During my second year of playing fantasy football, I became aware of a large international pro-am tournament called the Scott Fish Bowl. This tournament is run by Minnesotan Scott Fish and operates via invitation only. It combines professional analysts, celebrities, and amateur players to compete at a high level while raising money for charity. I signed up to play in #SFB11 but never expected to get in.
On May 7, 2021, I opened up my email and was stunned to find an invite into the Scott Fish Bowl. In my first year of #SFB11, I made it to the semi-finals. I finished with a record of 10-3 and was the top of my division, the Pink division. (For context, the Scott Fish Bowl does yearly themes for its divisions. The theme of #SFB11 was music. Pink refers to the recording artist, not the color.)
Early in the season, after Week 3, when Scott Fish posted the weekly leaderboard results, I ranked #1 overall with a cumulative PF (points for) of 644.42. While being shocked to see my name at the top of the leaderboard, I squealed in excitement to see one of my sheroes, Stephania Bell, also on the same top 20 leaderboard. I couldn’t believe I was seeing my name listed on the same page as her.
Luckily, I was invited back the following year to play in the tournament for #SFB12. Throughout both years, I was heavily involved in the group chats on Twitter (now X), reaching out for assistance on my different draft picks, lineup setting, and waiver pickups. I am thoroughly grateful for the camaraderie and the help as I navigated this competitive tournament. I loved all the new friendships gained. Unfortunately, I did not fare as well in #SFB12. There was negative scoring on quarterbacks that year, and I foolishly drafted Ryan Tannehill and Zach Wilson as my two starters.
As much fun as I had those first two years, I can honestly say I had no idea what I was doing. I was still very much learning the ropes of fantasy football, and it was a challenge to comprehend how the different scoring rules play a role. SFB is a beast all its own when it comes to scoring. In order to keep things interesting and fun, Scott Fish comes up with unique and specific scoring each year for this tournament.
After his team’s Super Bowl LVII loss, quarterback Jalen Hurts said in an interview, “You either win or you learn.” So, as I enter into this next fantasy football season, I am determined to take my past draft missteps as learning opportunities. Especially when it comes to the Scott Fish Bowl.
On May 26, 2023, I was invited to play in #SFB13. This year, I decided to participate in a live draft, despite the fear and pressure of making my picks while everyone was watching. But I also know that I can’t level up my skills if I don’t enter the arena with other top competitors. I selected to play in the Minneapolis Live draft division, Lion’s Tap. (The theme of #SFB13 is food.) There were only a couple of draft spots available once I received my invite, so I picked the 1.10 draft spot. This was different from my previous years’ drafting from the 1.06.
On July 9, I headed to the 328 Grill in Saint Paul Park. When I walked in, I saw my friend, Scott Fish, the person behind the entire SFB tournament! I first met him in person last August at the Fantasy Football Expo. You will never meet a nicer, more down-to-earth person. Not to mention his whip-smart business sense and his innovative leadership within the fantasy football community.
As others continued to arrive at the venue, I met a bunch of people that I had interacted with in the #SFB13 MN Live Draft chat. This included Andrew Kallio and Todd Hoffmann. I also met Justin Chase in person, whom I’ve known on Twitter for a while! So, even though I was very nervous and kept running through my head how I wanted to draft, I began to feel at ease being among friends. It was an absolute blast talking strategy and all things involving fantasy football with them.
I also got to meet Kevin Tompkins in person. I’m in a couple of fantasy leagues with him, and I told him it’s nice to see the face of the person I’m taking down this season. 🙂
There were four divisions total for the live event. Due to space, these were split up into two rounds for drafting. The Green Giant and Spam divisions drafted first. It was advantageous to be able to watch how these competitors drafted and observe their unique approaches. It allowed me to calm my mind and focus on my own approach.
I was hatching a plan to get Trevor Lawrence, no matter what, within the first two rounds of the draft. It was entertaining to watch Scott Fish’s son, Iain, and Tyler Denniston‘s son, Calvin, get involved and assist with the sticker boards! After this first round of drafting, there was a raffle giveaway of various donated items. I won both a subscription to FootballGuys and a spice set. Score!
