Posts Tagged ‘Personal Profile’

Personal Profile: Michael Fabiano

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Name: Michael Fabiano
Nickname: Gridiron Guru
Job title(s): Fantasy Editor
Full-time in fantasy? October 2000-present
Age: 37
Education: Bachelor’s degree
Family status: Single
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Football
Favorite sport to watch: Football
Favorite team (any sport): Dallas Cowboys
All-time favorite athlete: Troy Aikman
Years playing fantasy: 15

I got my start in the fantasy industry when: I was hired by in October 2000 as a Fantasy writer covering the NFL, MLB and NBA.

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes: I worked for CBS as a Senior Fantasy Writer from 2000-2006 before taking the position of Fantasy Editor at While at CBS, I also worked with The NFL Today and was the first fantasy writer to ever appear on one of the four major networks on CBS’ Fantasy Football preview show. Now with the NFL, I also appear regularly on the NFL Network as a fantasy football analyst. I have also created two celebrity fantasy football leagues including such participants as Jim Nantz, Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Warren Sapp, Rod Woodson and Marshall Faulk.

Three questions

1. You’ve been a fantasy writer for a long time and active in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for the past few years. Other than the explosion in volume, what has changed about fantasy content over your time in the industry — good and/or bad?

I think the thing that has changed the most IS the explosion in volume. There are tons of websites and talented writers out there covering every fantasy sport from every angle. It is amazing how many fantasy magazines you see on newsstands these days, especially when it’s time for football season. It’s also been very cool to see fantasy sports go from a hobby played by the hardcore fans only to becoming much more mainstream across the board.

2. Can you describe for us how your current setup with the NFL came about?

A lot of hard work and networking! It has always been a dream of mine to be involved with the NFL, especially since I’ve been a fan of pro football since I was eight years old. When I felt like it was time to move on from CBS, I talked to the NFL about how the league wanted to move forward with fantasy football. Luckily, it was around that time that the owners decided to bring in house. I started off with the league in 2006 as a contracted writer and analyst and was hired full time in 2007. The rest is history …

3. Do you gain any edge by working for the media arm of the league we all follow (first-hand news, players stopping by, analysts on hand — particularly the Playbook crew)?

Honestly, I don’t think I have any more of an edge than anyone who works at ESPN, CBS, FOX, etc. Regardless of who breaks news, everyone else in the industry has their version of it soon thereafter. There are some instances where I’ll be talking to one of our analysts and get information that I can use for my own fantasy prognostications, but for the most part I’m all about analyzing the stats. The NFL and fantasy football has become unpredictable in recent seasons, so even if I do get a nice nugget it doesn’t always translate into an “edge.”

Bonus: What, no fantasy baseball?

I actually started out primarily as a fantasy basketball writer at I also wrote fantasy baseball columns, but neither of those sports compares to football. It’s always been my favorite sport, and it’s clearly the best fantasy sport. The season doesn’t last forever like baseball, for example, so every single game counts. People do often ask me what I do during the NFL offseason, to which I reply, “what offseason?”

The NFL has now become a 365-day-a-year sport, especially with all of the media coverage of such events as the Scouting Combine and NFL Draft. The NFL has truly become America’s passion, so it only makes sense that fantasy football would become similarly as popular.


Personal Profile: Tony Cincotta

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Name: Tony Cincotta
Job title(s): VP of marketing, talk show host (
Full-time in fantasy? No, also a project manager for Fiserv
Age: 41
Education: UMass-Boston
Family status: Married with 3 children — Tatum 9, Cole 7, Brady 4 (Named after a QB)
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Baseball
Favorite sport to watch: Football
Favorite team (any sport): Boston Red Sox
All-time favorite athlete: Earl Campbell
Years playing fantasy: 25 years

I got my start in the fantasy industry when: I enjoyed playing fantasy sports at early age and continued to play into my “adult” life. So I would look for any edge necessary to decimate my opponents and take home the cash. That is when I discovered the world of podcasts. I thought the podcasts contained great information, but they could help you with your lack of sleep as well. There was no entertainment value at all, no passion, and I wanted to put character into the world of podcasts. Most of the podcast hosts at that time thought they were Walter Cronkite. In the early days, I started recording the podcasts and placing them on iTunes. I was immediately amazed at the amount of people that started to tune in.

