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You don’t know how to dance. You don’t know how to sing. You don’t know how to make espresso shrimp flambéed with Sambuca, roasted hazelnut and peanut paste, especially under the pressure of a Quickfire challenge with Padma breathing down your neck. But you do know one thing: fantasy football. Which is great because now, finally, there is a way for you to gain that elusive level of reality show fame using your fake football guile and wits, without having to suffer the indignity of attempting to krunk while Mary Murphy silently judges you, angrily bearing those “I could chew through a telephone pole” teeth of hers.

Introducing The Next Great Fantasy Football Writer. It’s Twitter’s first reality competition (of sorts) that combines all the best elements of life: fantasy football, writing, fantasy football, ridicule, indiscriminate, petty judging, and, well, fantasy football. Better yet, it’s a way for someone out there – you? — to finally get a shot at a fantasy football column-writing gigs* and cold hard cash in the form of 300 crisp dollar bills for the upcoming NFL season, this on the heels of Chet’s recent post So You Want To Be A Fantasy Football Writer?

(*Aside from the one-time prize money of $300, said writing gigs will be unpaid. But they’ll be on not one but two sites – Razzball and FanDuel Insider — that lots and lots of people read. And FanDuel will even put $20 in your account each and every week during the regular season, and into the playoffs, with which you can compete in their awesome daily fantasy games. We’re no mathmagicians, but that’s about an additional $400 of prize money. But hey, if you only want money, go sell your tainted sperm on the Estonian black market. This is mainly about giving you the opportunity to share your work with a wider audience, not to mention the swollen ego and public adulation that’ll come with kicking your fellow fantasy football writers’ asses.)

Here’s how it works: starting right here, right now, we will announce and tweet the official topic of the week, and then on Mondays thereafter, the two primary judges – Razzball’s Chet Gresham (@Chetrazzball) and “Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie” author/former NY Times.com & Rotoworld fantasy sports writer Mark St. Amant (@MarkStAmant) — will Tweet the official topic of the week.

This week’s topic is:  Five Locks and Five Crocks

You have two weeks — until 5pm EDT Friday, July 22nd — to pen your first article of no more than 1,500 words that attacks the topic however you wish. (But, ideally, it’ll combine fantasy football know-how with good, old-fashioned humor. More on that below.) And no ringers allowed. If you’ve been compensated for writing about fake sports before, you are excluded from the proceedings.

There are five rounds with five different topics. Due Dates: July 22, Aug 5th, Aug 19th, Sept 2nd, and Sept 9th.

At that point, the two main judges (Chet and Mark, who are sort of the Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell of this whole shebang; unless Chet wants to be J-Lo?), along with some guest luminaries from the fantasy football writing world — Rotoworld’s Evan Silva, Sara “Fantasy Football Librarian” Holladay, Jim “GOAheadScore.com” Day, Sigmund “Football Guy” Bloom, and others — will then evaluate all submissions over the weekend based on four general criteria:

  1. Originality. Everything’s been done. Sorry. Just the way it is. So, your job is to find an original twist or angle on the week’s topic. For example, the weekly player “stock watch” is a tried-and-true column subject, so think of a new/funny/exciting/original way to present the risers and fallers as training camps wear on.
  2. Football/Fantasy Acumen. No one’s going to take you seriously if you don’t know your shit. Period. Not that you have to make the guys at Football Outsiders look like mouth-breathers or anything, but an impressive level of NFL and fantasy knowledge is a must. In short, for the love of Sonny Jurgensen, don’t mix up your Mannings. And please know which Adrian Peterson plays for the Vikings and which one plays for….wait, does the other AP still play for the Bears?
  3. Humor. There are enough stat-crunching nerdfest columns out there. So what helps a FF writer stand out from the pack is his or her ability to bring the big time funny along with the smarts. Make us laugh – I mean genuinely laugh in that “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that” kinda way – and you’ll have a nice head start. Bore us to tears with too much DVOA or DYAR, and we’ll track you down and stone you to death. Not the good, Kenny Britt kinda stoning, either. The bad kind. With actual stones.
  4. Grammar. Yes, grammar. In this day of texting and tweeting, basic English grammar — the kind that separates us from the apes, and the French — has been kicked to the curb. And it infuriates me (Mark). So, if you can’t differentiate between there/their/they’re, you might as well not even bother. Again, call me the Simon Cowell of the judges’ panel, but I’ll be a royal a-hole when it comes to basic writing skills. Because I don’t care if your submissions prove that you’re a mythical combination of F. Scott Fitzgerald, David Halberstam and Jon Stewart: if you have even one sentence that reads, “Your gonna regret taking MJD in the first round,” I’ll instantly categorize you as a toothless hillbilly. Be warned.

