FakePigskin Exclusive Fantasy Football Interview: Nathan Zegura

Fantasy guru Nathan Zegura gives Fakepigskin an exclusive interivew.

About a month ago, Fakepigskin was able to provide an interview featuring CBS’s top fantasy football guru, Dave Richard, with our own Justin Lonero (@lonero_justin) providing the questions. Today, we’re excited to have another one of CBS’s top analysts, Nathan Zegura, featured on our site. Nathan gives us a look into his past and how he got into fantasy football, as well as some tips for those aspiring to be the best fake footballers they can be.

Nathan was the owner of thefantasyconsultant.com, a website where he provided personal fantasy advice, all backed up by facts and in-depth analysis. He was featured on television and radio, and even made joined actor Ashton Kutcher on Fantasy Football Live. He currently hosts his own radio show on SiriusXM Fantasy Consultant which is on Monday-Thursday from 5-7PM EST on Sirius 210/XM 87 and is a contributor to CBS Fantasy Sports.

While Nathan grew up in the Bay Area, he’s now living in Cleveland with his wife Elissa and his two kids Arden and Bryce.

 

JL: Hey Nathan thanks for taking a few moments to answer a couple fantasy football related questions.. I write for fakepigskin.com and recently just interviewed a colleague of yours Dave “Downtown” Richard. It is a pleasure being able to discuss fantasy football with two of the industries best.

You are from Cleveland right? How long have you been involved with Fantasy football? And what got you into the industry?

- NATHAN: I was born and raised in Hayward, CA (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and moved to Cleveland about 12 years ago. In between I went to college at Emory University in Atlanta and worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Co. in the ATL as well.

I have been playing Fantasy Football since 96, when I got into my first league in college. I was immediately hooked and instantly my Fantasy Draft Day became one of my favorite days of the year.

After my time at McKinsey, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sports, but did not know exactly what I wanted to do. One night I was in the basement with my wife Elissa and my buddy Beatbox and we were just hanging out, talking about what kind of sports career I should go after. Beatbox pointed out that I usually won my Fantasy leagues and my friends would always ask me for advice, so he threw out starting a Fantasy Football advice website and boom, thefantasyconsultant.com was born.

That was nearly a decade ago and I am so proud of the fact that I was able to launch that website, help people win their Fantasy Football leagues, grow a following and turn it into a legit career. Sometimes, I still pinch myself when I think of where things have gone and are still going from that little idea to start thefantasyconsultant.com. I was also very lucky that Fantasy Football was really taking off at that time and the independent FF advice website market was not nearly as saturated as it is now.

JL: You are someone that is involved with radio, writing, pod casts, what is your favorite area of expertise?

- NATHAN: Of all of the things I do in Fantasy Football, I love doing TV the best. Maybe I like to perform a little bit, but there is nothing like live television to get the adrenaline pumping. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 1 on 1 interactions I would have with my subscribers on thefantasyconsultant.com and I thoroughly enjoy my SiriusXM Fantasy Consultant show and interacting with my callers, but nothing gets me juiced like live TV. 1st and Awesome with my friend and WWE Superstar The Miz is by far my favorite thing to do on radio, but TV will always take the cake.

I really got my start on TV in Cleveland after launching TFC and it was doing the UStream TV show with Ashton Kutcher that kind of opened a lot of people’s eyes to what I could do and the kind of information I could bring. To really sum it up though, let me just say that two years ago, when Downtown Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and I were on the Sunday TV version of Fantasy Football Today along with Brian Westbrook and our host Brent Stover it truly was the most fun I have ever had as a professional.

We had great camaraderie, great chemistry and genuinely all liked each other a lot and it showed. We also had phenomenal producers in Peter Smith and James Questel and it really felt like having a party with your good friends every Sunday. Everyone was on the same page…everyone had the same goal of producing an awesome show and helping out the viewers and everyone had a great time week after week. That was professional nirvana for me and the 2012 season of Fantasy Football Today is easily the best time I have ever had on a job.

JL: If you could help aspiring fantasy football writers and enthusiasts, what would you tell them to do to help them achieve success?

- NATHAN: I would say that you have to be able to write, but to really make it up to a place like CBS you need to be able to deliver in all phases of media. You have to be comfortable on camera and you have to be comfortable on the radio/podcasts. I would really recommend getting as many reps as you can in front of the camera or on a radio show etc. It doesn’t matter what level you start at….get your reps and get comfortable.

In Cleveland, I started off as a call in “expert” on the local drivetime show and people liked what they heard, so I was offered my own Fantasy show soon thereafter. You need to get an in and you need to get your reps, so offer your local sports radio or TV station to give you a shot. Get your foot in the door and see where it takes you.

