Award winning author and fantasy football expert, Bob Lung, joins the show to talk about his upcoming event called The Fantasy Football Expo in Canton Ohio.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show Episode #170. I guess every ten episodes, I think it’s a milestone, so another milestone, 170 in the books. Excited to be here today, excited that you’re listening, taking a few minutes, and uh, giving a little attention to this awesome show that we’ve had some fun with over the last several years now. Um, today we have another very special guest, I always love bringing guests on that are doing awesome things in sports business, and fantasy sports, and sports betting, you name it, in the sports area, we love having them on to hear a little bit about what they’re doing. And today, we have

BOB LUNG

of The Fantasy Football Expo. Bob, are you with me?

BOB LUNG

How’re you doing? Yeah, thanks Ryan for having me on, man. I appreciate it.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Oh, no, my pleasure. I’m excited to hear what you got going on, I’m excited to hear about yourself, but first of all, how’s life in Ohio treating you?

BOB LUNG

Well, right now, I’d say Detroit is the FSG conference, but life in Ohio is great, uh, born and raised in the Canton area, so I’ve lived there all my life, so the Hall of Fame has always been a big deal to me, and uh, everything that they do, and I’m also a driver doing Hall of Fame weekend for the enshrinees, so it’s my 33rd year now. Um, so I’ve driven everybody from Al Davis to John Madden to John Lynch last year, Brian Dawkins, and you know, just, and I’ve met ’em, almost all the guys, at some point, you know, shake their hands, you know, kind of a thing. Um, it truly is a fantasy football weekend there, because it’s just a fantasy with the best of the best football players ever, you know. It’s nothing to not [inaudible] sitting there, walking past Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, and you know, it’s, it’s uh, this year I’m actually going to be driving Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, who is presenting for Cliff Branch, who is passed away, but he’s gonna be there to represent. I’m kind of a Browns fan because of where I live, but Raiders fans always hitting my back since the 70s when they were the only team to beat the Steelers, because the Browns couldn’t do that in the 70s, so, so I kind of latched on to them, and, like I said, I drove out 16 years ago and he was presenting for John Madden, and it was an awesome experience, and then, so when it came up that Mark was coming, I go: “Yeah, I think I’ll drive Mark, that sounds fun”.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool. So sounds like you’ve got a lot of, uh, fun stories probably in the football and in sports.

BOB LUNG

Oh yeah, I’ve got days of that. [Laughs]

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, exactly.

BOB LUNG

We could do 10 episodes on those stories, yeah.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. That’s amazing. But, you know, I want to dive into Fantasy Football Expo and what it is, and all about it, make sure people understand that, but first, I want to hear, I know you told me a little bit about yourself there, but before we get into that, tell us more about like, your fantasy football or your fantasy love, you know, and how that started, and your journey that got you to where you’re at.