When it was time to draft, I brought my cheat sheets and notebook over and took my place by the Lion’s Tap draft board. I noticed that I was the only woman drafting from my division. There was one woman drafting in the nearby Cheerios division- the incomparable Diana Schaapveld! Of note: no women drafted in the two earlier drafts. Let’s change that next year!
Dave Wrzos sat next to me and was joined by his wife Katie. Dave told me he studied my draft style ahead of time and had an idea of what I was going to do. I had the “uh oh” feeling that Dave, drafting from the 1.09 spot, would be sniping me throughout the draft.
When it was my turn in the first round at 1.10, the voice in my head repeated over and over, remember to get Trevor Lawrence. There were six quarterbacks off the board at that time. I was surprised to see Justin Fields still available. He was a good value to draft there, especially with this year’s scoring that awards points for carries and first downs. I drafted Fields. I thought to myself, I can get Lawrence on the turn and lock in my two quarterbacks.
In the second round at the 2.02, T.J. Hockenson was taken right before my turn. (Travis Kelce, unsurprisingly, was taken at the 1.03). I wavered in my head between my plan of Trevor Lawrence or getting an elite TE like Mark Andrews. In this year’s scoring, there is an additional point awarded to TEs for each first down and each reception. I had the good fortune in #SFB11 of having Rob Gronkowski on my team, so I really wanted to have an elite TE. I had a tough decision to make. Despite my plan to draft Lawrence, I drafted Mark Andrews at the 2.03, considering this year’s SFB scoring.
A highlight of the draft came at the 2.04 pick when Dave selected Kirk Cousins. Calvin, the kid who was helping with our sticker board, incredulously exclaimed, “you DO know this is the second round, right?” I don’t know if the other drafters were nervous like me up until that point, but when he made this comment, the whole draft table busted out laughing. I felt even more at ease. I thought, ok, this is really fun.
Calvin had commentary on numerous picks throughout the draft that had us all rolling. When I took Jared Goff as my second quarterback at the 5.03, he put a “wasted pick” sticker on top. It felt like a win to make an impression like that!
The live event consisted of the first 10 rounds, and the remaining 10 were done via a slow draft on Sleeper. My first 10 draft picks included: Fields, Andrews, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smith, Goff, Tyler Lockett, Calvin Ridley (my way of getting a piece of Trevor Lawrence), Alexander Mattison, Chigoziem Okonkwo, and Jamaal Williams.
I was surprised Mattison fell to the 8.10 where I took him. According to spikeweek.com, this was the latest pick for Mattison throughout the entire tournament. Can you believe it came from a Minnesota live draft?! I just couldn’t pass up the value there.
All in all, I am extremely proud of myself for participating in the live draft. I felt locked in and focused during the draft and came away feeling pleased with all of my picks. Not to mention the connections made with the other drafters and having just an all-around good time.
There’s nothing like drafting live. 12 people are gathered around looking at their cheat sheets and/or computers and making plans for their next move. There’s the tightness in your gut, wondering if the player you want will get taken before your turn, and then you’ll be forced to pivot on your plan. There’s the tiny smile that creeps out when you snipe somebody on a pick they wanted. There’s the adrenaline rush when you get sniped right before your turn, and you scramble and scour your cheat sheet for the next best option, feeling the pressure that everyone is waiting on you to decide.
But yet you can’t be rushed. Or you end up picking someone that doesn’t fit your roster build. It’s the intensity of everyone, so passionate on the players they want, but none of us really knowing how the season will actually go. This is fantasy football, after all.
So, when can we live draft again?
Thanks for reading Rachel’s latest article! If you want to follow along with her journey, you can do so here or on Twitter.
WOFF just kicked off the fourth season of The WOFF Podcast! It’s our annual fundraising event where we raffle off signed memorabilia, and all the ticket sales benefit our scholarship fund with GALvanize! You can find more information about GALvanize here, and to buy raffle tickets, click here! And don’t miss the debut episode on August 9th at 7p EST, featuring former Raiders CEO Amy Trask!