Heads Up With The All In Kid: Shane Hallam
For the next five weeks, I'll be sitting down at the table and going heads up with fellow fantasy football industry leaders. It's your chance to see what makes these writers the best bets in fantasy and get that pocket-cam view at their secrets. First up is one of the best in the business at evaluating rookie talent, Shane P. Hallam.
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've been watching football since I came out of the womb and really got into fantasy football as a young kid with AOL internet (I joined a Yahoo Public League and drafted blocking TE Mark Bruener in the first round). Into high school and college, I just started writing about the NFL Draft and fantasy football to anyone who would read, which eventually led to a few years writing at Draftcountdown.com and now opening DraftTV.com. I've always loved football, but being short and slow precluded me from playing. So, the strategy behind that and applying it to the NFL Draft and Fantasy Football became my way to be involved.
I think you may study college players even more than the famed Mel Kiper. Even though you don’t have the hair, how do you think that affects your fantasy success and strategies?
If I had the hair, then I'd be an NFL Draft God! I think it has a profound effect on my fantasy success and strategy. Being able to evaluate these players based on their previous work instead of just looking at situation and numbers can give me a head’s up. It also allows me to build a database of players that I have watched since they were 19 years old and can see development they make. Not only does it help with rookies, but it helps with second and third year players. I evaluate their development from college into the NFL and often see the most success by drafting players going into their second or third year that came up short as rookies but improved from college. That usually indicates future development and breakout potential. It has helped me tremendously.
Branching off the previous question, it’s only fitting to ask you, which rookie (or two) has the most upside for the 2013 season?
The first has to be my No. 1 WR pre and post draft, Houston Texans, DeAndre Hopkins. With Andre Johnson and Arian Foster as his offensive running mates, teams won't be focused on the rookie, and I think he automatically slides into a starting role. Six games against Gregory Toler, Dwayne Gratz, and Alterraun Verner doesn't sound bad to me at all in 1-on-1 coverage. I think he has a big year. My second is someone who is being overlooked for their upside, and that is EJ Manuel. Snatch him up as your QB2. What is the worst-case scenario? You can cut him for someone on the waiver wire after drafting him late. Best case is he uses his legs a ton and the Bills get down in games; then we could see him really exploding from a fantasy perspective a la the past few years first round rookie QBs. Don't let him be overlooked.
The biggest news this week is the two-game suspension of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. How you rank and project him for 2013 now?
I definitely bump him way down in redraft (though I wasn't buying into all the hype for him to begin with). Gordon won't play in 1/6th of the fantasy games he is eligible for, and miss 23 percent of your fantasy regular season games total when you include his bye week. That is rough. I have him ranked 35th in redraft and 25th in dynasty, especially with worry that there could be more suspensions in the future. He has talent, but you have a poor QB situation and some questions off the field. There is a ton of risk with Josh Gordon. I have stuck by a moniker of avoiding Browns players, and it has worked the past decade or so.
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 have David Wilson rated as the No. 20 RB in redraft and 16 in dynasty. He is a dynamic player. I didn't love him predraft because of his tendency to dance behind the line, but it appears to be something the Giants coaches are working with him on. As a RB2, he could turn into a stud and likely gets enough carries to sustain you either way. I’m not as afraid of Andre Brown due to his injury history, and where they drafted Wilson should give him first crack at the job. Wilson is a solid investment in the late second round of redraft.
Personal preference question: What is your favorite league/scoring type?
I love dynasty leagues with deep rosters and PPR scoring including IDPs. I still prefer offensive players count a bit more than IDPs, but love the investment into a huge league with the ability to develop deep sleepers is my dream. And if you add developmental drafts (i.e. drafting college players,) into it, I am in ecstasy!
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?
Preparation and flexibility. I’ve watched any player I plan on drafting, whether it is a veteran or rookie, and listened to a multitude of opinions on most players via podcasts, websites, beat writers, and more. I’ve found the most information I get from smart people allows me to evolve my observations and opinions. I also have rankings and tiers for every draft based on the scoring system. This ties into flexibility where I don’t come in with a “must draft two RBs before any other position” or “won’t take a QB until the seventh round or later.” I like to see how the draft is going, where other teams are focused and scoop up value players that I like. It also allows me in dynasty leagues to always be willing to talk trade no matter the player my opponent is targeting. Flexibility gives me a ton of different players spread out across a number of leagues. One of other tactic I like is tailoring my later round picks to my early round picks. Do I have a lot of early risk? Maybe I will grab some safer players later or vice versa. Just because I take one player ahead of another does not mean I will in my next draft.
Back to your college and rookie player knowledge, do you feel fantasy owners can get too caught up in trying to catch the “next big thing?”
Absolutely, heck, I do so myself. I see players in dynasty leagues trading away guys they have held onto for years when the player finally breaks out for rookie picks. Players like Roddy White with 2-3 good years left are getting traded for pennies on the dollar in dynasty leagues for the next big thing. It can really bite you. I love rookie picks as much as anyone, but be sure you have a plan. When DO you want to win the league? What year will you be pushing the chips in for a victory? Set that plan up and work towards that, not just the next big thing.
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 hope everyone will follow me on twitter @ShanePHallam and @DraftTV. I try to answer every question I get and interact with everyone. Also check out www.DraftTV.com for my 2014 NFL Draft rankings and mock draft as well as www.DraftTV.com/fantasy for all my fantasy info, rankings, and Vlogs. Also be sure to sign up for www.DynastySoundtrack.com for my weekly Dynasty Podcast with Michael Bronte.
Parting thought (i.e. something you wish I had asked about)?
I appreciate you for having me!