March 22nd, 2010

Baseball Projections Challenge Open

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Anyone who believes their 2010 baseball stat projections are the best around can now start testing that theory.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association announced Monday that submissions are now being taken for the second year of the second year of the Fantasy Baseball Projection Accuracy Challenge — run by Donnie Campbell of, Sara Holladay of and Bill Green of

Projections can be submitted any time between now and the end of baseball season, as long as you can prove they were finalized and published before Opening Day (April 4). Participants must provide numbers for all 250 players listed on the official form and are asked to send to all of the following e-mail addresses:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Anyone can enter, but only FSTA member companies are eligible to win. You can find the player sheet and other details on the FSTA site. The winner will be announced at the 2011 winter conference. RotoHog took home the inaugural honor in January.


Business Profile: Insider Sports Media

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Company: Insider Sports Media, LLC
Launch date: 2006
Became full-time operation: 2006
No. of employees: 4 partners and 8 contract writers

College football has grown rapidly in recent years and remains among the leaders in growth potential on the American fantasy sports scene. Whether college basketball holds similar promise is still unclear, but the founders of Insider Sports Media are strong believers in both. One of those three founders, Alex Esselink, took some time to tell about the company he and his partners are growing from their start at

1. Fantasy college sports have only really entered the public conscious over the past couple of years. How long have you guys been playing it, and how long have you been doing so online?

Our first foray into fantasy sports was in 1999 when we started a BCS conference-only fantasy football league. NFL fantasy football was just starting to hit its stride, but our group always loved the college game, so we started the league. We built a crude website to manage the league and wrote some content. And that was eventually the springboard for our first site,

Initially all of our scoring was still done in excel. We’ve been using online league managers since around 2006, but we still love excel.

2. What made you see a market for college fantasy content when that segment of fantasy players was comparatively miniscule?

Heading into it we didn’t really know what the market for college fantasy sports was, we were two engineers and an English teacher that weren’t connected to the industry at all. But what we did know was it was a vastly underdeveloped market, and it was something we were passionate about. We also knew there were other folks like us craving information.

3. What was your goal from the outset, and what kind of time and startup costs went into the launch?

Our start-up costs were pretty small compared to most. We built Insider Sports Media (originally, LLC) on sweat equity. Although we outsource some of the writing, web design, etc., most everything we do — from coding to content — comes from the inside.

A lot of startup fantasy companies seem to have large startup costs. Either they’re launching new tech-heavy fantasy games or trying to get noticed quickly with a big marketing budget. We are proof that you don’t need to have large investment capital to build a site and get noticed. You just need a lot of time, patience and some really understanding wives. A lot also goes on behind the scenes on a daily basis to make sure we are hitting all aspects.

4. What have been some of the benchmark moments/changes for your company so far? What partnerships have you developed?

Without a doubt, our relationship with Rotoworld really helped us out early on. Not only from a financial standpoint, but it also helped us become better at what we do. None of us were writers going into this. But we all had an intimate knowledge of college football. We’ve basically been learning the rest as we go. But without the push from Rotoworld early on, we don’t think we’d be where we are today.

Last year was a big year for us as well. We completely revamped our site from the inside-out. We started in January 2009 and launched just under the wire before football season in August. We added a lot of user functionality, such as picking your own player trackers and scoring inputs, as well as doing weekly projections for every player on all 120 college football teams.

We also felt it was time to expand. We had a great Content Management System (CMS) on the backend so we used that to launch last August and in January of this year.

5. How does Insider Sports Media make money?

Most of our revenue is through advertising on the site. Content licensing is another revenue stream.

We’ve beefed up our technical capability and built our own CMS that we are looking to market to those looking for help in that area. Having a system built specifically for your needs gives you so much more flexibility than a number of the pre-packaged blog systems out there. Our technology is definitely a strength for our current sites and future sites.

6. How has fantasy life changed for you since the well-publicized decision by to add player names to its college football fantasy game?

Our site’s traffic has more than doubled each year since 2006. We can only assume this is a CFF-wide trend, but it’s hard to pinpoint how much of that increase is due to’s decision to use player names in their game. We’ll see the biggest boost when the broadcast networks start integrating fantasy into their programming, like we see in the NFL. ESPN started doing it a little bit last fall, but it was late on Friday night. Of course, they’ll have to drag the NCAA kicking and screaming.

7. Fantasy college football has gotten a big bump in the past couple of years, but basketball not so much. What led you guys to launch College Fantasy Hoops Insider last year?

For the same reasons that we launched the football site. There seems to be a group of hardcore college fantasy basketball fans out there and very little information geared toward them. Of course, we love college basketball. It is still small, but so was college fantasy football when we started five years ago. We believe fantasy college hoops will grow, especially as more sites develop games centered on the NCAA tournament.

We also got a little bit lucky. We were able to find writers that are just as passionate about college basketball as we are about football. They are doing a remarkable job.

8. How does the growth potential for the college basketball market compare with that for college football?

It’s a matter of making the game approachable for the average college basketball fan, and I think our industry has a lot of work to do here. The NCAA tournament will always be the main event in this sport, so we aim to build on that and give people a reason to pay attention earlier. The potential is certainly there.

9. You’ve also recently added NFL Draft Day Insider and will soon collaborate in the launch of What do you hope to accomplish with those outlets?

Draft Day Insider was a very natural extension of what we do every day because we follow college football players from the recruiting stage all the way through graduation. So we thought we had something to say about the NFL Draft and maybe we’d bring a different perspective than some of the other draft sites. We had always done some NFL Draft information on our college football site, but we felt it could stand alone.

The biggest challenge for us here is we are entering an already-developed market. There are countless NFL Draft sites. However, we feel the way our site is laid out and the extent of the information it provides — from draft history to current player news — makes us different. Most sites concentrate on one or two elements, we want to give NFL Draftniks one place to get it all.

League Runners is a project we’re working on with Roto Ethos Media that will basically serve as a website resource for fantasy league commissioners of any sport. Insider Sports Media is going to supply most of the technology and Roto Ethos will focus on the content side of things.

10. What else should we expect to see from you guys going forward? Do you have any designs on hosting fantasy college sports, which still doesn’t enjoy a wealth of league-hosting sites?

Our goal is to help the college fantasy football and basketball markets grow in any way we can. So the plan is to encourage more league-hosting options to enter the college market and working with firms that are developing new games instead of building games ourselves. We may run some contests from time-to-time, but that is not our core business.

We’ve been working with a few of our partners on ways that would make it easier for someone a little hesitant to take the leap to give CFF a try. We can’t count the number of times we’ve heard someone say “there are too many teams,” “it’s illegal” or something similar. If we can change the perception that college fantasy is harder to play than NFL fantasy, then we can count on continued growth in the market.

We are also always tinkering in the off-season. So we’ll have some changes coming to based on user feedback, and we’ll be refining our system more and more. We’re excited, but we are still a ways away from any announcements. We don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver.