Fantasy Football Report

Stiff-Armed and Dangerous

By Mark Haskell | Aug 27, 2014
Mark Haskell, associate sports director for Courier Publications, ponders weekly who to start and who to sit for fantasy football.

Courier Publications Sports Director Ken Waltz called me into his office recently to discuss a few things, most notably an idea he had for an upcoming weekly column for me.

“How'd you like to do a weekly column on fantasy football?” he said.

Do you ever have that dream where you walk into your boss' office, demand exactly what you want, get it, and walk out? Well I got it without demanding anything.

“I think I can pull that off,” I replied, using my best poker face as to not feign too much interest.

That being said, this fall I will debut a weekly free online column called “Stiff-Armed and Dangerous,” where I will offer fantasy football advice for those looking for guidance on who to start and who to sit in their lineups each week.

The column will be exclusively for our VillageSoup Knox and Waldo websites, and will be available to view by noon each Thursday through the conclusion of the fantasy football season.

In my fantasy football career, I have been all over the board, but I have also won three league championships in 10 years, which essentially makes me the New England Patriots.

And while that may sound like a ringing endorsement to all of you, I am not a Patriots' fan, and just associating my name with them in such a manner is, to tell you the truth, disheartening.

However, it also means I have had my share of success and can probably offer all of you advice that will help, at the very least, secure a few wins in your league, and hopefully more.

With this being my introductory piece, I will focus more on some of what I feel are the most important early-season nuances of fantasy sports: Picking a team name, and the draft itself.

Picking a team name for me always is a fun wrinkle for fantasy sports. A team name should say something about you, and I always (with the exception of my fantasy baseball keeper team) change up my name every season.

I like my team name to be a timely reference to something in pop culture that everyone will understand, to hopefully have it tie into the sport in some way, and, depending on who else is in my league, to have it be either slightly, moderately or grossly offensive.

Not that I am a particularly offensive person, but one of my favorite things is to try to get other people in my league to say my team name aloud, particularly in a public or office setting. These are a few of the little things that keep me going.

To be honest, my name in this year's league is not offensive at all. In fact, I stole the name for this column from my fantasy football league. I like to change up my name from year to year because, in my opinion, it helps keep the league fresh, since there is rarely any turnover in leagues you are locked into.

I would share some of my past fantasy team names with you, but sorry, this is a family website/newspaper.

Second, the draft itself. You have prepared for this moment. You are ready. You have hopefully conducted a few mocks and have a few different rough draft strategies in place, and have a backup plan in case some of the players you have been eying go off the board early.

I cannot stress the importance of having some sort of draft strategy in mind, but to me, one of the most important things is to not panic if the chips do not fall the way you planned. Kind of a microcosm of life really.

Everyone plans to have a big house, a six-figure income and a summer home in Bali, but it does not shake out that way for all of us. Have a backup plan ready and prepare to execute it if necessary to the best of your ability.

Can I promise you this weekly column will be much different than the many others die-hard fantasy football fans can find all over the internet? Probably not. What I can promise you, however, is it will be fun for you and me, and it will be interactive.

While I will offer start-and-sit advice each week, I also plan to close each column with a few reader emails, if the situation presents itself. Email me at and if your email is noteworthy, I will spotlight it at the end of the column. Try to keep your inquiries brief and to the point, and I will expound upon them.

I also welcome conversation and criticism, which can take place below in the comment section if you are a paid member of our website (a bargain at $29.95 a year), or feel free to email me if you are not and sound off there as well. If my advice helped you, if it hurt you, or, at the very least, you were entertained, we want to know.

Good luck, and I wish you all nothing but the best in your upcoming seasons.

Unless you are in a league with me. And if that is the case, refer to the link below:

"Good luck."

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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Email Me

Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts and time with friends and family.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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