Sunday, June 30, 2013

Seven Fantasy Football Tips For Anyone Starting or Wanting To Improve

I love sports as many already know about me. Playing fantasy sports these past five years has intensified that love. I play fantasy football, basketball, baseball, and even NASCAR. I'm very competitive and I love matching my sports knowledge and expertise weekly.

The sport I'm more accomplished in is football. I have made the playoffs in at least one league every season except for my very first. I have a third place trophy, and am back to back champion of my company league.

Getting here wasn't easy, although I know football very well. I had to learn the ins and outs of fantasy, player trends and such. Here are seven tips to help you improve your playoff hopes and championship dreams.

1.  Do your research before the draft and season

Fantasy football is not a game where you can go in blind and randomly set a lineup or draft a team and expect a winner. You must watch the games, especially the pre-season games. They show you who may be a breakout player or sleeper this season. Also, use tools such as fantasy articles and magazines with player rankings and cheat sheets. Yahoo! and ESPN both have awesome research tools for free. Both provide extensive draft kits which are worth studying. Finally, watch podcasts and fantasy football specials during the preseason and weekly to help with your lineup. My two favorites are NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL network and Matthew Berry and his various views. Most of us that have won in fantasy owe a debt of gratitude to Matthew. He has become a renowned fantasy guru.

2. Don't draft a QB too early.

Even if you miss the draft and have to go with pre-rankings or if your league is really deep, wait until about the 3rd or 4th round at the earliest to pick a QB. Yes I realize they are often the highest scorers weekly. However, the first few rounds are for building your core. I don't ever take someone like an Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or RG3 early. That goes for the Manning brothers as well. I would recommend a solid 2nd or 3rd tier starter such as Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, or even Josh Freeman. I've won the past two years with backups from the waiver wire such as Dalton two years ago, and Russell Wilson last year.

3. Evaluate weekly and even playoff matchups

This is when the question of who you will sit or start comes into play. Usually teams play better at home. Some play better on turf than natural grass and vice versa. You may be facing the 49ers defense that week in San Francisco and think twice about who you start. Also, weather is a huge factor, especially after November. Teams tend to throw less in the cold, and team defenses shine more. Look at offensive lines also. If they are paving the way for the running game and/or allowing few sacks, you may have some sleepers worth starting. It's a weekly chess match.

4. Know your league settings and know them well.

Read your league description before the draft so you can see the points values, roster positions, and even the playoff weeks. This will help keep your squad sharp on a weekly basis. Also, if your waiver wire closes during the first Sunday game, that is also important, especially for your research and scouting. 

5. Always look at the free agency pool and don't be afraid to trade.

You have to manage your team weekly, especially when the bye weeks arise. There may be several weeks where your stars aren't playing, and you need proper depth. Analyze the matchups, how hot a certain player is, and his overall potential. Being proactive can help build you a championship team simply from the pool.

However, at times, it may be beneficial to trade. Don't be afraid; dissect the trade and ensure that your needs and the other owner's needs are met. You can definitely trade your way to a championship. One of the biggest mistakes in all of fantasy sports is to fall in love with a player. That stud could yield you one or more missing pieces. However, don't trade out of desperation, or because it's a bye week and you are short on players. Think long-term.

6. Learn from your mistakes and move on

Certain leagues love to remind you of that bad trade you made, or that player that you dropped that ended up being #1 in yards and touchdowns. It hurts, it really does. But you will not forget it. Just don't let it destroy you. You are playing a game of chance as it is. Learn, keep growing, and keep improving.

7. Have fun, talk trash, but don't let it get personal.

The game of football is supposed to be fun. However every league has cynics that make fantasy football their whole life and love to badmouth and trash the decisions of others. In trades, they may be telling you how to run your team and what you need to do to improve. Good trash talking and discussion is always fun. However, keep it on your league's message boards and don't allow it to escalate to personal attacks. Behave like civilized adults and don't forget what the game is really about.

That being said, have fun and good luck with your fantasy football season!

Music Review: Karesh Skraps

Recently, I profiled up and coming artist Karesh Skraps. Now after listening to some of her songs more, including her lead single "Could You Be The One?" , I'm giving my views on her overall music, style and sound.

Karesh performs romantic and dance ballads that are catchy and soulful. She puts a lot of emotion and passion into her music. She produces and writes many of her songs along with David Sparks. "Extra Extra!" is more for the club. "So Stupid" shows how we have all played the fool in love and realize that mistake. "One" is her signature song and it's for those of us trying to pour out our hearts to that special someone.

She definitely has a lot of range. Her style is more like Mary J. Blige and Christe Michele, with her carrying long, tough notes in a soprano tone. She takes more of an alto tone on "Stupid."  She has the neo-soul side also, similar to Jill Scott and Floetry. Her music is deep and has a lot of feeling.

This year thus far has brought some revival to a declining music industry. Mary J. and Beyonce' are touring once again. Kanye West and J. Cole have newly released albums. Jay-Z's newest release "Magna Carter Holy Grail" comes this week. Karesh is definitely rising on the scene at a prime moment.

Her album is set for release by the end of the year. Continue to watch her progress via YouTube and Reverbnation. Also, keep up with her performance schedule and catch her live. She puts on an awesome show.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What has happened to the NBA?

The NBA suffered through a rough patch in the post-Jordan era that ended around 1998. Ten years ago, a draft filled with superstars brought the league's excitement and ratings back up. This class included Miami's Big 3 of James, Wade, and Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and Tayshaun Prince. Another big three formed in Boston in the summer of 2007, soldifying the league's revival and assuring that the Western Conference wasn't going to dominate.

Then Miami formed their big 3 and recently won their second straight championship.  Before that, the one and done rule came into effect, meaning you had to go to college for at least one year before going to the pros.

Yes this all sounds exciting but this year is where things started getting stale and predictable. The Heat have been title or bust for three years now. The league needed ratings, people in the front office needed to get paid. All of this happened, especially thanks to Miami playing two back to back seven game series. David Stern is laughing his way to the bank. He had to create a good matchup, the team built for a dynasty, and a classic powerhouse in the Spurs. A matchup made in Heaven.

Yes the NBA is a business. However, knowing how the end result is going to be is hardly worth tuning in for. 

It seems David Stern feeds off of dynasties and fair weather fans, as I mentioned in a previous blog. It was the Bulls in the 90s, the Lakers and the Spurs for a little while, and now the Miami Heat.

The NBA has gained such power and control rapper Jay-Z used halftime of Game 5 to announce his new album release "Magna Carta Holy Grail."

The one and done rule is to blame as well. Players aren't staying in school long enough, ruining college basketball. The NFL and MLB are also driven by money, but at least they require a student athlete to stay in school for three years. The NBA controls basketball at basically every level, from fanbase to styles and fads, and even gameplay and strategy.

It's all about the money, from GMs, coaches and players alike. They are all paid well for their efforts, and can't seem to get enough money.

The players definitely deserve their salaries, that was part of the agreement made during last season's lockout. However, the fans invest good money and time in watching games, tickets, and team merchandise. They deserve competitive, exciting ball.

I'm sure many would like to see different challengers win more, like the Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies and Pacers are doing. However, love or hate LeBron, but seeing him and the Heat (or any team) continue to win and dominate is quite boring after a while.

Pretty soon fans will wake up and realize this. Then David Stern and company will need another plan to effectively market the league and make it more competitive.

Realistically, the NBA may never be the same again. It may get worse as ownership and players get greedier for money and accolades. It's always good to hope though.

July Photo Challenge and Details

One of the biggest things that has made Instagram a popular social network has been photo challenges. Since July is my birth month and I have completed one every month since being on IG, I'm trying my hand at creating one of my own.

Now although I'm a veteran at doing the challenges, I still run across some days and terms that confuse me. Here are some tips, pointers and explanations to help those in my challenge.

1. The challenge begins on Monday, July 1. Therefore, don't fret if you miss a day. You can catch up and even get ahead.

2. OOTD means Outfit Of The Day. This means take a picture of the outfit you are wearing for the day. Also, duck face means poking your lips out like that of a duck. Idol means simply your role model, mentor, someone you look up to. Selfie means a self-shot of yourself. Many IGers already do these regularly. And picstitch is when two or more pictures or images are combined..

3. Be very creative. Use screenshots if your phone allows you to. All of your photos need not be live, they just have to fit the description somehow. 

4.  When you post your photos to Facebook and/or Instagram, tag them with #drewhousepics. This way, I can view them all for that particular day, week, and month.

5. Obviously you have to complete the challenge to be eligible for any prizes. I was thinking of doing a small gift certificate to a place of the winner's liking. Basically, I want to be wowed.  Get my attention with your photos. There will be a potential tiebreaker in place should enough people complete the challenge and have impressive pictures.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook by the same handler, drewhouse74, to participate. I will have the challenge posted here, on the previously mentioned networks, and will also email it to you if you like.

