Next week, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth has more than a few things off the track to do: He has a NASCAR Contendersâ€™ Live event at Chicagoâ€™s Navy Pier where he will join the other top 12 drivers on stage to answer fansâ€™ questions. He has to continue to strategize about how to get his speed back for the upcoming stretch of the Sprint Cup Chase. And, like millions of other of fantasy-football obsessed fans, he has to get prepared for his fantasy football draft. After all, Kenseth, who plays in a Keeper League with some of the guys from his garage, his family and a few friends of his is out to claim the crown this year.
"I finished second (last year),â€ť he said. â€śI was going to win the Super Bowl. I had Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and that was great, but I was playing against Roddy White, so I kind of lost it.
Kenseth won't give away any of his tips -- after all, he's doing the draft in a few days and doesn't want to tip off any of his opponents. But he's far from the only pro athlete playing fantasy sports.
At the NFL Network media event, Marshall Faulk said he's been playing since his days when he was actually back on the field. He was in a league with a few of his teammates and some friends, who saw it as their chance to finally beat him in something. "It's their opportunity to prove theyâ€™re better at football than me, because they can't really get on the field," he said.
Now older and wiser he says his secret strategy lies in a revamped player SAP player comparison tool, which he believes helps fantasy players make more informed choices. Heâ€™s putting his money the Ramsâ€™ Tavon Austin ("a human highlight") and Sam Bradford and the Jetsâ€™ new running back Chris Ivory.
"The Jets are going to have to run the football to control the clock,â€ť he advised. "I think Geno Smith will win the starting quarterback job and with a young quarterback thatâ€™s what you have to do. Heâ€™ll touch the ball maybe 300, 350 times this year and probably rush for 1,400 yards if he stays healthy. Probably put up 12-15 touchdowns."
Michael Irvin didn't want to tip off his fantasy football opponents, but offered the following:
"I'll give you this tip and I think it will be interesting to watch -- especially early on in the season, I don't think Tom Brady should be drafted as high as Tom Bradyâ€™s usually be drafted,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s not that Iâ€™m doubting Tom Bradyâ€™s ability to do what he does because heâ€™s one of the best to ever do it. But Iâ€™m looking at the team on a whole. This team is doing such an incredible job of adjusting to what they need to do to win games and all along after the first few years all of that came through Tom Brady throwing the ball â€¦ but it looks like for now, it's going to be more of a running team until Tom gets his legs back. So it's going to be interesting.
After all, with Wes Welker gone and Danny Amendola hurt, Irvin pointed out, at least one of the quarterback's favorite targets is in question. "So I don't know if Tom Brady's worth it," the retired running back said, "... not that he's not a great quarterback ... but for fantasy it's just a different situation."