SportsNation host Michelle Beadle sat down with Sports Editor Adam Holt for an exclusive interview during the show’s stop in Madison. Beadle was told by co-workers that Madison was the best Big Ten college town.[/media-credit]ESPN’s SportsNation, a show merging sports, pop culture and viewer interactivity, began a four-day tour of Big Ten campuses this week, kicking things off here in Madison. The show was broadcast live from the Terrace at Memorial Union yesterday afternoon. Herald Sports got to sit down with Jamie Horowitz, co-creator and coordinating producer of SportsNation, as well as co-host Michelle Beadle for a Q&A session before the show. Questions and responses have been edited for content and clarity.Badger Herald: How did the show start?Jamie Horowitz: I created the show with Kevin Wildes back in 2008. We pitched it to ESPN, they green-lit it and we moved to Connecticut. We always knew we wanted (co-host) Colin (Cowherd) to be the host, but we spent 10 months testing co-hosts before we found Michelle.BH: What was behind the Big Ten road trip?JH: We wanted to bring the show to the fans, since they’re such a big part of it. After we announced we were going to the Big Ten, we had all kinds of people getting angry, like “How are you not going to the SEC”?BH: Michelle, what had you heard about Madison?Michelle Beadle: I heard from a lot of guys back at work who had been here, that Madison was the best [Big Ten town]. I haven’t gotten to see as much of the city as I hoped, just kind of around this area (near the Union) and what’s that street? State Street? I’ve walked up that whole street. I really wanted to go on a run, but haven’t had time. They’ve kind of been driving us around everywhere, I’ve kind of gotten to see the area with the frats and sororities – they’re always real nice houses. I haven’t been to any of these cities before, here, Ann Arbor. I’m excited to go to Penn State, I think I have a cousin there or something. I’m determined to get a run in at Penn State.BH: How is co-hosting with Colin?MB: Colin is like my awkward older brother. He’s great. It’s been great though, it’s always better when you’re more comfortable with your co-anchor, co-host. When I’m gone, or have days off, or he has days off, the guest hosts are great, but it’s different. But Colin is great, because if you ask five different people, you’ll get five different opinions on him. I think the show lightened him up a bit, made him more likeable to people who had only heard him on the radio.BH: The show obviously relies a lot on viewer interaction. Is that the next evolution of television shows like this?JH: SportsNation, we’re just at the beginning of our journey – we’ve only been on the air 15 months. We grow as the fans grow; as more people come to the party, the more we learn about what we can do. Michelle and Colin have really evolved in the first year as well, in terms of their role on the show. Michelle, when we started the show, she wasn’t on Twitter. Now she has 100,000 followers. She’s on it every day, trying to find different angles and new ideas. It’s a real challenge, being part of the sports landscape – every day, all across the country, we’re having lots of the same conversations; should Michael Vick start or not start? It’s a real challenge to find a way to cut through and try to do something different, have a unique take.MB: Definitely, the interactivity is a big part, the next step. I was against Twitter before joining the show, but [I love it now]. We were at the bar the other night, I was getting updates from writers before I saw it [on T.V.]. It can kind of go too far sometimes, maybe – you have athletes tweeting about injuries as soon as they’re in the locker room.BH: What do you think about the Ines Sainz situation with the Jets? Is that an example of some of the challenges that exist as a woman in sports media?MB: I had no opinion on it. She wasn’t mad about it, so I didn’t care. It’s weird that I don’t have an opinion on it because I have an opinion on everything (laughs). Does she dress in a way that’s considered professional? No. But the Jets, they’re professionals, they shouldn’t have been acting like fourth-graders. I’ve been in – not NFL locker rooms – but NBA locker rooms and it’s the same. I could walk in wearing this [tablecloth] and a pair of shoes and I’d get comments. Boys will be boys.BH: What are you looking forward to with the show being in front of a live college audience on campus?MB: It’s the fun, the spontaneity. I hope Colin gets booed. And there’s always the one guy who yells something when it’s silent – I hope that happens. I hope it’s great, it should be. I hope they boo Colin – if you come, try and boo him.
