Ross Williams was hanging out in Ohio of all places when we caught up with him to talk Fantasy, visiting family while on his way to France. But being landlocked in a swing state isn't the least bit problematic for Mr. Williams, a premiere hub in the coconut wireless. When pressed on his picks he divulged a few fresh nuggets of insight that he's trading on.
So it looks here like you're going with John and Kelly in Tier A, and passing on Medina, Jordy, and Wilko among others. Would you consider that a bold call given Gabe's success there recently? He's coming into France leading all categories: Average Heat Score, Heat Wins, Fantasy Points.
Yeah, I think everyone is going to own Gabe because of that, so as usual with me, I'm playing a little bit of the game here going against the grain on that one. And John John blitzed everyone there in 2014, which I think some people have forgotten. I've heard some people are still worried about his knee injury, but I was just watching him surf in Hawaii this last week and he looked 100% on his game, so I feel like I've got a little insider info there. It's a bit risky, because of the yellow-jersey pressure though. I know Gabe will have put the whole Lowers thing behind him coming in.
And why Kelly?
I was thinking about Jordy and even Wilko in Tier A, but I think you're getting pretty exploratory going that route. For me Kelly felt like the safest underdog. Plus, more insider knowledge. I happen to know he's getting there a couple days early, which for Kelly is like a month.
Actually, among active competitors Kelly's No. 2 on the Fantasy Points Earned in France. Does that surprise you?
Not at all, and you have to remember his average spans 15 years, where as Gabe and John John's are only four or five.
Okay, so Tier B is probably where most of these things get won. Let's roll through the four guys you've picked out of 16 available.
I agree. I think this is always the toughest Tier to be decisive, too. So many guys are right there. It's hard not to let your passion rule your picks, so I've tried to mix it up here with Kolohe, Julian, Filipe and Adriano.
Well before we get into why, let's talk about who you had a tough time passing on in this Tier.
Given the hot streak he's on, Josh Kerr was really tough to leave off. These waves will suit his style. I keep wanting to go with Wiggolly too, but couldn't pull the trigger in the end. I went with Adriano as sort of my insurance because the guy is always so solid here. I'll be shocked if he gets anything less than a 9th. Julian is a bit more of my passion pick. He's surfing really well, and does well in France. Heavy beach breaks are his thing. My only concern with him is the mental issue, because he didn't exactly respond well to his loss at Lowers.
And your Kolohe and Filipe reasoning?
I think Kolohe is still underrated at this point. He seems really motivated, but in a healthier way too, being more even-keeled. And big closeout ramps are his thing. As for Filipe, my only concern is if it gets too big. He's pretty much my passion pick. When I envision the waves under five feet and rippable he's the guy that keeps coming to mind. That said, he lost to a wildcard last year when it was overhead and tricky. The tides are crazy here, and can really mess with guys.
Okay, Tier C blew up at Trestles with Simpo and Tanner. Are we likely to see the same here?
Oh man, that's a great question. Leo and Joan Duru are both really good locals. And we've seen what Leo can do already at this level. This break is basically his backyard. But I was a little scared of going that way this time because these guys, at this point in the season, get thrown up against the top seeds, who are the hot hands.
So if you pick them you're basically saying they're taking out your Tier A guys?
Yup. Which I'm not ready to do. It could happen. But I don't want to take that risk. So I went with Jack Freestone and Jeremy Flores. Jack is a monster in these dumpy beach breaks. We saw it in Rio, which like Hossegor, has a bit of the Duranbah thing going on: shifty peaks, thick and powerful, heavy ramps. Those are Jack's conditions. And Jeremy is just an animal this time of year. He's also coming off a great result in the QS10000 event they just had in Portugal.
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