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 CBSSports.com and this has proved to be a great source for great ideas.   

Posted on: April 23, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2009 1:16 pm

How Many Ways Can You View a Lineup?

I apologize for not getting a blog up sooner this week, but I have been on the road. I've been attending the usability tests that are being conducted on our Fantasy Commissioner setup process in San Francisco. I'll be doing a blog about this whole experience early next week. But suffice it to say that since these tests, I have been looking at our products in a whole new light.

So, today I went to set my lineup and was wondering is anyone uses the additional "lineup views" that I use so regularly. The lineup views are the little links on the upper right hand corner of your lineup on the Set Lineup page. For example, they say 'Schedule', 'Matchups',  'Yesterday', 'Last 7 Days', 'Last 14 Days', 'YTD Stats'. So, to answer my own question about the blog, accoriding to us, there are 6 ways to view your lineup.

But as I am analyzing this feature, there are a few things I need to consider. Is this feature useful? To me, it is really helpful when looking at my lineup and determining who to start or sit. It is a quick and easily consumable way to get information that I would normally have to go elsewhere for. It is one of the features I use most on the site. But is it useful to our users?

How could it be more useful? What other pieces of data could be incorporated? Is the existing data useful? For instance, I don't think the Matchups are necessarily as useful as the stats themselves. But to someone else they might be. I can think of a few things I'd like to see here, but this feature isn't specifically for me. It's for our users.

Can our users find this feature? Or is it too hidden? An issue that comes up here quite often is the fact that we are not sure if a feature is not being heavily consumed because it is not a compelling feature or is it because the users do not know it is there. People who have been using our site for years can probably find their way through the site pretty well just because they have been doing it for so long. But since the Lineup Views are sort of not in the standard navigation, the hunch is that they tend to get lost in the shuffle. That they get ignored by users because they aren't necessarily in a logical place to look for them. So, have you seen them or have I alerted you to something that is new to you?

Anyway, I've posed some rhetorical questions here that we have to deal with, but if you want to respond with your thoughts about this feature, feel free to do so. In light of the initial information we've gotten from this usability test, I have a feeling I'll be posing a lot more questions to the community to help me get some insights and your thought about some of the changes we're kicking around.

Posted on: April 3, 2009 1:27 pm

Start of Fantasy Baseball Season

For those of you who aren't aware, the CBSSports.com office is in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Many people seem to assume that we work out of New York, but that is not the case.  Anyway, one of the many benefits of living down here is that we have spring training right in our own backyard.  Literally, in fact because Ft. Lauderdale Stadium, where the Orioles play, is less than a mile from our office.  So occassionally we head over during lunch, catch a few innings, drink a couple of ummm...sodas, and if we're not too worn out we'll head back to work.  On Wednesday, our Senior VP took our whole group to the Marlins /Orioles game for the afternoon.  It also happened to be  'Seniors Run the Bases Day'.  The game got out of hand early.  I know Jeremy Guthrie had a decent year last year and he is actually owned in 41% of our leagues, but he had the type of "stuff" that had some of the seniors in attendance thinking that maybe their dream of playing in the majors was not over yet.  He got rocked for who knows how many runs, but it was during the shelling that I had decided I was going to run the bases with the seniors. 

It was a nice day and I figured this was the kind of race that I could actually win given that I'd be 30+ years younger than my competitors.  The game ended and I headed down toward the dugout where they were letting the seniors on the field.  At first I thought I'd have a problem when the guy directing traffic in the stands said that he'd be checking IDs.  But I realized after he said it about 10 times that he was trying to make a joke, and actually succeeding as many of the seniors were laughing, although I didn't get it.  Nobody checked IDs, I got on the field and the race began.  I passed at least 3 people as I darted up the line to first, passed a couple holding hands as I headed to second, got held up a little bit behind a lady in a walker as I coasted into third, and finished strong by passing 4 or 5 people as I approached home plate.  I dominated the race and hadn't even broken a sweat.  I felt like Usain Bolt, even if it was just for that one moment. And it was.  As I went back to meet my co-workers I was informed that it was not indeed a race, and I pretty much looked like an idiot out there.  Of course, these were the same people that were egging me on to slide into home a few minutes earlier.

Regardless, that was the last game of the spring to be played at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium thus marking the impending end of spring training.  That brings me to my point which is that Fantasy Baseball begins for real on Sunday night!  Unless you are in a Baseball Commissioner league and your commissioner has setup some funky start date, YOU MUST HAVE YOUR LINEUPS SET BY 8PM SUNDAY.  Good luck!



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com