Anywho, after the judges compare notes, we’ll choose a weekly winner. And the writer with the most weekly wins/best won-loss record between now and the first week in September will be crowned the Next Great Fantasy Football Writer, and be subsequently sprayed with cyber-champagne.

More titillating than that, however, the winner also hauls in:

• Three hundred bucks. American. Not exactly “Top Chef” money, we realize. But (A) we’re not sponsored by the Glad® family of products, and (B) we’re donating the prize money out of our own rather shallow pockets. So let’s not complain, shall we? But more than the money, you’ll also win….

• A column-writing gig at Razzball and FanDuel Insider for the whole 2011-2012 season. Lots of people read Razzball and FanDuel. And you have to be good to write for both. So, the fact that you’ll now be writing for them means that (A) lots of people will be reading your stuff and (B) conceivably, you’re pretty damn good. And while I’m sure your relatives and dudes in your league love your weekly email musings or Blogspot posts, but you need and deserve a larger arena. This grand prize is that arena. Oh, and again, FanDuel will kindly deposit $20 every week into your personal account, which adds up over 20-plus weeks of NFL action.

• The fawning admiration of the Twittersphere and fantasy sports community at large. That, friends, is priceless.

Send all first submissions, along with a short bio of yourself/your background/your writing aspirations to:

mark@markstamant.com & doc@razzball.com

 

Judges’ bios:

Mark St. Amant: Mark is the author of two sports books, Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie – the top-selling fantasy football book of all-time — and Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player, chronicling his unforgettable season as placekicker for an inner-city Boston semi-pro football team. Mark was also the first fantasy writer brought aboard the New York Times.com’s “Fifth Down” NFL blog and wrote the popular “Man-Crush Index” column for Rotoworld football and baseball. He has appeared on ESPN, ESPN Classic, in ESPN the Magazine, and on NPR’s “Only a Game” with Bill Littlefield, and his writing has also appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Salon.com and the Sunday New York Times. He lives in Boulder, CO, with his wife and the two human children he heroically and almost singlehandedly spawned.

Chet Gresham: You, the faithful Razzball reader know him as Doc, and he is too awesome to translate all of his accomplishments into words.

Sara Holladay: Sara launched Fantasy Football Librarian to create one place for fantasy fans to find the info they need to succeed. She has also been conducting an accuracy analysis of the experts’ rankings since 2007 with support from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and writes posts for The New York Times’ Fifth Down blog and the Bruno Boys. @FFLibrarian

Evan Silva: Evan is entering his sixth season covering the NFL. He is a Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld.com. He’s also a regular contributor to NBCSports.com and Profootballtalk.com. @EvanSilva

Jim Day: In 2009 Jim started the Talking Trash and Twitter Roundtable Podcasts. They have both been running since, and have morphed into one 2-hour show that is a part of the Sports Geeks Radio network (sportsgeeksradio.com). In 2010 he joined FantasyPros911.com as a writer and a weekly segment guest on their Sirius Radio show and also guest hosted on 3 other FF podcasts. In 2011 he started www.goaheadscore.com and twitterfantasyfootball.com. He has been a member of the FSWA since 2005 and has been on their Hall of Fame Selection Committee for the last 2 years. @FantasyTaz

Sigmund Bloom: Sigmund Bloom is a dormant attorney, active stay-at-home dad, and overactive fantasy football pontificater. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Kim, son, Miles, and cat/role model, Archie. You can find his work at Footballguys.com, on the podcast “The Audible” and on Twitter @SigmundBloom.