BOB LUNG

Well, um, it started in 1985 when a friend of mine came home with this little book written by a guy named, I think it’s Chris Charpentier or something like that, and it was just called “Playing Fantasy Football”. Very simple, small, maybe, I don’t know, 30 pages. Small little book, you know, and uh, my buddy gave it to me, said “Hey, I just read this. Looks like a lot of fun, we should get all of our guys together, all my friends together. Let’s have a league!”. Okay, didn’t even think twice that this was gonna be something that was gonna blow up to the 60 million people playing it worldwide, or nationwide. Worldwide, probably even higher. Uh, so we started, and um, you know, for those of you who, uh, you know, back in the Jurassic Park era, when we didn’t have internet, we did everything by hand. Luckily, I worked for an accounting firm that had PCs, which you know, 256 MG hard drive kind of thing. Uh, with Lotus 123, and created a sheet for the results each week, mail it out to all of them in envelopes every Wednesday so they got them by Friday, and then they would call my aunt’s machine when I got home from church on Sunday, and there’d be like 43 messages with all the line ups and their changes by one o’clock, and that’s how we ran until the internet and Yahoo created the first online tracking, and, as they say, the rest is history. So, that was the fantasy start, um, 2002 I created my own, um, consistency calculation for the consistency of the players. Um, because I’d lost, I didn’t even make the playoffs one year when I had Shaun Alexander as my MVP, he was the MVP that year, I had Shaun Alexander won 7 and 7 and didn’t even make the playoffs, but I was the second-highest score’s team, and what I realized was that he scored like five points in one game, or five touchdowns in one game, three in another, two in another, so like 2/3 of his touchdowns were in three games, and most of the other ones he got zeros, so, you know, I looked and I thought, “Man, if he just scored one touchdown a week, I would’ve won two more games”. Um, you know, I didn’t need to win by 30 some of those weeks, like the week he had five touchdowns, um, and I would’ve won two more games, made the playoffs, won the championship, and that’s really where the consistency thing came in. And long story short, um, about six years ago I decided to write my own book, Amazon has that ability, you can upload your own PDF and make a book out of it. And, well, that’s kind of fun, so I get that, and first year sold about 65 copies, and that was cool, you know, I didn’t know if anybody would buy any of them, but they did. And then the next year, sold maybe a little over 100, and that year, I submitted the book to the Fantasy Sports Writers of America who have an annual competition for, like, “Best Articles”, and “Best Printed Publications”, and I didn’t think, I just thought I’ll send it in and see what happens. Well, I got nominated for one of the best guys in the country, and uh, fast forward, it’s been five straight years I’ve been nominated for “Best Publication in the Country”, and in 2018, won the actual award. Uh, so, here we are today and now I sell about 2-3 thousand copies a year. Uh, so that’s kind of fun, that’s what kinda got me into the community of the fantasy football experts and analysts, whatever you wanna call it, um, and so it kind of brings you up to 2018. Um, so again, living in Canton, seeing the Hall of Fame, watching it grow from a very small two-day event into a five-day extravaganza of parties, and you know, parades, and just all kinds of stuff, I thought, “Well, you know, you really should have, like, a fantasy football weekend the week after Hall of Fame”. You know, people can come there, they can tour the Hall, we can do an expo, with trade show booths and panel discussions, and stuff like that, but on Saturday we’ll have drafts that people can participate in. And the one thing we really didn’t have in the industry was a “Best of the Best” competition live draft competition. And so, I talked to, at that point I finally earned some street credit after 20 years, and so Mike Clay of ESPN, Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports at the time were colleagues of mine, and I emailed, like “Hey, what do you think about doing this? We’ll draft in the Hall of Fame”. They’ve got this gold jacket lounge, it’d be perfect, we’ll get Sirius XM, Fantasy Sports Radio to come, and they did. And it worked. So, we started at 2018, 2019 we had the first expo. The next day, so that was the first full weekend we had was 2019, and the expo was nice. We sold all 30 booths, but only about 75 people came, and I’m like, “Ah, well, that was fun, wasn’t what I expected but we’ll do better next year”. Next year said “No, you’re not doing anything”, that was called 2020, so COVID shot everything down, so we don’t do anything in 2020. 2021 is February, March, and I’m like, “Well, these vaccines are coming out, things should be better, why don’t we go and put one on in 2021”, and um, I think it was a combination of people just being cooped up for a year and a half, and the fact that it was a fun weekend in Canton, Ohio, and last year we had over 500 people show up.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Wow.

BOB LUNG

And 70 of them were from out of state. I had people coming from Hawaii, California, Florida, Mexico, uh. [Laughs]. It was dumbfounding how it just blew up, and, so now we’re heading to 2022, we’re assuming we’re gonna break the 500 mark and have a much year, now again, there’s always quirks, right? So this year, it’s not COVID that’s deterring people from coming, it’s cost of travel. Airfare, gasoline, some of that stuff, so I think we’re still gonna have a good year, um, I was really hoping to double it to 1,000. Not sure we’re gonna make it, you never know. A lot of people kinda wait until the last minute. So anyway, as you said, as you showed, there’s a website, it’s only $75 for the whole weekend, and you get wristbands to go to the Friday night party, Saturday night party, drafts during the day on Saturday, like, in the morning and the afternoon, Sunday’s the big expo at the DoubleTree hotel, um, we’re having panel discussions on every topic you can think of, so, read draft strategies, Dynasty, whatever the case may be, and as you see, NBC Sports is our title sponsor, they’re bringing all their big names, um, from NBC. Uh, basically every fantasy site you can think of, somebody will be there representing them.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

BOB LUNG

Um, we have, so we have the Kings Classic, so we have guys like Andy Behrens from Yahoo, Mike Clay from ESPN, Dave Richards from CBS Sports, Brad Evans, Yahoo and now is part of Bally, uh, Michael Fabiano from Sports Illustrated, Marcus Grant from the NFL network, I mean, on and on, the list of people that will be attending, that you will be able to hang out with, uh, and that’s the best thing, it’s so much fun, the community is amazing.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