That’s the truth on the sizzle side of things, but sizzle won’t get you too far if you don’t have the steak. The most important thing is really working to have a defined methodology to how you approach Fantasy Football and how you want to give advice. Articulate that methodology, develop it and do the research (the hours and hours of research it takes) to make sure you have covered all the bases and are fully prepared to talk about or give advice on any player at any time.

For example, my methodolgy has always been all about the numbers and the trends. I love to dive into stats and create stats at times to really tell my story and uncover the little known facts that will give you an edge in your leagues. I will never make a recommendation that I can’t back up with some kind of fact. I don’t like to tell people to just start player A, I want to be able to tell them to start player A because of Stat A, Fact B and trend C. While I know that I won’t be right all of the time, by doing my research and sticking to my proven methods, I know I will help my followers the vast majority of the time. To me, that is key….anyone can have an opinion. Not everyone can have a well researched position that is strongly supported and easy to understand.

JL: Football is changing year to year, so in turn, fantasy football is changing as well. How do you feel about all these platoon back fields and quarterbacks throwing the ball 50 times a game?

- NATHAN: I love watching quarterbacks play huck, chuck football so I am all about them slinging the pill 50+ times per game. The QB position has never been deeper and on any given week there will be a QB or 5 on your wire who will throw for 300 yards and 2 TDs. I like what it has done for Fantasy Football, because it has added new strategies such as waiting on a QB, streaming waiver QBs based on matchups and it has allowed teams to build around the dominant pass catchers in these high octane offenses.

As for the RBs, the true workhorses arguably hold more value than ever due to the rise of so many RBBCs. At the same time, there a more RBs who can put up solid points every week than there ever were before, so you have many mid round gems to try and mine. Every year late round RBs blow up when a supposed RBBC doesn’t go as was initially thought, with Knowshon Moreno being a great example last year. That being said, with Moreno out of DEN, I expect Montee Ball to absolutely blow up in 2014.

 

JL: I am someone that analyzes rankings to help myself get a better idea where to draft, and also give myself an idea what tier a player should be in. What variables are taken into consideration when ranking a player? Position to position does the criteria change?

- NATHAN: I have a very thorough process for how I go through my pre-season rankings. I like to write up a detailed report on every single player that covers all of the relevant facts about their past season (s) and all of the facts that will be useful going forward into the next year.

By going through all of the numbers and trends, I will end up with a narrative on how I expect that player to be used and how I expect him to perform going forward. That narrative then fuels my statistical projections which will then become the basis for my rankings. When I have two guys projected similarly, but have to rank them vertically I will always give the edge to the player who I think has more upside or will have the ball in his hands more often. So overall, things are done the same accross positions in terms of my overall process.

The stats I look at to produce the narrative however will change a ton from position to position. For example, with WRs and TEs it is all about targets (or expected targets due to a change in circumstance) and the efficiency metrics of yards per target, points per target and catch rate. I will also look at red zone utilization in terms of both opportunities (targets, how far the target was from the goal line) and success (how many of the targets were converted into scores) to get a better idea on how to handicap someone’s TD potential. I will always favor the WR I think will have more catches and yards because as even the great Megatron has shown, TDs are a highly variable stat for pass catchers.

 

JL: Lastly my good man.. Auction draft seem to be a new phenomenon ..Dave Richard mentioned he participates in auctions.. What format do you enjoy the most and what bit of advise can you give the average fantasy player?

- NATHAN: Auctions are a lot of fun, because everyone has access to every player and a new level of strategy comes into your draft day process. I have had a blast with auction drafts and play in one auction league each year. I like them a lot and think they will continue to grow in popularity over the next few years. The traditional snake draft still is my favorite, because I love the the drama of how the draft unfolds and getting to make your own pick when its your turn on the clock.

One auction note: I think Free Agent Auction Bidding (FAAB) is the best way to do the waiver wire. I love it….everyone starts the year with $1000 to bid on waiver wire players…..it makes it fair in the sense that anyone can go after any available player and it adds a fun layer of strategy to the mix.

My one piece of advice: Only draft 1 QB, 1 TE, 1K and 1 DEF (K and D probably last two picks) and load up on as many RBs and WRs as possible. Those are the money positions and finding the mid round gems to really solidify your lineup or for great trade bait down the line is the key to winning your league along with great in-season roster management via the waiver wire and trades.

JL: Thanks a ton bud.

- NATHAN: Thanks Justin and let me know if you have any follow up questions etc.

2 Comments

  1. Brian Fuchs

    September 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Hey Nathan, really love your advice. Why are your rankings no longer on cbssports and where can I find them now? Thanks

  2. Chuck Chapa

    September 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Nathan, I listen to XM radio everyday from 3 to 4 pst and I have not heard you on that time slot like before. Are you still broadcasting at that time? Your my all time advise giver and I miss your wisdom. How can I get your weekly rankings as well? Miss ya man.. Go Niners!!!!!!!!!!!

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