Posted on: June 22, 2010 9:45 am

How Do You Access Your League and Why?

It's been kicked around here for a while now that the League Homepage might not be the most ideal experience for team owners.  We've always looked at it as sort of a one stop portal into your fantasy league.  You can get a lot there - content, player news, see your team and standings, league message board, transactions, and view your commissioner's message - but you can't really do anything there. I already know that the lineup page is the most important page in Fantasy, so are we doing you guys a disservice by not giving it to you right away?  Are we getting in the way of you accomplishing your task?  On the other hand, there is a lot of communication that goes on inside of a league.  And we need a way to let you know what is going on.  So, what would be the ideal experience?  If you could design the page that you see when you come into your league?  What would it be? 

I would imagine that everyone has their own definition of what it should be.  For me it would be this:

1.  My Team - a place for me to quickly set a lineup or make a roster move and see some player news about my players, and any trades offered to me.
2.  A place to quickly see what is going on in the league - message board postings, recent transactions, commissioner's message, standings.

That's it.  Anything else is extraneous to me.   

Category: Fantasy
Tags: Homepage, Lineup
Posted on: October 26, 2009 4:37 pm

More Thoughts on Predictive Content

I had no idea that the topic about the Guru was going to be such a polarizing subject.  I absolutely love the fact that you (the collective fantasy community) can put so much thought into not only whether you preferred one way over another way, but also coming up with totally different ways to derive a data point that would be relevant in making your lineup decisions.  I even enjoyed the fact that people took the time to criticize my spelling. For the record I don't spell, grammar, or even fact-check these blogs.  My main goal is to make it through each blog without swearing (a challenge for me on a sentence to sentence basis when I speak). 

A few main themes I have gotten either through the feedback on this blog or feedback from other forums:

1.  The Guru (or any predictive number for that matter) being on the Set Lineup page sways people's decisions.

This may sound strange but I don't think I understood the effect that putting a predictive number on the lineup page has on people until I read this column.  We've had it as a part of our products for so long that it's easy to forget that people actually use this as the sole basis for setting their lineups.  I have always looked at this number sort of like an 'over/under'.  It's a number that's out there, determined by some "expert" and it's on me as the team owner to figure out whether each player will exceed that number or fail to reach that number.  After all that is supposed the be the allure of Fantasy Sports...that I, as the team owner ultimately decide what each player will do each week.  If you are like me, you do not want to rely on someone else, even someone who gets paid to analyze this stuff, to make the final decision on who goes into your lineup.  But I am now realizing how tempting it can be to see a big number next to a player and want to put them in because of that. 

I saw the idea tossed around that maybe there should be an option to have the Guru turned off, or at least not show it on the Set Lineup page.  I even saw a comment that the lineup page is cluttered enough already and the Guru doesn't need to be on there.  We already have plans to tweak the Set Lineup page, and all of this feedback will be considered. 

2.  Both ways of doing the Guru, either by formula or by human, are inadequate.  Users seem to want additional data points. 

This one doesn't really suprise me at all.  And I want to give you all of the data points you can handle.  I've mentioned before the idea of a 'Consistency Factor', which would come in handy when trying to decide between between two players who average 10 points a week, but one guy is consistently in the 8-12 range while the other guy is either scoring 20 points or 0 points.  For some, they may want the guaranteed 8-12 points, but for others, they need the risk/reward play of a guy capable of blowing up for 20+ points. Regardless, it's relevant data. 

So, what else would you use as a data point for making your lineup decisions? 

3.  Users seem to want to see a "rating" of the predictions.  Meaning that you'd like to see how close/far the predictions have been overall.

I love this idea.  I've always believed that there isn't nearly enough accountability in the Fantasy prediction field.  Plus, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg are running out of reasons to dislike me, so I should provide them with a few more.  Seriously though, I think we should do this not only for our writer predictions, but for the formula as well.  I'll have to see if I can get buy-in from our editorial team. 

I really appreciated all the feedback I got from that last post and would love to see everyone keep it coming.  There are some big changes on the horizon not only in Fantasy but for all of and this has proved to be a great source for great ideas.   

Posted on: September 9, 2009 1:50 pm

League Chat is Up!

I realize it's been a while since I last posted, but Phase One of our League Chat is up and running on the site and wanted to let you know about it and what you can expect out of it in the future. 

Basically, we've taken the chat from the Draft Room and Scoreboard and made it available on every page in your league.  It pops-out so it can stay open with you as you move about the site.  it will show you which of your league members are also online and allow you all to chat in a chat room or you can privately chat with individual members.

In your league navigation menu (the same place where you access 'My Team', 'Live Scoring', etc) look to the right and you'll see 'League Chat'.  Simply click on it to pop it out and start chatting with your league mates. 

I mentioned that this is Phase One because this is only the beginning of what will be several enhancements over the next few weeks.  Soon, there will be a number next to the chat to let you know how many of your league mates are online.  And shortly after that, we'll be launching a notification system to let you know when other league members are chatting.