BOB LUNG

Um, you know the one thing you will never see at a fantasy conference is people getting edgy, and, you know, talking race, or talking sexuality. That stuff is not even close to, I don’t care who they are, we’re talking fantasy, I don’t care if you’re green and you have long ears. We’re gonna talk fantasy, I don’t care who you are, what you look like, gender, it doesn’t even come into play, and that’s what’s great, is there is none of that. Um, you know, so that’s what’s super, I mean, it’s a fantastic time, it’s only $75 for the whole weekend, um, we’ve got all kinds of hotels with discounted rates, everything is within 10 minutes in Canton, so you don’t have to worry about “Aw, I don’t want to stay at this hotel, I want to be closer”. Nah. Any hotel you’re at, you’re 10 minutes away from everything, so that’s what’s nice about Canton, Ohio, it’s pretty tiny, uh, compared to most cities. And, like I said, oh and you get a ticket to tour the Hall of Fame while you’re there too. And at that point, I mean, that’s $35, so that’s half the cost, right there, so, um, like I said, we just want people to come and have a good time. We’re almost sold out on the booths. We have 50 booths available this year but I think we only have 3 left. Those are almost all sold out, most of the sponsorships are all gone, like I said, NBC Sports, Fantast Points, which is John Hansen’s group, so it’s, it’s just a great time. I’m still dumbfounded how this all came together, um, but I’ve been in the industry 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of big national conventions put on for fantasy football, and the one thing I always said, was that they were always too big and too expensive, you know.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

BOB LUNG

I went to one in Atlantic City Convention Center, you know, could’ve held 40,000 people in there, they were hoping for 25k, they got 2,500 instead of 25,000. So, needless to say, it didn’t go well. But it was $100 just to get in for one day. So, you know, if you wanted a 2 day pass it was like $200, can’t do that. And same with Tony Romo did one, but the booths were like $1500, our booths were $375.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

BOB LUNG

There’s a lot of people like me that have full-time real jobs that just do this for fun, make a load of money on the side, but it’s just about being in the community. That was why I created this, was that, all of those folks like me, not the guys that work for ESPN, and they’re all great, I love those guys, I actually just talked with Andy Behrens yesterday at the conference here. But, you know, they’re just as cool and down to earth as I am or anybody else is, and again, there’s no egos, none of that kind of stuff, so it’s just a great time, and, uh, if you live anywhere near the Canton, Ohio area, try to make it. I mean, even if it’s a five, six hour drive, I know a lot of people are coming from Philly, Chicago, Minnesota, and yeah. So that’s the short story.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. I mean, you make my job easy here.

BOB LUNG

Yeah sorry you didn’t get to talk [Laughs].

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. You answered every question I had, basically nailed them all, so I mean, uh, great on that. Man, well it sounds like an awesome weekend. So it’s August 12-14, uh right? August 12-14 in Canton, Ohio. I had a question, and this is not directly related, I have lots of questions, but one that I want to bring up before we run out of time is, is simply around the attention of fantasy football as a whole. Not through the expo or anything like that, but, you know, we’re seeing a lot of attention these days on the sports betting side of things. Sports betting is taking off in the United States and we’re getting all these people into that. Are you seeing, you know, being in the industry 20 years, being a fantasy football, like in love with fantasy football, are you seeing more or less attention to the, what we want to call the traditional fantasy football world? Are you seeing more or less of that as your [unintelligible]?

