Big Data Meets Fantasy Football

November 10, 2014
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fantasy sports and big dataFantasy sports, especially fantasy football, are a huge business in the United States. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association more than 30 million Americans play fantasy football and spend more than $10 billion a year on it. With the continued increase in fantasy football’s popularity along with the NFL’s popularity, those numbers are expected to keep on rising.

fantasy sports and big dataFantasy sports, especially fantasy football, are a huge business in the United States. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association more than 30 million Americans play fantasy football and spend more than $10 billion a year on it. With the continued increase in fantasy football’s popularity along with the NFL’s popularity, those numbers are expected to keep on rising.

Because it’s become such a lucrative business there are numerous platforms that companies are using to grab a share of the market. The 2014-2015 season will signal the entrance of another business, perhaps unexpectedly — big data.

Traditionally big data technology has been implemented most often by large businesses. In recent years that has changed with cost-reducing technologies such as big data analytics cloud computing which has made big data technology much more accessible and cost efficient for small businesses. And now there is yet another big data platform — individual fantasy football players.

Competitive Edge, the aptly named company that will be providing this big data technology to NFL players, hopes to analyze three different areas to provide the fantasy football user the best options in picking their teams each week. They’ll be analyzing and rating players based in their performance in mental, physical and environmental categories.

Competitive Edge is one of the first companies to take big data down to the individual level and carries extremely high expectations for its implementation. The company is banking on the idea that its big data technology will be able to accurately predict how well players will perform overall based on the three previously mentioned categories. Big data allows the company to gather enormous amounts of information on every player and every play, in real-time, to give users extremely accurate and up-to-date information on each player. And it’s doing this all for the small price of $5 per month per user.

Just as professional sports have slowly evolved from gut feelings and raw stats to draft players and put together teams to using complex algorithms and data, so too has the fantasy edition of sports. Users need no longer rely simply on gut feelings, they’ll have the data to make the decision for them.

Users can now pick their players based on their mental toughness or weakness, physical stamina, how well they play at home, on the road, outside, indoors, in warm weather or in the cold. And that’s just some of what Competitive Edge is giving their users.

It’s amazing that this type of information is now available to fantasy football players. It’s the stuff you’d expect top level executives to concerned about, not fantasy football users. Competitive Edge, however, is showing that big data can be used by everyone, and it’s not just for the higher-ups.

The implications on the fantasy football business and the NFL are huge. Its taking fantasy football to a completely different level. It’s already slowly evolved from just a fun thing to do on Sundays, to a serious competition that consumes people during the entire football season and beyond. It also signals implications for the NFL itself. These fantasy football users are going to be very well informed. Owners, general managers and coaches won’t be able to get away with poor moves because the fans will easily spot it. There will be increased scrutiny on each play call and position assignment. It also increases the pressure on the players themselves to perform to peak levels each week.

It’s amazing that big data technology can have such a profound effect in so many different areas, including fantasy football and the NFL. Competitive Edge is showing companies everywhere that there’s a use for big data, no matter the industry and no matter the size. The technology’s ability to gather, store and analyze large sets of information make it valuable everywhere. Now, especially, with the low startup costs that big data in the cloud provides, businesses of all sizes can make use of it.

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