Today’s interview is with our 2013 regular season winner, FOXSports.com’s John Halpin. As a fantasy writer (not like J.R.R. Tolkien, I mean a guy who writes about fantasy sports…), John comes from a nerd background that we completely empathise with and also, like many writers, moonlights on baseball over the offseason – which we can’t empathise with at all.
We caught up with him to discuss how it feels to be the best in the land at picking games…
PW: Congratulations on being Pickwatch’s champion, picking games more accurately than every other NFL analyst in 2013. How does it feel knowing that you can legitimately turn around and tell Shaun O’Hara you’re 13.3% better than him at something?
JH: As a lifelong New York Giants fan and a fellow Rutgers graduate, I’d never poke fun at a great man like O’Hara. Also, the only thing better than a Pickwatch championship is a Super Bowl ring.
PW: I was going to say something along the lines of ‘thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule’, but then I realised as a fantasy expert, surely you spend January basking in the free time you’ve earned from a season of grinding out positional ranking lists, right?
JH: Yes! Fantasy baseball is right around the corner for me, but I slept in until 6:15am on Friday. That was refreshing.
PW: One thing we picked up on quite early on in 2013 was that you weren’t the only Fantasy Expert to maintain a high ranking in our overall standings as the season progressed. KC Joyner (ESPN), Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard (both CBS) all featured in our top 20. Do you think fantasy football naturally lends itself to picking games in terms of how you analyse individual matchups?
JH: Not sure about that. Because of my job, I tend to watch the skill position players at the expense of everyone else, and that’s not the best way to evaluate teams. However, fantasy analysts often come with gambling backgrounds, so we’re familiar with the pressure of picking winners.
PW: On a similar note, we like that FOX has four journalists – as opposed to former pros – in yourself, Joel Beall, Ryan Fowler and Adam Meyer who all did well in the overall standings (three of you in the top third). Do you think the ‘inside knowledge’ that NFL players bring to the analysts chair is overrated when compared to guys who need to know the game for a living?
JH: Not to be vague, but it depends on the former player. Some are excellent students of the game, offering valuable insight, while others are full of cliches. I tend to gravitate toward analysis from fellow nerds, though.
PW: We thought you may like this, but over the season one of our recurring search terms (the things people type into google to get to us) that became more frequent was ‘John Halpin NFL Picks’…
JH: This question made my day. It’s going on my tombstone.
PW: Do you think it’s one of those things where success gives you more impetus to take care of your picks? We get the impression a lot of ‘experts’ just throw something ‘suspiciously brown’ at a wall…
JH: Absolutely. I’ve always cared about my picks, but when I started seeing myself near the top of your standings – and started seeing more Twitter requests for my picks – I got excited about the possibility of a high finish.
|‘And here’s the weirdest thing – he picked us to win!’|
My wife and kids were cheering for the Vikings in Week 17, because that pick clinched the title for me. Now they think I should be picking games on FOX NFL Sunday. Can I use you as a reference when I pitch that idea?
PW: Er… sure John, of course (slowly backs away)… Finally, now that you’re going into our official Hall of Fame as the 2013 regular season champion – and in the spirit of 2014 season predictions that are done in January and completely meaningless – are you feeling the pressure to repeat?
JH: I won this year, but I think I finished 90th (it was actually 53rd – Ed) in 2012. A repeat would be nice, but I’ll take a respectable showing.
Thanks to John for answering our questions and for his support of Pickwatch throughout the season. You can see more of his work over at Foxsports.com where he also hosts the Foxsports Fantasy 15 podcast.