August, 2010

Eagles’ Celek Challenges Fans in Fantasy

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Eddie Royal isn’t the only NFL player using social media to gather a fantasy football league.

Eagles tight end Brent Celek — a rising fantasy commodity himself — has spent the summer recruiting 11 fans to compete against him in fantasy this season.

The initial post back on July 24 makes it appear the idea just kind of cropped up rather than being the product of any particular planning. It also, however, aimed to engage his followers on Facebook and Twitter right from the start.

“I’m thinking of having u all submit videos on here explaining why i should pick u to be in my league.. any other ideas?” Celek posted.

He did follow other ideas, adding his first leaguemate the same way Royal did — the simple method of “Who can respond to this message first?” Celek did start to have a bit more fun after that, though, offering the next spot to the first person to post a photo of the subject wearing Celek’s No. 87 jersey and standing by a stop sign. The winner managed to be selected just 8 minutes later … just in case we didn’t know that the public hangs on the words of athletes/celebrities (scoffs the guy writing an article about some football player filling a fantasy league).

Spot 3 was uninspiringly awarded to another fan who posted a photo of himself in an Eagles jersey (though he at least got a bit creative).

The next two apparently went to fans who successfully bored Celek to death with videos.

Position 6 called for commenters to describe why it will be the Eagles’ year, eliciting 336 comments. The winner (Rishi Sugla) posted three different times and appeared to finally win by presenting a quick Celek biography from Wikipedia info. (Tough to say he didn’t actually win for his name, though.)

Spot 7 went to a groom wearing an Eagles vest and singing the team’s fight song at his wedding.

The eighth guy somehow failed to annoy Celek enough with his fight-song rendition to be eliminated.

And that’s where Celek’s league stands, more than three weeks after his last selection. The tight end did promise Monday night, however, to fill the remaining three slots on Tuesday. Royal, of course, went to an eBay auction to raise $810 for charity in filling his final spot.

A similar method would seem an obvious choice for Celek, who already has his own foundation. Brent Celek’s Take Flight Foundation seeks to “provide seriously ill and physically challenged children throughout Greater Philadelphia with daily support and life changing experiences,” with an admirable goal of helping 2 million children by 2013.

Celek provides yet another example of the willingness of some athletes to engage fans directly via the still relatively new social-media channels now available. The fact that he chose fantasy also shows once again the prominence of our games at the highest level of the sports scene that drives them.

No matter how silly the resulting Facebook videos or how excruciatingly long the summarizing posts, here’s hoping we see more examples of this kind of interaction. It can be fun and rewarding for all involved.


FSWA Taking Pains to Do Hall Right

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Mike Beacom knows that when the FSWA tried to get a hall of fame going previously, things weren’t quite done the right way.

It’s not that anyone was intentionally impeding the process. It’s just that such a project has so many different steps, so many possible methods and so many potential pitfalls that it takes a large amount of time, planning and patience.

The patience has been particularly important, as the whole thing hasn’t always stuck to the initial timeline.

“We took our time to do it right,” said Beacom, the president of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. “Nobody’s going to care a year from now if we’re two weeks or two months behind. They’ll care if we mess it up.”

Doing it right included involving members of the math department at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to craft the voting formula. Beacom said the FSWA set out with the idea that it could combine aspects of the election processes used by the Baseball Writers Association of American and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It seems to be working but might not have without the help of those professional mathematicians (as opposed to the amateur mathematicians that make up a fantasy sports non-profit).

“It was one more step that we took to ensure that we were doing things scientifically,” Beacom said. “We were trying to blend two processes that we thought could work together. They’ve proven that you can make this formula work.”

The pro football segment of the process comes in narrowing candidates down from a list of 40 nominees to the 14 finalists recently announced. Beacom told that the first round of voting is designed to produce 15 finalists a year, despite a fluky five-way tie leading to this year’s number.

From there we move to the BBWAA component, in which the 20 Hall committee members can each fill a ballot with as many of the 15 finalists as they like. Anyone who appears on at least 70 percent of the ballots will gain induction.

The committee responsible for that final vote is a group of volunteers — led by chair Robert Burghardt of TG Fantasy Baseball — whose role Beacom spotlights.

“I can’t stress enough how important that committee is,” he said. “Robert has done an unbelievable job. They all admitted it was more work than they imagined.”

Those ballots will be turned in over the next week, with the class to be announced on Sept. 9, opening day of the NFL season.


Mashable Likes These 10 Fantasy Football Sites

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Any time you see a list of the top 10 anything, you know that a fair bit of subjectivity went into the selections and you probably take the list with a grain of salt.

That said, you won’t find many more trusted resources for “all things Web” than, with its 3 million-plus unique visitors a month and more than 2 million Twitter followers. So when that site comes out with its “Top 10 Fantasy Football Sites to Help You Win,” it’s at least worth passing along.

The article doesn’t specifically say that the list represents a ranking, but the whole numbering thing seems to indicate as much. Here are the sites that Mashable’s Miranda Lin likes best, with a snippet of her comments for each …

1. - “Having up-to-the-minute breaking news is the life-blood of any fantasy footballer, and Football Guys’ network of writers and inside sources is one of the best in the business, producing an “avalanche of news” that will keep you ahead of the game.”