I have worked dilligently to put together a good and fun challenge. Can't wait to see your pictures.  Contact me with any questions. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Littering: Let's Clean Up!

It seems that the slogan for the famous PSA "Give A Hoot, Don't Pollute." is a very distant memory.  Littering was once controlled. Now in many prominent and public areas, it's like people have literally stopped giving a hoot.

During the 80s and half of the 90s, there was an entire campaign to corral littering and proper disposal of trash. You had Woody the "Give A Hoot" Owl, the crying Native American, and even "The More You Know" commercials. Adopt A Highway also became really popular during this time. Groups of various types and causes set out to keep a couple of miles at a time clean by picking up trash. Recycling also became big as people became more environmentally sound. Laws and fines against littering were even approved and enforced.

So now what has happened now that we are more than a decade into the millenium?

I hate to say it, but it seems the older generation is fading, and failing to properly exercise the principles of clean public areas to the next generation. Therefore, what you have are scores of younger folks that are unaware and out of touch with how our lands should look. Basically, the standards have been lowered and unmaintained for about 20 years, like our roadsides, parks, and even street corners.

I have driven through a few cities over the past couple of months, observing the overall cleaniliness. In a word, I have been disappointed.  Police have to catch litterbugs in the act and they often have other agendas than trying to see who is making our streets dirtier.

How can we return our streets and grounds to what we once knew? Well we can make Adopt A Highway more prominent again. Next, you can start your own clean up crew. Speak to city officials first for approval. Also, write, call, and email your government representatives to put a curb on this. We have escaped a recession, two wars, and many doomsday tragedies in this millenium. Littering is a battle that can be won easier, especially with returning to basic values and principles.

Okay it's time to clean up!  Time to give a hoot again, and to dry the tear from the Native American's face.

The Lottery: Should I Play And When?

Many folks play the lottery every week, sometimes multiple times if they can. For some, this is their idea of a million dollar dream.

However, I've noticed that people play in greater numbers when the Powerball jackpot is at a maximum. In short, the higher the prize, the more tickets are sold.

Now I'm not a gambler (and yes even the education lottery is gambling.)  However, I'm an expert on numbers, odds, and trends. 

The lottery is a numbers game in more ways than just choosing the five lucky numbers.  When a larger number of people are playing, it lowers your chances of winning the prize money. 

Buying as many tickets as possible can also be advantageous, or going in a pool with others. However, lotteries and raffles alike can be more risky when your numbers could end up the same or similar with others, forcing you to split the large prize. Result: you would have won just as much as you would have if you played when the pot was lower. The Lottery Commission is crafty, just like a casino. They are going to make their money, and they know that people will be more likely to play when the reward is huge.

Therefore, if you're going to buy a lottery ticket, do it when the jackpot is no higher than $150 million. Your chances will improve and hey,  150 million is still a nice payday, even after taxes.

Also, don't take the lottery so seriously. It's rare that people actually win and when they do, they often fail to properly manage the winnings. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Karesh Skraps: A Rising Star That Is Fully Determined

Good music isn't dead yet, especially thanks to unsung, up and coming talent like Karesh Skraps.

Skraps is quite versatile. She can sing, dance, model, write music, produce, act, do improv comedy,  and knows the music business well. She is a multi-threat who is slowly taking entertainment by storm.

She began singing at the age of three, and performed in many talent shows, even as a college student and track star at Winthrop University.

Upon graduation from college in 2000, she was running track for a travel team and helping out her girlfriend host club and concert events  in Charlotte, NC.  Karesh has always loved to party and dance. One night at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Mint Condition's team noted her dancing ability and attractive build.

This was Karesh's stepping stone into the entertainment business. Her resume has become vast and impressive over the past decade. She began as an intern in production, personal assistant for labels and companies, backup dancer, and even background singer, just to name some of her expertise.   She is on her way slowly but surely.

She has worked with and assisted the likes of Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, Frieda Payne, and even the Jackson family. Karesh has helped bring in fresh talent, and hosts a radio show, Snap, along with her singing and dancing.

Her influences are many, and most she has met and interacted with personally. These include names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Letisa Holloway (the second most sampled artist of all time), Chica Roberta, Full Force, and Vivica A. Fox. Karesh loves to learn as much as possible, and can distinguish between the artist and the person behind the microphone and acoustics. 

