Deconstructing the Fantasy Player Update

By on January 3, 2015

In 1997, Peter Schoenke, Jeff Erickson  and Herb Ilk created RotoNews.com, which was basically the first website to take real sports news and relate it to the Fantasy industry.

The Fantasy Player Update was born.

Years later, they’re still doing their thing on a much grander scale at RotoWire.com, along with several other outlets like RotoWorld.com and CBSSports.com. As a matter of fact, nearly everyone that does post Fantasy Player Updates use the same format that RotoNews established over 15 years ago.

My first writing job for CBSSports.com came as a Fantasy Player Update writer, in 2003, before I became one of the senior writers on the staff with Eric Mack. The importance of the Fantasy Player Update is sometimes forgotten, but writers on those sites understand that people come to the site for the league service and the player updates, well before they go to read their columns. So here’s a quick breakdown of the components of a standard Fantasy Player Update.

Fantasy Player Update: Headline

The headline has to give you the quick snapshot of the piece of news relayed. There’s a limited amount of space, and many times, there are multiple players with the same last name, so much of the headline is taken up by both the first and last name – and middle initial for duplicates like Ryan Braun (both a hitter and a pitcher). The headline has to pop, trying to entice readers into the page, but they can’t be too irreverent. (We used to have some fun with guys like R.A. Dickey and Chien-Ming Wang at CBS – go back and look.)

Player News

There are three types of player updates: news, performance and outlook. The Player News updates are usually injury related, or roster news or off-the-field news or even an interesting quote about their ability by a coach or manager.

The Player Performance updates are essentially their recent statistics, which could be from their most recent game, or from a series of recent games. Ideally, these updates help recognize certain trends, both good and bad.

Player Outlooks are usually posted before the season, assessing the player’s ability in recent seasons and his prospects for Fantasy worthiness in the upcoming year. But in some cases, like Fantasy Football or with starting pitchers in Fantasy Baseball, player outlooks are posted forecasting the coming week for that player, measuring his Fantasy value against the upcoming opponent(s).

Player Analysis

All of the above parts of the Fantasy Player Update should be rather objective. It’s the news. But the analysis is completely subjective. In some cases, it’s the opinion of the writer. But a lot of times, it’s more of the opinion of the masses. In other words, if a writer doesn’t like the Fantasy value of a certain player in upcoming weeks, he can convey that, but it’s also his responsibility to tell you what the masses think, just in case he’s wrong. And that’s exactly what you want – his expert opinion compared to what the world thinks. Balancing everyone’s opinion along with your own isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Learning to Fly

The best ways for readers to take advantage and learn from these player updates is to read them frequently, assess the news, think about what they would say if they had to write the analysis, and then read the analysis. You’ll hone your abilities, and you’ll probably end up finding a player news site you agree with more than the others.

Photo Credit: Rotoworld.com

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David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.
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