Posts Tagged ‘fantasy judgment’

Yahoo! Manager Ratings Won’t Kill Fantasy

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Had I learned of Yahoo!’s new manager-rating function in its fantasy games either via the site’s “What’s New” page or sometime after my keeper league started back up, I’d have probably shrugged it off.

Hearing about it via an article titled, “The Verdict: Yahoo! is endangering fantasy sports,” however, left me reviewing the definitions for “ridiculous” and “preposterous” to see which was more appropriate. (I’ll go with the former.)

First of all, the new feature. Here’s Yahoo!’s description: “The manager rating system is a new feature that we’ve added to our fantasy games as of January 2011. It will enable you to rate other managers in your league (Positive, Neutral, or Negative) and provide a short comment about your experience playing with them.”

Here, now, is the reaction of Fantasy Judgment’s Michael A. Stein via the aforementioned article for

“Here is an analogy: Yahoo is Skynet. Skynet is the network of computers in the “Terminator” movie series that gains control over all machines and electronics to destroy the human race. Once Skynet gained control of the government’s military and defense programs, it launched nuclear bombs at all targets, prompting retaliatory strikes and causing the deaths of billions of people. Essentially, Skynet was the puppet master as it sat back and watched humans destroy themselves.

“Here, Yahoo is pulling the strings of fantasy sports players by giving them the means of attacking each other with the ratings system. Granted, there will not be an exchange of nuclear weapons or mass genocide, but the point is that the wheels have been set in motion for people to take the competition to whole new level.”

Give me a turducken break.

Let’s start by assuming the worst case for this new feature: Yahoo! players left and right abuse it every time a leaguemate rejects their trade offer or makes a lopsided deal with someone else. Rogue public-league players spend days negatively grading opponents they’ve never met. Some team signs Gary Sheffield. (Sorry, I got carried away.)

Who would really be harmed in that scenario? Yahoo! would be either awash in customer-service complaints or suddenly lose fantasy players who would toddle over to or whatever other free fantasy provider they happened upon first. Or maybe such players would decide to stick with leagues populated by people they know and pay for a different commissioner service. Whatever the case, fantasy sports would probably survive.

In reality, Yahoo! itself says, “The manager ratings will be collected and tabulated internally at first. We won’t display them publicly until we have enough data to provide accurate and useful ratings.”

If anything even approximating the worst case comes to fruition, I would have to think Yahoo!’s internal reviewers will scrap the system and say, “Oh well. That didn’t work.”

I, on the other hand, think the manager-rating system could be a good tool for Yahoo!. The site has long sported the largest traffic numbers for fantasy games, but the primary concern has been the number of public leagues that get populated by managers who never manage or basically prove to be annoying. The rating system allows you to warn potential future leaguemates about such a manager while apparently not relying on each individual assessment.

At the same time, the ratings don’t look like they’ll have any real impact. If you’re running a league and someone with a negative rating overall tries to join, the current message doesn’t indicate that said player will have to pass any likability tests before being allowed in. It’ll still be up to you to judge. For the average fantasy player who competes mainly in leagues with people he knows, I doubt the rating system will even garner much use.

In his article, Stein seems to imply that this new rating system will introduce animosity into what is an otherwise peaceful pastime in which participants lob the occasional feather bomb but generally do so while smiling. The stance — for someone building a business on third-party conflict resolution for fantasy leagues — seems confusing at best.

I’ve met and talked with Stein and recently profiled his company on this very site, so I’m not suspecting nefarious motivation to his shot at Yahoo!. I do, however, believe that any fantasy league in need of outside resolution for trade disputes is in much worse shape than it would be for the presence of manager ratings.


Business Profile: Fantasy Judgment

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Company: Fantasy Judgment, LLC
Launch date: April 1, 2009
No. of employees: 5

Want a sign of the growth in the fantasy sports universe? There are multiple outlets around to offer dispute-resolution services to fantasy leaguers. Michael A. Stein brought Fantasy Judgment to the marketplace in 2009 and told recently about what he hopes to accomplish.

1. First of all, please explain what your company does.

Fantasy Judgment is an independent, expert dispute resolution service for fantasy sports leagues. It comprises a five-person panel of expert judges who impartially render professionally written decisions (which are modeled after U.S. Supreme Court opinions) resolving any and all issues, disputes or conflicts that arise within fantasy leagues. Fantasy Judgment helps maintain the integrity of fantasy leagues by providing neutral decisions in lieu of a potentially biased league commissioner or a flawed league-voting process.