I'll let you know as soon as each version is released.  Enjoy!

Category: Fantasy
Tags: Chat, League Chat
Posted on: August 4, 2009 9:09 am

What Are You Searching For?

A lot has been made of 'Search' lately.  Microsoft and Yahoo! have teamed up to form a search giant to try and tackle Google.  Twitter has become a viable search tool to find out what people are saying about a specific topic.  They've made search the focus of their homepage.  Facebook has even taken strides to make their search more usable than it had been in the past. 

I've always felt that seachh, in the context of Fantasy, was pretty straightforward.  Basically, you are searching for players.  And the search result is a 'player page' with all of the relevant content you would ever need to make a decision about that player.  But with all of the recent developments in search and the progress of the algorithms over the years, is there more we could be offering to serve your needs? 

For instance, if I go to Twitter and search for Ronnie Brown , I see a bunch of people having a conversation about Ronnie Brown including things like where he is going in Fantasy drafts, if he'll be the primary person handling the ball in the wildcat formation this year, how he has looked in training camp so far, etc.  Would things like that be relevant information to you in helping to make a decision about this player?  What else would you deem relevant that you are not getting when you search for a player in Fantasy?  Is search something you use in Fantasy other than a player search within our system?
Posted on: August 4, 2009 8:50 am

The Dog Days of Summer

Well, it is that time of the year when many Fantasy players find themselves looking for something else to do on the site.  65% of the Fantasy Baseball players are likely too far out of it by now and have given up. Fantasy Football drafts are just starting to pick up now, but we're still over a month away from regular season games.  You've proven that you're not too interested in the topics I've tried covering over the summer.  So, I'll just use this space to give you a few suggestions for things to occupy your mind as you try to beat the heat...

Fantasy Football Mock Drafts - We relaunched our Mock Draft product a few weeks ago.  It's now easier than ever to get into a draft.  You can select the position that you'll actually be drafting from so that you can get a real feel for the decisions you'll have to face in your real draft.  We made some changes to the logic that the auto-pilot uses to make picks for empty draft slots so that it will give more realistic results. We've also added mock Auction Drafts this year, so if you participate in an auction, you can practice in there. It's totally free and you can use it as many times as you like. For the record, there's a good chance you'll be practicing against me...I've been using it to prepare for my drafts (rather than write blogs).  Another great tool to help you prepare for your draft is the Downloadble Draft Kit .  It has lots of quality content for your draft, takes seconds to download, and is also free. You could be a force to be reckoned with heading into uyour draft if you use these two products in conjunction with one another.  

Office Pool Manager  - This is one of the most popular products on our site, but also one of the most under-rated.  People will always tell me that they wish there was a site where they could manage an office pool.  And then I have to tell them that we've offered this product for like 10 years now.  Anyway, it's as cool as our other Fantasy products.  You can set up your own league or pool, set the rules anyway you want to, use NFL or College games (or a mix of both), play with the point spread or without it, set your own spreads or use ours.  You can even use it to run a 'Suicide' type pool.  It's also free and includes live updating scores and standings.

Posted on: July 13, 2009 9:06 am

Fantasy and Social Behavior - Part II

Last month I wrote a little bit about the social features within the context of your league.  But with the web becoming ever more social, is there a need for the fantasy player to be able to port their fantasy league experience outside of their league?  I expect the people that participate in these discussions to be able to give me some good feedback here.  You guys are already part of the community.  You are social beings by and large.  I'm assuming that many of you not only use this site to communicate with others, but use the other social sites on the web that are popular right now like the Facebooks and Twitters of the world.  It seems like there is a need for people to be able to express themselves on these sites, to let others know who they are are and what they are all about.  I've noticed people listing out their favorite musicians/bands, favorite quotes, favorite movies, favorite books, etc.  They list recently read books and recently watched movies.  They take quizzes and post them to their profiles all so they can show people how much they know about the Michael Jackson memorial ceremony and other trivial topics. 

Knowing how passionate our user base is, I can't imagine that this type of behavior wouldn't translate to Fantasy sports.  In trash talking I can imagine it'd be nice to be able to easily point to your league's standings in a post.  When talking about players, it'd be nice to easily be able to point to your roster, or your league's transaction report to show the add/drops and trades you've made.  And what about past championships won?  Wouldn't it be cool to have a place where you can point to in order to show off your fantasy prowess?  Do you care about these types of features?  Would people outside of your fantasy league or outside of the fantasy community care to see this stuff?  What else could be pulled out from your league to take with you as a badge of honor?  What about your reputation or rating? 

If I'm way off base here, let me know. 
Posted on: June 26, 2009 4:46 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2009 4:47 pm

College Fantasy Football...We've Come a Long Way!

