Business challenge

Edge Up Sports LLC predicates its business on finding the linguistic and personality patterns to help fantasy football fans sift through a wide variety of expert opinions and no small amount of bias.

Transformation

Edge Up Sports built an app that captures what’s being said across the media spectrum about real-world players ensuring that owners get a true picture of a player’s performance trajectory every week.

Results

Increased adoption

of fantasy football expected by simplifying player research

Expected to reduce

the time fantasy team owners spend performing player research

Expected to improve

the quality of roster decisions by distilling player sentiment trends from a wider variety of sources

Business challenge story

Finding linguistic and personality patterns key to business

For the team “owners” that participate in fantasy football leagues, the basic challenge is keeping track of the real professional football players who are on their simulated team rosters. The performance trajectory of a player is to a large extent a function of recent and career performance statistics. However, other factors, both off-field and on-field, can have an impact on how a player is expected to perform. Typically, the owners who make roster decisions have to distill information from many sources—including sportswriters, analysts and what’s being said in the social media sphere—to make their own judgment about players. The limited time participants typically have to do research from week to week limits the breadth of their sources and increases the potential impact of source bias, which, in turn, potentially undercuts the accuracy and completeness of their player assessments. Edge Up Sports sought a technology solution that could automatically synthesize and analyze structured and unstructured player information to provide fantasy football participants with evidence-based player assessments to support their decision process.

“We believe cognitive computing technology will transform the way fantasy football is played and attract more fans in the process.”

—Illya Tabakh, Chief Executive Officer, Edge Up Sports LLC

Transformation story

NLP technology captures social media data

Edge Up Sports built the foundation of its business by developing a sports insight app that embeds IBM Watson APIs from the IBM Watson Developer Cloud. The app retrieves stories about particular players and then uses sentiment analysis to filter through the unstructured text within stories and reports. Algorithms then characterize whether the player’s trajectory is positive, negative or neutral, providing supporting information such as injuries or short-term performance trends. By performing this analysis for an owner’s entire team, the solution provides insights on how the roster is changing throughout the week so that the owner can make roster adjustments to improve the likelihood of winning. One important aspect of the solution is that it doesn’t automatically take the objectivity of the source for granted. By running the content associated with a particular columnist, for example, through a personality assessment algorithm, the solution can essentially weight, or adjust, the columnist’s input into the collective assessment model. The net result is a broad, up-to-date and objective assessment of a particular player’s likely near-term performance in the coming weekly football game.

Results story

Solution improves roster decision making

The solution is expected to drive increased adoption of fantasy football by simplifying the research process, which in turn reduces the time owners spend performing player research. The solution is also expected to improve the quality of roster decision making by distilling evidence-based player sentiment trends from a wider variety of sources.

The soaring popularity of fantasy football mirrors the broader rise in the use of metrics in sports to make team roster decisions. That makes player research a core competency. The Edge Up Sports solution is game-changing for fantasy football because it enables team owners to cut through the noise, spin and biases prevalent in sports coverage to uncover the true arc of a player’s overall development.

As a rule, even a casual participant of fantasy football can spend hours each week researching information on a player to predict his future performance. The fact that humans can choose from only a limited number of sources builds in an inherent bias to roster decision making. The fact that the Edge Up Sports app uses cognitive technology to take an objective, evidence-based and larger-scale approach to assessing a player’s performance metrics improves the ability to predict future player performance.

The solution employs a mix of unstructured and structured data. The unstructured data is principally open source text content captured from news articles, opinion columns and analyst reports. This data is supplemented by structured data, mainly player and team statistics, purchased from third-party sources.

About Edge Up Sports LLC

Based in Kansas City, Missouri Edge Up Sports LLC is a US startup sports information provider whose principal service—helping fantasy football team owners manage their team’s performance in an optimal way for their league—is delivered through a cognitive app. Founded in 2015, the company is an IBM Watson™ Ecosystem Partner.