Though we’re now (as Tom “Our Savior” Brady would say) “laser-focused” entering our third season, the Roto Street path and our Mission has taken many twists and turns. Below, The Wolf tells how we got our name, the many business takeaways we’ve learned in just two years, our team-building process, where we’ve been and where we’re planning to go, and so much more:
The idea is born…
Nearly two years ago, during a February school vacation & amidst the ninth straight immobile hour of a Game of Thrones binge, an idea came to me.
Perhaps the thought sprouted around 4pm while arising to answer the door, my first genuine movement of the day, for a China River (We Deliver) Pupu Platter for two (but really for one).
Or maybe this little bud began blossoming while I wiped the crab rangoon crumbs off my damp robe, which I hadn’t changed out of in three days.
Regardless, the thought was simple, and highly unsurprising in this context:
“I need to do more with my life.”
Which was immediately followed by:
“What am I actually good at?”
I ran down the underwhelming list… Finding fantastic local food specials any night of the week…. Being overly competitive and ruining usually friendly activities… … tearing up Kid Rock’s portion of “Picture” in a karaoke duet…creating dark alternate endings for commercials…giving a mean ass massage… eating an entire box of Gushers in under 5 minutes…… stalling out here.
A worthy, but limited, skill set. None with any burgeoning career paths, unfortunately.
Which brought me to my only other talent areas with actual “real life” upside: writing and fantasy football.
And then I continued thinking… how convenient. Almost every Fantasy Football site out there sucks. How could such an incredible game and industry be so poorly represented?
Of course I don’t mean quantity-wise — there’s miles upon shitty miles of fantasy garbage polluting the internet. I mean actual, genuine, go-to levels of quality fantasy content.
Think about it: Fantasy creates such a great chance to prove your superiority over your friends, coworkers, and/or random lonely ESPN users if you’re a special kind of degenerate. For many of us, fantasy football and our historic leagues are our greatest sources of pride or despair. They maintain bonds that might otherwise wither, and they make casual talk at work far more bearable. Nevermind the financial upside if you’re tossing some money on the table.
And yet, all the advice is usually wrong. Hell, anything halfway accurate is so convoluted with nerdy nonsense about how many yards per carry XX player averaged with his left shoelace slightly undone… it’s essentially unreadable. Is there any expert you genuinely trust and enjoy?
Simply put, Fantasy Football deserves better.
Who’s more qualified to Make Fantasy Great Again (or for the first time ever) then a (at the time) 27 year old special ed teacher with no web or blogging experience whatsoever?
Thus, like a lost traveler with no roadmap but an unfailing will to arrive at the final destination, I set off on my quest to take over the fantasy football world.
Season One: The Foundation
Step One: The Name
The first step was easy: finding a name.
Beginning far before my blogging days, I’ve always treated fantasy like a stock market. Like any normal human, I’d begin making my rankings shortly after the Super Bowl. Then, over the next six months, I’d proceed to copy and paste every “value-altering” RotoWorld blurb into said document under the appropriate player.
By the time sane creatures started studying for drafts in August, I’d have crafted a 200 page (no lie) Word Document in which no fantasy stone had been left unturned. Psychotic.
When my rankings list gets discovered for the first time…
Though crippling for a social life, this “stock-based” approach has certainly yielded me a well-stocked Fantasy Trophy Case, and I knew I wanted to center my fantasy advice this way.
What’s the face of the stock market? Wall Street Journal. What’s the abbreviation for Fantasy? Roto (short for Rotisserie, which the baseball nerds called fantasy before it was fantasy, in case you were losing sleep).
Combine the two, and a beautiful virtual baby had been born: The Roto Street Journal, or RSJ for short.
As an added benefit, I could now pretend to be “Leo” of the fantasy world and call myself The Wolf. Does a life get any more badass than that?
Step Two: “Building” The Site
Here’s where the plot darkens. Whoever deemed these website builders “User-Friendly” has never met my technologically deficient brain. Wix, then Weebly, Squarespace, you name it, I tried and failed at it. I met every error message that’s ever existed. On multiple occasions, I accidentally deleted 10 hours of work. And I’ve never so degradingly spoken to anyone as I did to my poor computer. Middle fingers… fuck you’s…words that rhyme with punt… my helpless laptop took a verbal and physical bashing.
Yet, while calling a piece of technology a shit-eating, cock-sucking, wretched mother fucking bitch of a dumpster baby burnout (huh?) can bring any human to a dark & dreary place, quitting never crossed the mind. Which leads us to Business Takeaway #1 for all you dream chasers:
Make sure this pursuit means so much that literally no obstacle, downfall, or personal shortcoming will ever stop you.
Month after painstaking month (for a task that probably takes a normal human a day) passed, and I decided to give WordPress a try… what would be the fun in using the world’s most popular blogging platform right off the bat? Though the look was far from attractive, I was able to get back to why I started this whole thing: writing, and taking over the fantasy world.
Step Three: The Entourage
For the next couple of months, I felt a lot like Kevin Costner, wandering through a random, endless Iowa cornfield. Spewing garbage about Wrestlemania and writing Launch Letters that no one read (or ever should… I cringe reading my old, unfunny, typo-filled nonsense).
Similar to our Field of Dreams hero, though, a little voice continued playing in the back of my head:
If you build it, they will come.
