Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Jon Williams

Jon Williams headshot.jpg

back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Jon Williams, the founder of Advanced
Fantasy Baseball


your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of
asking – why should people listen to you?)

I suppose a lot of people think that winning championships qualify you but I
would disagree. People should listen to me because I make decisions and endorse
players based on the evidence rather than hunches and following the crowd. In
fact I love when the crowd disagrees with me.


How many years have you been playing fantasy?

I’ve been playing fantasy sports since the late eighties. Fantasy Sports
appealed to me right away. I read an article in Inside Sports magazine (weeks
or maybe even months after it came out) and then it was just a matter of
finding a league. It turned out a co-worker had a league and I’ve been playing
ever since. More than 20 years now of Baseball, almost the same with football.

How many years have you been writing?

I can remember composing stories in the second grade so I’ve been writing a
long time.


What made you want to get into the industry?

It didn’t start as a career decision. I just had ideas that I wanted to share.
When I discovered that you could actually get paid to share ideas about fantasy
baseball, nothing else would do.

How did you get your start?

I started writing about baseball on message boards in the late nineties and
experimented with blogging. I ran a fairly successful New York Yankees blog
called Bronx Pride for a couple of years. Then Mark Haverty invited me to do
some writing for him on I entered a contest on which
was run by Matt Berry who is now with ESPN. That led to lots of other opportunities.


What are the best changes to happen in the industry in the last 10

The league manager sites are amazing. It stuns me that I see people complain
about or CBS, or ALL-Star Stats. I remember all too clearly the
hours it used to take to process the transactions. I recently read a pages long
thread on one site where a group of people were complaining that their
standings were not being updated live. I used to have to wait for the commish
to mail me his hand calculated, typed and xeroxed stats and standings. I miss
those days sometimes. Sometimes…


You recently made the move writing for your own site.  Are
you enjoying the new challenge?

I love every minute of it but it is incredibly hard in some ways. The things
that I never had to worry about elsewhere take up time that I wish I could
spend writing. Then again, I love tweaking all the details. Figuring out what
works, what people are actually interested in reading. 

What’s the main difference in writing
for your own site versus an established one?

Freedom is the obvious difference. I can do whatever I want, however I want.
That is also what makes it difficult. There’s no one to yell at me if I miss a
deadline, which seems like a blessing but it really is not.


What advice would you have specific for people who want to break into
the industry?

Write as much as you can for as many readers as possible. Don’t expect to make
much money, but if you keep at it anything can happen. Don’t be derivative.


Time for a round of favorites.  Team? 

The Yankees.


Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton, Chipper Jones and  Ken Griffey Jr are current
favorites. Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Ricky Henderson, Jose Canseco are
alltime favorites.


Fantasy memory/moment?

My first year in a league I traded Al Martin (coming off a big steals season)
for Shawn Estes. The league decided that I was being ripped off and forced the
other owner to give me more. Al Martin was never heard from again and Estes won
19 games.


Fantasy writer at a site other than your own?

I love Jason Grey from his days. His ESPN column is must read


Do you enjoy fantasy sports more or less since you entered the industry
(as opposed to when you just played them)?

As long as I keep finding new challenges, and tougher and tougher leagues I’ll
love fantasy baseball more every day.

Do you enjoy sports more or less?

Fantasy sports have increased my love of sports a million-fold. I can rattle
off the 40-man rosters for just about every team in MLB. I watch, read, write
and listen to something sports related everyday and I wouldn’t have it any
other way.

What advice would you have for people
who are playing in their first season?

Have fun and don’t take it too seriously. And never ever pay full price for



We are now a quarter of the way through the season.  What have you
learned that might cause you to give different advice then you did on opening

I’m starting to wish I hadn’t picked BJ Upton in quite so many leagues. But
seriously, a lot has gone right with my primary sleeper picks. Russell Branyan
has been awesome. Daniel Murphy has been solid. Josh Johnson has been

Thanks for taking the time to answer my
questions.  Last one — any prediction
for how our league finishes up?

I hope that improving health and guys like BJ Upton will propel me to the
top of the standings. However, I’ll hold off on the Ali-like predictions for


I’m noticing a trend in the expert interviews that they all indicate that they “show their work” and “rely on evidence,” things of that nature. This would seem to indicate there would be an objective way to measure the success of experts based on their predictions, not their teams’ performances. Does anyone know of any resource for this type of expert review?

To JonasFoxx —

Ron Shandler of Baseball HQ and a few others have looked at this often. Essentially of the sites that predict every player’s performance. no one ever comes in at much better than 70 percent correct when using a reasonable measure.

From my fantasy team, which is:
C: John Baker
1B: James Loney
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Bill Hall
SS: J.J. Hardy
OF; Ryan Braun
OF: Mike Cameron
OF: Jay Bruce
DH: Rickie Weeks
P: Blue Jays
Jim Thome
Jason Kendall
Shin Shoo-Choo
Denard Span
Ken Griffey Jr.
P: A’s
Which of these players could I trade to get Justin Morneau?

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