I play fantasy football as an escape from the reality of my day to day work life. Fantasy provides a welcome distraction from the monotony or stress of my workday. In years past that escape took the form or reading websites. In recent years I find myself reading less and turning instead to podcasts. This way as I walk the dog, sit in traffic or go for a run I can multi-task my procrastinating.
The fantasy podcast options grow longer every day. Finding a show that is well produced, well hosted and unique can be a challenge though as there are a lot of podcasters learning on the job, providing echo-chamber takes or just plain bad. I’m constantly kicking tires on new hosts and new shows and suggest you do the same, because there is plenty of great stuff out there to be discovered.
The list below are the shows or voices I find myself returning to most frequently, and while they are ranked in no particular order, the last name on the list is far and away my favourite.
The Dynasty Blueprint with Matt Williamson and Ryan McDowell.
The original draw for me here was Matt Williamson, who I read and listened to years ago when he was working for ESPN. Williamson is a former NFL scout and his insights are focused more so on the actual game on the field, rather than the fantasy angles; and this is where Ryan McDowell comes in. McDowell, who I didn’t know previously, is a fantasy industry veteran from Dynasty League Football. As the name of the site and this pod suggests, he views player values on the long-term dynasty time horizon. The two work well together and offer unique perspective; Matt’s football vantage point gauging talent and Ryan’s fantasy experience measuring value. The format varies from week to week, but this year’s in-season weekly podcasts have been sourced from listener questions. It’s a nice interactive element and it’s easy enough to get your questions addressed. For a few weeks they had adopted a trade-debate show, where Ryan threw out hypothetical dynasty trades that he and Matt hash out. It makes for a fun listen and one I hope they refine and return to soon.
It is not the tidiest show production-wise, and you get the sense they are still looking for their groove. What has me coming back week after week are their takes, both voices are worth your time and energy.
Harris Fantasy Football Podcast
Another ESPN alumnus, the exhausted and sometimes exhausting Chris Harris pumps out 5 shows a week during the regular season. Chris prides himself on watching every game, using film to decipher player values, rather than sifting through the box scores. Monday and Tuesday shows are for game film review and waiver wire pick-ups, Wednesday is dedicated to players ranks, Thursday Chris reveals his Flexual Healing pole results and talks DFS, while the week culminates with Cousin Josh’s visit on Friday. I find myself tuning in most days but if I had to narrow it down, I’d opt for Tuesday’s waiver wire portion of the show, in which Chris and his industry guest run down the virtues or warts of their top five pick-ups of the week. Friday’s have been entertaining recently and Chris and Cousin Josh have been running though fun lists of players they would trade for or trade away, along with general fantasy football topics, such as what ails the game and what could improve leagues. The two are pretty fun together and you can certainly feel the family familiarity.
Chris has some pretty strong opinions and can sometimes rage against a specific topic, dogmatic player take, or stat usage. There have been a few tense moments on the show where he and a guest have sparred, which was both uncomfortable and entertaining. He’ll also rail, on acasion, against the fantasy community at large, which can be a little self-aggrandizing and off-putting. That said, I’ve been going back for more for years and have no plans on giving him up. We tune in to these shows for opinion and debate and he doesn’t apologize for providing just that.
Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast
For a kinder, friendlier podcast with a depth of knowledge, there’s Matt Waldman’s RSP Cast. This is the newest and most unique animal of the fantasy football podcast universe. To call the show a fantasy podcast would be inaccurate as it’s really more of a pure football show. Matt and his guests meander through a number of topics including scouting in general, the evaluation process and philosophy, as well as a good dose of grey bearded football history. The show is understated and underproduced, yet clear, one course and thought inspiring. Waldman provides his audiences with unique guests and unique conversations in a landscape where one podcast content, format or guests are often echoed. He’s also just a good, straight up conversationalist and giving host. The conversations are an exploration, rather than a list of questions. I sometimes find myself skeptical in the opening moments of a show, but am drawn in time after time. The fantasy nuggets are not on the surface, as they are with many shows, but hidden within the conversation
Matt’s recently hosted Dane Brugler, another well respected football mind who produces a scouting report that likely comes into direct competition with Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio. In some industries, some personalities would shy away from inviting the competition in, not so here. Instead, Brugler and Waldman have a great conversation on process and how they continue to learn and refine their craft. I have yet to decipher the show’s exact schedule or frequency, but I’m always happy when it pops up in my subscriptions.
So, come for the Nick Chubb confirmation bias, but stay for the football mind expansion.
If you couldn’t get out with the lads for a Thursday Night Football pint, crack one on the couch and enjoy the banter between the Football Guys. First Dr. Gene Bramel pops in for a visit and some injury Q&A with the guys. The balance of the show is a very laid-back and meandering conversation between three of my fantasy industry favourites: Matt Waldman, Sigmund Bloom, and Cecil Lamey as they watch the game unfold. You’ll never know exactly what to expect, but it’s a fun relaxed format that allows for a free-flowing conversation.
Evan Silva Exposure
Silva is another Fantasy community heavyweight I hold in high regard. You can catch Evan regularly on the Fantasy Feast Podcast with Ross Tucker, as well as the Rotoworld Football pod with Josh Norris. I like both shows well enough but don’t seem to return to them as regularly as I do the others. Silva is all over the place and whether you pick him up here, or via his weekly column or just follow him on twitter he’s a valued opinion you should seek out. It seems to me it would serve him well to consider a new format for a regular pod.
Living the Stream
This is a show I don’t listen too nearly enough and that’s mostly to be blamed on my not playing re-draft and needing to stream QB. That said, JJ Zachariason and Denny Carter are really likeable and deserve more ear time. JJ also hosts the Late Round Podcast which is a short and sweet mailbag show he bangs out once a week. I like these two guys a lot and would love to see them expand their podcasting horizons.
On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom
If I had only one podcast to listen to, or to recommend it would very easily be On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom. The weekly show is conversation between host Bloom and a who’s who of fantasy industry experts. Bloom is a kind and generous interviewer who knows how to run his show, how to keep his guests speaking and running through their fantast football stream of consciousness. If you know nothing about the fantasy football community or podcasts, this is where you start. Bloom will introduce you to everyone, one by one. Think of him as your only friend at the party. Stand next to him for a while and before you know it, you’ll be on a first name basis with everyone in the room.
Of all the names above, Williamson, Harris, Waldman, Silva, and Zachariason, as much as I enjoy their own shows, I’d trade them all for a one-hour stint On the Couch with Sigmund Bloom.