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Five Burning Questions: All things fantasy football with Cecil Lammey

In more than a quarter-century since Cecil Lammey started playing fantasy football, the game has grown from a niche activity for football diehards to a piece of American culture.

And in that time, Lammey himself has grown from football fanatic to one of the foremost experts about the game of football, specifically fantasy football.

This week, 104.3 The Fan caught up with its own fantasy football expert ahead of Cecil Lammey’s Fantasy Draft Party on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Blake Street Tavern (Details and tickets here):

Johnny Hart, 104.3 The Fan digital content producer: Why do you think fantasy football has become such a major part of American culture, not just among people who enjoy sports but the casual fan?  

Cecil Lammey, insider for Fantasy football lets the average fan have the experience of running a team. People like to make their own decisions about how to beat a team, and fantasy football gives you the opportunity to do that. Football fans are smart and they want to know more about this complicated and beautiful game. Fantasy football allows you to learn more about every team in the league, not just the hometown team.  

Hart: If you could boil down what makes a good fantasy football GM/team into one sentence, what would it be? 

Lammey: A good fantasy football GM understands that your team is not set after the draft and it takes in-season management to put yourself in position to win a championship.  

Hart: How did you get into fantasy football, and why do you love it so much? 

Lammey: I started playing fantasy football in 1993. My friends and I started a league to prove who knew more about football and that league lasted 25 seasons. It started out as bragging rights, there were some friends from the league who were lost – perhaps because of some of the drama in the league. The competition was so fierce and our rules were so complicated that we actually started a minor league with GMs who wanted to be in the big league. I love it because it’s a thrill to find that diamond in the rough player who nobody else is thinking about. When that player turns into a star and you’ve been on his bandwagon from day one, it’s like being a fan of a band before they hit it big time. The emotion that you feel when the team you’ve assembled wins it all keeps me coming back for more.  

Hart: What’s the worst (safe for work) loser punishment you’ve heard of or experienced with fantasy football? 

Lammey: It has to be the tattoos that some people are forced to get when they lose. I’ve heard about a league that made their worst GM make $100 as a bathroom attendant even though he didn’t work at the four restaurants he was kicked out of while attempting to make that money.  

Hart: In your opinion, who’s the G.O.A.T fantasy player? 

Lammey: Others will have a different answer, but, for me, it’s Marshall Faulk. I liked him in college at San Diego State and have the day he declared to turn pro on videotape. Faulk was a good player with the Colts, but he became only the second member of the 1,000/1,000 club (going over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season) with the Rams. I had Faulk on my team every year he was in the NFL. In fact, one year somebody drafted him before I could get him and I stopped the draft, threw a fit and eventually started the draft over — where I got Faulk. Not a great day, but I was serious about keeping Faulk every year. 

(Bonus five questions)

Hart: How will those who attend your fantasy football draft party have a leg up over the competition? 

Lammey: I’ll have a two-hour Q&A session where I’ll go over the latest strategies for the game. I go over the most important rules when it comes to playing fantasy football. I’ve got sources around the league with every team, and I’ll share some of my insight they’ve told me about players to avoid and players you must add.  

Hart: There are fantasy cheat sheets all over the internet, along with experts and publications. Sell me on why you’re different than the rest. 

Lammey: I am the only fantasy analyst that travels to all of the college All-Star Games. I follow this game 365 days per year and get to know these players before they enter the league. In addition to the All-Star road trip, I also am one of the few fantasy analysts who attends the Scouting Combine. In addition, I travel to some pro days around the country. I talk to scouts, coaches, GMs and other team executives to learn the most I can about this game. During the season, I spend 20 hours watching games, charting plays, and identifying tendencies that can help you win your league.  

Hart: What’s the most common mistake/trap fantasy football GMs make that you wish you could prevent? 

Lammey: They don’t pay attention to their scoring and lineup. It’s the most important rule of fantasy football. You have to first know how your league is structured to then put together the best draft plan possible.  

Hart: What’s the worst bad beat you’ve experienced or you’ve seen someone experience? 

Lammey: I lost a fantasy championship on a touchdown catch that was called back. Former Saints wide receiver Willie Jackson caught a pass at the back of the end zone that was called a touchdown. My opponent was done playing and I was running the scores in my head to determine how many points I needed to win. The touchdown put me over the top and I went wild with joy. The replay showed that he didn’t get both feet down in the end zone and the touchdown was wiped away. Jackson lost those points for my team and he never scored enough to put me back over the top. That game still hurts to this day.  

Hart: Who’s the ultimate sleeper this year and of all-time? 

Lammey: Everyone needs to add Chiefs rookie running back Darwin Thompson. He’s an explosive playmaker who Andy Reid can use in a similar fashion to the way he utilized Brian Westbrook years ago when he was the coach of the Eagles. Thompson has been a star in Chiefs camp and is only behind Damien Williams on the depth chart. If Williams is banged up (again), Thompson could take over and not look back. He’s the perfect pick to take with your final selection in any draft.  

One of my favorite sleepers of all time was then-Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech, bouncing around from the Chargers to the Dolphins. Miami ended up trading him within the division to the Patriots for a second and seventh-round pick. Welker was an unknown but my Patriots sources said he was going to be quite involved in the offense. That was a bit of an understatement as Welker led the league in receptions his first season in New England with 112 catches. He was a great unknown pick that helped a lot of Fantasy GMs win their league that year in 2007.