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Heads Up With The All In Kid: David Gonos

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All the love is for Lamar Miller in Miami, but Gonos says don't overlook the rookie. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
All the love is for Lamar Miller in Miami, but Gonos says don't overlook the rookie. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It's Week 2 of sitting down with fellow fantasy football industry leaders. This week, we have one of my all-time favorites and original idea extraordinaire, David Gonos.

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?

I started playing the game in 1989 with family – my mom still blows kids’ minds away when she tells them she used to play back then. And I wrote a weekly newsletter for the league, then gradually, it turned into a website, until finally, I started writing online for other sites in 2000. I started my own site, FantasyRef.com, made a ton of connections with some great writers, and in 2003, I joined CBS SportsLine, where I became a Senior Fantasy Writer. That staff had three FSWA Hall of Famers, a two-time FSWA award winner – and me. I’m like Cooper Manning or Joe Neikro.

You have some of the most original ideas behind your columns (www.davidgonos.com). Do you have a little black book of future column ideas or something?

Haha, I do! It’s my notepad in my iPhone. I’ll think of random things, jot them down and come back to it when I have an empty slot in my writing schedule. “Original ideas” on the Internet are few and far between, so I thank you very much for that compliment!

But really, I try to dig for these ideas because telling people that this guy is good and this guy is bad does little to pique a reader’s interest. They want some seasoning on that meat!

I see your involvement with the daily baseball games (hold on people, it’s about football). Do you think daily translates well for fantasy football and is something you plan to play, or do you prefer the more traditional style?

Daily Fantasy Football is pretty awesome. You get an entire week to plan out your lineup, as opposed to one day in baseball. I enjoy playing both daily and seasonal leagues, as well as keeper and dynasty.

Daily leagues are like mulligans to seasonal drafts. They pardon your horrible first-round pick, and they excuse the torn ACL on your RB1. Just to show how much I enjoy them, I'm also currently writing several weekly columns at DFSEdge.com.

Branching off the previous question with your personal preference: What is your favorite league/scoring type?

My preference is a standard scoring league. I’m fine with PPR leagues, but there are many more non-PPR leagues out there, so I like to play/write to help those people. Sometimes, as an industry, I think we get caught up in new trends, and we end up writing for a small percentage of readers.

Which also brings me to this point: ESPN makes me mad. I understand that they are the leaders, and they set trends, rather than follow them. But I wish they would do it in the better interest of the players. For instance, their standard leagues are 10 teams. That screws up everyone. In my opinion, they do that so they can fill more leagues, but I’m not positive.

Their Fantasy playoffs is for just four teams, and they run four weeks – two sets of two weeks. So the top seed would play the fourth seed over the course of Weeks 14 and 15, then the winner would play the other winner over the course of Weeks 16 and 17.

That makes me want to punch someone.

I understand it’s so they can keep Fantasy owners interested in Week 17, but it sucks. You’re still talking about crazy lineups now deciding HALF of the Fantasy Super Bowl.

Again, I understand why they did it (and other sites are guilty of stuff like this, too, including CBSSports.com), but I just wish they would have stayed with the pack. No one’s following that craziness.

So you get hit with the big news (well, for those of us that didn’t say it would happen since draft day) that the Broncos released Willis McGahee. How does the affect your outlook on Montee Ball and the rest?

I think Ball’s a good RB3, but let’s not go too crazy. John Fox doesn’t do much with rookie running backs (not since Jonathan Stewart, at least), and it’s tough to think he’ll have an untested rookie blocking a blitzing linebacker as Peyton Manning drops back. He’s a fifth-round pick that will likely get picked in the fourth round.

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?

I think he’s a Top 20 running back that will get picked in the third round of most leagues. It’s tough to gamble on him higher than that, like say the Top 15, only because you never want to gamble on a pick in the top two rounds. Plus, he has a cool first name … So, you know.

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?

Does any writer have any secrets anymore? That’s like a hot chick wearing a winter parka to the beach! My standard strategy, dating all the way back to the early ‘90s, is to get three running backs in the first five rounds. Period. That usually means I have to wait for the second or third tier for quarterbacks, but I’m not scrambling in Week 3. Also, I’ll usually take a gamble like Wilson or Ball as that third running back, in hopes of hitting a homer – but at least he’s not a starter for me if he strikes out.

Because everyone always wants to know, who is your favorite underrated (notice I didn’t say “sleeper”) player for 2013?

Ahhh, sleeper gets a bad rap. People need to relax. I define a sleeper as an undrafted player (or late-round pick) that becomes a mid-round pick the next season. I also define a breakout as a mid-round pick that becomes an early-round pick the next season.

So for a sleeper, I think Mike Gillislee could be an interesting late-round gamble. He joins a Dolphins team that is handing the keys over to Lamar Miller, who people are fawning all over. But man, how many times have we seen an absolute can’t-miss guy fall flat at running back. In recent years, guys like Knowshon Moreno, Shonn Greene, Beanie Wells, Donald Brown – they’ve all been major disappointments.

Daniel Thomas is there, too, but he couldn’t make noise when he was given a chance.

Gillislee does just enough of everything, including block in pass protection, to make me think he could be a starter by season’s end. That’s probably bad news for Dolphins fans, but good news for those that drafted him as an RB5.

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.

Thanks! Well, here are three articles they might enjoy:

Parting thought (i.e. something you wish I had asked about)?

First, THANKS for having me! I love what you guys are doing over here. I’m very much looking forward to the Top 100 Players program you’ll be doing, and I hope to get involved more with you! …

Also, do not eat kielbasa and cabbage for lunch before a funeral.

That is all.