Fantasy Baseball Round Table: The Role of LABR and Tout Wars

by Todd Zola, on February 27, 2013 @ 15:11:28 PDT


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Steve Gardner

The big question in all of this is, could you get enough players from each side to agree on a single format that would be used in the new league?

Brian Walton

This is getting further away from Tout and LABR and some may already know this, but Rotowire has its own NFBC challenge leagues. They are open to all, and their writers advertise the opportunity for anyone to compete against them.

Ryan Carey

Well - it could be argued that the NFBC is already represented with Shawn Childs/Greg Ambrosius in both LABR leagues. Shawn has made the transition to writing full-time over at Sports Draft Daily, and for years has been very open about his strategies, etc. There are others out there like Glenn Lowy, who is writing the NFBC column for BHQ this year. And don't forget our own Greg Morgan who writes the Masters of the NFBC.

Brian Walton

Let me play Devil's Advocate as it seems to me we are down a side track. Would Tout or LABR admitting one NFBC winner help accomplish anything significant for Tout or the general game itself? I guess it might generate more interest for the NFBC by having an additional incentive for their winner. I suspect the ultra players in the NFBC already know about the industry leagues and have their own opinions whether or not one of them join us.

I guess I would hope to see actions more universally impactful.

Nick Minnix

Maybe not. I think we've gotten a little sidetracked, but there's a lot of grey area and plenty of crossing over. At some point in crossing over, the objective of LABR and Tout would easily be lost. In the end, I'd have no desire to shift the focus from Tout or LABR just that one of them becomes a centerpiece of something greater. It can evolve with certain criteria, making it not exclusively about money or whatever else and more about education. Or whatever else. I think some of the suggestions we've seen may have feasibility, but probably not. Maybe those contests aren't the best avenue, as I said; I think there are a few more possibilities, at least. It's a brainstorm, I think, and a conversation that could go on forever.

Lord Zola's Wrap-up

Oy vey, So much for "The least important aspect of the LABR and Tout Wars festivities are the actual prices themselves." I admit, I was fishing for "The best way to look at the LABR and Tout Wars auctions is to look at the different roster constructs to get an idea of the different strategies. Don't pay as much attention to the actual players as the positions and strategies." Or maybe even, "Don't ignore the reserve rounds. That's where the latent gems and sleepers lie."

But stuff happens.

There are three points I'd like to quickly address.

The whole "so-called-expert" junk irks me. Those invited to play in LABR and Tout Wars are not necessarily the best players, but each and every one does their part to better the industry. Their resume does not say "Fantasy Baseball Expert" but rather writer, analyst, editor or host. When a friend asks them what they do for a living, the answer is not "I'm a fantasy baseball expert," Trust me, very few tote the term expert around with them; it was bestowed upon them by the very faction that mocks its existence.

Admittedly, this rant rings hypocritical since "tout" is a synonym for expert. That said, the use of the term expert in the industry is no different than CNN introducing a guest as a political expert or CNBC referring to a financial expert or E! interviewing a sideboob expert. It's not elitist; it's marketing. I have friends that play the high-stakes that say they know as much as the so-called experts and I have industry friends that say ponying up cash doesn't make one a better player. They're both right. But who cares! That's what bugs me.

Real quick, with respect to televising an auction, the reason so many shows are popular is a rooting interest. This is true for the WSOP as well as Shipping Wars, The Deadliest Catch, Survivor, The Greatest Race, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, WWE Monday Night RAW I think you get the picture. This dynamic just can't be created. Though I do agree with Rob: The table talk at some of these auctions is hilarious. Of course they're mostly inside jokes, not exactly great TV fodder.

And finally, one means to enact this hybrid league would be to have it sponsored and broadcast by SiriusXM. There will be no money involved, just exposure. The industry representatives get free advertising and publicity while the high-stakes players get what they really want to hear their name on the radio.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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