Meat Loaf is many things: a musical legend, a cult hero, an occasional actor, an indefatigable creative power, the first person I think of when I remember visiting my sister and her friends at Fredonia State University in like 1992. He is also, apparently, either the greatest fantasy football player of all time or a lying liar.
Let’s look at the available evidence.
What does Meat Loaf say about his skills?
“Normally everybody goes for running backs,” Meat said this week on the SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channel. (Audio here.) “Last year, I didn’t. And what did I have, 13 leagues last year? And [I] won 11. And I didn’t go for running backs. I went for receivers. My first three picks were receivers, and then I went for running backs, and then I went running back alllll the way down the line. And one of my last picks — still left on the board — was Kirk Cousins. What a sleeper last year. I was sitting there [thinking], ‘Don’t you dare take Kirk Cousins, people. Don’t you dare.’ I think I took him in the 13th round.”
He won 11 out of 13 leagues! Dang! Has he ever done something similar before?
“Last year, I was in 33 and I won 9,” he told the New York Times in 2005.
Now maybe this is just like a guy who leaves Maryland Live up $117 one night, and goes and tells everyone he knows about how he took down the casino, and then neglects to mention the other 15 times he left as a loser. Maybe. But we’re left with a guy claiming to have won 20 of 46 fantasy football leagues. He also told the Times in 2005 that “there are usually 15 teams in a league,” which means he is just destroying any normal win expectancy.
What would a well-known full-time fantasy football writer make of this?
“I’ve seen people win a big chunk of their leagues, but it’s only because they strike it rich on several sleepers before the season,” wrote CBS Sports’s Dave Richard, my favorite non-Washington Post fantasy football writer. “I’m talking about getting an Alfred Morris before he became a hero, and doing it with three or four different players in the same season. To say it’s rare is a massive understatement. I do this for a living, and I haven’t won more than five leagues in the same season. (Granted, I have to share my sleepers with my audience. I can’t hold back. It’s basically written into my contract!) So for your typical run-of-the-mill best-selling musician to tout he’s won 11 of 13 leagues, it’s tough to believe. But not impossible.”
Is he only a savant at fantasy football?
Nope! I was reading through a Newark Star-Ledger story from 1998 and found this:
A big rotisserie fan, according to Kevin Caliendo, who wrote an article on rotisserie baseball for Worth Online, is pop singer Meat Loaf, who has played in 30 leagues in the past three years, winning 20 of them.
And then I was reading through a Boston Globe story from 1993, and found this:
It’s been quite a special autumn for Meat Loaf. “I won two World Series,” says the singer-actor-baseball fan-strategist-youth-coach-softballer, of his participation in multiple rotisserie baseball leagues. “Two out of seven. That was really good. I took four teams into the World Series, and I took six into the playoffs.”
I didn’t think old-school 1990s-era rotisserie leagues really had playoffs or World Series, but whatever. Anyhow, if you add these to the football, Meat Loaf has won exactly 42 out of 83 fantasy leagues he has disclosed. WOW!
I mean, 42 out of 83! WOW! What are the chances?
Let’s turn to good pal Neil Greenberg of the Fancy Stats blog. If we were to assume Meat — being an above-average fantasy player — has a 25 percent chance to win any given league, his odds of winning 42 times out of 83 would be more than 3 million to 1. If we instead assume he’s a perfectly average player, and has an 8 percent chance to win a 12-team league, the odds of going 42 for 83 are something like 104,130,945,495,136,000,000,000 to 1. Which means Meat is either far, far, far above average; incredibly lucky; or full of ground beef.
Now, I’m not saying he’s not telling the truth. Not at all. But it just kind of makes you wonder whether there are any other celebrities who might play fast and loose with their facts during media tours, not expecting a ferocious press that might eventually wonder whether any of these facilely touted numbers are actually accurate.
Nah. Probably not.
Is he humble about this?
