Friday, June 27, 2008

Fantasy Football "Silly Season" Approaches

The NFL Draft is ancient history, mini-camps have just completed and training camp is fast approaching. Fantasy football "silly season" is here! On email inboxes, websites and magazine shelves, you are beginning to see ads and mags claiming Dominate Your League...#1 Draft Guide...BE a Fantasy GOD, ad nauseum.

All these entities claiming:
  • Superior knowledge - don't listen to those dummies, subscribe to my service!!!
  • Superior content - rankings and projections for 4,576,394,109.62 players!!!
  • Superior accuracy - buy me now even if your draft isn't until September - it's all good!!!

Being a bit facetious, but we've all seen these kind of claims. You know what I haven't seen? I haven't seen a publication that evaluates itself honestly and publishes how accurate its previous year's projections were. Wouldn't it be refreshing to read an ad stating that "our projections on average were only 35% off from reality?" Of course, that might not generate much in buying enthusiasm. They would be more likely to claim their competitors are evil incarnate before they would actually do a bit of public self-reflection.

Many of these folks compensate by having "expert" rankings of the top ten or so at each position and have "consensus" picks. Gee, do I really have to spend $7.95 to find out LaDanian Tomlinson, Tom Brady and Terrell Owens are good? If the experts wanted to provide some real value, how about having those people accurately rank #20 through #50 at each position? Also, is having the average opinion of six people that really don't know any more than anyone else that valuable?

Of course if there was someone that could predict player stats either weekly or seasonally within 5%, they wouldn't be selling that information to us, they'd be in Vegas making a killing. I guess that in itself may be the best barometer of what "silly season" materials are worth.

Scour the web for free info and if you buy a magazine that has some info you can use and perhaps a page to fill out your roster and scratch off who has been chosen, maybe that's the best use of your $7.95. If your league stakes are low, and you're really in it to have fun, make your own estimates and have fun! That is what fantasy football is about anyway.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lady Luck Can't Afford Gas to Go to Las Vegas?

A sign that high gasoline prices impact everyone can be seen by the impact on the Nevada gaming industry. Reuters reports that Nevada April 2008 gaming win was 5.1% less than April 2007's gaming win.

Now when the gambling industry talks about "win," they're not talking about YOU winning. They are referring to the money YOU leave with THEM. That said, they didn't take as much from you in April compared to April last year. Why? Well it could be that you got lucky, but the better answer is that less of you went to Nevada and if you did, gambled less.

The Las Vegas strip April gaming win only dropped 1.3% to $524 million. As Dr. Evil would say, "Yes, Mr. Bigglesworth, 524 MILLION DOLLARS." (That's enough money to build a factory that makes minature models of factories) The strip accounts for half of Nevada's gaming win, which tells you that Reno, Tahoe, Laughlin, Downtown Vegas, etc., are getting hit worse.

Does that mean that people are gambling less? Perhaps. But the Reno/Tahoe area in particular has been feeling the impact of Tribal casinos in California for a few years. Why travel all the way to Reno when you can stay close to home and play, especially if gas prices are over $4 per gallon?

Nevada's problem is that the large nearby population base (a few hours drive away) in California, has a great deal of Tribal casinos, which offer basically the same gaming experience, but much closer to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The allure of the Las Vegas strip is being hampered a bit by high airline ticket prices and the price of gas in general, as well as increasing competition for Asian players from Macau.

So if you want to gamble in the era of high gasoline prices, you gamble closer. Gambling venues very close to large population centers should perform a bit better. That is borne out by the recent numbers from Atlantic City. Another Reuters report shows that May 2008 gaming win was up 1.6% year over year, to $415 million. Assuming that Atlantic City hasn't substantively added attractions, it is a fair hypothesis that gamblers may be sticking closer to home.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Greedy" MLB Gets Shutout by Fantasy Sports Leagues

You thought baseball was greedy? These guys even tried to take over fantasy sports by claiming that fantasy sports leagues had to get a license and pay money for box scores! The same ones you see in the newspaper every day, baseball wanted money for. Of course, baseball was claiming that they players "right of publicity" was being infringed - because fantasy leagues weren't paying them for box scores. Yeah, right. It's one thing to put up player pictures and game footage without permission or payment; this is just player names and statistics.

For about 20 years, baseball and the other leagues (yes, they were supporting baseball in this) thought of fantasy sports as a bunch of geeks worthy of scorn. Then, fantasy sports got hot and profitable. Then they claim they are being harmed and try and take over! If baseball had their way, if you didn't pay the license fee, or if baseball didn't feel like allowing you to have a license, you couldn't operate your fantasy league website.

Well, one small fantasy sports website took baseball to court - and won. Won at the District Court level, the Appeals Court level and the Supreme Court level. Actually the Supreme Court declined to take up baseball's appeal, leaving the other decisions in place. For you scoring at home, the series between Fantasy Sports and MLB was a 3 game sweep by Fantasy Sports. Justice for the little guy, I say.

As mentioned earlier, the other sports leagues jumped on baseball's appeal and wrote supporting documents trying to sway the Supreme Court to take up the case. Didn't work. Regardless of all the legalese and twisted logic from the sports leagues, common sense prevailed. If something is in the public domain, like statistics and facts, such as Barry Bonds went 2 for 4 yesterday with a home run, single, walk and strike out, it doesn't make sense that one person doesn't have to pay for that and another person does.

The Sporting News has the full story for those who want to read more and gloat.

What does this mean for fantasy sports? At minimum, the small guys will be able to continue to offer games for you and me to enjoy. You want to get into the industry? You won't have to worry about paying beaucoup dollars to millionaire atheletes (unless you want to).

It's not like fantasy sports doesn't help the leagues. Who really wants to watch the Lions vs. Dolphins unless they have some fantasy players in the game (If you have any of those, I feel really sorry for you) or, you have a bet on the game (same sentiment).

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