FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority benefit of U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/603,035 filed on Aug. 20, 2004.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present disclosure relates to a fantasy sports league game in which participants act as “coaches” or “owners” to form their own clubs or teams from active league professional sports and in which participant coaches are rewarded based upon the actual performance of the players on their teams in real life games. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to the player selection aspect of fielding a fantasy sports team.
Fantasy sports league games are well known. Generally, in such games, participants select, or “draft” currently active real-life athletes to form fantasy teams. A participant's success or failure in the game corresponds to the performance of the players in real-life games. Such games are often referred to as “rotisserie leagues.” Owners of such fantasy teams often compete head to head against each of the other teams in the league, the winner being determined by which team's players performed better the previous week.
Instantaneous communications technology allows people to participate in fantasy games in real time. Various communications networks including the Internet, intranets, wide area networks, and the like can be used for “live drafting.” Live drafting describes the situation whereby multiple participants in a league are able to select players from a fantasy league player pool and view player selections in real-time.
Pre-ranking and player selection queues are known. They exist in nearly every drafting tool. Player selection queues have typically been limited to sorting of players by a ranked list developed by the order of preference of the fantasy participant. The ranked list sets the order of players drafted, and the next available player is selected, regardless of how well that player meets the needs of the drafting team.
One example of a known fantasy pre-ranking and player selection queue is provided at www.antsports.com, which offers a very limited form of predraft player selection. Participants rank players in a pre-draft list before the draft, and also have the ability to re-rank players for each individual round of a draft. However, the participant has to include the same player in each modified predraft list for all subsequent rounds. For instance, when drafting for football players, adding a kicker to the 10th round predraft list, but not on a subsequent lists for a subsequent round, would result in the kicker only being automatically selected in the 10th round. Generally, fantasy drafts can last for several hours, and for many rounds, and it can be quite tedious to re-rank players the way Antsports requires it to be done. It would be desirable to provide pre-draft player selection criteria that reduced the amount of time needed to create and monitor player lists.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Moreover, using ranked lists can be disadvantageous for several additional reasons. These include inadvertently selecting a player earlier than desired or drafting too many players at the same positions, for example, in a football fantasy draft, drafting three kickers. It would be desirable to have a pre-selection tool that is superior to ranked lists to account for these disadvantages.
In accordance with a first aspect, a method of selecting players for a fantasy sports league team before and during a fantasy sports league draft comprises the steps of selecting a player, assigning a logic rule to the player, the logic rule defining at least one condition that governs if and when the player will be drafted during the fantasy sports league draft, and repeating the steps of selecting a player and assigning a logic rule to the player for additional players. In accordance with another aspect, a computer processor and a computer program, when used in combination with a general purpose computer, operate that computer to provide the method described above.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
From the foregoing disclosure and the following more detailed description of various preferred embodiments it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention provides a significant advance in the technology and art of player selection in fantasy sports leagues. Particularly significant in this regard is the potential the invention affords for providing an efficient and flexible method of selecting players for fantasy teams. Additional features and advantages of various preferred embodiments will be better understood in view of the detailed description provided below.
FIG. 1 is a simplified flow diagram of a method of defining a predraft list and applying predraft logic intended for use in selecting players for a fantasy sports team in accordance with a preferred embodiment.
FIG. 2 is a screenshot of an interface for building a predraft list and assigning predraft logic for a fantasy sports draft in accordance with the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a simplified flow diagram of a method of editing a pre-draft list with player logic.
FIG. 4 is a simplified flow diagram of a method of removing a logic rule from a player in a pre-draft list.
FIG. 5 is a simplified flow diagram of a method of editing pre-draft logic during a fantasy sports league draft.
FIG. 6 is a simplified diagrammatic view of a system for providing pre-draft logic to a fantasy sport league draft.
FIG. 7 is a flow diagram of a method of performing a draft using pre-draft logic rules.
FIG. 8 is a screenshot of an interface for conducting a fantasy sports draft.
FIG. 9 is the screenshot of FIG. 8 with a floating draft interface activated.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
It should be understood that the appended drawings are not necessarily to scale, presenting a somewhat simplified representation of various preferred features illustrative of the basic principles of the invention. The specific design features of the method of selecting players for fantasy teams as disclosed here will be determined in part by the particular intended application and use environment. Certain features of the illustrated embodiments have been enlarged or distorted relative to others for visualization and clear understanding. In particular, thin features may be thickened, for example, for clarity of illustration. All references to direction and position, unless otherwise indicated, refer to the orientation illustrated in the drawings.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that is, to those who have knowledge or experience in this area of technology, that many uses and design variations are possible for the method of selecting players for a fantasy draft disclosed here. The following detailed discussion of various alternative and preferred features and embodiments will illustrate the general principles of the invention with reference to a fantasy draft for a professional sports team, such as a professional football team. Other embodiments suitable for other applications, including fantasy drafts for other professional and amateur sports teams, will be apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure.
