The text messages from former teammates are starting to increase in frequency. It happens every time this year for Bobby Korekcy. See the reliever for the Buffalo Bisons is a kind of fantasy football guru. And his friends and teammates are constantly seeking his advice in preparation for upcoming drafts.
“Ricky Romero just texted me 20 minutes ago like ‘Hey it’s that time of year,’” Korecky said. “We keep in touch throughout the year but come fantasy time, I don’t want to sound like I know everything because I’ve lost just as much as I’ve won, but what they know about me is I’m constantly listening and studying and watching games.”
Football has been a passion for Korecky and fantasy football a perfect outlet for his love of the game and his interest in numbers. So this year, he decided to put all his work in one spot creating the website Blitz Fantasy Life which has spun into the podcast Blitz Fantasy Football.
“All of the information that I’ve done for myself year in, year out I’ve just wanted a spot to put it all,” Korecky said. “A lot of friends, teammates have asked me questions. It’s not that I have all of the answers but I have a lot of information that might sway them one way or another. I started a little blog, website and then kind of transitioned into writing more articles for it and posting my rankings. Was never really on Twitter in the past and started a Twitter game just trying to get involved in that fantasy football community. It’s just something I love and I would be doing a lot of the stuff anyway so I figured why not?”
When Korecky talks football he holds a nostalgia familiar to most who grew up in football towns.
“I have memories from when I was 6 years old growing up in New Jersey, spent a little time in Ohio and then Michigan, and remembering snow and watching football,” Korecky said.
His dad would bring home the weekly list of NFL games and Korecky would try to pick the most winners. His older cousin kept notebooks with details of each week’s games and results and that grabbed his attention.
“I want to say 10-12 of his life he had notebooks full of this and I just thought it was coolest thing,” Korecky said. “I’ve always been kind of an organization, keep stats kind of person. I always thought that was great. Stuff like that just drove me to start playing fantasy when in 2002 I started doing it. From there I entered some dynasty leagues where it’s year-round for us. It’s just a love I have.”
Korecky currently plays in two dynasty leagues which, for the uninitiated in fantasy football, means players act like general managers and keep rosters year after year rather than redrafted a team at the start of each season.
He goes deep into the stats.
“A lot of websites hiring these analytical guys to just break down numbers that I couldn’t even begin to describe to you of every run by every running back in the last five years of every game and how that correlates to fantasy points,” Korecky said.
He also watches game film.
“You can sign up for on NFL.com where you can watch coach’s tape of the games played, even the preseason games that were just going on,” Korecky said. “I do and I truly enjoy doing it. It doesn’t seem like homework to me.”
Which is why so many of his baseball teammates come asking for advice.
“They know that I do that so I think I’ve got a little trust from them if they want to know about a guy,” Korecky said. “They’ll know I’m not just picking it off the top of my head, ‘Oh I like this guy.’ There’s some substance behind it.”
And the substance isn’t just about the numbers. As a professional athlete himself, he understands the numbers can show patterns but don’t measure the athletic side of the coin.
Take his year with the Bisons in 2014 when he pitched 26 scoreless innings over 17 games.
“I knew that that was going to end. That’s not a realistic thing to keep happening but the athletic side of me is well I’ve already done it, I’ve been doing it. It might not happen forever but why can’t it happen for the rest of this season?” Korecky said. “You kind of mix the two. If you’re looking at this just from a stat sheet, he’s bound to give up a run. As opposed to saying well, let’s see how long he can go for.”
Korecky will put together a player profile and look at the analytics to see if he’s likely to continue or improve on those numbers or whether a performance was a fluke.
“But also as an athlete it’s hard to tell somebody, to tell another professional athlete, well you can’t do that again,” Korecky said. “I try not to do anything in that realm. It’s like odds are you probably won’t but you might. I’ve been in sports for a long time and I try not to take that away.
“I think analytical statistical people, they don’t have that connection to the athletic side as far as they just see it as black and white. I like when athletes prove people wrong. I try to combine the two – the analytics side with the athletic side.”