Dave Richard was recently awarded by the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. Since 2005, Dave has been writing fantasy sports content for CBS Sports, but before that he wrote for NFL.com (fantasy and non-fantasy) for four years. Since moving to CBS he's not only penned tons of columns and analysis but he has appeared on a number of television shows, radio shows and is a regular on CBSSports.com’s Fantasy Football Today.
What is your approach on preparing and writing a fantasy football article?
Ultimately, people just want advice on who to start, sit, add and drop. I try to write as if I were speaking. Like I'll picture myself sitting at our studio desk ranting on a topic and just take whatever I'd say and type it. From there I might add some silly stuff and "dress down" the story so as to not make it sound snooty or boring. Getting into how I do it, I'll write an outline of the points I want to get across first, and then get into the nuts and bolts of whatever it is I'm writing. But everything is written as if we're hanging out and I'm talking to you about your fantasy team.
You got your start writing in pro wrestling. How did you make the transition to writing fantasy football content?
I got really lucky to break in with Sportsline in 2000 and when I did I made no secret about my love for football. When they bought the right to produce NFL.com in 2001 I was the first web producer they moved over. They also knew I was way into fantasy football and at the time (this is around 2002) there wasn't a fantasy writer for NFL.com, so I did it weekly. The transition was easy. Writing wrestling columns helped me discover my writing style.
You are a family man with a wife and two children. Are your wife and children supportive of your passion for fantasy football and how do you find balance between sports and family man?
Again, I'm really lucky because I married a woman who loves football. Most guys take their wives or girlfriends out on dates and talk about stupid stuff. My wife and I will sit down and start ranking quarterbacks, talking about coaches and discuss whether or not specific players are worth their salaries. I'm not making this up. Because she's so into football she's totally understanding of the schedule I keep from late July through early January.
Our family entered a fantasy league as a team for the first time this year. Every week my son (Ryan, 9) and daughter (Hillary, 6) helped set the lineup and looked at the matchups. We drafted really well (LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch with back-to-back picks!) and won the league. So now they all understand some of what I do and what fantasy is all about. And now my son is starting to watch film and try to understand football a little deeper whereas before he couldn't care less. So I'd say they're all supportive and interested in the game.
Any recommendations for people today that are trying to get into the fantasy sports writing business?
Hop on the Internet, write somewhere for free, find your voice, get noticed and carve out a place in the business. It actually sounds hard (it's not) and time consuming (it is) but it certainly pushes the most passionate and knowledgeable people about fantasy football into the forefront.
Social media really helps a lot now too because you can converse with your readers so I'd add that to the list of things you have to do: Develop a Twitter following. And I might add that one should find his or her special niche within fantasy, whether it be IDP analysis or creating your own stat metric. That stuff will help people out a lot. Being there for them to answer questions is important too.
You are one of the more active participants on Twitter (@DaveRichard) with 58,739 followers and counting. How do you use social media to help you in the fantasy sports business?
Twitter is great because I can share my stories and observations with those who care to follow me and I can also help them with their lineup and draft issues when they ask. It's frustrating, though, because I can't answer everything. I could literally sit on Twitter from 5:30 in the morning when I get up until 11:00 or midnight or whenever I crash and answer questions during the season. But I can't do that. So I answer stuff in the early morning, occasionally throughout the day and sometimes at night. But I'll also try some fun stuff and post polls or questions where I am looking for responses right away. I'll randomly call followers, help them with their drafts. I'll follow people randomly. I'm always experimenting to try and stay fresh on Twitter but really as long as I help people out and post my stories it's very useful.
You do more than writing fantasy football content as you also appear on video and radio. Is this simply a natural transition into other mediums for discussing fantasy football, or is this something that also takes a level of time and commitment on top of your fantasy football writing?
It's easy for me because I'm a blabbermouth to begin with. But I've learned that being prepared for radio and video is the most important thing for me and that takes time. People will hear me on the radio and the hosts will always wonder how I always give quick answers to the questions their callers ask me. It's because I'm sitting at my desk with my rankings and notes open. Jamey Eisenberg and Nathan Zegura, two of my colleagues, remember stats like their birthdays. I'm not as gifted in that regard and need those notes in front of me in order to feel comfortable. I don't see that as a bad thing, it just means I need to be prepared. Every single time I'm on a show I'm as prepared as I can be and that takes time and effort.
There has been a big explosion in daily fantasy sports websites. Do you have any aspirations on writing fantasy football articles that are more slanted towards weekly fantasy football contests with weekly salary cap leagues as an example?
Yeah I do. No one knows this but I already play on a site and I was rolling until the playoffs when I put my entire bankroll on the line and Jamaal Charles went down. So that sucked. My brother-in-law and I talk about DFS all the time – he recently won almost $1,000 in a single week. No doubt it's the next big thing and it's a lot of fun so of course I'd love to get into it. I already write a weekly column breaking down the non-obvious players in fantasy every week so it won't take much more to branch it out into analysis and advice for DFS leagues.
Do you have any aspirations for branching out into other sports writing such as fantasy baseball? I’m sure that Scott White, Nando Di Fino, and Al Melchior at CBS Sports could always use your opinion.
I'll do anything they ask me to do but trust me when I say that my knowledge of other sports is weak compared to football. It's because all my time and energy is on football. I'm lucky that I can be a fan of other teams in other sports while being way, way into football.
Does CBS Sports plan on renewing the Fantasy Football road show that you did several years ago? The growth of the fantasy football league manager has increased significantly since the first time that you launched the road show.
I'm officially not allowed to let the cat out of the bag but something is in the works. That's all I can say. It's going to be awesome.