by Pat Barker

When Anna Valenzuela told me she was writing a column
detailing the experience of female battlers (an excellent read that you can
find here if you haven’t seen it already), she mentioned in passing that she
had used the services of “data jockey” Cody Sarvis. Cody had scoured the Roast
Battle record books looking for all of the available instances of male vs.
female battles. He had tracked the data, put it into graphs, and made it easily
digestible, she explained. Oh, and he also had an idea for a Roast Battle
Fantasy League.

Wait. Hold up. What? A Roast Battle Fantasy League?

I thought about the possibilities of something so
incredible, a project that would appeal equally to Roast Battle junkies and
degenerate gamblers (and doubly to someone like myself, who checks both boxes).
I filed it away until a couple weeks ago when I reached out and introduced
myself to Cody to get his ideas on what this would possibly look like. He
explained that in his model, it would have to be a weekly fantasy league, a la Draft
Kings or Fan Duel. You would pick your team each week and points would be given
out for everything from winning the battle to making the Wave run on stage to
making Coach Tea hit the “gun” or “bomb” button from the back of the room.
After our text exchange, I was sure of two things. One, this model wasn’t
entirely usable – the Coach Tea tracking would be an absolute nightmare, for
one. But second, and most importantly – we NEED a Roast Battle Fantasy League.
I set my sights towards constructing my own set-up, and I assume the end result
(which will debut in time for the January 3 battles) will be some hybrid of
Cody’s vision and mine. In my version, the league would be a yearly cumulative
scoring system, and everybody would draft a team at the beginning of the season
(perhaps eight teams to a league?). While all the specific format things have
to be worked out, I thought it would be fun to go over the 2016 season with
only four fight nights remaining and see who our most valuable fantasy options
have been.

I used the following formula – appearing in an undercard and
losing or tying is worth one point. Winning an undercard is worth two.
Appearing in and losing or tying a three-round main event is worth two, while
winning it is worth three. Appearing on a “special show” (Riot festival, Hammer
Museum, Comedy Central) and losing is worth three, while winning one of those
battles is worth four. In the event that you end up on all four nights of a
Comedy Central tournament, I awarded the four for the initial appearance and
win, and two for each subsequent win (or one for a loss). Before we get to the
overall rankings, let’s take a second to remember what the Roast Battle
landscape looked like one year ago.

We were just beginning a big tournament, with 16 battlers that
were widely considered among the league’s best at the time. In the event of a
2016 fantasy draft at that point, those 16 would’ve probably gone very high.
Looking back, some of those draft picks would have panned out better than
others. Picks of Keith Carey (27 points), Alex Hooper (20), or Leah Kayajanian
(18) would’ve paid dividends. But buyer beware if you had wasted a pick on Rich
Slaton (2), Hormoz Rashidi (1), or Luke Schwartz (0). Part of the fun of
fantasy leagues is trying to find the steals in the draft. Taking a chance on
someone like Anna Valenzuela, who had just recently debuted, would have yielded
a 17-point reward. Another draft key is to watch the waiver wire for people
that come out of nowhere. Albert Escobedo and Lindsey Jennings hadn’t even
stepped in the ring at this time last year, and both ended up delivering 12
points. Let’s take a look at the full list of 2016’s top-50 Roast Battle
performers.

1. Carey (27) – Keith is always a wise pick, and when the
2017 draft rolls around I would expect him to go #1 overall. The frequency with
which he battles makes him as close to a sure thing at the top of the draft as
possible, and knowing that he’s always a go-to choice for big events makes him
worth even more.

2. Earl Skakel (21) – Picking Earl in 2017 is a high-risk
high-reward strategy. As he showed last year, he can make a huge run on
television given the opportunity. If that opportunity doesn’t present itself,
however, Earl seems more likely to hang at the Hater’s Table and collect no points
for your team than to actually step in the ring.

3. Alex Hooper (20) – The champ is by no means a sure thing
points-wise, as he only stepped in the ring a handful of times last year.
However, all of them were huge events, and his 11-3 win-loss record suggests
he’ll grab that extra point whenever possible. The talent-level makes him a
surefire first round pick, but if the Comedy Central mainstage opportunity
doesn’t present itself, you can expect a regression into the 12-14 point range.

4 (tie). Connor McSpadden and Dan Nolan (19) – Both great
roasters, both easy first round picks. Dan is like Keith Carey in that the
frequency of his performances ensures a bunch of points. Connor has been a bit
more selective, but delivers wins almost exclusively.

6 (tie). Leah Kayajanian, Jay Light, and Sarah Tiana (18) – Leah
and Jay are among the best in the Belly Room and seem like reasonably safe bets
for big numbers in 2017, but Sarah Tiana will probably go undrafted. Her
inclusion on this list seems out of place – she was included because I kept
everyone who did a battle in the Belly Room – and nobody really knows what to
reasonably expect out of someone who only really battles on television.

9. Anna Valenzuela (17) – Anna is a top-five pick, in my
mind. Seven battles in, she’s at the point where the roasting hunger is at its
peak. I would expect her to be very active in 2017 and win a lot more than she
loses. She may start to hit a wall in 4-6 battles, which would also make her an
ideal sell-high trade candidate at the deadline (trade deadline would be August
31, for the record).

