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I’ve published FantasyGuru.com since 1995. My site is one of the oldest fantasy info sites on the Internet, and I was online doing this before all but 2-3 others still in existence. 2011 is our 17th year in business, if you can believe that.
I get asked how I got started with all this a lot, and now I have a place to send people who ask. After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in Communications (Radio/TV/Film), I was working as a rock disc jockey and also in publishing. Through the radio station, I got hooked up with a guy who had a local sports cable TV show in New Jersey. I told him he should have me on his show because I was a “Fantasy Guru.” I came up with the name in about three seconds. Before that, I was just a guy who played fantasy and was very good at it and could talk sports, particularly football, with the best of them. He agreed, and my appearances went so well that I became a weekly co-host on the show. The show aired in about 1 million homes in New Jersey and due to a lot of wild stunts and antics (think Howard Stern, think strippers participating in banana eating contests) and the fact that most cable systems carried only 30-35 channels, we had something of a cult following.
I also quickly gained a reputation for my predictions and evaluations – I proclaimed Isaac Bruce the next Jerry Rice in the summer of ’95, and not one caller had heard of him, for example – so I decided to start a hard copy newsletter and to market my advice. I slapped up a Web page in early 1995, and off I went.
In 1996 I was contacted by ESPN.com to contribute to their fledgling fantasy area. In fact, I was technically the first individual to be employed and featured on ESPN.com (back then the site was called ESPNNET Sportszone). I had a few columns there, one of them being the “Stock Watch.” I believe I was the first to use the stock market analogy to aid in fantasy analysis, for what it’s worth. I also wrote and contributed to ESPN’s first coverage of fantasy football on television. I worked with ESPN.com for seven years until ESPN wanted to use only their own employees for their fantasy area (yeah, whatever). The fact of the matter is I never truly tried to capitalize on my relationship with ESPN because I had no intention of working for them full time and moving to Connecticut.
Otherwise, I just got involved in as many things as I could, particularly writing for and appearing in as many fantasy magazines as I could to promote the site.
As the years passed, my reputation grew, due in large part to my success as a fantasy player in high-profile “Expert Leagues” comprised only of fantasy writers, and my exposure on TV, Radio, and Print. My first expert league was also the first one on the Internet, to my knowledge, Fanex. That was 1997, and I won the title. The next year I lost in the Championship. The next year I won the league. The year after that I won the league. People took notice. In various expert leagues put on by numerous media entities such as ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and Yahoo! Sports, I’ve won 18 titles, including championships in leagues run by those three outlets. In 2008, I won the NFL.com expert league as well as Expert Leagues for Fantasy Sports Magazine, Fantasy Forecast Magazine, and my 12-team league in Rotobowl. I finished the regular season in Rotobowl 3rd overall in points (out of 400).
Things heated up the early part of this decade when the NFL Network and NFL Films decided to cover fantasy sports. They called me, and I appeared weekly on “NFL Fantasy Live” alongside former NFL Player Ron Jaworski and the next year on the NFL Network’s “Playbook” show alongside former NFL Players Sterling Sharpe and Solomon Wilcots. In 2003, the NFL asked me to be a key contributor on their strategy-based preseason DVD on fantasy football.
That same year, I decided to launch my own fantasy magazine, FantasyGuru.com magazine. That 2003 debut featured the first player interview in a fantasy magazine, then reigning rookie of the year Clinton Portis. There have been many in other magazines since, of course. Since then I have interviewed LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Smith, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Kevin Jones, LaMont Jordan, Julius Jones, and Tatum Bell for the magazine. Also in 2003, I began appearing on Comcast Sportsnet, and still do to this day as the chief fantasy analyst on the “Fantasy Fix” show on Comcast Sportsnet’s local stations, which also air nationally on Direct TV. After being on NFL Network for its launch in 2003, it was expected that Adam Caplan and I would have our own show the next year. That didn’t happen, as NFL Network for the most part ignored fantasy, and moved most of their programming out to LA (I did my stuff at NFL Films, in New Jersey).
That next year, 2004, Sirius Satellite Radio launched, and Caplan and I were contracted to co-host their NFL Channel’s “Sirius Fantasy Football.” We just wrapped up our fifth season in 2008. I do the show from my house using an ISDN line that makes it sound like I’m in the studio. And as the actual host of the show I put callers on the air myself, while working with producers who are in the main studio in New York. We have some celebrity guests on, talk to a lot of insider types, even FantasyGuru.com subscribers. It’s pretty cool. In 2007, we started inviting NFL players to come on the show, and each time I review my projections for them for the week. In ’07-’08 we’ve had on Adrian Peterson (Min), Maurice Jones-Drew, Ronnie Brown, Matt Forte, Greg Jenning, Marques Colston, Santonio Holmes, Steve Slaton, Eddie Royal, Joe Flacco, Derrick Mason, Antonio Bryant, Chris Cooley, Kevin Curtis, Chester Taylor, Dominic Rhodes, Tony Scheffler, Roddy White, James Jones, Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen, Tim Hightower, Dustin Keller, Jacoby Jones, Shaun McDonald, LenDale White, Reggie Williams, Lance Moore, Sidney Rice, and others.
Thanks to my affiliation with Sirius, I’m able to attend events such as the NFL Draft, Combine, and Super Bowl, and I’ve been able to interact with many players, coaches, agents, insiders, and analysts all of which helps me cover the NFL for fantasy football.
Finally, I also write columns online for Yahoo! Sports have written a nationally-syndicated newspaper column that appears weekly in papers such as the Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Due to the obligations I have to my family and, quite frankly, our subscribers, I have passed on a lot of other opportunities in the fantasy sports industry. If I could be cloned, I’d do it, but I can only do so much.
I’ve been married since I was 23 years old (crazy, I know), and I have four children, including twins born in February 2006. I reside in Southern New Jersey near the shore.
If I’m not doing things and traveling with my kids or out with my wife, I’m probably expanding my massive DVD collection, watching a great movie, listening to music, or attending a rock show. I also spend a lot of time in the Spring/Summer coaching Little League Baseball.
Some of my favorite movies include anything written/directed by Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, the Farrelly Brothers, Charlie Kaufman, among others. Before the twins came, I was spending some down time (not a lot these days) studying the art of screenplay writing and also working on one, but that interest has been pushed asside for a few years until the twins get a little older.
Some of my favorite bands include Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Coldplay, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, Band of Horses, The Decemberists, The Strokes, The Killers, Silversun Pickups, REM, and many others. I usually attend 6-7 rock concerts a year, many of them with my oldest son, Christian, who is a very talented muscian.