Shipwrecked Fantasy NASCAR and Golf Players Find New Lands
While the Monster Energy Cup series drivers of NASCAR prepare to rev their engines at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Fantrax and NASCAR.com are offering a new reality for Fantasy NASCAR players who no longer have Foxsports.com and Yahoo Sports as go-to sites for their season-long leagues.
After 17 years, both Fox Sports and Yahoo have ended their Fantasy auto racing offerings. In the case of Foxsports.com, the move is the latest in what has been a seemingly continual downgrade of its website toward more videos and clickbait, while Yahoo’s focus on the sport had declined to nothing more than aggregate articles from other sites.
“It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least,” said Tim Wagner, Business Lead Developer for Fantrax. “Our numbers have been very good in both volume and percentage when it comes to the Fantasy NASCAR fans that have chosen us to become their new home.”
Fantrax offers the only Fantasy NASCAR commissioner leagues on both the web and mobile devices, providing a free NASCAR league manager that allows players to adjust a variety of features such as the addition of a three-stage point system and four-week leagues. Those longing for a Yahoo-style player system (in which drivers are listed in three separate tiers and can only be used up to 10 races per season) will find it on Fantrax along with an almost inexhaustible package of stats with each driver profile.
NASCAR.com dialed up the quality of its Fantasy LIVE game, unveiling an all-new offering with significant tweaks from the past versions. Available on both the web and its NASCAR mobile app, this year’s game will allow players to make in-race substitutions. Players will also be rewarded with perks that come from predicting stage and race wins. In a Fantasy Football style twist, the new game will not include the NASCAR playoff schedule.
Wow, there are HUGE changes to the fantasy rules this year. Should be fun. https://t.co/FIDPMhwhi8
— Eric Knight (@TheEricKnight) February 17, 2018
“The biggest change is that there are no more salary caps,” said Tim Clark, managing director of NASCAR Digital Media. “There will be a max number of picks and we’re adding an additional wrinkle with a garage driver.”
Responding to a wealth of fan feedback, Clark said the new game will open the door for more strategic play. “Simplification is where we wanted to start, but this Fantasy model is not set in stone going forward,” he said. “We are open to making changes from there.”
Like Fantrax, the NASCAR.com game will allow individual drivers to be used up to 10 times during the season, yet if a driver ends the race in the player’s garage, it will not count against the season limit.
“Every lap matters,” said Clark. “The new NASCAR Fantasy Live game reflects the lap-by-lap intensity of modern NASCAR racing by giving fans the opportunity to strategize and adjust their driver lineups in real-time during races.”
The revamped NASCAR.com game will see a rise in participants from a fan base that is one of the most loyal in any sport, yet the mass exodus of Foxsports.com and Yahoo players to Fantrax presents the site with a golden opportunity to introduce new players to its overall versatility.
“We have always been unique in that we don’t cater only to the big four (baseball, football, basketball, hockey),” said Wagner. “We’re hoping that those that are trying us for the first time through our NASCAR game will become year-round players with us.”
DraftKings answered the desire of their NASCAR customers by adding the Xfinity Series to its suite this year, giving race fans a reason to play on Saturdays while also watching some of the future stars of the sport develop their craft.
Yahoo Golf? Fore-get it!
Along with NASCAR, Yahoo also discontinued its Fantasy Golf game. No reason was given, yet a story from thegolfnewsnet.com stated that Yahoo had less than 50,000 players sign up for last year’s game, making it easy for Yahoo to finally walk away after it made a last-minute switch in 2016 when they originally planned to end its commitment to Fantasy Golf.
The success of DraftKings and FanDuel’s daily golf games also has likely contributed to Yahoo’s demise, yet Fantrax has welcomed fans to its game, providing free leagues that offer a deep treasure trove of features for players.
“This is one of the reasons why we’re seeing dynamic growth,” said Wagner. “Not only are we offering golf, but we’re the only site that offers full-season college football and basketball. We think this (and NASCAR) is going to open more doors for us.”
Play Ball (Finally)!
After years of launching in early January, Yahoo finally opened its Fantasy Baseball site on Thursday. Yahoo is hoping the new additions to baseball will temper the disappointment and frustration that came from those players who were forced to wait longer than expected.
Among the changes is the ability to start active players for gameweek with just one tap along with an improved draft experience on its mobile site. Players can be viewed from their player cards to do side-by-side comparisions while commissioners can now customize the playoffs by editing seeds for the first round.
Yahoo finally joins the likes of CBSSports.com by offering real-time standings in Roto and Points-only leagues. Head-to-head leagues will also see live scores stream to their matchup screens without a constant need to refresh.
At Least They Started….
Yahoo Fantasy Baseball players can start building toward the upcoming season, something ESPN Fantasy Baseball players still won’t be able to do this weekend. As of Friday, the four-letter’s site said the following:
Thanks for playing ESPN Fantasy Baseball. We are currently performing routine maintenance and making game improvements to ensure that you’ll have the best experience possible. We’ll keep the inconvenience to a minimum and we appreciate your patience during this update period.
In short, keep your weekend plans.
The good news, however? ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball “lockout” is expected to end on Tuesday.
Hail to the New King?
Rob Gronkowski’s future is one of the burning questions facing Fantasy Football players this offseason. While the issue is one I intend to pursue more in-depth, the obvious question is where to draft Travis Kelce, who would be the obvious choice to lay claim to the tight end throne should Gronk find Hollywood or facing either Seth Rollins or Kevin Owens in a WWE ring more appealing than another season of football.
Fantasyfootballcalculator.com projects Gronkowski as the 20th overall pick in in its most recent ADP rankings (2.07 ADP). Kelce’s ADP is at 3.07, or 31st overall. If Gronk is indeed leaving football, the question to ask is if Kelce is worth a mid-to-late second round pick or if adding the likes of Keenan Allen (2.08), Christian McCaffery (2.09) or even being the first player to draft a quarterback (Aaron Rodgers, 3.01) makes more sense than moving up for Kelce.
Like I said, it’s a subject we’ll discuss later, but ponder the thought until then.