Melissa Jacobs: Melissa is the editor of TheFootballGirl.com (A Top 100 Website for Women – Forbes.com), espnW contributor, and 6-time fantasy football champ. @thefootballgirl

Kay Adams: When Kay Adams isn’t busy pursuing her unrealistic crush on Tom Izzo, you can hear her keeping her co-hosts in line weekdays on “The Drive”, a gig that landed Kay her very own show on the network: “Livin’ the Fantasy”, every Sunday night from 8-11 pm ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. If hearing her isn’t enough, make sure to wave to Kay Adams on the Jumbotron next time you’re at Busch Stadium where she spends the baseball season as the in-game host for the St. Louis Cardinals. A fantasy football fiend, trash talk extraordinaire, Cinnamon Toast Crunch devourer, and nickname-giving enthusiast, Kay prides herself on brutal honesty, an infatuation with Hall and Oates, and a newfound love of shameless self-promotion..e-hem. @heykayadams

Chris Wesseling: Senior football editor and dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. Contributing writer for NBCSports.com. Find him on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

23 Responses

  1. Trevor says:
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    I’m going to have to try this out because I know fantasy football. I’ve had my rankings since last year week 10.

  2. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Trevor: Good luck man! Looking forward to your entries!

  3. Brian says:
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    feelings on vulgarity?

  4. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Brian: I’m a fan of it

  5. Squish says:
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    Finally a contest worth entering! Awesome idea guys! I’m looking forward to throwing my hat in the ring to see how I stack up! Sure would be nice to have the lockout over soon so we have more sure situations to write about…

    In any case, good luck everyone!

    P.S. Would you guys prefer submitted articles to be in separate attached documents or the body of the e-mail?

  6. Trevor says:
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    So whats the topic? I can’t find it.

  7. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Trevor: 5 Locks and 5 Crocks. Do with it what you will.

  8. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Squish: I think word docs would be preferable. Good luck!

  9. M says:
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    This seems like a bit of a scam. Your websites get quality writing for the low low price of just $300?

    $300 for a whole football season of quality writing? No way, man. Maybe if it was a $1,000…

    I understand wanting to get your name out there, but I’d sooner just start my own blog and network the shit out of it.

    This is a thinly disguised “Tom Sawyer” scam. These sites want the best writer they can find to write for them practically free all season.

    Along the way the other contestants will supply them with free writing ideas.

  10. Eric says:
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    Hey ‘M’, you’re a dumbass. That’s all. Move along people, there’s nothing to see here.

  11. Bourne says:
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    Scam? Laf. They are not asking for an entry fee. If they were, this might be a scam. This isn’t a brand new site. Razzball is growing. If they wanted to steal yours or my amateur writing and then not pay out they would ask for an entry and promise larger payout.

    The problem with that is someone would notice, lots of people would complain, and there goes the street cred for a growing fantasy blog/ stache site. Next time you want to bash razzball for a scam, realize the very idea you are suggesting would make it more likely a scam than the idea you dislike.

  12. M says:
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    $300 for FIVE 1500 word essays is a scam, dude. All the while, they are getting solid ideas and analysis to put in their own fantasy articles.

    $300 for an entire football season of quality writing is a scam.