And so I churned. The writing (marginally) improved (David Johnson #2 overall? Yup). People started to notice. I started reaching out to others, and vice versa. Finding talented people who believe in your ideas and will unconditionally work with nothing tangible on the table … is hard. Near impossible even.
But if what you’re doing is unique and your passion rings through every time you speak about it… they will come.
Long story short, a random gaggle was built. Some warriors have survived since the beginning, while many haven’t. From loosely connected high school friends and their cousins, to ex co-workers and the bartender at the local dive, there’s no real rhyme or reason here. But the glue that holds us all is strong:
We love fantasy football, we are damn good at it, and we believe the Roto Sphere is there for the taking.
With this core group of smart minds, talented writers, and motivated fantasy addicts, everything felt validated. Everything felt real. And the mission continued… even if misguided….
Season Two: The Complete Rebrand
From Spreading Fantasy Everywhere…
Indeed, this journey down Roto Street began with Fantasy Football at the forefront.
Yet, my ADHD-plagued mind didn’t stop there, foolishly . Helping you dominate your virtual pigskin leagues wasn’t enough! It’s only April and not enough people were paying attention wah wah!
Thus, I thought: What’s popular right now? What might drive some eyes to the site?
Wait… bringing the added excitement and competition of fantasy to a TV show? A scoring system centered around killing, boning, and drinking? A chance to draft Tyrion Lannister?! Omfg, pinch me.
This outside-the-box thinking sent our daily views (at that time at least) skyrocketing (from 3 to 50), and opened our eyes to a whole, unexplored land that was available for the taking: Fantasy TV.
Hell, it even caught the attention of our (then) first overall pick, Antonio Brown:
Encouraged by this jolt, our focus vastly changed, devolving our Mission Statement into:
“Fantasy” creates excitement and competition; The Roto Street Journal aims to spread this as far and wide as possible”
During this windier, multiple-path version of Roto Street, we made pit stops in wrestling rings and cocktail parties with the most desperate of humans. We took detours at dance halls, golf courses, and fiery tribal councils.
Ultimately, while covering so much unique content was a last, and allowed us to draw in a wide range of viewers, the lack of a clear route had us and, more importantly, our viewers, quite lost. This became clearer the more I studied online entrepreneurship, realizing that this “spread as wide and far as possible” approach — at least as a starting point — couldn’t have been more wrong.
We wanted to hit our ceiling without ever building a solid foundation to launch upon. We wanted to master all before mastering none. Thus, we opened up a Pandora’s Box that ultimately had to be closed, even if shutting it was genuinely painful for me.
Instead, every business owner suggests you start small. Find your “niche” and dominate it. Figure out the exact wants and needs of an underserved market, and fill these voids in the best, most unique ways possible.
Thus, we made the difficult decision to return to our roots, our core, our soul in starting this whole project — indeed a booming, yet underserved market:
Fantasy Football Rebrand
Right before the 2017 season kicked off, we decided to laser focus onto Fantasy Football. This, despite enormous success with an excellent Fantasy Baseball team, a steady stream of Golf Viewers, and The Truth’s “Fan Girl” numbers shooting through the roof for his Fantasy Bachelor coverage.
And it was 100,000,000% the right call.
Now fully zoomed in, Roto Street Journal’s collective energy is directed on one goal: forging a legacy as the GOAT site of Fantasy Football. That one, go-to homebase that fantasy addicts crave throughout the day. The standard that all the other “garbage-spewing” experts are held up to. The “shop” for all fantasy enthusiasts who’re looking for harrowing punishments or joyous trophy ideas.
Though still lofty, this ambition is far more manageable. In order to become this “Fantasy Football” homebase, our new Mission Statement is simple:
So many fantasy football owners wander through the RotoSphere like lost sheep, their money and (more importantly) their pride sheared away. This is at no fault of their own, as this booming industry has never been represented properly.
By framing Fantasy Football as the Stock Market that it is while taking a user-driven, football-exclusive approach, the Roto Street Journal aims to break through the noise and create a Pack of Fantasy Wolves that tear their leaguemates limb by limb.
Channeling all our energy into creating this pack of fantasy wolves has already yielded huge results. Our Podcast, the Fantasy Fullback Dive, has become a staple among the hardcore fantasy community. We’ve debuted The Fantasy Stock Watch — the most crucial spot for value-changing Fantasy Football News. Our Video Content — both Live Broadcast and Post-Production — has reached new heights. We’ve revamped our Fantasy Stock Formula, and will soon be using this to debut our revamped Fantasy Stock Profiles.
And Summer is still months away. We’re only getting started.
The turnaround is startling: from a GoT binge where I rivaled a melting stick of butter, to a lost but motivated fantasy mind, to now legitimately en route to crafting the greatest fantasy site that’s ever existed.. in a just over two years time?!
At this pace, this will truly be an American Dream narrative ripe for Hollywood.
Ideally, these beginning few chapters of our story helped illuminate where we started, where we’ve been, what we’ve learned, and where we (think) we’re headed. Perhaps learning a bit more about us can convince you to become a permanent resident of Roto Street and lifelong member of the Fantasy Wolfpack.
More importantly, however, we hope you can find inspiration in our Exposition, perhaps realizing just how real the American Dream can be. You just have to wipe off the crab rangoon crumbs, shut off The Office binge, and start writing those opening pages to see where it takes you.