Interview with Nelson Sousa, Part Deux

Last week, we had the chance to sit down with scoutPRO Fantasy Expert Nelson Sousa. Nelson discussed trends in the NFL and Fantasy Football, participating in a high-stakes draft for the National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC), and the value of scouting players with his own eyes. In part 2 of our interview, we talk week-to-week roster management, thoughts on the value of statistics, and Super Bowl predictions:

scoutPRO: Can you tell us a bit about how a season shakes out in a high-stakes fantasy league like the NFFC?

Nelson: I’d love to take all the credit for succeeding in high level fantasy football leagues, but in reality, like leagues in any format, good fortune is a real factor. The truth is, it’s not just luck that decides who wins and loses when everyone in your league has a really good idea of how to manage their roster from week to week. First off, setting a lineup is really more of an art form than an exact science. You can’t just follow a simple formula and put the best team on the field every week; you have to make difficult calls based on information you have gathered through seeing the games yourself. At this level, the teams are really deep with guys who are putting up good performances week in and week out, so it becomes even harder to spot quality waiver wire pickups. That’s the second important factor – waiver wire work. In high stakes formats, we typically run with a bidding system, so doing your due diligence when investing in claiming a player off waivers is crucial. Placing the proper value on a player like Victor Cruz last season, for example, paid off huge for owners who managed to snag him, as he turned out to be one of the best WRs in the league by season’s end after starting completely off the radar.

scoutPRO:  You said you don’t really pay attention to the numbers. Earlier, you mentioned placing emphasis on visual scouting over raw data. Can you expand on that a little?

Nelson: I’m just not really a numbers guy. There are some statistics that I think every owner should pay close attention to, but they aren’t the numbers of catches or yards or touchdowns that a guy has scored so far – it’s his level of involvement in his team’s offense and his skill level, those are the real ‘game-breaking abilities,’ that I really care about. Take a guy like Chris Johnson: a few years ago, he dominated the league in rushing yards and racked up points like crazy. Just a couple seasons later, and he is only getting 12 carries and a couple of passes thrown to him per game so far this year – there’s no way he will give an owner the same value as an Arian Foster until his role changes. His speed, strength, and pure talent don’t necessarily equate to the production, it’s the opportunities he gets to contribute. So looking at touches on the ball is much more important than whether the guy scored 6 touchdowns last week, because those scoring plays are outliers, and in the long term, the player who has the right matchups and opportunities will be the much better option.

scoutPRO: Just speaking as a neutral fan of the game, what are your picks for Super Bowl contenders this year?

Nelson: Hah! Well, it’s tough to divorce myself from looking at the game from a fantasy perspective, but I am an admitted New England Patriots fan. I know they are off to a sluggish start with a couple of surprising losses so far, but they have so much talent on that team, and it’s hard to bet against (Bill) Belichick. I would still look for them to come out of the AFC. For the NFC, it’s a tough call, but I like the way the Atlanta Falcons stack up this year. The offense is really high-powered, and I’m impressed with what they have managed to do on the defensive side of the ball. I could see this team breaking through their recent playoff struggles and finding a lot of success this postseason. Don’t make me pick a winner in the big game though!

scoutPRO: We won’t… yet!

Stay tuned to the blog for the latest updates on Nelson’s teams in the NFFC, as well as insights and analysis from scoutPRO. Check out scoutPRO.com for this week’s projections!

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