Dan “Soupy” Campbell plays a lot of fantasy football. The impassioned, try-hard persona he takes as frontman of Philadelphia pop-punk staples the Wonder Years (and his solo project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties) bleeds through to his fantasy game, where last year he took on an incredible 10 leagues, playing with fans to give money to charity.
“I won four of them and I was in the playoffs in eight of the ten,” he states in a modest tone, understating his achievement. Campbell is getting married on Oct. 1, so this year he’s he’s whittled his leagues down to two — giving some others out there a sporting chance.
With many drafts scheduled for the next few days (the NFL regular season kicks off Thursday), Campbell was happy to pass along some of his hard-researched 2016 fantasy football acumen while the Wonder Years headed to this weekend’s gig at Denver’s Riot Fest.
What are some of your routines in getting ready for a draft?
I make a list of people I won’t draft for any reason. I make a list of sleepers I want to target and what rounds they’re going in, to target later on.
What’s your plan for the first round of the draft?
I want to know my first two picks before the draft, more or less. So if I’m drafting 8th, I want to see who is at the average draft position (ADP) for 6 to 10 and pick out two guys there that I like. And then between 11 and 14 or so, I’ll pick out two or three guys I like in that range. I’ll narrow it down like, “If I get Guy A, then Guy B is who I’m targeting in the second round.” I’ll know what kind of foundation I’m laying down so I can build a strategy for later on.
There’s a lot of people going in the first round I don’t want to take. I’m not interested in Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley in the first round. I just don’t think they’re going to produce week in and week out… The people who are locks are those whose talent will elevate them above any situation — wide receivers like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jr., Antonio Brown.
I like DeAndre Hopkins in the back half of the first round. Last year with basically me and you playing quarterback for the Texans, he still produced at a crazy level. I love David Johnson — maybe I got caught up in it because I watched the Amazon Prime series All or Nothing on the Cardinals — but I think he’s special. I like him more than Todd Gurley; he’s a more complete back with great hands who’s gonna be in there three downs.
Ezekiel Elliott in the back half of the first round? I’ll take that all day. He’s running behind a phenomenal offensive line and has a rookie quarterback who’s gonna have to lean on the run game.
After those six, I’m not interested in anyone whose ADP is in the first round. I’m going with A.J. Green, Rob Gronkowski and Dez Bryant — guys who show up year after year.
There aren’t as many quarterbacks going in the early rounds this year.
Aside from Cam Newton, the average drop-off between the No. 2 and 3 quarterbacks and the 15th is like four points per game. That’s not gonna make or break your season. So if you’re not going to get Cam, and you’re in a ten team league, there are at least ten other quarterbacks who will put up points for you. You don’t have to waste an early round pick on one.
Tom Brady is facing a four game suspension, so his value is a little complicated. How do you handle him?
He’s obviously worth a draft pick. I think he’s got more weapons than he’s had in recent memory, adding Martellus Bennett. When they get Dion Lewis back, it’ll almost be unfair in the red zone with Gronk, Julian Edelman, Bennett and Dion Lewis. There’s plenty of quarterbacks you can get in the 12th, 13th round who will get you through the first four weeks just fine.
There’s a lot of excitement around Dak Prescott, who is filling in at quarterback in Dallas for the injured Tony Romo.
I don’t think you need to draft Dak. I think he’ll be there on the waiver wire if you want him after Week 1 or 2. If we’re talking a late round pick, I’d rather have Tajae Sharpe, Zach Ertz or Christine Michael.
Do you think he could wind up being Dallas’ quarterback for the whole season?
He totally could. I wouldn’t be surprised if Romo’s back takes longer to heal and he decides to retire.
Who are some of your sleeper picks?
I really like Derrick Henry. While he’s not the lead back in Tennessee — DeMarco Murray is — but they’re going to be a run-first offense and a running back-by-committee offense. Murray’s ADP is 38 and Henry’s is 74. I think they’re going to end up finishing the year with similar fantasy points, so I’d rather wait and get Henry.
Tajae Sharpe is getting picked around 133 now. He’s going to be the No. 1 receiver in Tennessee. I have the same note here with Golden Tate: draft No. 1 receivers, guys who get the ball the most. Fantasy is a volume game. I guy like John Brown of Arizona… maybe he’s a better receiver, but he’s at best third on the depth chart. I want to get No. 1 guys who are being force-fed the ball.
And Brandon McManus — who also went to my high school and my college — always pick Denver’s kickers. It’s literal science that the air density is lower and makes it easier to kick. It gives you like a four-yard advantage.
Is there any situation where you don’t take a kicker with your last pick?
I’ll take a kicker in the 14th round instead of the 15th sometimes because I think defense is a harder thing to predict. It’s one player versus a unit of guys where all sorts of things can go wrong, and special teams are also included.
Who are the teams and players you’re avoiding?
There’s three teams I’m not drafting anyone from. The Bears, their running backs are a mess. All the reports coming out of Chicago are that Kevin White is lost, doesn’t know what routes to run, isn’t on the same page as Jay Cutler. I love Alshon Jeffery, but he’s injury prone and the entire offense is going to have to run through him. I don’t want any Colts. I think they’re not a hard-nosed team. The defense is giving up way too much, which I think is going to put the offense in a bad position. And the offensive line is letting Andrew Luck get the s— beat out of him still. And I’m not taking any Vikings now after Teddy Bridgewater’s injury.
What are some tips for keeping up with and managing your team day-to-day, throughout the season?
I get an email every day from Football Guys, which has a lot of stuff from beat writers. I think a lot of people miss that when they just go to ESPN; these guys who cover beats know their players and know their teams. Like if a player is listed as “questionable” — those terms are so loose that it varies from team to team. And then looking at matches, looking at who’s been playing poorly on defense. Maybe some corners are getting burnt week in and week out. Maybe this team’s nickel corner went down, which means the other team’s slot receiver next week is going against a backup.