BOB LUNG

I don’t think I’ve seen either. Um, what I’m seeing is, um, I think everybody’s still in their home leagues we’ll call them, you know, their buddies, their friends, or whoever the people are at work, everybody’s still into their fantasy football leagues, but what the like DFS or sports betting brings is that little added bonus, because, guess what? By about halfway through the season, there are definitely some teams like “I’m not getting to playoffs”, you know, “I’ll pay attention to my team, but, you know what? How bout I go drop a few prop bets on some of these players, or go do a little betting here if it’s legal in your state, or paly DFS”, and, you know, it allows them to still stay engaged in the players and in the sport, even if their team’s not doing that great. So I think it’s just, it’s kind of like the fries to the Big Mac, it’s just, you know, so that’s what I see, when we talk here at the conference, which is a lot of the business aspect of it, yeah, there’s certainly big money being thrown at anything that has to do with gambling and DFS and, ‘cuz that’s where the big money is , but in the long run, everyone loves playing in their leagues, you know, still trash-talking their buddies, and, you know, wearing their trophy or their championship ring, or whatever they have, you know? Um, and, you know, that is really what fantasy has always been about. It’s been about having fun. The problem is, some of us get way too much into it, and it becomes, you know, they make it more work, and again, you can be as into it or not, you know, I mean, I certainly know that there’s a lot of people out there that literally drive and show up to their draft with a magazine they bought on the way there and their 12 pack of beer and that’s the amount of effort they’re going to put into it, and if they win, great. If they don’t, eh. They had fun, it was a good party, you know. So, um, I don’t see really any drop-off.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure. yeah, no, that’s good thank you for the, kind of the insight into that. So, we’re now less than two months away from the Fantasy Football Expo, which is amazing for you, amazing for the event, but what’s even better is when that time comes, you always start thinking “Oh my gosh, football is here”, right? Football is here.

BOB LUNG

Yeah.

RYAN KNUPPEL

So, people, I mean, it’s like the perfect time to have this because that is exactly when people get excited about drafts. Are you seeing, like, full leagues come and like do their draft around this weekend and kind of hang out and do stuff, or is that like not necessarily what they’re doing?

BOB LUNG

Not at this point, I think a lot of…I mean, first off, I know how difficult it is just to get my buddies to get online to put a draft together. To get 12 of them to drive and show up at a location is not even remotely thought of. Um, I think a lot of people maybe come with 3 or 4 of their friends who are in a league with them, and all make a road trip out of it and spend the weekend, have a good time. That’s what it’s really about. Um, now, if a whole league showed up, I’d probably take pictures and have a special thing or something. They might all have the same shirts on. It’s kinda like, you know, you know…Um, a bachelorette party where they all have the same shirts. [Laughs]. I could see something like that, I haven’t seen it yet, but, and there’s no reason they can’t. If they wanted to come and do that, I’m sure we could give them a conference room in the hotel and let them draft on that Saturday if they wanted to do that together. That would be super cool, yeah, so…

RYAN KNUPPEL

So, people, how do they sign up? Just head out to the website?

BOB LUNG

Yeah, just go to the TheFantasyExpo.com, click on “Buy Tickets”, um, that home page that you showed where it had “Learn More”, that’s a really good place to start, cause it really breaks down the entire weekend. It doesn’t literally have times, um, we will be putting those up, and we know what those are, but that whole thing goes through Friday night party, Saturday draft day, Saturday night party, the expo, so…

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, amazing.

BOB LUNG

Yeah, and it shows the pictures, so that’s the dome that they’re building at Hall of Fame Village that we’re going to have the party at indoors, and on Saturday night, not only are we doing a party in there, we’re having a flag football tournament and a quarterback skills challenge right on the field.

RYAN KNUPPEL

What? That’s amazing.

BOB LUNG

Um, you know, these guys have been begging, you know, even though there are some women that come to this, I’m not gonna lie, we’re just a bunch of 18 year old boys that just want to compete against each other for the thrill of competition, so, that’s why there’s a cornhole tournament at the Friday night part, that’s why there’s you know, these two events at the Saturday night party. These guys wanted me to set up a combine for them.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah.

BOB LUNG

Let’s just do quarterback skills challenge, I don’t need anybody blasting their hamstrings out because they’re trying to run a 40-yard dash in under 10 seconds.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I know, I know.

BOB LUNG

[Laughs]. So…

RYAN KNUPPEL

We all think we still have it, right?

BOB LUNG

I know, exactly. And that’s it, exactly it. So I said, look, and that’s what’s fun about this, it’s an open canvas for whatever everybody wants to do. You know, I’ve already heard people say, “We should do a golf outing, we should do this”. I’m like, we only have so much time, we can’t make this a week guys, I have a job.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah.

BOB LUNG

You know, but I love the enthusiasm. But, we’ve had guys that are like, “Hey, a bunch of us are getting together we’re gonna go golf on Saturday instead of doing drafts”. Good for you, sounds like a great idea.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Oh man, I’m sure the energy around the event is amazing, and if you ever wanted an excuse to go party and hang out in Canton, Ohio, this is the best excuse you can find to go to Canton, Ohio, so I mean, definitely looks amazing, we’ll definitely put the link up here to TheFantasyExpo.com. I’d encourage everyone listening to at least check it out, right? See if you’re weekends free that time. I’m gonna check it out, I’m gonna talk to the wife and see if I can get there, because that’d be amazing. But Bob, what else? I mean, I know I don’t want to keep you too much longer, I know you’re a busy guy, we’ve all got things going on, but what else did we miss, what else did you want to touch on before I let you go here?

