bryce and doubt I ever will. I know the moment I end up trading him will be the moment he becomes a perennial 40-homer guy.
7. If you had to write an episode script for any television show which one would it be? Any plot ideas?
I was a big wrestling fan growing up, and while I rarely watch anymore save for major events like WrestleMania and Royal Rumble, I would love to write an episode of Monday Night Raw. I went to high school with The Miz and Dolph Ziggler is from my area, so I’m pretty big supporters of theirs. Plus, it’d be cool working with guys like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, who all came through the Cleveland independent scene before they became stars with the WWE. If you’re a wrestling fan, I highly recommend checking out Absolute Intense Wrestling here in Cleveland. They’re a premier independent wrestling promotion in the US and I’m fortunate they hold their shows a mere 10 drive from my house.
I would have loved to write an episode for “Sons of Anarchy” or “Nip/Tuck,” which are my two all-time favorite TV shows. In fact, they’re the only TV shows that I’ve managed to collect every season on DVD. I’m still in SOA withdrawal, by the way. The Walking Dead is a must-watch every Sunday and I’m pretty stoked for “Better Call Saul.” I binge-watched “Breaking Bad” (another show I feel is worthy of collecting on DVD) and Saul Goodman was a great character played by a brilliant actor. Who am I kidding? The entire “Breaking Bad” cast was awesome.
Any “Dexter” fans out there? I think we’d all re-write the finale if given the opportunity. Since Dexter lived by “Harry’s Code” as one of the main themes of the show, my closing image of the show may have looked 20 years into the future with Dexter in cling wrap and Harrison standing over him at the killing table.
8. If you could hang out, party or whatever for one day with someone, with zero repercussions, who would it be and why?
The Fantasy Sports player in me would love to participate in Tout Wars to meet and party with the guys who inspired me to get involved in the industry. The poker player in me would love to sit at the felt across from Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth. The baseball fan in me would play a whiffleball game against my favorite players from past and present, including Clayton Kershaw, Ken Griffey Jr., Sandy Alomar Jr., Giancarlo Stanton, Kenny Lofton and George Springer. Last but not least, I was a big fan of the NBA growing up and loved watching the All-Star festivities. I’d compete in a 3-Point Shootout against Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Peja Stojakovic. I’d also host an NBA “Block Party” during the festivities, pitting a team of old-school shot-blockers like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, and Ben Wallace against a modern day team of Anthony Davis, Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. As “Mr. Cavalier” Austin Carr likes to say during Cavs broadcasts, “GET THAT WEAK STUFF OUTTA’ HERE!”
9. Do you have any crazy stories of Fantasy Sports interfering with your family or work life? Care to share?
I don’t have anything too crazy to share, but it’s often difficult trying to balance my Fantasy Sports endeavors with my family’s hectic schedule.
Three kids keep us busy throughout the year with hockey practices and games, ice skating practice and competitions, speech therapy, soccer, baseball, etc. By the time we get the kids to bed at night, I’m too exhausted to open my laptop to write player updates or finish the article that I’ve been working on. Oftentimes, it will be the first time all day that my girlfriend and I are able to have an adult conversation without interruption, so that also plays a role. While she’s very supportive of my Fantasy Sports pursuits, there were times during the height of fantasy football season where I drew her ire because of it. I’m sure I’ll get teased for the upcoming fantasy baseball drafts that I have to block off time for on our calendar.
- Daily Fantasy Baseball: Picks for Saturday, May 14th - May 14, 2016
- Daily Fantasy Baseball: Picks for May 12th, 2016 - May 12, 2016
- Daily Fantasy Baseball: Picks for Saturday, May 7th - May 7, 2016