When I got the text message from my best friend’s husband inviting me to join their fantasy football league, my first reaction was one of confusion – “Did he mean to send this to someone else?” I asked myself. While I love sports – including football – and am an athlete myself, I’d never played in a fantasy league before and was hesitant to start now. I had seen my husband attempt to manage his teams over the seasons and felt overwhelmed at the prospect of fielding my own team week after week.  Tracking stats, injuries, matchups, completion rates, point spreads…the list goes on. Not one to back down from a challenge, I did accept his invite – and my foray into the world of fantasy sports began.

It’s now week 7 of the NFL – and I’m currently at 4 wins and 1 loss – with very little time and effort on my part. How, you may ask? It’s all due to this ‘little’ thing called Big Data Analytics. While, as a PR professional working for a firm that focuses on technology, I’m very familiar with the concept of big data – I had no idea the extent to which it was used by companies like ESPN and Yahoo to help guide the ever-growing legions of fantasy team owners.

All sports are a numbers game to some extent, and football is no exception. Want to know how many yards your running back gained last week – on third downs only? How about during this same time period last year? Thanks to big data analytics, fantasy football team owners have all of that right at their fingertips – in real time. As I was mulling over who to start a couple weeks ago, I clicked on an asterisk next to one of my wide receiver’s names. A pop-up note let me know that he had sustained an ankle strain and was listed as probable for the game – but wait! Right before my eyes, his status was updated, and I was informed that he indeed was cleared to play.  Scores are also tallied in real time – and pushed to you on your mobile devices – to let you know how you are faring against this week’s opponent. 

The power of big data analytics makes it all possible – it goes beyond the numbers to ask questions, create hypotheses, uncover connections, note patterns, make predictions and more.  Fantasy team owners can make informed, data-driven decisions.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to use technology to stop RGIII from getting hurt…