2. What brought you into the fantasy sports industry?

I have been playing fantasy sports since I was 6 years old in 1985. My father started a fantasy football league in 1979, and then in 1985 he created a junior division of the league where the league members’ kids drafted teams and competed against each other. I learned at that very young age how beneficial it was to have a QB-WR pairing on a high-powered offense when I won the league thanks to Dan Marino, Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Ever since then, I have been hooked on fantasy sports. (I got into fantasy baseball with my father in 1989.)

In 2008, an issue came up during the first week of the playoffs in my fantasy baseball league, which happened to involve my own team. The issue centered on C.C. Sabathia’s one-hit shutout that Brewers manager Ned Yost challenged the official scoring of after the game. I made a decision that I know was correct and was the fairest option for everyone involved. However, I received some criticism and backlash from a few league members for making the decision in the first place. That is when I first wondered whether there was a third party or independent arbitrator that could have intervened and ruled on the issue. After doing some research and seeing that there were a couple entities that provided this service for fantasy sports leagues, I decided that I could do it even better. And that is when the concept of Fantasy Judgment was conceived.

3. What did it take in the way of startup cost and time to get Fantasy Judgment up and running?

I did my due diligence by searching business databases and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure no other company or business was using the name, or anything similar. Once that hurdle was cleared, I purchased the domain and began the process of building a web presence.

I didn’t have much of a budget for this new venture, so I needed to be very cost-efficient with every decision I made. After getting several quotes for web design and development from various graphic designers, I thought outside the box and contacted a technical school in New Jersey. I spoke to the graphic arts professor and asked whether he had any qualified students looking to build their portfolio, and he set me up with a graduating student who agreed to build my website from scratch for $500. I also expended money on purchasing a trademark for Fantasy Judgment and forming a LLC.

After two months of planning and tossing ideas around, my website was completed by April 2009. Then it became a matter of advertising and promoting the brand, which I continue to actively do today.

4. What kind of space/growth potential do you think there is for your service?

I see big things for Fantasy Judgment in the future. (No, I didn’t steal the DeLorean to purchase Grey’s Sports Almanac). With the continued growth and prosperity of the fantasy sports industry, people take their participation in leagues extremely seriously. People generally spend hundreds of dollars per year on fantasy sports, so the need for accurate and expedited resolution of league issues is crucial. Dispute resolution in fantasy leagues is still a relatively new concept and has not yet been embraced as a necessary feature to be integrated within a league. I think this perception will change over time due to how seriously people participate nowadays.

5. With several other dispute-resolution services available, what differentiates Fantasy Judgment?

When I initially researched fantasy sports dispute resolution services in 2008, I was not overly impressed with what I found. I had no idea who the people were that made the decisions, nor did I know anything about their qualifications. That formed the basis for my approach to Fantasy Judgment: transparency. I think it is vital to introduce myself and my background to potential clients so they know what and who they are paying for should they retain Fantasy Judgment’s services. My background as a lawyer has provided me with professional writing and analytical skills, which help in authoring documents that are worthy of being paid for. That, coupled with my 25+ years of playing fantasy sports and running my own leagues demonstrates my knowledge and experience in this field. These two factors best qualify me to act as the chief justice and independently evaluate any issue, whether it is a trade dispute or a scoring discrepancy, and then collectively with my associate justices render a decision within 24 hours. The documents we write leave no room for interpretation and hopefully resolve the issue for the customer.

I advertise my own email address on my website, as well as all of my social networking sites and blogs. I invite people and prospective clients to contact me directly, either via email or phone. I want customers to feel comfortable when they entrust their league’s fate in our hands. I believe that dedicated and constant customer service clearly sets Fantasy Judgment apart from its competitors. I enjoy having a dialogue with clients and other fantasy sports players about various issues.

6. How have you gone about introducing your company to the industry? To consumers?

After Fantasy Judgment was launched, I felt it was necessary to first establish my presence within the fantasy sports industry. I immediately researched as many fantasy sports websites as I could and created a database of contact information. I reached out to dozens and dozens of people who either ran these websites or wrote about fantasy sports, including newspapers, magazines and law journals. I then joined the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and attended the conference last summer in Chicago. That was a great experience as I got to meet, in person, almost all of the prominent businesses and figureheads of the industry. I also tried to do as much writing as possible to build up a body of work that could define me as a credible resource within the industry. (I also joined the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.)

