The Great Lock-Out of 2016

The Lockout of 2016

AF LogoAF – The fantasy world was rocked this weekend by an event that will certainly live in infamy for several seasons to come as NFL.com plunged countless fantasy drafts into chaos.  The phrase “you only had one job” comes to mind after draft client failures in untold thousands of fantasy drafts this weekend.  Stories are emerging of fantasy drafts going wrong in every conceivable way including draft clients not loading; draft rooms not appearing, auto-draft taking over draft rooms, and in some cases, even, auto-draft taking over and drafting ‘blind’ so that all the teams present could see were the players flying off the board with no way to even see which teams were getting which players.  It seems that ‘keeper’ leagues were particularly hardest hit, but many redraft leagues were effected as well, while – with no rhyme or reason – some drafts went completely unaffected.

Four Association drafts were held this weekend, and only the Points Race – OPEN Tournament went unscathed.  The AF Pro Bowl Tournament, because it’s only carrying 4 teams this season and because those four coaches are fantasy veterans, was able to conduct the third leg of their 2016 draft series by message board post when their draft room failed to even appear; that was quite an adventure, however, and those veteran coaches felt more like fantasy pioneers for the event.  The IFFL draft was only slightly affected by the outage, switching to auto-draft in the final rounds of the event.  The prestigious Points Race – Invitational draft was particularly stricken, as 1 round into selections, the draft client turned evil and began not only auto-drafting for all teams, but doing so blind and out of order while showing mismatched results.

The Association being only a very tiny slice of the millions strong fantasy community, one can only guess how many tens or even hundreds of thousands of players around the world were affected on this biggest draft weekend of the year.  For their part, NFL.com has been characteristically tight-lipped about their mishandling of thousands of drafts, responding to all complaints with form letters suggesting that teams should check their internet connection as a possible source for the problems.  One Association Coach wryly pointed out that although their draft rooms weren’t working, all of the new video ads NFL.com is running this season are in top working order.

 

The fallout from this will, unfortunately, probably not have an ill-effect on NFL.com in the long run, but it will, however have a huge effect on the Association as decisions are already being made to begin moving Association Leagues and Tournaments elsewhere beginning in the 2017 season.  It is unclear at this early point, to what extent and which leagues will be finding new homes, or which hosting sites those homes may be, but Association Chairman Coach Crash has already issued the following statement:

“Personally, this weekend was the final straw for me with NFL.com, I mean, they’re the single biggest provider of fantasy football hosting in the world and they can’t provide adequate support for their own product on the biggest weekend of the year for the product they’re supporting.  Beyond the massive draft failure, their customer support has gone markedly downhill over the past several seasons as anyone who regularly communicates with them will attest – they’ve gone from helpful responses a few years ago, to form letters, to , now, form letters that don’t even apply to the query made.  Their on-site advertising has gotten pervasive to the point of obnoxious between their candy bar and beef jerky trophies to their pop-up videos – which I wouldn’t be surprised to learn was a contributing factor to the draft problems.  Generally, the product they offer has become increasingly valueless, and, beginning with the removal of the popular forum feature a few years ago, followed by the ridiculous ‘roster options’ feature they’ve polluted the sport with, their contempt for the players that support them has become obvious.  As fans, we may be forced to put up with Goodall’s reign of terror because they’re ‘the only game in town’ but in the world of fantasy hosting sites, they simply are not; much better options exist, and Associated Fantasy will find them.”

As stated, the timeline for which Association Leagues will move to new hosting sites is unclear at this early stage, but some assumptions and predictions can be made.  All of the Associations new tournaments, debuting in the 2016 season were originally scheduled to debut on ESPN and FleaFlicka, but remained under the NFL.com umbrella because of open spots in the Association’s NFL stable, so it seems likely that most, if not all of those tournaments will immediately make the leap to another hosting site, along with the anticipated 2017 Corporate Ladder Tournament that’s already been securing sponsors .  Another safe assumption concerns the Association’s planned mega-league, the UFFL which was already slated to be hosted by MyFantasyLeague.com.  MFL is already where the World League conducts its email draft, so moving there would be a natural switch for that league.  It also seems logical for all of the Association money leagues like League 28 and the proposed Leatherheads Fantasy Conference, to move to a pay site like MFL where the league dues could be factored into the entry fees.  Leagues like The Dixie, with its double header scheduling, and the Fantasy Circus, with its elimination format, also seem like likely candidates to move to a hosting site that could more comfortably handle their special rules.

For now, though, the Association seems focused on moving on from the debacle (with fingers crossed that the Fantasy Circus and Fantasy Addicts, still yet to draft, will have problem-free events) and focusing on the upcoming 2016 season and making it the most successful season yet in Association history – lockout be damned.

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