Ashton Kutcher Talks Fantasy Football, Dishing Advice, Trading With Demi
Ashton Kutcher has successfully worn many hats over the past decade. As Michael Kelso on "That 70's Show," he proved himself an actor. As a producer on "Beauty and the Geek" and "The Butterfly Effect," he showed he could find and create hits. As the man behind "Punk'd," he introduced the world to the joys of messing with celebrities' lives. But he's now entering an arena where his fame and fortune may not help him one bit; Ashton Kutcher is jumping into the world of fantasy football prognostication.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, fantasy football will be played by about 20 million people this year. Only one of them is married to Demi Moore (although another one of them actually is Demi Moore). Kutcher's involvement sprang from his own experience hunting for fantasy football advice. He was introduced to Nathan "The Fantasy Consultant" Zegura and immediately noticed the solid advice Zegura was dishing out. Instead of simply subscribing to Zegura's website, TheFantasyConsultant.com, Kutcher became a full partner in the business. The two now co-host a show, Fantasy Football Live, every Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on Kutcher's UStream channel. The two sat down for a chat with FanHouse last week.
FanHouse: Ashton, how did you get involved in doing this? The fantasy show, the website...
Ashton Kutcher: I've been playing fantasy football for 10 years now and my league has some pretty interesting characters in it. Some of these folks are pretty well known and we always thought it would be fun to do some show around the league. The original concept was just two of my buddies and myself who absolutely love fantasy football. We were like, 'Let's do this show, and we'll give fantasy advice live to the web, and it'd be fun to take questions and whatever.'
And then it shifted to you and Nathan?
A: I actually met Nate about two years ago. I started checking out his materials and checking out his site and the stuff that he was doing. And I thought, 'Well if we're going to do this show, this guy's information is about as good as anybody's I have ever seen.' And away we went.
Do you get into fantasy baseball?
A: I'm a football guy, man. It's all I care about. I don't even watch baseball. I mean, I'll go to a game occasionally, but I'm just a football guy. I actually die...I hibernate...between football seasons.
Nate, you were an actual consultant before becoming a fantasy consultant?
Nathan Zegura: Yeah, I actually came out of school at and worked for McKinsey down in Atlanta for two years. One day I was in my basement and my wife said that given all the energy and time I put into it, it might not be a bad idea for me to actually make a living doing that... or stop spending so much time on it.
What's the link to Ashton?
N: The maid of honor in my wedding was Ashton's assistant. Ashton subscribed to my site from Day 1, and we got to talking a little more and then the show started.
A: I started shooting it back and forth on email with Nate, and the advice he was giving was so good, I was like, 'Who is this guy? Where is he getting all this information?' And so I start digging around a little more and realize that he's making people win their leagues.
How'd you get into fantasy football?
A: Ten years ago I'm out at a bar, I'm sitting there talking with another friend, and this guy walks up-and I think I had a Bears hat on or something. And this guy's like, 'Greatest running back of all time?' and I'm like, 'Walter Payton,' and he's like, 'Psshhhh ... Emmitt Smith!' and I'm like, 'You're out of your mind.' So he asks me to join his fantasy football league and I told him, 'Not only will I join it, I will crush you.' ...And I have yet to win a championship. I've won second place three times and third place like four times. But I've never held the ring.
How many leagues are you in?
A: I'm in one league. I hate it when guys talk about their other league. You know that guy that's in your league that's like, "Well, you know I'm the champion in my other league?" Nobody likes that guy. So I absolutely refuse to have another league.
Do you get a lot of downtime to pay attention to your team?
A: No. It's probably why I've never won the belt. Because usually about halfway through the season, I end up booking a movie and then I end up going on location and I'm in Germany on Week 12 and I can't get my lineup in or I didn't get some injury update that I needed and I end up starting the wrong guy and there goes the championship.
Where else do you research? Do you just use Nate?
A: I have Sirius NFL Radio on in my car. And that's all that I listen to. I have the NFL Network at home. And actually my wife [Demi Moore]'s in the league, so now I'm allowed to watch NFL Network at least for the two hours before I go to bed. So between NFL network and Sirius NFL radio and then the studying I do online just to prepare for the show every Wednesday, I'm putting in about 14 to 15 hours a week of just NFL consumption, not to mention on Sunday I watch every single game.
N: Ashton is a very well versed, very knowledgeable football fan and fantasy football player. There are very few times he comes to me. He has his ideas. And when he has ideas about who to go with, those are his guys and that's the way it is.
A: I also, lest you forget, I used to coach a high school football team as well. So...
Are there rules in place to prevent any shady trading with your wife?
A: We have a keeper auction league, and before the draft, I was trying to do an offseason trade for salary cap room, and the guys voted it down because they were claiming there was some type of collusion taking place. But all I was trying to do was trade DeAngelo Williams for salary cap room. They barred it and said I couldn't do it.
N: I can tell you this from being at the draft, Demi would like nothing more than to win this league outright. She will not, in any way, shape, or form, be giving Ashton preferential treatment in this league.
Nate, how are you fitting in here? Are people coming to you for advice in his league?
N: There's actually a little bit of unrest in the league. When I was coming out here to do the show every week last year I stayed with one of the guys in the league, Ashton's partner, Jason Goldberg, who won the league by a record four games last year. So there's a little bit of [pauses] ... there are people trying to ban my sleeping situation when I come to Los Angeles.
A [To Nate]: You're tipping him off!
N: The guy extended some hospitality to me. I'm in the man's home.
A: Buddy, you were tipping him off all season.
Who's in this league?
A: It's a pretty good league. Danny Masterson, me and Eric Dane and my wife. Last year Cameron Diaz was in it. It's just our buddies, but everyone happens to be slightly well known.
How's the message board posting in this league?
A: It gets nasty. You've never seen trash talk like this. It's like professional trash talk. We have a couple professional writers in the league. The trash talk is at a new level.
Is this show going to get any slicker? It's kind of neat to have it just like every other fantasy show: three guys on a couch -- it's just that one of them is Ashton Kutcher...
A: It literally just started as a web cam and three guys on a couch. It's been gradually getting a little bit slicker and a little bit cleaner, but the slicker and cleaner it gets, the more expensive it is and right now we're just sort of doing it out of pocket for fun. It's pretty rad for us, though. Here we are just sitting on a couch having a beer and we get to chat with Beanie Wells and Ray Rice and Larry Fitzgerald. It's kind of like a boys dream for us.
Ashton, you're friends with Matt Leinart, you e-mail him... does that affect your drafting?
A: You close your eyes and look at the numbers. Because the truth is, fantasy football is a numbers game. You want the guy who is putting up numbers.
N: No place for homerdom, no place for emotion, no place for personal attachments in fantasy football; you need to get the best players who are producing the best stats.
A: I've got one Chicago Bear on my team and its Greg Olsen. And by the way, he's my backup. You gotta be careful about that stuff. Keep it all at an arm's length.
'Punk'd' was a huge hit, everyone loved 'Beauty and the Geek,' you were one of the first to really embrace Twitter -- you're a bit of a tastemaker. Is fantasy football the Next Big Thing?
A: It's just something I enjoy to do. And I've managed to make a career off doing stuff I like to do, so I just keep doing it. The bottom line is whether it becomes a thriving business or not ... it doesn't matter because I'm enjoying myself. My dad told me if you enjoy what you do for a living, you'll never have to work a day in your life. So I just kind of keep following that and, we'll see.