The song “Diamond Girl” off Set It Off’s upcoming album Upside Down was made possible by fantasy football.
Seriously. Set It Off vocalist Cody Carson’s favorite song off the new record has fantasy football roots. The abridged story goes something like: Carson joins league. Carson makes new friends, including a writer. They hit it off, collaborate, a chord progression is found, a song is created.
“It had the vibes of drunk guys in a bar singing ‘Sweet Caroline,’” Carson says. “It has that attitude. It’s a really, really cool song.”
In some small fashion, we have to thank Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for their part in Set It Off’s discography.
Who are your top players?
Carson: “Antonio Brown (wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers). Right now, currently, I’m in two leagues, and I’m the No. 1 pick in both. So I’m picking Antonio Brown. That means I’m not going to get the elite running backs I want, but if I did, David Johnson (running back, Arizona Cardinals) and Todd Gurley (running back, Los Angeles Rams). I actually think LeSean McCoy (running back, Buffalo Bills) is going to have an incredible year, since Karlos Williams is gone.”
Hinkley: “For me, it kind of depends on the league that we’re playing in—if it’s standard or point per reception format. Over the past four years, though, it’s becoming more of a passing league. If I’m in the top four picks, if Julio Jones (wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons) or Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham (wide receiver, New York Giants) are there, I’m going for them. If it’s my first [pick], I’m going Antonio Brown.”
What sleeper picks do you recommend?
Wentworth: “This year, I kind of like a lot of the rookie wide receivers. So Sterling Shepard might be a good one people overlook. He’s going to be the No. 2 receiver on the Giants behind Odell Beckham. Beckham is going to take a lot of the attention from defenses, and Shepard is going to get looks. Corey Coleman on the Browns. These are toss-ups, but I feel like they’re going to be worth taking a gamble on. He’s going to be the No. 1 receiver. Will Fuller on the Texans.”
Hinkley: “As of recent, a healthy Arian Foster (running back, Miami Dolphins) is looking pretty good in the preseason. No hamstring issue, running really well. He’s against another guy, Jay Ajayi, for the starting job, but I think he’s going to get the starting job. If you can get him in round six or seven, I think he’s going to have a comeback year. Matt Forte (running back, New York Jets), if you can get him in round four or five, he’s going to have a bounceback year.”
How do you approach the draft? Go in last minute and wing it? Dozens of pages of spreadsheets?
Hinkley: “I like to do a lot of reading. Drafts are all situational. You can have a list of players that are all picked out, and the person before you picks the person you have on your list and you go, ‘Oh, crap.’ What I like to do, I’m a football nut, so I’m kind of keeping up on who signs new offensive linemen. Strength of schedule is a big thing.”
Wentworth: “I keep thinking maybe I should prepare more, maybe I should do this and that, but I feel like I’m pretty prepared. You can make this huge draft sheet, and like I said, everyone in your league can select players you’re not expecting and then it’s all for nothing.”
What is your draft strategy? Go heavy on running backs? Wait on running backs? What position do you value most?
Hinkley: “I did a draft last week and stacked it with receivers. Running back injuries are so common, and there are always people coming up to take their jobs.”
Carson: [Yet to draft, Carson ponders how specific to be in case his competitors read this.] “All I’ll say is this: They know I’m going to start with Antonio Brown. It’s a given. He’s a monster. Since I have this top receiver, I have to make sure I fill in strong running backs, but it’s also position versus best available player.”
How many leagues do you typically do, and with who?
Hinkley: “I’ve been playing fantasy football now for 12 years, so since I was 18. First league I was ever in was with my grade-school buddies … That’s been going for 12 years now, all same people. I’m in five different leagues … My favorite league that I’m in is, we call it the ‘Ultimate League,’ with people from around the industry … It’s a really fun group of friends who are fantasy football junkies.”
Carson: “Two is what I like to do the most. If you stick with one, sometimes injuries plague you and that’s out of your control, so the other league, hopefully, your guys are healthy … I’ve actually made some really cool connections through fantasy football. One year I played with [Rian] Dawson from All Time Low and Cyrus Bolooki from New Found Glory. It’s a really cool bond.”
What’s at stake? Cash? Bragging rights? Trophies? Embarrassment and misery?
Carson: “A little bit of everything. I unfortunately came in last place last year due to a multitude of reasons. I’m still waiting, but Martin [Johnson, vocals/guitar for Boys Like Girls] is supposed to send me Boys Like Girls booty shorts, and I have to Instagram me wearing them. As soon as I get them, expect a post.”
Wentworth: “I like to do the highest stakes possible, so we do $200 with 10 teams. I think it’s good to do that, because the first time we did it for like $30 and people just kind of lose interest, people aren’t making waiver moves.
Do you handle fantasy football losses with grace?
Carson: “I’m a shit talker. Like, I’m in a league that’s very much like the TV show The League. For instance, I’m flying to Chicago in a couple days to do a draft with everybody that’s in our league. It’s getting serious. We’re thinking about doing a draft board and getting a trophy.”
Wentworth: [He won his league last year.] “I handle it pretty well. It’s for fun. I feel like you get really into it as it’s happening, then maybe you get pissed for a second, but at the end of the day, it’s fantasy football and you play again next week. It’s definitely for fun. There’s no throwing phones into computers or anything.”
You each have your favorite NFL teams–Wentworth loves the Patriots, Hinkley the Raiders, Carson the Eagles. Can you stomach drafting a player from a rival?
Wentworth: “Woody [Alex "Woody” Woodrow], our bass player, is really like that. He will never choose Eli Manning (quarterback, New York Giants). Not going to happen. I might do it. I’m not going to try. It’s just players, you know, Eli Manning comes off like a whiny baby. You always try to draft players you actually like. I actually feel like Eli Manning is going to have a huge year.”
Hinkley: “The thing that’s scary for me is when I go to games, Raiders games, and they’re playing the Chiefs or the Broncos and I have Demaryius Thomas (wide receiver, Denver Broncos). He catches an 80-yard touchdown, and you’re excited for a second, then you realize –ymy team is getting the shit kicked out of them.”
Carson: “I hate the Cowboys. I fucking hate the Cowboys. When it comes to fantasy, you have to separate that. You can’t let that get in the way. The first time I drafted, like, three Eagles and it really bit me in the ass.”