Hundreds of people will file into Deep Ellum's Canton Hall on Friday night to listen to three regulars and a special guest — not atypical for a venue that's slated to host musicians such as Lil B, The Mountain Goats and Kurt Vile over the next couple of months.
This week's show is a little different, however, because ticket-holders are paying a minimum of $25 to listen to and participate in a live taping of a fantasy football podcast, about a month from the beginning of preseason games and two months from the NFL's regular-season kickoff Sept. 6.
Stepping up to fill the void of fantasy content that drags through the summer until drafts begin in August is one of the biggest reasons Andy Holloway, Mike Wright and Jason Moore started their podcast, The Fantasy Footballers, in 2015.
"We decided to launch the podcast in the offseason because, as consumers of fantasy content, we realized there was really big gap in the offseason where we were still obsessing about fantasy football," Holloway says. "We felt like a lot of people were still wanting content, so we launched in February 2015. We picked up a lot of loyal followers early on, and 570 episodes later, we are where we are now."
Last year, listeners downloaded episodes of the trio's show more than 30 million times. The show won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's podcast of the year award and featured appearances from Pro Bowl players such as Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Allen Robinson.
"I really did believe that it could become something large," Moore says. "The thing that shocked me is the speed with which the podcast grew. It's not that it became successful, it's that it became successful overnight."
The group credits the approach — which focuses on providing accurate information to fantasy players without getting too far into the statistical weeds — with giving them the opportunity to quit their day jobs (Holloway, Wright and Moore all worked together at a mobile gaming company) and do things like take their show on the road. Friday night's show downtown is the second on their first summer tour.
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"We're really excited. We had the Minnesota show a couple of weeks ago. It sold out, and we had a blast with all the fans," Holloway says. "It's a fun, engaging event for hardcore fans."
As the football preseason gets rolling, the Dallas Cowboys face some key questions. Jason Garrett's Cowboys, the ones who will take to AT&T Stadium's turf in September, could use an addition to their defensive backfield and face uncertainty when it comes to their receiving corps after Dez Bryant's departure from North Texas.
Without Bryant, the Cowboys' potential fantasy impact is less clear, too. Ezekiel Elliott, the team's star running back, is still a bona fide fantasy superstar, worth a first-round pick in nearly every draft. The rest of the team's offense, however, is in flux. That doesn't mean the team's wide receivers should be ignored, the Fantasy Footballers team argues, if the Cowboys can get adequate quarterback play.
"One of our favorite sleepers is actually the Cowboys' de facto new No. 1 wide receiver, Allen Hurns," Wright says. "He's had fantasy relevance before, and that was with Blake Bortles throwing him the ball. Everything comes down to Dak [Prescott] though. Which Dak is going to show up?"