Heads Up With The All In Kid: Bob Harris
By Jake Ciely
First off, I know why I handpicked you to be part of this series, but why don’t you tell the readers how and why you became a fantasy football writer?
When I started playing, in 1986, you basically went with whatever the injury report in USA Today told you about player status. It was very frustrating when players who were probable on Wednesday turned up on the sidelines in street clothes on Sundays. It struck me that I wasn’t alone in my frustration. And so, in 1993, I decided to do something about it. Twenty years later, I’m still trying. And still frustrated. Mostly.
You have to be the king of magazine contributions. Can you give us your favorite (and brief, as to not give it all away) highlight from your pieces this year?
Of my bylined stuff, I like the player movement article that will appear in FootballDiehards magazine. But the player capsules in Pro Forecast (something I’ve been doing for close to 20 years now) will always be near and dear to my heart. At least after they’re done.
I often see you in many mock drafts with me (thanks Jim Day!). Do you think there is real value in analyzing these, and do you think it’s a better tool than straight ADP analysis?
Yes. Yes. No and no. … Perhaps I should clarify. Yes, there is value in analyzing these drafts. I think the crowd we run with tends to be forward thinking. Given that, I believe we can all learn from each other and so can those who follow along. And yes, I think hands-on drafting always gives you a better feel for how things might play out than straight ADP. That said, did I mention the crowd we run with tends to be forward thinking? While I strongly believe analyzing the trends seen in those drafts are beneficial, I’m not sure the approaches are as applicable in all cases. For example, if you’re in a league where you know for a fact that five guys are going to draft QBs in the first round, all the late-round QB approaches we’ve seen in most of our mocks might not be as necessary. Certainly, the need won’t be as pronounced. So no matter how innovative and useful the strategy, those following along will always need to adapt, modify and adjust to suit their competition. And the other side of the coin with ADP is, mocking with a group of guys whose primary goal is testing their strategies and backing their own sleepers can lead to a somewhat skewed ADP. When I’m mocking with industry guys, I know I need to reach up for players I like or I’m going to lose them. So having a feel for straight ADP will always be beneficial.
It seems PPR leagues are starting to become more prevalent. So, we’ll ask your personal preference: What is your favorite league/scoring type?
PPR it is. I still enjoy the occasional standard scoring league, but the emphasis is definitely on the “occasional” there.
Mike Clay got hit with the news of a possible arrest for Aaron Hernandez, but you get the biggest news of the entire offseason: Hernandez officially arrested and released by the Patriots. It’s a sad situation, and we’re not making light of it by analyzing it from a fantasy perspective, but readers want to know. How does this impact Tom Brady, the RBs, WRs, etc. in your mind?
I was already a bit down on Brady. Had him outside my Top Four (making me a bit of an outlier in most crowds). But the Hernandez news has me knocking him a bit lower still. Yes, he’s Tom Brady. Yes, the Patriots are smart cookies on the whole. I’m quite sure they’ll figure something out. But “something” doesn’t necessarily have to be passing the ball. Remember; this offense has been designed to run through the tight end the last three years and it has evolved accordingly. That’s what made Wes Welker (and Brandon Lloyd) expendable. So the thought that Danny Amendola (no matter how much I like him), some previously unproductive free agents (Michael Jenkins, Donald Jones) and a pair of rookies (Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce) will all emerge as viable weapons seems like a reach. The biggest thing a receiver has to do to excel in New England is gain Brady’s trust. It doesn’t happen overnight (see Lloyd) and it sometimes doesn’t happen at all (see Chad Ochocinco). To me, a more likely approach might be one the Patriots have used before: a run-first approach behind a stable of solid backs led by Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Again, I’m not knocking Brady out of my Top 10; but there are at least eight guys I’d rather have right now (and I could make a reasonable argument for more given the narrow differences in production at that tier).
A question I’m asking everyone: David Wilson appears to be a polarizing running back when it comes to experts’ rankings this year. Where do you rank him and why?
As of today, I have him as a solid RB2 who I would draft above a number in that same tier due to the perceived upside. My concern is the presence of Andre Brown, a very capable power back. But every Giants reporter I talk to says the same thing: Tom Coughlin feels he made a mistake by keeping Wilson off the field last year. They say the coach believes he hurt the team. Given that, I suspect Wilson will be given every opportunity to show us the speed and playmaking ability we’ve all been hearing about since his arrival last year. The big concern is pass protection. If he's improved in that area, Brown will have a harder time getting snaps and Wilson will be more likely to reach his ceiling, which could mean RB1 production.
Without giving away all of your secrets, what is your one tactic/strategy of fantasy football that you feel gives you the edge to win?
So simple it sounds stupid, but I go to great lengths not to draft last year’s best team. … Seriously, I think you have to think outside the box. Find players who were previously high-end producers but who have fallen short. Figure out why the fell short. Assess their ability to rebound. Target them late and hope for the best (while hoping the guys you draft early come through too).
Because everyone always wants to know, who is your favorite underrated (notice I didn’t say “sleeper”) player for 2013?
I’m a Danny Woodhead guy. Been snagging him late based on the notion he’s in San Diego for a reason. They didn’t sign him to a two-year deal for nothing. I expect an immediate role as an outlet for Philip Rivers on passing downs. But he's capable of more. Remember; Woodhead touched the ball over 100 times per season on average in New England and often was asked to handle short-yardage duties near the goal line despite his diminutive stature. He figures as the primary backup to Ryan Mathews, who has missed time in each of his first three NFL seasons because of injuries. And if you're looking for value, the current MyFantasyLeague.com ADP has Woodhead at 51 among all running backs, just behind Marcus Lattimore, who likely won't take a meaningful snap until 2014.
Plug time! I could easily just link to your stuff, but I’ll let you do the honors, sharing any specific pieces, etc., that would make the reader a better fantasy owner.
I’m the senior editor of four magazines on newsstands this summer: Fantasy Football Pro Forecast, Cheatsheets, DraftBook and Football Diehards. All four offer those who purchase free access to the premium content available on FootballDiehards.com for the full season. Use your magazine of choice to build a baseline of information. Flesh it out with the ongoing flow of updated rankings, news, tools and other goodies on the web site. It’s a bargain. You can order your choice online at FootballDiehards.com (if you can’t find them at your favorite newsstand). … You can also listen to me on the FootballDiehards on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio every Thursday and Saturday night and Sunday morning throughout the season. Check your listings for more.
Parting thought (i.e. something you wish I had asked about)?
Ummm. … Oh yeah. I’m on Twitter and all @footballdiehard
Good stuff Gents. Always love reading/listening to Bob share some of that grey matter! ;) I'm looking forward to future installments!