Once I built up these credentials and made enough contacts, I began trying to reach the masses through social networking and promoting everything I possibly could. One of the best avenues I have accessed is being featured on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Channel on the RotoExperts morning show with Scott Engel and Adam Ronis. I made a few appearances with them where I heard on cases on the air from multiple parties and then settled their fantasy sports disputes in a mock trial.

7. What role have partnerships played in the life of Fantasy Judgment to date? What’s your goal on that front going forward?

I am a realist and fully accept the fact that I cannot succeed on my own. Fantasy Judgment is a specialized, niche service. I don’t provide content, statistics, rankings news updates or advice columns on It is crucial for me to engage well-known businesses and websites in partnerships in order to help expose Fantasy Judgment to a wider audience.

In the summer of 2010, I came into contact with the owners of and We formed a mutual alliance/partnership to collectively run high stakes fantasy football leagues at the 2010 Superdraft event in Las Vegas. Even though our efforts did not translate into hosting any $10,000 leagues, it was a great experience to collaborate with intelligent and innovative entrepreneurs in the industry on such a project.

8. What’s the nature of your affiliation with, and how did that relationship come about?

This is the best example of how partnerships have helped Fantasy Judgment and continue to shape its direction. Over a year ago, I found the right person to get in touch with at the NFL regarding their fantasy football products. I pitched some ideas and concepts to them about how Fantasy Judgment can be incorporated with After several months of exchanging correspondence, eventually the NFL asked Fantasy Judgment to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement where Fantasy Judgment was advertised and featured on’s new fantasy marketplace. I am hopeful that this relationship will continue, and I am looking forward to developing similar types of arrangements with other known brands and entities.

9. What role does blogging play in your efforts?

I run a blog where I post Fantasy Judgment decisions and also write about various topics in sports, fantasy sports and occasionally other things as well. Blogging helps keep my writing skills sharp and gives me an outlet to express personal feelings and opinions about various issues. I like to write about real life issues in the fantasy sports industry, including legal matters, because it is an extension of my law-sports dichotomy. Recently, I became a writer for The Hardball Times where I write a column called “The Verdict” about fantasy baseball league issues, disputes, and other relevant topics. Doing all of this writing in a blog format is great because it is personal and promotes ongoing debate and conversation about topics that I am passionate about.

10. What’s your ultimate goal for Fantasy Judgment?

My goals have fluctuated since I first conceptualized Fantasy Judgment. Initially, I admittedly was delusional thinking that everyone who plays fantasy sports will easily pay for Fantasy Judgment’s services to resolve their disputes. As time went on, I realized this would not be the case and I needed to re-evaluate where I wanted things to go. In an ideal world, Fantasy Judgment would get purchased by one of the large fantasy game providers and integrate its services into the league commissioner package, or I could be hired to provide Fantasy Judgment’s services in that capacity. Realistically, my goal is to slowly build up the brand and show the fantasy sports industry that dispute resolution services are necessary for all leagues to have. Once that is accepted, I can convince them that Fantasy Judgment is the highest authority in fantasy sports jurisprudence and is unparalleled in experience, quality and customer service. If that happens, then Fantasy Judgment can potentially become a sustainable business.


FightMetric Wins FSTA Elevator-Pitch Session

Friday, June 11th, 2010

This week’s FSTA summer conference presented a stronger set of elevator pitches than we saw at the winter conference in Vegas, but the winner wasn’t a surprise.

FightMetric hit the stage with a well-planned, simple-to-follow presentation and a comfortable, confident presenter in Alon Cohen.

The company focuses on the collection and dispersal of statistics for mixed martial arts and related to the crowd that it had recently signed on as the official stat provider for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

There’s no denying the explosion in popularity over the past few years for MMA, so it’s no stretch to think of fantasy MMA as an area with enticing growth potential. That, no doubt, is the key reason that FightMetric pitched to fantasy folks on Wednesday afternoon, and the company seemed to draw the desired result.

