Put away the iPhone calculator. Click out of that mock draft or Reddit thread that has you spellbound. Fantasy football advice is best served from your favorite musicians. Like Set It Off vocalist and part-time fantasy guru Cody Carson
“I did terrible,” Carson says. “I shit the bed.”
Truly, though, Carson and his fellow artists know their football. Fantasy football is a team effort moving forward–if we go down, we go down together–and they are here to guide you to personal glory in your league.
Run away with RBs: In a basic league scoring format, running backs are treasured gold.
“I’m definitely going to go with running back first,” says August Burns Red bassist Dustin Davidson. “I love Le’Veon Bell. I think he’s one that’s going to be up there for me.”
The premier back is up for debate. Most have warts. Pittsburgh’s Bell was second in running back scoring last year, but he’s suspended the first two games for marijuana possession. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson returns after serving a suspension nearly all of last year for reckless assault against his 4-year-old son. Philadelphia’s DeMarco Murray, Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy and Indianapolis’ Frank Gore offer uncertain production after landing with new teams.
Blessthefall drummer Matt Traynor has his eyes on Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy or Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles as his first-round pick. Both have been top seven in scoring at their position the past two years, as have Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, Chicago’s Matt Forte and Murray. These are the Taylor Swifts of fantasy land–consistently producing No. 1 hits.
Beartooth bassist Oshie Bichar thinks Peterson will have a bounce-back campaign. The Word Alive vocalist Telle Smith recommends Bell or Denver back C.J. Anderson. Carson, a Philadelphia fanatic, likes McCoy’s chances as he switches from the Eagles to Bills. “I’ve watched ‘Shady’ play for a while. He had a bum year last year,” Carson says. “He’s been working his ass off. He really wants to be an elite running back this year.”
When the pool of running backs dries up, wide receivers are useful consolation prizes. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (NFL-leading 1,698 receiving yards), Dallas’ Dez Bryant (16 touchdowns) and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. (108 yards, one TD per game) were top five producers this past season. Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Brown led the NFL in targets, both thrown to by their quarterback 11 times per game.
Smith, a Cowboys fan, admited Brown might be a smidge better than Bryant. “I appreciate the game, so I’m not going to say every player is best. I think [Bryant] is for sure top three. I think you have to say Antonio Brown is top three,” Smith says. “If Odell can play like he did last year, he’s got to be top three, as well.”
Do not sleep on sleepers: Cartel frontman Will Pugh is content with quarterbacks such as Denver’s Peyton Manning and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck. Their big numbers allow Pugh to pluck underrated running backs. “I typically go for the guys that I know are going to get their short-yardage touchdowns,” Pugh says.
New England back LeGarrette Blount and St. Louis rookie bruiser Todd Gurley will be waiting for Pugh in later rounds. And while he hopes to land Houston or Buffalo’s defense and New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, Pugh knows he can find similar value in later round picks like Cleveland’s defense or Dallas’ tight end Jason Witten.
Tight end is tricky. Besides Gronkowski, and Seattle’s Jimmy Graham, there are no surefire studs but there are some profitable dice rolls. Carson survives targeting the second tier such as Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz or Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. You can also try Jacksonville’s Julius Thomas (12 touchdowns with Denver in 2014) or Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert, who has recovered from a season-ending dislocated elbow suffered in 2014’s first game.
“I’ve heard a lot about Andy Dalton hooking up with that Tyler Eifert kid,” Traynor says. “I think that Tyler Eifert is someone worth looking out for,” says Pugh
Let go of the letdowns: “I had a bad team, man,” ABR’s Davidson says. “I remember one game last year when [then Philadelphia QB Nick] Foles and McCoy together scored me six or eight points. It was not a good season for me for fantasy football.” Davidson was left to wallow in third place while bandmate Jake Luhrs hoisted the trophy. Davidson promises changes this year.
The albatross around Carson’s neck? The unpredictable result of Peterson’s suspension. A player is bound to let you down. Hard. Real life truths even haunt you in the fantasy world. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses.
“I had some big fails in the past. I had [Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III] one year,” Bichar says. “He was supposed to be really good, and he was awful. That’s a cool thing about it. It’s a toss-up.”
Own your naming rights: Fantasy football names are art unto themselves but there are some guidelines to consider before brainstorming classic player puns like “Final Dez-tination” or “Saved By Le’Bell.” but some people need a Bob Ross tutorial. We can safely retire “Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe,” since he has been exiled to the Cleveland Browns. Also needing quick exits are crude sexual innuendos and stabs at humor from Ray Rice’s domestic violence incident. Fantasy football is not a free pass for insensitivity.
“Stay away from criminals. Someone had some pun to do with Rice last year,” Pugh says. “A little too soon.” Pugh keeps it short and stylish, using “Fumblerooski,” but concedes that Cameron Hurley from We Are The In Crowd trumps him with the simply elegant “Don’t Stop Receiving.”
Davidson likes subtle jokes toward teams he despises, with the Pittsburgh Steelers his most recent target. He spreads a mix of clever and cheesy on his name-creation sandwich, with one rule for opponents.
“Don’t make fun of the Eagles,” he says.
Veteran or rookie, find a league and dive in: Raid the fridge of Red Bulls and pizza rolls and stay up researching the next four days. Or prop your feet up, spin some Bob Marley vinyl and chill (pizza rolls still mandatory, though).
“I kind of sit back and see what happens,” Bichar says. “That’s the fun thing about fantasy football. Everybody can play it, whether you’re a diehard fan or not.”
Blessthefall have a break before they hit the pavement to tour again, so after a third-place fantasy finish in 2014, Traynor is studying. He confesses to anxious butterflies for his looming draft. “I’ve done a lot of mocks, because I have all the time in the world,” he says.
Bichar and Traynor each play to keep in touch with friends. Carson rumbles with musicians from Our Last Night, the Color Morale and Boys Like Girls. Bragging rights are a handsome reward for the victor.
“The money and shit-talking is where it’s at,” Carson says. alt