  13. p0rk burn says:
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    @M: Perhaps you are still in Junior High or perhaps you are still a troll. In which case forgive me for engaging in this tête-à-tête. 1500 words is hardly a herculean task, so five such essays is a rather low entry fee. As Bourne points out, there is no cost to enter other than the time spent. Indeed, your sole basis for attacking this contest is that Razzball is going to somehow rip off the ideas and concepts. Just what unique analysis do you expect to come from this contest? Perhaps rankings by positions, discussions of match ups, mock drafts, or something similar? It’s fantasy sports, dude, and all of the “ideas” and analysis have been covered six ways from (hopefully not locked out) Sunday. The only objective here, and the only distinguishing factor from one blog to the next, is to provide a witty and fresh take on something that has already been beaten to death.

    If you are concerned about your comedic genius being exploited because Razzball stole your jokes Carlos Mencia style, let me assure that someone who views a 1500 word essay as a large task probably couldn’t meet the standards required to be published here. This post alone is probably close to 1500. Jesus.

  14. No Strunk For You says:
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    “And while I’m sure your relatives and dudes in your league love your weekly email musings or Blogspot posts, but you need and deserve a larger arena.”

    Yo, Simon Cowell, got yourself a dangling “but” there.

  15. Strunk — Yup, ya got me. Added the “while,” forgot to subsequently remove the “…but.” Good catch. We’ll send you a “I went through Mark St. Amant’s text, found a highly ironic typo, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.

  16. Justin Mondry/guruguy87 says:
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    I love to read and write almost as much as playing fantasy on the site. I will write and cite when necessary and entertain for the massive audiences that I am also currently am a part of. I have been posting on the sirius XM fantasy facebook page for a very long time now and I have helped many for free.
    Time to prove it. This is awesome (almost as awesome as some of the puns in this article).

  17. Daniel says:
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    M, I would do these essays for free if it meant a chance to get published on a respectable website, let alone 2 very respected websites! For those of us who went to college to write about sports and current sell cell phones for a living (yeah, thats me) this is an opportunity far more valuable than $300-700. This is my chance to get into what I love, so suck it! Enjoy reading my articles in a few years when/if I somehow win this competition and make it into my dream job!

  18. P Smurf says:
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    Just my two bits, but the fact that writers whose articles I read and respect will be reading MY article is pretty awesome in itself without the reward (but I still want it though)

    @M – Yeah dude, just hold on to all that mercurial fantasy shakespeare, copywright it, and clench it tight to your chest for dear life, cause you don’t want anyone to actually READ what you write, right?

    The world is not out to get you dude. It’s a contest for fun’s sake. Enjoy the ride.

  19. Some solid submissions so far, folks. Keep em comin’….Deadline for Round 1 is tomorrow.

    Over the weekend Chet & I will compile guest judge (Sara Holladay, Evan Silva) feedback, combine with our own, and announce the Round 1 winner. Then, onto the next topic for Round 2.

    While we’re admittedly working through the EXACT “scoring system,” know that all submissions are being judged equally/by same standards — namely, the four categories in original post above — getting a fair look & all have an equal shot at winning (or losing). And we’ll try to be as thorough as possible with any comments & feedback (good or bad…so get your thick skin ready). But please know that, much as we’d like to, we won’t ALWAYS be able to give 100% detailed comments on every entry & facet of your article. Thanks for submitting! Hope you’re having fun with it.

  20. Tim Mac says:
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    Hi,

    When will we know the next topic?

    When will we know who won Round one?

    Thanks,

    Tim Mac

  21. Recap of Round 1 will be up in next hour or two. (I’m on Mountain time, so you East Coasters will just have to suck it up. Go grab a corn dog and an Orange Julius and kill some time.) Post will cover our winner, two runners-up, and some likes/dislikes/comments/feedback/random thoughts on part of judges. Thanks.

  22. Hey Mark. I just wanted to give you a big thanks for all the work you and the crew are putting into the contest. In week one you compared my writing to Dennis Miller doing MNF. I submitted my article on Friday at about 1pm. I was wondering if you guys recieved it? Did I miss the cut off time? I was thrilled to get as much mention and solid pointers as you gave me for my first article. Any advice you could throw my way on my second would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

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