The e-mails were incredible, and I was providing great information and saying some of the craziest things ever heard on a podcast. That’s when the light went off and I said, “why not try to make a living and enjoy your work.” Then, through calling in and meeting the folks at, we launched It was a small startup site with no money and the dream to bring competive Fantasy Baseball Keeper Leagues to the fantasy baseball industry. That mission was accomplished, and then I ran into the great Lenny Melnick.

Three questions

1. How did you get started doing fantasy sports podcasts and talking fantasy sports on the radio? How has the audience changed in the time you’ve been doing it?

I started in the podcast industry because of my love of talk radio growing up in Boston. I would listen to sports radio and shows like Howard Stern as opposed to music. In my mind, I thought the podcast industry would take off and I could put together a great product for the listener. In the early days I was lucky to have great guests such as Mike Siano, Cory Schwartz, Pete McCarthy, Lawr Michaels and Lenny Melnick to name a few. Those guys gave me instant credibility, and the shows became very popular. The shows have evolved to where the listeners wanted fewer guests and more of our opinions. That was pretty humbling that people actually cared what you had to say and would take a couple hours a week out of their lives to listen to you. So we gave them what they wanted, and each year the listenership keeps rising at an incredible rate.
I then wanted to have the opportunity to extend the show out to places where people would not be looking for a fantasy sports podcast. So I started promoting my shows to local radio and got a chance to work an NFL draft show in 2008 for FOX Sports Radio in Jacksonville. That was like giving an alcoholic a beer. I wanted more and pursued it like there was nothing else on Earth.

I was able to land a show on ESPN Radio in St. Augustine, Fla., called The Sports Bash. The show was a big hit in the area, and we were able to attract the casual sports fan over to our eccentric world of fantasy sports. Then the first time that we started talking to Sirius XM about starting a 24-7 fantasy sports radio station, it felt awesome. We now have placed fantasy sports in the mainstream — right there with Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey and, of course, the Boss (Bruce Springsteen)!

2. What brought you together with the other Fantasy Pros 911 guys to launch that site?

The move to was an easy one for me. At the time, I was working at, and the idea there was just to keep things simple and small. I had the itch and wanted a little more. There was this guy named Lenny Melnick who did fantasy baseball over at I ended up meeting up with Lenny after listening to his podcasts. To this day, Lenny is the only guy doing a solo podcast that I can listen to. (So if you are currently doing a podcast solo, grab a co-host. Friendly advice. LOL.) Lenny was part of the Melnick & Greco website, but they wanted to add staff and expand the site. They grabbed Patrick Di Caprio from, and I loved the energy and passion of the parties involved.

The first two years have been exciting, and the guys have been tremendous to work with. We are well established in the baseball community and now are working to improve our fantasy football product to match our baseball offerings. Paul Greco has been busy recruiting some of the top writers in the industry. I am fired up about the direction of the site and the 2010 fantasy football season. The basis of the site was to build a community where our readers and listeners have access to Lenny Melnick, Paul Greco, Pat Dicaprio and myself. We provide a 1-800 number for instant advice. We answer emails in an hour, except during the shows. (We are good but not that good.) We also have a community section at the site where users create their own page and can discuss anything from fantasy sports to hot chicks.

3. You bounce around among several fantasy sports (baseball, football and basketball), beyond the normal one or two on which most analysts focus. What, to you, are the key differences among the different fantasy sports, and what are the positives and negatives for each?

This is a great question, and the reason I bounce around is ADD. The one thing that is essential to success in any fantasy sport is opportunity. You do not have to manage a player’s success to find the next hidden gem. It is all about opportunity, if a baseball player attempts to steal 50 bases and is thrown out on 27 occasions, that’s my guy. Most people see that player as a guy with 23 stolen bases. I see it as a player who has to improve or the coach would not allow him to keep stealing bases.

