Hi, I’m Josh Smith. My online handle across the internet is tigervol (or tigervol23 when some jerk has ganked my name) … My fantasy sports journey began in 1997 when I was 11 years old. My dad and some of his co-workers created a fantasy football league, and I got to go to the draft with him. I was hooked immediately. At that time in my life, I was into RPG video games and sports. It was an odd pairing, and I essentially had two groups of friends: those who shared my video game interests and those who shared my sports interests.
Fantasy football melded them together. I got to look at the stats for football players and build an optimal team to defeat my enemies (the other members of the league) … It was sort of like playing an RPG, but instead of swords and magic, it was rushing and receiving. For the first few years, I helped co-manage my dad’s team. I helped him make his picks, set his lineups each week, work the waiver wire, execute trades, and run the team. I realized very early on that my opponents would frequently choose their favorite players, or players from their favorite teams, rather than choosing the best options to fill their needs. When one of the original members of the league dropped out after a few years, I was given the opportunity to run my own squad.
I’ve grown out of my video game days, but I still love fantasy sports. I’m still in that league with my dad and his friends. We just had our 21st consecutive live draft, and the vast majority of the original members are still in the league. I’ve also been running my own season-long work league since 2012. Two season-long leagues per year. I’ve decided that’s about right. I really enjoy doing a live, in-person draft with friends. It’s a ton of fun to get together, make fun of each other for bad picks, give people a hard time about taking the entire 2 minutes on their pick and watch the picks devolve as everyone consumes more and more alcohol.
The season-long leagues are fun, but they weren’t quite enough. I discovered DFS in 2014, and that’s when I really started to study fantasy sports strategy. I found out that a lot of what I had learned from my experiences was heavily researched and supported by data. Certain strategies that were poorly organized in my head began to take shape and become sharper and more focused.
In 2015, I won a qualifier tournament playing college football DFS on Fanduel. The prize for winning the tournament was a free trip for two to Los Angeles for a bigger tournament that was being held at the Playboy Mansion. My wife was pregnant with our daughter at the time. I remember the night I won, I had a really big lead around 9 PM eastern, but there were still some west coast games left to be played before the tournament was over. In the industry, this is called a “sweat”, and this was my first one. I stayed up late and watched all of the games. I also watched as scores crept closer and closer to mine until the final seconds ticked off of the scoreboard of the last game of the night. It was around 2 AM local time.
My wife was asleep, and I didn’t want to wake her, but I was quite excited. I wrote her a quick note, and stuck it on the bathroom mirror so that she would see it when she was getting ready for work the next morning: “I won a tournament playing fantasy football. We get a free trip to Los Angeles. This is not a joke.”
She was pretty excited about the trip too, so I think she started looking up things to do in LA and trying to figure out exactly where we were going to be. I got a text message later that afternoon from her… “So, where did you say we were going?” Me: “Los Angeles.” Her: “Yeah, but where in Los Angeles?” Me: “…The Playboy Mansion.” My pregnant wife: “Mmmmhmm. Thought so.”
We had a pretty great time on our trip. I didn’t expect there to be so many animals at the mansion. It’s like a miniature zoo. I also expected it to be somewhere more remote. When we were headed there, we were just on a normal street in LA, stopped at a gate, drove up a long driveway, and there we were.
I was pretty nervous to be around so many industry pros. At the time, I was a very, very low volume, low stakes player who happened to win a tournament. I didn’t know many names, but some of the most well-known fantasy sports players in the industry were there. I remember seeing a guy (I had no idea who he was…) with a nametag that said “Booourns” — One of my best friends is an absolute Simpsons fanatic, and at the time of the trip, was using a Mr. Burns meme that said “Booo-urns” on it as his social media profile picture. I walked up to the guy, pointed at his name tag, and said: “Funny Simpsons reference.” He looked at me like I had three heads, might have said “Thanks” or something and turned around to walk away.
As of this writing, that guy is the 2nd ranked overall fantasy sports player in the world and has a crazy impressive list of accomplishments across all major sports.
I didn’t win the tournament at the Playboy Mansion… In fact, after doing a ton of research and putting together a team I felt good about the night before the draft, just minutes before lineups locked, I talked myself into changing my lineup completely and using players I wasn’t really comfortable with. I finished near the bottom of the pack. It was a terrific experience, though, and I have no regrets.
Since that time, I’ve won a few more tournaments, and come close to winning several more. I even had a big night playing NBA basketball back in 2016 when I won over $100,000. It was surreal and greatly accelerated some goals for me and my family. That being said, though, I am not a professional fantasy sports player. I have a full-time job, and most weeks I spend 60-80 hours working at that. I love what I do (custom home theaters, home automation, distributed audio, high-end A/V) and I don’t have any burning desire to be able to quit my job and make fantasy sports a career. While there is definite skill involved in being successful at DFS, it is also highly volatile (especially with the types of games that I tend to play) and I don’t think that I could ever feel completely comfortable supporting my family with it.
I only play DFS with money that is earmarked for “entertainment” — meaning if I zero out and lose my entire bankroll, we can still cover all of our bills and maintain our lifestyle. I have definitely had up and down periods, including long, frustrating losing streaks, but I am profitable over the entire time I’ve been playing.
This website is not intended to compete with premium, paid resources. There are people out there who are better than me at this. Most people who provide content, whether it be strategy articles, projections, etc. spend a lot more time on it than I do. More than anything, I am using this as a way to organize my own thoughts and research. Maybe if I get an engaged audience, I’ll get some sharp folks to comment and let me know if I’m missing something obvious. Maybe I’ll provide a unique insight that puts someone over the top to take down a big tournament. At the end of the day, I’m doing this in my spare time, for free. I’m going to try to get articles up for every NFL game, and I have plans to post content for NBA and MLB as well, but I can guarantee you I will not cover every slate, and the information that I provide will not be comprehensive. I simply don’t have the time to provide that level of content, but there are a lot of great sites out there that do.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoy your time on the site, and that the information that I provide can be helpful in some way!