The other participants, who still were able to get their word out to the crowd: — This new site that doesn’t appear to be live yet on the Web will allow fantasy teams to compete against those outside its league. The creators are seeking deals with existing league-hosting sites to enable integration and will not host its own leagues. Users will be able to challenge others via the Fantasy Pro platform in free or pay games and take part in games put on by the site itself.

Fantasy Sports 4 Kids — As a slightly emotional Brian Riggs told the group, this is not a new site seeking to host kids fantasy games; it’s a much more worthy outlet. FS4Kids, which currently lives online only as a blog, will seek to connect fantasy leagues with charities, while also spotlighting the good works of children’s charities and NFL players who have helped children. Participants will enter their league fees like in your normal pay league, but the winners will be able to put their prizes toward charities that will be easier to locate via this community. Riggs told us that the idea was borne from his own daughter’s fight with cancer (it’s in remission) and that he already had 126 leagues interested. Here’s hoping the concept comes together well.

Pickemfirst — Alain de Raynal had presented to the FSTA crowd previously (and won the pitch session), but this time he came with his company’s newer concept: the blog aggregator. Whereas the initial application enabled fantasy players to quickly check on a player’s availability in multiple leagues while reading online content, the new aggregator pulls in articles via RSS feeds and presents them via popup window when you encounter particular player names in Web content. For example, de Raynal showed us an article in which he came across Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson. The Pickemfirst blog aggregator showed the three most recent article mentioning Jackson from three differen online outlets. Anyone interested in being included needs only to give Pickemfirst the OK to pull material. — previously presented a full writeup on RosterSlots, so here’s just a quick summary. It’s a fantasy baseball game (which also treated the Olympics in February) that plays like a slot machine, incorporating enough trades and player decisions (plus no cash involved) to steer clear of gambling. — Another veteran of the elevator-pitch session,’s primary pursuit is a tool built on Wall Street analytics that serves as a virtual assistant coach throughout the season, crunching all the pertinent numbers to help you make lineup and player-movement decisions. New for this year was a revenue-sharing model for fantasy sites interested in a partnership.

Fantazzle — Ryan Parr’s site does its primary business in short-window fantasy games, but his pitch focused more on his white-label offerings. Fantazzle presents various options for games that can carry the hosts brand as well interesting in-game advertising potential, such as positioning logos on virtual race cars for a NASCAR game. - Probably the most serious of fantasy platforms that we’ve yet come across, the NBA GM game at the center of Ngozika Nwaneri’s online community involves year-round attention to your basketball franchise. It allows consumers to play as either general manager or player agent, each side having to deal with the other in various personnel situations. - The latest Footballguys online entry wants to be Google for fantasy football (and eventually other sports as well). For more information, reach the recent story.

Advanced Sports Logic — Welcome to The Machine. Frankly, I’m not sure I could properly explain this, so here’s what the site says: “Our patent-pending ProbulatorTM technology … uses the variance and accuracy of player projections to simulate your entire fantasy football season with powerful probability distributions.” It’s another tool for making stat-based recommendations throughout the year to help your fantasy football team.

Fantasy Judgment - Michael A. Stein is the latest lawyer to launch a site for fantasy dispute resolution. In addition to offering a single-use package and full-season option, Stein is in the market for partnerships with league-hosting sites to provides his services to users.


FSB Daily 5/27: iPhone Apps, Strasburg, Postseason Judging, Draft Sharks

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

A roundup of items recently posted on the FSB News page.

- The designer of the new FantasyMonster iPhone app says his product enhances the experience for Yahoo! fantasy players managing their teams on the move. Of course, this concept was tried once before, predating Yahoo!’s own iPhone app. The fact that it no longer appears to be live has to make you wonder about the viability of this newest entry, which costs $3.99 to download.

- Wall Street Journal’s Nando Di Fino addresses the Stephen Strasburg hype and hope train in fantasy baseball, adding perspective to the Nationals prospect’s situation by looking back at some previous players whose reputations arrived before they did.

- Fantasy Postseason and Fantasy Judgment have reached an agreement whereby the latter will provide dispute-resolution services for the former’s games through the 2010 MLB playoffs.

- More fantasy outlets are rolling out iPhone apps all the time. This one, Fantasy Football Manager, can help you manage your Premier League fantasy soccer teams.

- Recent FSB profile subject Draft Sharks has launched its redesigned website with content geared toward the 2010 fantasy season.

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