The present method is used for selecting and managing players for a fantasy sports league team before and during a fantasy sport league draft. Fantasy sports leagues are simulated leagues in which participants draft players for their simulated team. Typically the players are drafted in a series of rounds where each team drafts one player per round. Fantasy sports leagues are available for a wide variety of sports, including but not limited to professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, auto racing, soccer, and other sports. A fantasy sport league will have number of participants, one or more of which is associated with each fantasy team. Each fantasy team is made up of a number of drafted players. The players may be actual professional sports athletes whose past statistics and ongoing statistics are readily available.
The fantasy league is a competition among the participants to select and manage a team of drafted players over the course of the fantasy season, which typically corresponds to the duration of a season for the corresponding professional sport. Participants score “points” or have other performance measures, based on the performance of each team's players or group of players. Statistics related to each selected player are readily available from a variety of sources, including newspapers, statistic reporting companies, team web sites, and other sources. There is therefore an incentive to draft the players that will have the best performance over the course of the season.
The player selection process at the beginning of each season is referred to as a draft. The draft is an equitable process that allows each participant to select players. A typical draft occurs in a series of rounds during which each participant is allowed to make one or more selections. Known methods of drafting players allow a participant to develop a ranked order of players for the draft, so that the participant need not be present at each step. That is, management software for the draft will automatically draft players in accordance with the participant's list. In accordance with a highly advantageous feature, the present method goes beyond mere pre-draft ranking of players and by providing pre-draft or pre-round logic that allows the participant to add more conditions, referred to collectively herein as logic rules, to govern how players are drafted.
Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows the initial steps in the pre-draft logic method made prior to the fantasy player draft. The present method may be performed using a common browser interface. In step 10, a participant using a web browser enabled computing device, logs onto the fantasy sports league management website. The login process identifies which fantasy team is owned/controlled by the participant. In step 12, a team page associated with the participant's fantasy team is selected. Next, the participant makes a selection to indicate the participant's desire to use the predraft interface, such as by clicking on a “Predraft Link” (step 14). An example of a web-based, pre-draft interface is shown in FIG. 2. Interface 18, shown in the form of browser or web-based interface may include a number of sections including a player search query section 20, a player browse section 22, a player detail section 24, a player selection section 26, a player selection logic section 28, and selected players section 30.
Player search query section 20 allows a participant to input a search query. A player's name is typed into query box 32 after which a search link is clicked to activate a search. Players' names matching the query are displayed in a player selection section 26. Player browse section 22 allows a participant to find all players associated with a particular position. For example, positions 34 for football are shown which include quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, defensive team, linebacker, defensive lineman, defensive back, or “all players,” which would show players for all positions. Positions 34 would of course be different for each sport, and such positions will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure. “Flex” positions may also be selected. Flex positions are fantasy positions comprised of multiple root positions. For example, an offensive flex position can contain a running back, a wide receiver or a tight end.
Player selection section 26 may also include a set of links 36 corresponding to letters that when clicked operate to only show player names starting with the selected letter. A set of option links 38 may also be included to limit the player names shown to a particular ranked subset, such as the top 15 or top 50 players. The criteria for how a player is attributed to be within these categories can be based on a number of factors including stats, popularity, published rankings, and other factors. Selecting a particular player causes that player's information 40 to be shown in player detail section 24. Information 40 may include, for example, the player's name, position, team, and what their bye week will be. Historical and/or projected stats may also be available or a message 42 indicating that no stats are available which may occur, for example, if the player is a rookie or otherwise did not generate statistics in the previous year.
Selected players are added to a predraft list 44 where each player can be moved up and down using rank toggle buttons 46, or the player's name can be dragged and dropped to a different location within the list of players. The list may also show each player's bye week 48 which can be used for a logic rule as noted below. Associated with each player is a rules link 50 which shows if a rule has been assigned to the player. When a rule is assigned, such as by clicking the rules link 50, player selection logic section 28 may become active for that player allowing the participant to assign one or more conditions or rules controlling if and when the selected player is to be drafted. Selected player section 30 also includes a delete player button 51 associated with each player that allows a participant to click or otherwise select button 51 to remove an associated player from pre-draft list 44.