There is no denying that Best Ball leagues are soaring in popularity across all fantasy sports, especially fantasy football. Given the league format and deep rosters, there is certainly a different strategy when it comes to drafting in Best Ball than in your typical season-long fantasy leagues.For those of you not familiar with Best Ball, however, let take a look at the league type before we dive into tips for when your draft rolls around. Kicker/DefenseI lump these positions into the same category. Take no more than two kickers, and take them last in my opinion.For defense, you can certainly take three, but the position itself is very random. I’ll gladly leave it until my final few picks and fill only when I have my kicker position left. Nobody expected the Patriots defense to do what it did last year, just like you cannot predict the Jaguars defense from a few years back to turn into Sacksonville. Grab a few solid defenses or defenses that have a good schedule and rock it. Drafting one early just means you are missing a chance to take a depth play at receiver or running back, which could end up being far more valuable to your long-term success. MORE FROM FANTASY ALARM: Draft Guide | Ultimate NFL Package What is Best Ball Fantasy Football?Best Ball is a fantasy format in which all you do is draft your roster. There are no in-season moves or trades, and you do not “set a lineup” every week. For scoring, your top players at each position will have their scores count for that week, so you no longer will be kicking yourself for leaving a guy on your bench who had a big week or struggle with start ’em-sit ’em questions. Best Ball leagues are typically PPR scoring format, and depending on the site, you play from can range from 10-to-12-man leagues with 20-plus man rosters.Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Tips, StrategyQuarterbackGenerally speaking, you want to draft depth at all positions. That gives you the best chance to outscore your opponent at any given position each week. As is the case in standard leagues, you definitely want to draft two quarterbacks that do not share a bye week. However, unlike standard leagues, it is not unwise to consider drafting at least three players at this position to safe guard against potential injuries or, in the rare case, a sudden retirement like we saw with Andrew Luck last preseason.Again, we are looking at deep rosters here with some sites allowing up to 20-to-22 players per team, which leaves upwards of 11-to-13 bench spots. Now, you can certainly go ahead and snag the likes of Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes to give you the edge at QB1, but ultimately waiting on a quarterback is a strong recommendation given the depth at the position later in rounds compared to the depth at the other skill positions. Especially in Best Ball formats with deep benches, running backs and wide receivers will fly off the board, so make sure you are comfortably set before diving into the QB pool.Running BackAh yes, running back — the position that causes the most ire among fantasy football owners and the one with the most varying strategies on how to draft. Should you go running back early? Should you go zero running back? Should you make sure you draft your handcuffs? Or, should you draft a bunch of starting RB depth as a failsafe for potential injury?There are so many ways to approach the position; however, given that Best Ball drafts are certainly a different animal because of the scoring system and deep benches, you will want to make sure you address this position within the first few rounds. You can certainly stack your depth late, but seeing as running backs are typically among the top scorers in fantasy each season, you do not want to be left in the cold with a bunch of running backs in timeshares while the teams you are up against are rocking a roster of bell cows.With Best Ball being a PPR scoring, you should definitely look for those pass-catching backs, such as James White and Tarik Cohen, in the middle rounds who can put up 70-plus catches and average 10-plus PPR points per week. Their relatively safe weekly floors will help in Best Ball formats during bye weeks or when other players have down games.Ultimately, you can never really draft enough depth at the position regardless of strategy because having that depth could give you a big advantage over the field seeing as you can’t make any roster moves during the season.MORE FROM FANTASY ALARM: Draft Guide | Ultimate NFL Package Wide ReceiverMuch like running back, you need to draft depth at wide receiver — and a lot of it. Fortunately, this season the wide receiver pool is incredibly deep. If you are drafting toward the end of the first round you will have your options of DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams, all of whom could be the top receiver in fantasy. It is likely a wise strategy to even double-up at the position if you find yourself drafting toward the end of the first round.With the majority of the focus typically being on the running back position in Best Ball drafts you can often get top end receivers falling a few slots in ADP, and that should be used to your advantage. Right now, we are seeing receivers such as Keenan Allen, Calvin Ridley, Allen Robinson, and Odell Beckham Jr. going in the middle rounds of drafts. All can offer up top-20 upside at the position. It also helps that Best Ball leagues are PPR format, which brings added value to those receivers who may struggle to find the end zone. Guys such as Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman, and Deebo Samuel figure to see plenty of targets and can rack up the points on the catches.Again, depth is the name of the game here, so putting yourself in position to grab enough quality players will give you the edge in a Best Ball league.Tight EndYou should approach the tight end position in Best Ball as you do your standard league draft, which is to say you should wait. Sure, you can use an early pick on a Travis Kelce or George Kittle, but at their respective ADPs, you should really be looking to draft running backs and wide receivers. I would even consider waiting until I have taken my QB1 before addressing the tight end position. Often, there is not much difference in value between the second tier of tight ends, those ranked between TE6 and TE10, and for that reason I will typically wait until about the seventh or eighth round to address the position. This way I have three-to-four RBs and WRs and maybe a QB.The position itself is pretty solid in these middle rounds as well as you find the likes of Rob Gronkwoski, Hunter Henry, Darren Waller, and Austin Hooper going somewhere between the sixth and ninth rounds in most drafts. There are also some late-round tight ends with appealing upside, such as Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, Dallas Goedert, Eric Ebron, and T.J. Hockenson, to name a few, that may be poised for solid years at the position.