Her personal sound and image is one that is hard to pigeonhole. It is like a combination of Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, and even older artists such as her influences. She is a hybrid with an old soul that relates to many audiences.

Karesh is currently working on her first album, "The Window To My Heart.", set for completion and release by the end of 2013. It promises to be like her persona: versatile, and something for everyone.  The lead single, "Could You Be The One?" , is now available on YouTube.

Karesh Skraps doesn't want to limit herself to being a musician, dancer, or even developing new talent. She has huge aspirations and dreams. She wants to do more improv and possibly gain a spot on Saturday Night Live.  Her other goals include longevity, reaching, ministering to and inspiring as many people as possible, and winning Grammys. She is from a small town in the low country area of South Carolina called St. Stephens.  Therefore, Skraps believes if she can do it, so can others. She places no limitations upon herself.

This shining star can be reached through Facebook at Karesh Skraps, Twitter as @therealkaresh, reverbnation/karesh, and on YouTube by typing Karesh Skraps. You can listen to her lead single, and see other performances she has. She does many shows in the Charlotte and surrounding areas.  Her performance schedule is available via Facebook and Reverbnation.

Karesh is proving how powerful networking, persistence and being in the right place at the right time is. She continues to hustle and grind, and stays grounded.  She has a sound and a personality that draws people to her.  This may not be the first you have heard of Karesh, and it certainly won't be the last. One can become a fan of her music, various achievements, and the blueprint she has used to position herself towards stardom.

Five Bloggers Of Note

True blogging takes dedication, creativity, and awareness of yourself, your writings, and your topics.  I enjoy reading various blogs, seeing what others have to say. 

I write about a variety of topics myself.  Therefore, I like to be in tune and read many different blogs. I will especially show great support to the blogger if they are good and if I know them personally.

Here are five such bloggers and  their blogs for you to check out. 

1.  The Wardrobe Door

Written by Aaron Earls, who is an ordained minister, his blog is Christian based. However, Aaron mixes in a few other subjects such as parenting, chick flicks that he saw with his wife, his recent job search, and finally comedy. He has a peculilar sense of humor.  We have both guest blogged for each other, and his blog on here "Top 5 Members of a 90s R&B Group." continues to get many views.
Visit him at  

2. Ruralglamour

This glamour and makeup enthusiast, Jamie Jeter, actually inspired me when I began my blogging. She, like Aaron, also has a target audience: women and enchancing your outer beauty in several cost effective methods. Her views and ideas are always a pleasure to read. She can be found at

3. Xklusive Thoughts LLC

This young man, Troy Spry, has tapped into a popular topic, which is love and relationships, and has really expanded his brand. He is more than a blogger; he is a motivational and inspirational franchise in the making. Like myself, he loves to spark discussions. He even has daily lunchtime discussions on Twitter, and recently held a live discussion panel in uptown Charlotte, NC. Visit him at One of Troy's slogans is "The Movement Is Real!"

4.  Cassie's Blog

Cassie Owens is a young lady that has a lot going on for her. She is a mother of three, and a successful English and fitness instructor. She is also a Christian woman and makes frequent mention of Bishop T.D. Jakes in her blogs. She writes about what's on her mind, and keeps her readers thinking. Check out her thoughts at

5. Keep Sitting Pretty

The author of this blog, Kelley, is a young, ambitious woman who uses her writings for many purposes and outlets. Like Troy and Xklusive Thoughts, she seeks to inspire. However, she is a huge dreamer. She has a huge "Be Your Dream" campaign that has spread on social media as well. Kelley wants to encourage, motivate, and highlight people that are making things happen. My theme song for her is "Dreamer" by Johnny Burnette, and that she is. Join the campaign at

I believe in supporting and helping others who have similar beliefs and purposes. These five bloggers exemplify that. Therefore, if you enjoy my writings, you will enjoy theirs as well. Happy reading!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Seven Tips To Building A Stronger Network

It's always important to have a powerful, stable network of people in your life. Friends, associates and acquaintances are always assets. 

Before I offer seven tips I have learned over the years in building this type of network, here's a bonus one: GET OUT AND SOCIALIZE! You cannot expect to meet anyone or bond with people by just sitting around and watching Sportscenter and Maury all day. Yeah your dog may be your best friend and protector. However, you need other types of creatures and characters in your life.

1. Make a list of everyone you know (friends, classmates, family, co-workers, employers) 

There is definitely power in numbers. However, try to initially limit this list to about 50-100 people, even if you have a large family like myself. Go through the list and see who you have had the most contact with over the past five years. If there is someone you feel you need to connect with more, take that opportunity. You could have a new best friend, mate, mentor, or even a reference.