In football you want to focus on running backs that have no capable [fill-in]. If you think that Frank Gore or Michael Turner is a better player than DeAngelo Williams, than you need to speak with Jon Gruden. Gore and Turner have the opportunity for maximum touches. That is why Cedric Benson should have never surprised people last season. In football, focus on touches and targets, and the points will come. Fantasy basketball is gaining popularity. The amazing thing in basketball is the different styles of league. In head-to-head leagues, Dwight Howard is a stud. On the Roto side, he is a category killer.

The biggest positive in fantasy sports is football is 16 weeks and is not the drain of a six-month season. This hurts basketball and baseball with your average fantasy sports player. I have come to love daily fantasy sports contests and often play over at and I think this is the wave of the future for fantasy baseball and basketball players.

Bonus: What exactly are you “all fired up” about?

I am all fired up about life! I sit and talk about fantasy sports and have a great family and a hot wife. Why would I not be fired up? I can host a fantasy football show on Sunday morning, take 50 calls about their lineups, then shift the focus to my teams in the afternoon and watch Ray Rice bring you a fantasy championship. Then to celebrate my championship and the fact that I have just won an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas, you head to the strip joint with your wife. (There is nothing better than having a lap dance with your wife in the VIP room with you. Try it and e-mail your thoughts.) That is living a life of fantasy my friends, make it rain in 2010.


Personal Profile: Melissa Jacobs

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Name: Melissa Jacobs
Nickname: Roto Moto
Job title(s): Founder and Editor,
Full-time in fantasy? 1 year, although I wouldn’t categorize myself as “full-time” in fantasy. Otherwise do you think I would have taken Braylon Edwards so high in our super-early mock draft
Age: I’m a girl. Do you really expect me to answer? Here’s a hint, though. Older than Adrian Peterson’s number and younger than Stephen Strasburg’s number
Education: I went to U.C. Berkeley and received a B.A. in Political Science
Family status: Happily married to a big-time Bears fan
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Football. The best and only one I play.
Favorite sport to watch: NFL by a mile
Favorite team (any sport): Cal football
All-time favorite athlete: Jerry Rice. The San Francisco Treat.
Years playing fantasy: 15, since high school

I got my start in the sports industry when: In college decided I wanted to be a sports agent. I thought the law school part would be easy but didn’t have great contacts in sports so I got an internship at San Francisco’s big sports radio station, KNBR. It turned into a full-time job quickly.

Since then, my résumé includes: Executive Producer at KNBR Radio; Producer of The Sporting Life with Dick Schaap and ESPN the Magazine with Dan LeBatard at ESPN Radio; Talent Producer for SportsCenter, NFL Live, and Rome is Burning (won 2 Emmys for SportsCenter work); Project Manager for the ESPY Awards, NBA All-Star Game weekend and other ESPN special events; Freelance Producer and Television consultant … and now Editor of

Three questions

1. You come to football (and fantasy) via a much different path from most of the rest of us. Can you describe for us your relationship with the NFL, in terms of helping to shape football content as well as direct interactions with players, teams, etc.? How did you get started with fantasy?

I probably have a bit of an advantage in terms of obtaining interviews just because I have a strong booking background. But calling for ESPN and are wholly different things. Those players, agents and team PR contacts that believe in our empowering women to participate in the NFL mission have been very helpful, yet some just see start-up and probably delete my messages despite long, positive working relationships. It’s been an interesting exercise in that regard thus far. As far as fantasy, I wouldn’t really say that I’m “in fantasy” as much as I love fantasy and think it’s a crucial aspect to have on the site. I’ve been playing most of my life and have been the commissioner of a pretty hard-core league for six years. Despite winning my league more years than not, I would never purport to be an expert, but I can make predictions and provide analysis, too.

2. How have you seen the female audience for football change over the years? What kind of evolution do you expect going forward?

The female audience is growing exponentially. That’s why I got into the business. Female NFL apparel is the fastest-growing NFL ancillary business. And David Geller, the head of Fantasy Games at Yahoo!, recently told me that female participation in fantasy football grew from 8 percent in 2008 to 14 percent last season. That’s a sizable chunk of the market. My goal for the site — and hope for the NFL — is to do more to encourage female engagement in the game. Family-friendly sections at stadiums and the awesome breast cancer awareness month is great for piquing female interest, but my hope is they’ll do more Xs-and-Os female marketing.