The road towards making College Fantasy Football a true 'viable' fantasy sport has been a long and, at times, painful one.  From concept to execution it has taken nearly 4 years just to get it to a point where it is up to par with our other Fantasy products.  We started from some very humble beginnings.  So, I'd like to lay out for you where we started and where this product is now, just to illustrate the commitment we have to College Fantasy Football


Where we started...
The first year we rolled this product out, the concept of College Fantasy Football was so new that we had a difficult time just finding someone to provide stats for the game. The stats were inconsistent all season long at best.  You could check out one source for college football stats and find one number and check out another source and see another number.  The problem is that there is no one set official stat provider for College Football. 

Where we are now...
We've spent the last few years working with our stat provider for this game to really solidify the feed.  We've both gotten better at getting the accurate stats up in a timeframe that Fantasy players are used to.  I think you'll find that this year's statistics will be the best yet and at a level that we can all be proud of. 

Player Pool

Where we started...
When we launch this game (typically Late June/Early July), we have no idea of who is going to make a College roster.  There are incoming freshman, 5th (and 6th and 7th) year seniors, redshirts, transfers, and other anomolies to deal with that just don't exist in other sports.  And again, there is no one set official source for college rosters.  In the past this has led to some really good players not being available in the player pool for the draft and sometimes to start the season.

Another issue is the fact that until last year we had to use 'Team Units' rather than individual players.  So, I would have to select 'Florida QB' rather than Tim Tebow and I'd get stats for any Florida player that was listed on the roster as a QB.  The same went for Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends.  It's hard to root for a player when you're looking at a screen that says 'Team RB' and it's just not the same experience as rooting for a specific player.

Where we are now...
We have continued to work with our provider on getting the rosters as early as possibile.  They have done a tremendous job getting the information from the schools earlier and earlier each season.  We currently feel like we have a great player pool and it is being updated daily with all of the new information get this summer. 

We've pushed the envelope in terms of using individual player names.  You can now select the players you want rather than the 'Team Units'.  It makes for a much better user experience and makes it so much more fun to watch College Football. 

Live Scoring

Where we started...
Live Scoring was another problem.  Anyone who is familiar with our products knows that our Live Scoring is second to none.  For many of you, it is the reason you come back here year after year.  So, not having Live Scoring for College Fantasy Football was very troublesome to us. The first year, we had to show stats the next day after games were played.  The next year we added links to the GameCenter pages so at least you could follow your player's game.  But still, stats didn't appear in your GameCenter until the next day. 

Where we are now...
This is the first year we are trying Live Scoring for this game.  We have a live scoring feed for the following conferences and teams: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, PAC 10, Conference USA, Notre Dame, and all teams in the AP Top 25. You can still use anoy of the other conferences in Division I, but only those listed will score live.


Where we started...
The sheer volume of teams and players in Division I College Football is so great that it makes providing valuable fantasy content and updates very difficult. The player updates and outlooks were at times sparse and often outdated. 

Where we are now...
We've gotten better each season and this season will be no different.  We've really beefed up the content for this product this year.  You'll find exponentially more player updates.  The news and analysis will be both plentiful and timely.  It will be more in line with what you've come to expectt from other Fantasy products. 

My favorite part of this game is the fact that I can select which conferences I want to use in my player pool.  The whacky WAC league I play in every year is the most fun.  You never know what is going to happen in those games. 

Basically what I'm saying is that I'm really happy with where this product is now.  I'm sure it is the best College Fantasy product on the web and I'm proud to have it in the Fantasy suite of products.

Check it out and let me know how it can be improved. 

Posted on: June 15, 2009 5:10 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2009 8:37 am

There Isn't an App for That

With the iPhone and all of its applications being all the rage right now, I started to wonder what all of the fuss was about.  Our company email is apparently not supported on an iPhone, so they are not an option for us to have here at work.  Larry Rubio our product manager for mobile products gets to have one and he helped to develop the current iphone app we have. Lucky for me (definitely not for him) he sits across from me and I get to play with his iPhone from time to time and check it out. 

The best applications I've seen so far are the applications that help you when you are out and about.  Something that has value in the real world.  Sure, there are a bunch of apps that are fun to look at and fun to play with, but we could probably get by without having a pretend fish tank on our phones.  I'm trying to apply this to figure out is what would make a great application on your fantasy site, not your phone.  What are you going outside the league for?  What do you need to open multiple pages for?  What would make your experience within your league that much better? 

I think of the 'Set Lineup' feature as an application.  From that page, I can quickly see my year to date, last 7, 14, or 21 days worth of stats.  I can see who the upcoming opponents are.  I can view matchup data for each of my players.  And using the scout team functionality, I can see all of that data for any player I'm watching as well.  I can click on the icon for any player and get news about that player on the page. In football I can even see the weather for the matchup.  To me, the set lineup page is a robust application. But could it be better? 

The trade feature is one that gets missed sometimes.  We have some cool functionality when evaluating a trade called 'Show Lineup Analysis' which basically shows you what each team will look like before and after the trade.  It also shows whether the trade is a benefit to your team or not.  Again, I think of this like an application. 

What other areas of the site are missing this type of functionality?  Which applications on the site need to be more robust in order for you to accomplish what you need to accomplish? 

Category: Fantasy
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or