Bryan from Rookie Blitz took some time to answer a few of our questions about ranking rookies, how to measure the potential impact of rookies and all the new free services they are offering.
It looks like you just started your site about a year ago. How did your first year go?
Yes, I founded RookieBlitz.com on June 15, 2009. We are approaching our one year anniversary, and our first year has been a great success and exceeded all original expectations. I originally started it as a rookie blog so I would have a spot to post my thoughts on the 2009 rookies and post my rookie rankings. It has just evolved and grown from there. I have gotten great feedback on the work that we put in and I have made lasting contacts with many in the fantasy football industry. I owe a large majority of our success to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. What we accomplished this year would not have been possible five years ago without the ability to spread the word about our site. I also could not have done it without my awesome staff and contributors. We are a 100% free site, and most of our free time is devoted to the website when we aren’t working at our 40-hour a week day jobs.
Your domain name is ‘Rookie Blitz’, so do you just provide information about fantasy rookies, or do you cover all players?
Rookie Blitz was established as a rookies-only fantasy football site at first. In the beginning, there was no possible way I could cover the entire NFL myself. I decided to focus solely on the niche of rookies. It was something I could cover extensively and something that I was passionate about. I have been involved with dynasty rookie drafts for over six years, and excel ranking sheets dating back just as far.
As we expanded our coverage, we tried to cover all players as much as possible. During the 2009 season, we provided a weekly list of deep sleepers and bust players. This is an area we hope to expand for the 2010 season.
What are the features of your site that differentiates you from other fantasy sites?
As a niche site, we are able to provide detailed rookie information for our target audience. I have always shied away from the expert label. I prefer to call everyone on our staff fantasy football consultants. We remain humble and provide advice that I would take myself. We provide constant updates year-round. In the past year, we provided 229 site updates, or new content every two days or less. Before the NFL season concludes, we are already updating our NFL Draft coverage with player profiles and rookie rankings. We attempt to remain unbiased and positive in our coverage. As a New England Patriots fan, it is tough to say nice things about Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene, but my personal feelings have no impact on the future success of any of these players. Some of our rankings differ greatly from many other websites on the internet. I do not let the opinion of others deter the research and analysis we have put in on each player.
Can you describe your new ‘Ask Rookie Blitz’ service, and how it will work?
We just rolled out this new feature on the site. We receive several e-mails each week from our readers looking for keeper or rookie draft advice for their fantasy football league. Hopefully by announcing this service, we can help out even more fantasy owners that weren’t aware that we could be contacted for advice. Owners can check out the announcement on the site for more details. We will answer e-mails, tweets on Twitter, and wall posts on our Facebook page. We don’t claim to know it all, but we are more than willing to lend our assistance.
How often do you update your rookie rankings, and are they also updated throughout the season?
In the offseason, I update our positional rookie rankings at least twice per month. We also update our Rookie Blitz Top 100 every month. Our rookie rankings are continually evolving all the time. Before the season starts, we post a final ranking update by position and overall. During the season, we focus on providing updates on rookies on a weekly basis.
How difficult is it to project the impact of rookies when they have yet to play a down in the NFL?
If you look back at the draft tracker from past drafts, it is littered with an overwhelming amount of players who never made it in the NFL for various reasons. It can be tough to project who will succeed at the next level because fantasy football success depends on so many factors: talent, opportunity, injuries, offensive system, college system, college production etc. Stat projections of rookies tend to be narrow focused because it is based solely on immediate opportunity. Talented and determined players always rise to the surface. Even several fantasy football mainstays of today struggled to make much of a fantasy impact early in their career.
What are some of the factors you use to rank rookies?
I don’t have the opportunity to watch as much college football as I would like, so I trust the opinion of those who can and are devoted to their craft. These scouting reports are only a small portion of my ranking formula, which has been in continuous development for over five years. I factor in scouting reports, offense/defense situation, college production, track record of GM’s/Scouting Departments, draft selection, and position specific factors. NFL teams generally know what they are doing, and I don’t pretend to know more than they do or believe I am an NFL scout. I stay on top of team beat writer reports and depth chart news to have the most up to date rankings.
Are there any tips you can provide to fantasy players about how to measure the potential impact of a rookie?
Do your homework. Compile the rankings and opinions of people you trust when putting your rookie watch list together. Don’t overvalue opportunity over talent in keeper and dynasty leagues. YouTube highlight videos can be enticing to watch, but do not put much stock into what you see. Highlight videos only focus on big plays and don’t show you many negative plays. Keep up to date with player news and injuries. And finally stick to your gut and have clarity.
What advice would you give fantasy players who are preparing for their draft?
Like I said before, do your homework and stay up to date with the latest news and injuries. If you are in an established league, know the tendencies of your leaguemates and where they get their fantasy football information. Don’t have a narrow focus on only a few players, keep all of your options open. Average Draft Position is a key stat to have, even in rookie drafts, which can give you an idea of what the other owners in your league are thinking. And finally, I can’t stress it enough, but know your scoring system and lineup requirements.
What resources do you follow to keep up with the latest in the fantasy industry?
There are plenty of free resources on the Internet that offer top-notch information if you know where to look. Rotoworld has some of the best player news and is a must read. Fantasy Football Calculator has all the ADP data you could ever need and ESPN has some of the best tools at your disposal including fantasy points scored and fantasy points against. I get my team defensive information from NFL.com in regards to how teams are faring against the run and pass. If you aren’t on Twitter yet, what are you waiting for? Having instant access to NFL team beat writers is invaluable.
How can fantasy players keep up with what you are doing?
Fantasy owners can keep up with us on RookieBlitz.com for all the latest rookie information for their fantasy football team. If you click on our Contact page, you can send your questions or comments via e-mail. Join our Facebook page to get the latest articles and ranking updates as they are released. Follow me on Twitter (@RookieBlitz); I answer all questions as quickly as I can.
I would recommend everyone check out all of the free resources and services offered by Rookie Blitz. It is not often that you are able to receive free advice from some of the top people in the fantasy industry, so I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this as much as possible. Thanks again for your time Bryan.