3. What does do differently to cater to the female crowd?

In terms of versus other sites, we sprinkle in female-oriented content without compromising the overall goal, which is to present the many layers of the NFL to female fans … and male fans, too. We have a Featured Football Girl where we interview a prominent woman who falls under the NFL umbrella. (Our latest was with Chris Cooley’s mom, who has recently recovered from Stage 3 breast cancer.) We have a Fashionista Girl columnist who dissects NFL fashions without steering too far away from the Xs and Os. And we generally intersperse content with more female-oriented references (perhaps Meredith Grey over Vinny Chase). What we do differently than many other female football sites is treat women like legitimate fans. We don’t do recipes, we don’t do tight ends, and we’re not overly saturated with Football 101 material (although we have some if anyone’s looking for a refresher).

Bonus: You mentioned the Alyssa Milano NFL apparel ad in a draft preview for Tell us, does she make you want to buy one of those contoured “ladies” T-shirts or see a new commercial with, say, Justin Timberlake?

Funny question! I actually think Alyssa’s “Touch” clothing is very stylish and a perfect alternative to wearing your boyfriend’s jersey of the past. I do sell her stuff on the site but haven’t bought any yet. What I will buy are the awesome new t-shirts coming soon to! They are different from anything you’ve ever seen a female football fan wear before. Oh, and I’ll watch any commercial with JT.


Personal Profile: Ron Shandler

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Name: Ron Shandler
Nickname: none
Job title(s): Editor and Publisher of, Author of Baseball Forecaster
Full-time in fantasy? Yes, since 1994
Age: 52
Education: BBA Marketing, MBA Management Science, both from Hofstra University
Family status: Married, two daughters (17 and 19)
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Baseball
Favorite sport to watch: Baseball and hockey
Favorite team (any sport): New York Mets
All-time favorite athlete: Tom Seaver
Years playing fantasy: 26

I got my start in the fantasy industry when:
Started publishing the annual Baseball Forecaster in 1986.

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes:
Baseball Forecaster annual book (1986-present)
Baseball Forecaster monthly newsletter (1987-1998) (1996-present)
First Pitch Forum conference series (1994-present) (established 2001)
Other books published: Forecasting Pitching Careers (1995), Pitchers Almanac (1997), Fantasy Baseball Workbook (1999-2000), Graphical Player (2005-2008), Minor League Baseball Analyst (2006-present), Baseball Injury Annual (2007)

Three questions

1. What was different about the information and methods you brought to light with the 1986 debut of Baseball Forecaster? How did your audience for that title change with the growth of fantasy?

Originally, it wasn’t all that different. My intent for the Forecaster was to provide a centralized source for readers to enjoy the works of many sabermetricians — Bill James, Pete Palmer, etc. — so I presented current data using their formulas and some of my own. Adding projected player rankings in 1988 is what opened up the fantasy market.

2. Many fantasy players and writers dream of working with a professional sports team, an opportunity you got and then walked away from. What about that job didn’t appeal to you? Would you consider another position in MLB going forward?

In 2004, after 11 years out of Corporate America, I was running a successful company. I was quite content with making my own decisions and the independence that goes along with that. Major league teams are run just like any other major corporation — endless bureaucracy, layers of decision-making, stunted communication channels, office politics, etc. I’d consider owning a team, but being an employee again? Not likely.

3. What is it about baseball and its numbers that draws you there rather than to other sports?

Baseball is divided up into easily measurable events, unlike most other sports where the action is more fluid. As such, the sport lends itself to more accessible analysis of individual performance. It also lulls us into believing we can create projections based on this data, which is why it was a natural for fantasy applications.

Bonus: In the Fantasyland film, we saw your disbelief at being met at your door by a trade-talking Jed Latkin. After that encounter, do you just let others in your family answer the door instead?

Ha! At 10:30 in the morning, I am typically the only one home. You can just imagine what it is like when you have a mile-long To-Do list sitting on your desk, and Jed Latkin and a cameraman show up at your door asking for a few hours of your time.