Player selection logic section 28 includes a player name reference 52 and may include a number of different logic rules that govern the draft progression. A first logic rule 54 is shown to be a choice for the player to not be drafted before a selected round. This can be displayed on the website with the phrase “Do NOT draft player before round” placed adjacent to a drop down menu or text box for selecting a particular round. The participant can develop rules using the dialogs shown and activate the developed rule by checking the apply box 56 to the left of that rule. It will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, given the benefit of this disclosure, that the relative positioning of each of the elements in the player selection logic portion 28, and among the other sections can be switched around or repositioned in any suitable manner.
A second logic rule 58 controls the draft progression to not draft a particular player on the list 44 if the participant's roster of drafted players already contains a certain number 60 of players at a selected position 62. For example, “RB” is shown as the selected position 62, although any other position or abbreviation for a position for the selected sport may be shown.
A third rule 64, which may referred to as “handcuffing”, provides that a selected player only be drafted if another player is already on the roster. Appropriate instructions 66 may be shown adjacent to a particular rule, such as the instructions 66 shown in FIG. 2, reminding the participant that “(Handcuffed players must both be in predraft list to establish handcuff)”. It is also envisioned that a condition or rule can be developed and assigned to more than one player in a single or relatively few actions.
Other logic rules may be included on the website and used in the method disclosed herein. For example, a fourth logic rule can comprise drafting a player unless another player already on a team of drafted players and at the same position as the selected player does not play at the same time the selected player does not play. This can be important in professional football, for example, where teams have a bye week.
A fifth rule can comprise choosing to cancel a logic rule after a predetermined round of drafts.
A sixth rule can comprise drafting a player only if other teams of previously drafted players have selected a predetermined number of players at the same position as the selected player. For example, if 6 tight ends have been drafted cumulatively by all teams, then a participant could structure his logic rules so that a tight end would be elevated in priority in the rounds of the draft. Use of these logic rules saves significant time for the participant and allows the participant to leave the draft from time to time, confident that their preferred players will be drafted. Other logic rules will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure
Referring back to FIG. 1, the interface 18 of FIG. 2, may be used to perform the steps of adding players from a main list to a pre-draft list (step 16), specifying an overall rank or preference for players within the draft list (step 65), and assigning a predraft logic rule individually or in combination to a player (step 68). For purposes of this invention, the pre-rank order set by the participant is not a logic rule as that initial setup is inputted by a participant without any limitation beyond the initial order set by the participant. Following selection of players and assigning selected players logic rules, the predraft list and selected rules can be saved (step 70) into a database (described below).
FIG. 3 shows steps that can be used to edit predraft logic after the initial predraft list is created. After logging in 10, selecting the appropriate team page 12, and clicking the predraft link 14, the participant is again presented with interface 18 where the participant can manipulate the overall rank for players in the list using toggles 46 (step 74) and adjusting logic rules in logic rule section 28 (step 76). The revised settings are saved to the database (step 70). Logic rules may be edited or deleted for any player at any time. Further, logic rules may be applied to groups of players simultaneously. An example would include selecting multiple players at the same position and applying the logic rules simultaneously.
FIG. 4 shows steps used to remove a player or remove predraft logic associated with a particular player. After logging in 10, selecting the appropriate team page 12, and clicking the predraft link 14, the participant can select a player from the predraft list (step 78). An option is presented 80 to either remove the player entirely, such as by clicking player delete button 51 (step 82), or to remove the association between a logic rule and the player such as by clicking on the rules link 50 and then un-checking one or more rules using boxes 56 (step 84). After the player and or logic rule has been removed, the revised settings and/or pre-draft list are saved to the database (step 70).
After the participant has defined their pre-draft list and assigned selected logic rules to particular players, the draft can take place automatically relying on the list order and logic rules to determine which players to select when a participant's turn in the draft comes around. Interface 18 may be used during the live draft as shown in FIG. 5, or merely used to set up pre-draft logic rules for a later draft. A participant enters the draft room, which may a virtual room on a web site or the like (step 86). Before or during the draft, the participant can select a player (step 88), and manipulate the logic rules individually or in combination for the selected player (step 90). A player may wish to adjust a rule mid-draft for any number of reasons, and the present interface provides that option, a dramatic improvement over fully automated list-based draft programs that fail to provide such flexibility. Finally, changes are saved to the database (step 92).
If no players are available given the participant's logic rules, then optionally, the software method can choose a default ranking. The default rankings can be set by the participant, by reference to a third party's database ranking of players, or by a default ranking of players stored in the database of the provider of the method disclosed herein.
FIG. 6 shows a simplified diagrammatic view of a network 94 having components that may be used to perform the above-described method. Network 94 includes a database 96. Any database 96 may be used including, by way of example, but not limitation, mySQL from MySQL, Inc. (also available through open source licensing programs). Database 96 is shown as one component, although database 96 may be comprised of a number of separate files, databases, relational databases, interfaces, and other software modules. The term “module” referenced in this disclosure is meant to broadly cover various types of software code including but not limited to routines, functions, objects, libraries, classes, members, packages, procedures, methods, or lines of code together performing similarly to these types of coding.