BOB LUNG

Well, as we talked about, the consistency guide is something I put on every year, it’s on Amazon. Go to your Amazon, you could type in “2022 consistency”, I guarantee you it’s the first thing that pops up. But it’s out there, um, you know, buy the guide, once you get the guide it’ll have a coupon code at the bottom of the pages, then you can go to Big Guy Fantasy Sports, which is my website, and get access to all of the consistency data. There’s all kinds of cool reports there. You can put in your own scoring method, we’ll tell you how consistent the players were in your league under your scoring method. Um, we’ve got historical game scenarios, so for you DFS and bettors, you can literally go in and see, you know, let’s say, Aaron Rodgers is playing at home against the top 10 defends this week, you can go in and it’ll show you over the last 1, 2, 3, 5 years that he’s played fro the Packers, and how consistent and how, what is it, fantasy point per game is. And you might see, “Oh, he does really well, I should maybe put a prob bet on that number”, or you know, whatever the case may be, and it’s got all kinds of cool tools like that to make it easy for people to understand and be able to use it in whatever they play.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Man, living and breathing fantasy football, I love it. It, uh, you know, we’ll put the link to that as well, but you said BigGuyFantasySports.com is kind of a resource sight and a little more on the resources, and then Amazon to grab the consistency guide. And it’s called just that, right? “The Consistency Guide”.

BOB LUNG

“2022 Fantasy Football Consistency Guide”, yep.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Love it, love it, Bob. Man, you’re doing some great things. It was really, really good to chat with you here. Um, I hope to be able to get to one of these Fantasy Football Expos. If not this year, maybe next year, whenever I can get there, that would be amazing, so, um, props on all the success, and I really do hope you hit that, what are you trying to get to, 1,000?

BOB LUNG

1,000 people this year, but, it’s gonna be close, I don’t know if we’ll do it, but I’m hoping…

RYAN KNUPPEL

A little marketing push, and uh, you know, you’ll get there.

BOB LUNG

Yeah, yeah. We’re gonna be pushing harder the next two months for sure, and if we don’t hit it that’s fine, you know. I get it, it’s very expensive to drive, it’s very expensive to travel. I’m flying out to California, and it was like $1500 for my wife and I, and that was the cheapest tickets I could get, so…

RYAN KNUPPEL

Crazy.

BOB LUNG

Yeah, so yeah I get it, people.

RYAN KNUPPEL

If somebody wanted to contact you, how would they get ahold of you, or are you off-limits?

BOB LUNG

[Laughs]. No, I’m never off-limits, in fact, I encourage. So, the best way obviously, is if you go on Twitter, follow me @Bob_Lung. Um, when you do, I usually follow back, and then we can DM there, or you can just email me at Bob@BigGuyFantasySports.com, or Bob@TheFantasyFootballExpo.com, either one will work as well email-wise, so again Ryan, thanks for having me, I really enjoyed this. I hope you can make it, man.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Absolutely. Good luck with the event, thanks for joining me, and if I can do anything for you, I welcome that.

BOB LUNG

Thank you, I appreciate that man.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Alright, take care.

Alright guys, that was Bob Lung of The Fantasy Football Expo, Big Guy Fantasy Sports, got me everything and anything you want in the fantasy football space, Bob’s your guy. So we’re really excited to have him on. I think that sounds like an amazing event, and I’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, but I’ve been wanting an excuse to get to the Hall of Fame area and all of the things that are going on around there, so maybe this is just that excuse to make me travel a little bit and head there. We’ll put up all of those links in the show notes, we’ll put everything we mentioned today, we’ll put link in there so that you don’t have to go back and find them. We will put those in the show notes. Thank you so much for tuning in today and listening. If you have another guest you would love to come on, and you think would be a good guest on our show, please, you can find me @RyanKnuppel, @Knup anywhere on social media, I like to be on LinkedIn as well if you want to find me on there. So, take care until next time. Stay safe, I’m Ryan Knuppel, checking out. Have a good one. Bye bye.

 

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