2.  Join a social group of some kind (church, gym, volunteer work, committee, or sports team)

This is a perfect way to meet live people and interact. You get to know them in a relaxed setting and you have a foundation and common ground. These are connections that can last long after you've moved on.

3. Social Media

Facebook has proven great for reconnecting with people from various walks of life. Of all the social networks, it is probably the best all around for socializing. LinkedIn is great as well, especially for gaining professional contacts. Yes social networking has its cons but it is around for good and evil. Utilize it for good.

4. Revisit your list and even your circle of friends, family members, and phone contacts.

This is a weeding out process.  From here, you want to determine who is your A list and what purpose they serve in your life. Are they that 3rd cousin you barely know and only see every couple of years?  Or is this your long time friend of 20 years that knows you well and will do nearly anything for you? I find a regular evaluation is in order. It is how I keep my circle tight and clean out my social networking and phone lists. In short, I sort of treat it like a business, say Drew LLC.  You must also continue to maintain your standing.

5. Have a versatile circle

This will help you grow more as a person, and possess many connects in high places. Obviously you want to be around folks with whom you think alike and can associate well with. However, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and have contacts in different area codes, religious backgrounds, financial standings, and even ethnic and political views. One can learn a lot from tolerance of various ways of life.

6. Don't intentionally burn bridges

This goes back to the list and contact trimming. Just because you don't talk to a person that often or you keep your distance doesn't mean you should cut them out of your life. Try falling back, rather than falling out with them. Do your all to stay cordial and friendly with them. This often comes to play in the workplace, church, and at family gatherings.

7. Go to events and social gatherings in your area.

This is the season for cookouts, BBQs, festivals, and places with a plethora of people. Often these outings and shindigs are perfect for connecting with others. You are getting out and interacting, letting people see a social side of you, and why they should be in your life also. Just as with #1, share contact information. I have business cards for my writing, but I use them for social purposes as well. My email, phone number, and blog address are on my cards, as well as my picture. You want to make an impression, even if it's just one person.

Building a network can be hard and time consuming. However, the effort is well worth it. You never know when you may need simply someone to talk to, a reference or a question about a speciality area, or just help in general. It is hard to beat simple socializing.

Wallflowers do not grow or blossom. Therefore, do not allow yourself to rot alone. Have someone, or many someones, in your corner. There is great comfort and peace in knowing you are surrounded with like minded, caring individuals who choose to be around you and accept your strengths and flaws.

Fish-Tales Fish Camp Review

Blacksburg, SC, my hometown, doesn't have many restaurants or businesses.  However, the ones we do have tend to hang around for years.  I believe Fish-Tales Fish Camp has this potential.

Fish-Tales is owned and operated by Scott Willis and his family. They provide the good Southern flavor and hospitality that will keep you coming back. They are located off of Hwy 29 across from the infamous Kelly's Steakhouse. Scott took over the restaurant in January from the previous owner, Roy Hale, who called it Crystal Sea Fish Camp. They have not missed a beat since.

Thursdays-Saturdays, they offer a delicious seafood buffet complete with salad bar and desserts. Catfish, flounder, calabash chicken, home fries, and onion rings can regularly be found on this bar. I'm a bit of a seafood connoseuir and the fish and chicken there are quite tasty. There are also tasty menu items such as various fish, hamburger steaks, ribeyes, and blooming onions.

Perhaps the biggest change Scott made when he took over was the addition of a Sunday country buffet.  This buffet is always delicious and filling if you're looking for a good home cooked meal after church and before the various Sunday sports comes on. Salad and desserts are also included. The main items on this buffet are fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, home fries, fried okra, mac n cheese, bread (varies from week to week), green beans, cabbage and collard greens. Scott will occassionally sub out and in items such as meatloaf, pork chops and blackeyed peas. If it's country cooking and soul food, it's bound to be found on the Fish-Tales buffet.
The prices cannot be beaten either. $11 for dine-in, $8 for carry out, and discounts for children and seniors.

Therefore, if you're in the Upstate area on a weekend evening, or particularly early Sunday, come by Fish-Tales and let Scott and his family do the cooking. They can be found on Facebook, and reached at (864)839-3100.  Type 1639 West Cherokee Street, Blacksburg, SC 29702 into your GPS to locate them.
Do yourself a favor and give them a try. You are sure not to regret it.