Database 96 may be in communication with or hosted on a host computer or server 98. Server 98 may be a general purpose computer loaded with server hosting software or be configured in a proprietary server configuration. Server 98 is further configured to allow communication to participants over a communications network such as the Internet 100, such as by providing a web server such as Apache/Tomcat available as open source software and/or from the Apache Software Foundation. Other modules that provide TCP/IP based communications with standard web browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator may be used as well. Participants can log into and manipulate their information on database 96, as well as monitor the results of the draft using computing devices, such a personal digital assistance 102, a general purpose computer 104, a laptop 106, or a cell phone having a browser interface.
FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic view of a method of selecting and drafting players using logic rules in the course of the actual draft. A participant enters a draft room application (step 110), such as by specifying a URL in the participant's Internet browser. Log in information, such as entering a user name and password, may be performed using known authentication protocols. Contact is made by the participant's computing device 104 over the communications network 100, to the host computer 98 to access participant's team data in database 96. Using a selection interface, such as interface 18 shown in FIG. 2, the participant can place the team on auto select (automated selection) or “miss a pick” (manual selection) (step 112). If auto select is selected, in step 114, the application selects the next available, not yet selected, player on user's pre-draft list. If the next player satisfies all assigned logic rules (step 116) and basic roster limitations (i.e. maximum 3 players at position QB), the player is selected and added to the user's team (step 118). If there are more players in the predraft list (step 122), the remaining players are consecutively tested against the logic rule. If no players satisfy their associated rule(s), the computer makes an automatic selection on behalf of the participant or user (step 124) from the set of remaining available players, or if no players are available based on established logic rules, may pick randomly from the otherwise available players. In this case, the participant may also be prompted to manually make a player selection. Alternatively, the computer can mark the pick as “skipped” and advance to the next draft pick. The participant who missed his pick may be allowed to come back and pick late for a predetermined amount of rounds.
FIG. 8 shows a fantasy sports drafting interface 128 that may be used in connection with the present method. Interface 128 includes a team draft progression section 129 that indicates the order of the draft and has a cell for each draft slot. Each cell includes a team name 130, the round and pick number within that round 132, and player information if player 134 has been selected. The current pick 136 may be highlighted or otherwise shown to be active. Interface 128 also includes a navigation bar 138 and countdown timer 140 showing an amount of time remaining for the current pick. Player selection section 142 shows information about the remaining players and allows searching and filtering by criteria. Current pick information section 144 shows information about the current team. As shown in FIG. 9, a floating draft logic interface 147 may be provided to allow a participant to adjust draft logic assigned to a player or players. FIG. 9 does not show the pre-draft logic. Interface 128 may also include a pre-draft list 148, which may include an auto select button 150 to toggle between automatic and manual selection of players. The auto select option indicates to others that the participant is away from the computer and shortens the time allotted for drafting a player. For example, the time may be shortened from 1-2 minutes in a normal draft to 13 seconds.
Interface 128 may also be provided with a selected player information section 152 that includes details about each position that needs to be filled and how many players have already been selected in the various positions. Interface 128 may also include a text messaging section 154 for sending a message to draft participants or others. One or more control buttons 156 (shown in FIG. 8) may also be used to access other options, help, and other player, team, or draft information. Icon 157 may be used to toggle the audio on and off. Indicator 159 may advantageously be used to indicate the status of the logic rules with respect to a given player. For example, the indicator may change colors corresponding to a given status, such as gray when a player is not available for drafting, red when a player is available but logic rules have not been applied to the player, and green for when the player is available and has had logic rules applied.
The software modules loaded on a computing device may also be loaded onto a computer media, such as a CD-ROM, floppy disc, DVD or other storage media. The software modules may also be made available as a file download or operate as a plug-in to a browser, or be delivered as a web-based or ASP application. The software module may also be written or delivered via the Flash product from Macromedia, Inc.
It is envisioned that the present method and computer software product may also be used in connection with interactive restaurant or sports bar entertainment systems such as the iTV Network available from NTN Communications, Inc. Live predrafting and drafting can thus be performed in sports bars or restaurants. The present method and computer program product can also be used in casinos where fantasy leagues are popular.
From the foregoing disclosure and detailed description of certain preferred embodiments, it will be apparent that various modifications, additions and other alternative embodiments are possible without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention. The embodiments discussed were chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to use the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally, and equitably entitled.