“Every time USA Today or ESPN . . . ask me to join their fantasy league, I’ll say you don’t want me,” Meat told my pal Mike Harris last year. “Why? I’ll win. They say, ‘You’re awfully cocky.’ No, it isn’t being cocky. I haven’t lost one yet, any celebrity fantasy game.”
Is there any way to measure him other than his own words?
As it turns out, Meat entered the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League in 2010. ESPN.com documented the results. And Meat won!!!!! Anthrax’s Scott Ian, who is Meat Loaf’s
son-in-law nephew, noted that “Meat told me before the season, You don’t want me in your league.’ And when asked to talk some trash here he said, ‘I don’t talk, I win.’ ”
On the other hand, he teamed with Clark Olson in the 2004 World Championship of Fantasy Baseball. Olson told the Times that they finished third out of 15 teams and won $1,000, which didn’t cover their entrance fee.
Is it possible he is just insanely devoted to fantasy football, and thus really talented at it?
It seems likely, even. Years ago, he told ESPN.com that he ” once had a $10,000 phone bill calling back to the States when I was on tour” in the pre-Internet days because “it was the only way I could stay connected with what was going on” in fantasy football. That’s hard-core.
He told the Times that he’s done as many as 60 leagues in a year, that he has Sunday Ticket and watches all the games while monitoring his computer, that he spends “several hours” working on free agency on Tuesdays while also listening to NFL radio on Sirius. He started playing fantasy baseball in the 1980s, and also does fantasy NASCAR and fantasy basketball and others. He told the Times that he’s “drafted every player known to man” and that people who take kickers early “should be kicked.”
And he told USA Today in 1993 that “he chose to put together his fantasy-league draft list rather than work on his 1992 income-tax filing.”
“I had to file for an extension,” he told the paper. “It was just one of those things.”
“He told me, unequivocally, he’d rather win a fantasy championship than another Grammy,” radio host John Hansen once told The Hollywood Reporter.
Wouldn’t it be cool if some of his picks were in the public domain so we could see the wisdom in action?
Wait! Here are a few!
Last fall, he offered SI one free sleeper, and you didn’t even need to call a tout line to get it.
“The sleeper quarterback this year is Ryan Tannehill from Miami,” Meat said. “I guarantee you he’ll finish in the top four. I’ll put money on it.”
Tannehill played in 16 games last season but threw for three fewer touchdowns than he had in 2014. He finished 17th in quarterback scoring, according to ESPN.com.
In 2005, the Times asked him who he would take between LaDanian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander, then the consensus top two backs.
“That’s a tough one; a coin toss,” Meat said. “With [Antonio] Gates in camp, I would take Tomlinson. But Shaun Alexander is a great running back.”
That season Alexander put together an epic fantasy campaign, leading the league in rushing and scoring an absurd 28 touchdowns. Tomlinson was also excellent, but not quite as dominating.
Also asked by the Times to name some 2005 sleepers, Meat named Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington, Jerry Porter, Nate Burleson, Troy Williamson and Roy Williams. Cadillac Williams had a monster campaign. Arrington was meh. Porter had a nice year and probably outperformed his draft position. Burleson started nine games and had one touchdown catch. Williamson was almost invisible. Roy Williams had eight touchdowns but finished 49th in receiving yards, despite being ranked a tier-two wide receiver in at least one draft cheat sheet.
You can’t prove anything by obsessively fact-checking someone’s off-the-cuff remarks about fantasy sleepers from 11 years ago.
True. He obviously cares very, very much about fantasy sports, and maybe he really has won 42 of 83 contests he publicly disclosed. Certainly an 11-year old remark about Troy Williamson won’t tell us one way or the other. Which is why I again ask the question: Is Meat Loaf the world’s greatest fantasy football player? The alternative is too icky to consider.
Update: In an interview with The Rich Eisen Show after this item was published, Meat Loaf said he once won 50 championships out of 56 leagues in a single NFL season. That’s really really good!