LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking Launched!

On Saturday we wrapped up and released one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on: LockerPulse fantasy player news tracking.

My partners and I have all been avid fantasy players for years (I was in leagues where Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were the consensus top 2 picks!) and like all fantasy football players, we’re looking for any informational edge that we can get to help us win. Especially Sunday mornings, and especially when injuries are involved. There’s nothing worse than starting a guy who isn’t going to play.

After launching LockerPulse it didn’t take us long to realize that we had an asset – lots and lots of news being indexed – that could help out fantasy players like ourselves.

This project took a long time and a lot of things had to come together correctly for us to be able to launch it. First and foremost, we needed to build a relatively good search engine, something we’ve been iterating on since we launched our search functionality last year. It’s not like we can “tag” a single feed for a specific player, as we do for our teams (i.e. a NY Mets blog is linked to NY Mets news). So we need to contextually search articles as they come in to see if they discuss the player, and if they do create a relationship in our database that the player is linked to that article.

With that in place, we then needed up to date player rosters, preferably with little maintenance on our end. We were able to use the FanFeedr API to build a roster management system so that we always had the most up to date players from all the major sports. I spend probably 30 minutes a week maintaining it. The system queues up roster moves and I approve or reject them…just in case there’s an issue with the API and our system tries to move/delete someone who is on a bunch of fantasy teams.

After a few more months of developing and testing, I am really pleased with how the end product came out. To add players, you start typing a name and our autosuggest pulls them up for you:

LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking - Add

After adding your team, you can read the news just like you do for your teams. Stories update in real-time just like in the My News section, and you can filter by sport or player just as you can filter by team or source in My News:

LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking

It also highlights in the text where your player is mentioned. This is especially helpful for long articles where you have multiple players mentioned. Your eyes are drawn right to the piece of text that’s important to you:

LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking - Highlighting

And it’s available on our mobile site too:

LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking - Mobile

Because this is something that my partners and I really really want from a user perspective, it was exceptionally fun to work on for all of us. Work can’t be fun all of the time, but it’s a huge bonus when it is!

It’s also an important feature for LockerPulse. As I alluded to above, we’re starting to take one of the biggest assets – our database of ~1.7 million stories and growing – and finding new ways to use it to provide value to our users.

It’s amazing to step back and see how advanced of a site it’s become in such a short time. It’s also exciting to think that we’re still quite a ways away from getting the product to where we want it to be. As cool and as useful as I think it is now, give us another year and I think this thing will be at a whole other level. That pumps me up 🙂

10 comments on LockerPulse Fantasy Player Tracking Launched!

  1. Scott Messner says:

    Adam, I have to admit I haven’t been an avid LockerPulse user. The fantasy feature will most likely change that! I went in and added my players. LockerPulse will certainly help my team turn around the 0-1 start. Thanks!

  2. Dale says:

    Adam, this is absolutely awesome. Can’t wait to try it out !

    BTW you’ve been in fantasy leagues as long as I have… We’re starting our 18th year this year. We come a long way from doing stats in a notebook off the USA Today paper during study hall!

    That year I had the #1 pick, Emmitt Smith was holding out so I took Sanders. Smith ended up with over 20 TDs I think, and Barry Sanders had tons of TDs vultured away from him.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Dale that’s amazing you’re still in the same league! That might be one of the oldest leagues in existence. Somewhere around the end of high school or beginning of college my friends and I stopped our league and I started playing online. I used to be the commissioner so I know all too well about hand scoring using the box scores from the newspaper. That used to be my ritual during Monday night football. Then on Tuesday I’d call everyone up and let them know if they won….times have sure changed!

  3. Darrin says:

    Very nice idea. I like the way you re-purposed your feeds. Good job on expanding out into all the app stores. I really need to look into that, my project is pretty much flopping thanks to Panda 1.0+2.0.

    Any chance you go back paid? Or are the ads you implemented doing well?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Darrin. Sorry to hear that MockDraftHQ is having trouble. Hopefully things turn around and you either get your rankings back or find another source of traffic (Twitter/Facebook maybe?). For us, we’re still a few steps away with LP. We’re lucky to have Detailed Image growing fast so it’s not something we necessarily have to worry about (not to mention, because of DI’s growth we’ve had less time for LP). One of our next big projects is to improve the ad platform. In some ways the whole thing is still in “beta” to us. I expect next year we’ll make a big push with it. We’re committed to seeing it through to the point where the product is more polished and we’ve started a big marketing push.

  4. […] mind. We launched just enough big features throughout the year  (the ad platform, college sports, fantasy sports) and had just enough success (being featured on the Google Chrome blog, being a part of […]

  5. Rob says:

    Looks awesome, good work!
    Have you noticed big swings in key metrics like time-on-site and pageviews? Have many people created fantasy teams? Do you have a “Lockerpulse League” for your users to play against one-another?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Rob! Key metrics definitely made a jump the last quarter of the year because of this. A pretty large portion of our users have set up a fantasy team (most active users have done it). We’re currently working on a complete overhaul of the site that should hopefully be done in March. When we looked at the year-end metrics there was a lot that we were leaving on the table. I’ll get into specifics in a post soon. We’re hoping that 2012 is the time that we finally make a huge marketing push with the site. It’s been in a beta of sorts for a long time now!

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