January 21st, 2011

Sporting News Deal Boots Fanhouse Fantasy Folks

Friday, January 21st, 2011

It hasn’t seemed to garner as much attention as it probably should, but a Jan. 13 deal between AOL and Sporting News basically pushed Fanhouse aside and installed Sporting News as the sports content provider for AOL.

The actual changes are expected to take place in March, and the Fanhouse brand won’t actually disappear. It’ll be rolled into the Sporting News environment “as a destination for opinion pieces,” according to the SportsbyBrooks story.

A follow-up post on SbB dug into the staffing questions and found that nearly everyone currently involved with Fanhouse will not be sticking around with the brand. Overall, SportsbyBrooks reports that AOL will retain fewer than 10 of the 100 current Fanhouse full-timers, while Sporting News will be able to decide whether to pick up any of the writers who don’t make that cut.

Fanhouse’s sports scope extends well beyond fantasy, but fantasy sports have played a significant enough role to its efforts that the outlet was nominated in the Best New Website category for the 2008 Fantasy Sports Trade Association awards. That was the year Fanhouse re-branded (dropping the “AOL” from its name), repackaged and relaunched.

Fanhouse producer and editor Tom Herrera tells FSB.com that freelance fantasy writers aren’t expected to stick around through the transition. In a statement to us Friday, Herrera had this to say:

“There are no plans for Sporting News to retain our freelance fantasy writers, sadly. I hope other sites strongly consider taking a look at these guys’ work.

“I’m very proud of what we were able to build content-wise at Fantasy FanHouse. We went from having no original content when I came here about 3 1/2 years ago to having a stable of talented writers and formed our own in-house draft kits. Writers who started with Fantasy FanHouse also were promoted to other non-fantasy duties, including Matt Snyder as assistant college sports editor, R.J. White as NFL blogger, and Knox Bardeen blogging in various sections of FanHouse. I’d also like to thank Will Brinson, Tom Lorenzo, Paul Bourdett, Antonio D’Arcangelis, Ryan Dembinsky and Sean Lalley for their contributions over the years.”

Herrera added that, although he has options for moving to other AOL departments, he’s “definitely in the market for a new job.”


No Home? No Computer? No Problem for ESPN.com Winner

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Whatever the story of the winning owner in your fantasy football league or contest, there’s a good chance Nathan Harrington has it beat.

The Salem, Mass., man had no permanent home during football season. He had no consistent computer access. He had no ability to work because of a car accident. What he did have, though, was a dream fantasy season.

“It was a ton of bad luck and good luck all rolled into one,” Harrington told the The Salem News, after winning ESPN’s fantasy football grand prize.

In fall 2009, he was in a car accident that, according to The Salem News, “left Harrington with nerve damage and unable to work.” A year later, the apartment building in which the 33-year-old lived with his fiancee and their 3-year-old son was deemed unlivable because of rat infestation, and they had to leave. Harrington and his family had to move into a motel and leave his computer in storage.

Because his team sat among ESPN’s top 50 early in the season, though, he stuck with it.

“My fantasy football was the one thing that kind of seemed to be going right at the time,” Harrington told the paper. “There was a lot to be upset about, but the one thing that was steady and heading in a positive direction was the fantasy football. So I thought I might as well stick with it and ride it out. Thank God I did.”

Well, thank God and some tremendous roster decisions. Knocking on strangers’ doors at the motel, jumping online at the nursing home in which his father lives, using his mother’s computer and making stops at the public library, Harrington managed 26 transactions during the season and carried many key 2010 players.

Arian Foster? Drafted.

Dwayne Bowe? Acquired early in trade, as was Adrian Peterson.

Brandon Lloyd? Claimed off waivers.

His final 0.8-point margin of victory, though, came thanks to starting Tim Tebow — of all people — in an improbable three-touchdown performance (two passing, one rushing) in Week 17 against the Chargers.

Of course, this isn’t a story of big fantasy money saving the Harrington family. His prize was a $3,500 Best Buy gift card, which he’s reportedly selling to his mom for $2,500. (One might wonder: If Mom can go for that deal, why wasn’t she helping previously?) Harrington did say he plans to use that money to move into a new apartment.

He also won’t have to worry about his wife-to-be getting on his case about fantasy football.

“[My fiancee] laughs about it now, but there were times when she was really mad at me,” Harrington told The Salem News. “[She] says she’s never going to say a word about fantasy football when I’m on the computer again.”

(Cop out: We choose not to judge whether her beef might have been legit, as it’s tough to know what Harrington’s other options were during that time.)