2017 Main Event Champion Profile - Chris Fessler

Postby Tom Kessenich » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:26 am

The emotions that cover a fantasy baseball player’s life in the final stretches of a championship season run the complete gamut. From excitement to trepidation to anxiety to relief and, if you’re fortunate, the grandest emotion of all - euphoria.

After coming oh so close to fantasy baseball immortality in 2012 in the NFBC, Chris Fessler knew the emotions all too well. The excitement had been there for sure. What he had been denied with his sixth place finish in the Main Event was the ultimate feeling of celebration as a national champion.

Last year, that all changed. Fessler drove the emotions to their highest pinnacle – taking home the Main Event title, the most prestigious honor in the fantasy baseball industry.

“Initially, it was more of a big relief than a celebration,” the 43-year-old Fessler said. “I had put in so much preparation, effort and energy, anything less than winning the overall title would have been a disappointment.

“A few hours after the season ended, it finally started to sink in that I was the NFBC Main Event champion. It’s a type of feeling that’s hard to describe. A combination of joy, pride and accomplishment.”

All are fitting descriptions for the championship season Fessler put together. He drafted in Las Vegas on the Second Weekend and won the April 1st Las Vegas League 3 title with 138.5 points.

His championship team drafted out of the seventh spot and Fessler started his team with Jose Altuve, followed by Corey Kluber and Jacob DeGrom. His key draft picks were Robbie Ray in the 14th Round, Aaron Judge in the 22nd Round and Sonny Gray in Round 27. An innocent $4 bid on Scooter Gennet in the third week of FAAB paid huge dividends, while a $7 bid April 30 on Corey Knebel also helped him to the top. In mid-May, he added Addison Reed for $429 to solidify Saves and his team did the rest from there.

“The keys to my championship season was the production I received from some of my mid to late round picks,” he said. “Aaron Judge, Robbie Ray, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Shin Soo Choo. However, you can't win if your core players don't produce. Jose Altuve, Corey Kluber, Jacob DeGrom, Eric Hosmer, Anthony Rendon, DJ Lemahieu, Buster Posey, and Edwin Diaz were rock solid.”

A rock-solid result did not occur by happenstance. Fessler put in the time to carve out a draft plan he believed could result in big-time success.

“I always enter the draft with a plan,” he said. “This year, I identified the seven spot as the sweet spot of the draft. This allowed me to build my team around Jose Altuve and Corey Kluber.

“I then took the best players available without straying away from my roster construction plan. I generally draft positions with the least amount of depth early and adjust accordingly. From a pitching stand point, I tend to target one starting pitcher in the mid and late rounds. This year my targets were Robbie Ray and Trevor Bauer.”
It wasn’t immediately clear this team was destined for greatness, however.

“I got off to a bad start, but as June was winding down my team was clicking on all cylinders,” Fessler said. “Heading into the All-Star break I thought I had as good a shot as anyone. Some doubt crept in when Robbie Ray took a line drive off his head and Aaron Judge struggled through August.”

At that point Fessler’s team was one of several with a legitimate chance to take home the $125,000 grand prize in the Main Event. Not surprisingly, the anxiety level began to rise as the season drew closer and closer to its end.

Fessler, though, was determined to enjoy the ride.

“The stretch run is why you play high stakes fantasy baseball,” he said. “There are so many swings of emotion, so much second guessing, a sense of importance to every starting pitcher’s start and each at-bat as the calendar gets closer to that final Sunday. It was pure excitement.”

The month of September proved especially tumultuous as several teams were jockeying for the top spot. Fessler’s moved into first place in the last week of the season but he was far from finding room in his bank account for the big check. There was still work to be done.

“I didn’t feel confident until Saturday night of the final weekend,” he said. “When Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat on the final Sunday I knew I had won.”

Fessler’s championship squad was the culmination of an exciting overall season in the NFBC. He took four Main Event teams, drafting live in Las Vegas for the first time, plus a Super and four Online Championship teams.

In addition to his championship team, another Main Event squad finished sixth overall, giving him three Top 10 finishes in the Main Event in his career. He also finished second in two Online Championship leagues last season while winning nearly $147,000 in prizes.

This year Chris took four Main Event teams -- while drafting live in Las Vegas for the first time -- a Super and four Online Championship teams. He won two Main Event leagues -- he won his March 30th league by a half-point -- and finished 1st and 6th overall. He also finished second in two Online Championship leagues, and 3rd & 4th in the other two. His total winnings this year was $146,900.

A lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean extravagant spending, though.

“My wife and I were looking at a new house during the season (and) I’ll likely use some of the money as a down payment on my new house. The rest of it I’ll put toward retirement.”

Fessler began playing fantasy baseball in 1997 and won an ESPN.com grand prize in 2004. He joined the NFBC in 2012 after reading a Wall Street Journal story about Lindy Hinkleman’s success in the contest. He’s been hooked on the contest ever since.

“I enjoy the fierce, passionate players the NFBC has to offer,” he said. “The NFBC features the best high stakes fantasy baseball players, and the best season-long payouts in the industry. I take pride in my five Main Event league titles and the 2017 Main Event championship.”
Tom Kessenich
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Re: 2017 Main Event Champion Profile - Chris Fessler

Postby Southern Comfort » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:04 pm

Pretty awesome story, I hope to have a similar one upon a day.

Funny note: That Lindy Hinkleman article should go in the Hall of Fame, because that's how I joined NFBC as well. I still remember his backstory lol
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Re: 2017 Main Event Champion Profile - Chris Fessler

Postby Tom Kessenich » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:11 am

Our 2017 Main Event champ posing with his big check. Well done Chris :)

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Re: 2017 Main Event Champion Profile - Chris Fessler

Postby King of Queens » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:57 am

Great photo. Congrats again!
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