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As fantasy football kicks off (or has kicked off) for many bright-eyed, optimistic players all over the globe, the gleam of a new season can quickly turn into stark darkness depending on the fortunes of their team.

If you’re a seasoned fantasy football player like I am, you can relate to this nightmare scenario: You already had your draft, but your team is off to a 1-4 start. Your top four draft picks are either having terrible seasons or aren’t even able to play because of injuries. Or when they do play, they get hurt during the game, leaving you stranded (thanks, C.J. Spiller). Meanwhile, each week, you have to scramble on the waiver wire to plug the holes in your sinking roster.

Sounds like a miserable fantasy football season, right?

Believe it or not, even in this dire situation, your season won’t be lost.

Some GM savvy trades and pickups could lead the greatest turnaround in fantasy football history. However, whereas you once had to spend hours looking for potentially biased analyst opinions and unreliable information to get the job done, now IBM Watson is coming to the rescue.


Watson is teaming up with Edge Up Sports, an official IBM Watson Ecosystem Partner that specializes in analytics, to launch a companion app that can help fantasy football players make more informed and timely roster moves and keep the dream alive. It should be available at the start of the NFL season.

Edge Up is promoting the idea that you, the GM, don’t have to spend as much time searching for potentially useless data to make lineup decisions. Instead, Watson can handle that part.

(In fact, if you want to watch the nightmare scenario I described above, Edge Up has a fun video that paints the same picture.)

As Lauri Saft recently explained to WIRED, “What’s different about cognitive computing is that it’s able to absorb unstructured content. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pages of information that a human couldn’t get to… the ability for Watson to make it through all that unstructured information, look for patterns and insights, is where the power comes in.”

Fantasy players can simply take the information that Watson consolidates (even from the impossible-to-find world of social media) and concentrate on making decisions, which, for a lot of fantasy goers, is by far the toughest part. But even if some level of second-guessing can be eliminated, that would help the millions of players out there that commonly suffer from “paralysis by analysis.”

Some of the performance factors that this decision-making support app will score are situational, physical, and mental. For instance, mental scoring gets into the player’s personality and emotional state of mind. Situational factors get into the weather and how players perform home vs. away. Physical has to do with health and endurance.

When these factors are aggregated, you can gain a composite view of your players. Like anything Watson is involved with, the main value it brings is providing the best options possible. It does not give you the definite solution for the problem.

Most fantasy players don’t need insight into whether to play quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for instance. If he’s declared out, he won’t be in the lineup.

Or if he’s on a bye week, you’re not playing him either. But other than that, he is playing, because he is that good. He’s a no-brainer start.


But when you have to use your brain for other player substitutions – like choosing between a running back rated in the Top 10 for scoring and a running back in the Top 5 – you need to weigh those factors, like the difficulty of the matchup, like performance history in certain stadiums, like the quality of the defense that they are facing.

Edge Up and Watson can handle the workload of drilling through all of those known and unknown comparative nuggets of data, like a running back finding the right holes to run through.

Now it's time to assemble your team!

To learn more about how IBM Watson can help users make better decisions, click here to read our blog "How Big Analytics from IBM Watson Helps Businesses Big and Small".


Written by IBM BP Network