10 (tie). Pat Barker, Joe Dosch, Toby Muresianu (16) – Three
great roasters, but there are severe red flags on Barker and Dosch. Joe hasn’t
participated in a three-round Belly Room main event in over 18 months, which
means his scoring relies almost entirely on special events. As for me, I’m set
to become a dad in June, which means that starting in May I have to stop
battling and wait to drive my wife to the delivery room. A hiatus around this time
is very possible (unless Comedy Central needs me, in which case my wife can
drive herself), so keep this in mind before you use a high draft pick on me.
Toby, on the other hand, is a very wise first-round pick. Just ask all the
people who lost to him this year (there’s a bunch).

13. Frank Castillo (15) – Another guy who takes a ton of
battles and is therefore a low-risk draft candidate. The other plus side is
that Frank has battled pretty much everyone good, so perhaps his fight card
will be a little less loaded this season.

14. Olivia Grace (14) – A scary draft pick until we see her
return to regular Tuesday competition, Olivia racked up her points via a Riot
loss (3), a Road to Roast Battle win (4), a first round Comedy Central loss
(3), and a Hammer Museum win (4). You can’t expect her to keep up that level of
production this year. She’s still worth taking a flyer on, however, as a
regular return to the ring could make her extremely valuable.

15. Omid Singh (13) – Omid ran off a six-battle win streak in
2015, but his 2016 season was inconsistent. Who knows what to expect from him
in 2017? Not me! The important thing is that he seems to genuinely enjoy
battling and want to keep doing it, and that itself is worth a bunch of points.
Even with his up-and-down 2016, he’s probably worth a second round pick in the
draft.

16 (tie). Albert Escobedo, Lindsey Jennings, and Nick
Petrillo (12) – Three total out-of-nowhere picks that gave second-round value.
Albert won’t go 6-0 again, but considering that a main event loss is worth as
much as an undercard win and he’s making his main event debut in two weeks,
he’ll be even more valuable in 2017 if he battles another half-dozen times.
Lindsey and Nick are both skilled battlers who could be candidates for both
main events and undercards, and both figure to be steals in the third round.

19 (tie). Kim Congdon and Doug Fager (11) – Both of these
battlers are great picks because of their talent, but they’ve also both taken
extended breaks in the past and become potentially risky for that reason.
Either one could be a third-round bust or a steal, depending on how things play
out.

21 (tie). Alex Duong and Tom Goss (10) – Two more reliable
picks who you can expect similar output from in 2017. Both of these guys are
strictly main eventers, so they’ll be racking up multiple points every time
out. Alex battles in waves, and if you can grab him during a period where he
does three main events in four months, enjoy the high scoring barrage.

23 (tie). Ramsey Badawi, Guy Branum, Richie Gaines (9) –
Here we have three guys who ended up in the same place despite taking very
different paths. Guy only battled three times, all at huge events. His talent
is unquestioned, but he’s probably not going to be active enough to warrant a
pick in the first few rounds. If he’s still available in the seventh or eighth,
grab him as a sleeper. Ramsey doesn’t battle as often as some others, but he’s
got potential to be a top-ten scorer if he chooses to be this year. He’ll
probably settle in somewhere in the third round as a pick. The safest selection
is Richie, who battles often and will probably be making the jump to main
eventer in 2017. Richie could definitely approach the 2016 numbers of his buddy
Dan Nolan (19) if all goes well.

26 (tie). David Deery, Robbie Goodwin, Nicole Aimee
Schreiber, Madison Sinclair, Lou Vahram, Jeanne Whitney (8) – Robbie and Jeanne
stand out as the safest picks here and I’d expect both to score in double
figures this year. Nicole and Lou are both wild cards for completely different
reasons – if Nicole starts stepping in the ring more frequently she could
easily be worthy of a second-round pick. Lou is a sure thing to battle a lot,
but he’s probably still a few fights away from sniffing a main event so his
potential is somewhat limited.

32 (tie). Tony Bartolone, Nicole Becannon, Guam Felix,
Quentin Moscaritolo, Jamar Neighbors, Greg Roque, Jeff Sewing, Mark Stevens,
Robin Tran (7) – SMART AND SAFE PICKS – Tony, Nicole, Mark. RISKY PICKS WITH
UPSIDE – Jamar, Greg, Robin. DON’T PICK – Quentin and Jeff. WHO THE FUCK KNOWS
WHAT TO EXPECT – Guam.

41 (tie). Tony Alfano, Nate Craig, Joe Eurell, Rena Hundert,
Lonnie Johnson, Sarah Keller, Alfred Konuwa, Matt LeGrande, Jasmin Leigh, David
Nieker, George Perez, Wub Savell (6) – There are a lot of intriguing names
here. Fantasy drafts are won and lost in the middle rounds, and that’s where a
lot of these names will fall. I can see scenarios where all of these battlers
could double their 2016 numbers and become top tier fantasy players, but there
are certainly no guarantees. Rena, Sarah, Alfred, and Lonnie are particularly
interesting and worthy of grabbing a little bit earlier than planned, in my
opinion.

FINAL DRAFT ADVICE: Pay attention to any rule changes that
may occur before the official league rolls out in a couple weeks. Draft based
on what you expect in the future, and not what people have done in the past.
Stay far away from battlers who seem likely to move or quit comedy. If you have
the #1 overall pick, take Keith Carey. Make fun of Mark Stevens and Lou Vahram
all you want, but realize they’re actually pretty good fantasy picks. Watch the
waiver wire for free agent pickups as the season goes on. Buyer beware on all
battlers who have attempted suicide in the past, they might end up succeeding
some day. And most importantly, have fun. Gamble lots and lots of money on
something as unpredictable as Roast Battle. Quit your job, you don’t need it anymore.
Draft smart, and get rich. It’s that simple.

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