2. - “The speed and quality of their newswire is second only to Football Guys and their ‘On Demand Draft Guide’ ($14.99) produces an easily printable document filled with player profiles and stat projections, ADP reports, rookie rankings, depth charts and injury reports that are updated in real-time and tailored to your league settings.”

3. The Huddle — “The Huddle has it all: Cheatsheets, player profiles and rankings, mock drafts, game predictions, free agent reports, start/bench advice and stat trackers. … But what really sets The Huddle apart are its forums.”

4. Fantasy Sharks — “This is the only site on this list that is 100% free — and it doesn’t give up anything in quality.”

5. — “The site’s crown jewel is the FFC Performance Index, an in-season ranking and projection system that calculates which of your players will have the best outing.”

6. Football Docs — “Apparently the Football Docs’ advanced degrees in engineering have also given them an inside track on fantasy football trends, draft tactics, lineup decision-making, and player rankings and projections.”

7. — “Although it’s not as organized or as user-friendly as some of the other sites, it’s hard to argue with the quality of CBS Sports’ product.”

8. Pro Football Reference — “Doug Drinen has put together a super-organized, easy-to-navigate collection of football statistics that allows users to search any aspect of a team or player’s performance throughout history.”

9. Draft Sharks — “With a sleek-looking interface that provides custom tailored cheatsheets (called MVP Boards), weekly player rankings, newsy and gossipy articles, personalized trade advice and in-season strength of season updates, Draft Sharks believes it can ‘out-analyze other websites.’”

10. — “In addition to the usual news and analysis from its stable of experts, including five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner Matt Berry (aka ‘The Talented Mr. Roto’), ESPN has begun to offer a variety of services across different media platforms.”


The Paths Behind the FSWA Hall Finalists

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The FSWA announced earlier this week the first-ever set of finalists for its new hall of fame. On Friday, the organization published some of the reasons that those 14 men were selected.

You can go to to read the full entry for each nominee, but here are most of the facts. has also told the stories of many of these candidates in profiles. Other members of this class will no doubt follow.

The induction class is expected to be announced Sept. 9.

Greg Ambrosius
- Became editor of Fantasy Baseball Magazine in 1989
-’s first fantasy sports writer in 1996
- Founding member of what became the FSTA (president from 2002 to 2006)
- Creator of NFFC and NFBC, which are now owned by Fanball

Matthew Berry
- Started out as a RotoWorld columnist in 1999
- Created in 2004, a site that not only propelled his rise but launched the careers of some other prominent fantasy analysts
- Joined ESPN in 2007 when it acquired TMR and now serves as basically the national face for fantasy sports

William Del Pilar
- Co-founded in 1997 and helped drive innovations in fantasy player news and content delivery
- Sold KFFL to Fantasy Sports Ventures in 2006

Scott Engel
- Started with back in the 1990s, moving to CBS Sports when the two merged in 2000
- 2004 took him over to another little startup named ESPN
- 2008 brought the association with the launch of RotoExperts, for which he now serves as managing director

Dan and Kelly Grogan
- Together, they established the first football-dedicated fantasy mangazine, Fantasy Football Eval, in 1986, which later became Grogan’s Fantasy Football Analyst
- Played a large role in introducing fantasy sports magazines to retailers, who now carry myriad fantasy titles annually
- Sold Grogan Sports to Athlon in 2006, combining a trusted fantasy brand with a well-known brand for general sports info

Bob Harris
- Created the TFL Report in 1993, a newsletter that included fax updates
- A tireless writer and editor who has helped discover and promote various writers throughout the industry
- One of the driving forces behind (and out in front of) Football Diehards

Emil Kadlec
- Rolled out Fantasy Football Pro Forecast magazine in 1990
- Created Fantasy Sports Publications ( in 1996
- Co-founded the World Championship of Fantasy Football in 2003
- Launched Football Dihards in 2004
- Co-founder and current vice president of the FSWA

Eric Karabell
- A name synonymous with ESPN fantasy coverage, Karabell has written since 1997

Greg Kellogg
- Kellogg’s Komments (which began in the mid-1990s) was at the forefront of incorporating statistical analysis into fantasy writing
- Helped build’s fantasy section
- Can now be heard multiple times weekly on The Fantasy Sports Channel at

James Quintong
- Formerly wrote for
- Joined’s staff during its most recent expansion
- Helped create avenues for other fantasy writers to get published on the well-known sites for which he worked
- Charter member of the FSWA board of directors

Brendan Roberts
- One of the creators of The Sporting News’ Fantasy Source
- Moved to ESPN in 2007, where he serves as an editor for Insider content

Peter Schoenke
- Co-founder of RotoNews in 1997, which introduced the now near-universal template for player updates
- Co-founder of Roto Sports Inc. (parent company of, among other outlets) in 2001

Ron Shandler
- Created Baseball Forecaster in 1986, which was at the forefront of baseball’s advanced-stats revolution
- Created in 1996 (which is now owned by Fantasy Sports Ventures)
- Co-founded Tout Wars, one of the industry’s most prominent “experts” competition platforms