For the past several years, I have enjoyed hosting the FantasyFootballNerd.com Experts League for Charity in which some of the best experts from some of the most prestigious names in the industry come together to play in a league with a purpose beyond just bragging rights. We each play for a charity and FFN makes a donation to the winner's charity. This year I'm honored to welcome NASCAR superstar Ty Dillon to the league and look forward to playing against him. Ty may be one of the best on the track, but is he good enough to take home the FFN trophy?
I had an opportunity to ask Ty his thoughts on the upcoming season.
How long have you been playing fantasy football and how many leagues are you in this year? (Follow up question: funny or interesting team name?)
It's funny, I always say I'm going to be in 2-3 leagues, but I always end up in more. This season I'll be in at least four leagues. We have our annual Barn Burners FFL which is our â€œbigâ€ league with everyone from RCR (Austin, Eric Warren (Director of Competition), some pit crew guys, my car chief, some guys who work on my dirt team). I'll also participate in a league with some regional managers and corporate employees from Yuengling. Winner gets a signed Yuengling Light Lager firesuit at the end of the season. That league is fun because I get to engage with our sponsor and talk some smack.
My team name this year is Fantasy Tyland.
What do you enjoy most about playing fantasy football?
Just the competition and the constant dialogue with your friends/competitors. In our Barn Burners league, it gets pretty intense because it's a 16 team league. You really have to do your homework and dig deep on the waiver wire. I really enjoy following sports in general, so fantasy sports comes pretty naturally.
A solid fantasy football sleeper can turn a good team into a great team. Are there any players that you targeting towards the end of your drafts this year? Any sleeper candidates that you care to share with FFN members?
I have a few guys that I recently drafted and think will pan out. I like Brian Quick from the St. Louis Rams. He had a good season last year before getting hurt and is a big, strong threat for their new QB, Nick Foles. I had an opportunity to watch Quick when he played for Appalachian State and really liked his performance last season. Also, don't sleep on the Carolina Panthers defense.
The Fantasy Football Nerd Experts League for Charity has an option to play a quarterback in the flex position. How does this format affect your draft strategy?
It affects it in that you'll probably want to take a QB a little earlier than normal. I usually like to wait and draft a QB, but in a super-flex league you probably want to take a QB in the first 3 rounds. My strategy in non-flex leagues has been to stock up on running backs and WRs â€“ you never know if one of those picks will have a break-out year (i.e. Odell Beckham Jr.)
(Editor's Note: Ty has the 6th pick in the FFN Experts League Draft)
Who is the #1 running back in the NFL this year: Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, or Eddie Lacy?
Jonathan Stewart. Ha, just kidding. I drafted Lacy, but really like Bell. I think the only reason why Bell isn't a clear cut No. 1 overall pick (in non-PPR leagues) is because of the suspension.
Guys like Doug Martin, Percy Harvin, Trent Richardson, and RG III have been labeled as busts in years past because they were drafted much higher than where they ultimately finished. Who will be this year's fantasy bust?
I'm pretty optimistic about all guys going into the season, so ask me that question again in week 5 or 6.
Is there a particular player that you think is a "Must-Own" this year?
Well, it was Kelvin Benjamin, and then unfortunately he had an injury. So, I think any of the top RBs this year (Bell, Peterson, Charles, Lacy) are really guys you want to grab. If they're not available, go to the next tier RBs (McCoy, Murray).
Do you have any advice for Fantasy Football Nerd members as they prepare for their drafts?
Don't be afraid to take a chance on a guy you really like. I feel good about Ryan Tannehill this year and I think he's ready to take the next step, so I grabbed him in the 5th round of one draft. If you have a good feeling about a guy, take a chance on him. Watch out for Fantasy Tyland!
What two teams will make it to the Super Bowl this year and who wins it all?
Hopefully the Panthers! But I think the Colts and Packers are the class of the AFC and NFC this season. I'll go with the Colts.
Who has the most die-hard fans: NASCAR or the NFL?
NASCAR by far. It's not even close. I've seen fans with tattoos of numbers on their legs, people that travel the country to watch us race and camp sites that look like a team apparel store. NFL fans are great, but they don't camp out for a week to watch a game.
As if competing against me isn't tough enough, Ty will also be competing against these outstanding folks:
Ryan Fowler, FOX Sports
Steve Schwarz, FFToday.com
Gene Wang, Washington Post
Lisa Ann, Sirius XM Radio
Justin Sablich, New York Times
Cindy Margolis, Actress & Model
Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
Justin Tasch, New York Daily News
Michael Cardano, RotoExperts
Melissa Jacobs, TheFootballGirl.com
I'm thrilled to have Ty in this year's league. He's playing for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma whose goal is to help save the lives of injured children throughout the U.S. and all over the world. Past charitable contributions from this league have been made in the winners' names to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, Susan G Komen for the Cure, Fort Sanders Foundation, and the Children's Aid Society of New York.