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Sunday 26th Mar 2017

As the 2010 baseball season approaches its midpoint, more and more players’ minds are thinking about football. NFFC founder Greg Ambrosius discusses the upcoming fantasy football season in the following interview. 

Greg, last year, you expanded to five cities. What did you learn from that?

 

Well, the NFFC was the first multi-city, high-stakes event when we started in 2004 as my goal was to bring the contest to the participants. We held the first baseball and football events in Las Vegas, New York and Chicago in 2004 and 2005 and then expanded to Tampa in 2006. We eventually moved to Orlando, but after struggling for three years in Florida, last year we actually cut back to three cities and allowed folks to draft online for the main events. The online option was very successful and we’ll allow that again this year for the Classic and Primetime events.

 

This year in the NFBC, we decided to try a two-weekend concept while expanding to St. Louis and Atlantic City for the first time. As you know, Fanball.com is owned by Liberty Media and Liberty sees the potential of these live fantasy events. They have asked us to push the envelope and find creative ways to grow these events. That’s why we’ve been allowed to host our events at more unique, high-profile places like Citi Field in New York, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, Arlington Park in Chicago and the Bellagio in Las Vegas. And they also pushed us to host these events in more cities and make the drafts more accessible to more people. We agreed and this year we will be in eight cities on Sept. 4th for the main events, hosting for the first time in Buffalo, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis.

 

 

Now you are going to eight cities. How will you maintain the quality the NFFC is known for?

 

One of the reasons I knew we could host multi-city drafts in 2004 was because Krause Publications had a show division and was known for hosting industry events. With the sports card editorial staff already in place and the show division experienced at getting good hotel contracts and hosting live events, I knew we were the perfect company to do this. And as you said, we ran first-rate shows our entire time with Krause Publications/F+W Media.

 

Interestingly, we now have a much bigger sports staff at Fanball and can easily have 2-3 staffers per city to run the football drafts. Not only are we expanding to more cities, but we’re also providing more amenities this year with food and drink as part of the registration fee. Most of our staff either ran or helped to run the NFBC events this year, so I’m more than confident that the 20+ folks we have hosting these football events will be able to provide the same quality drafts that we’ve always had in the NFFC. And luckily, as you know, hosting football drafts that are just 20 rounds is much easier than hosting 30-round baseball drafts.

 

 

Last year, you had two weekends of drafts, but are now back to one. What went into that decision?

 

Actually, it’s the other way around. We’ve always just hosted the NFFC on Labor Day weekend. That will be the case this year with the NFFC Classic, Primetime, Auction Championship and Draft Champions Championship. Those will be held Sept. 3-4. But for the first time ever, we will also be hosting some NFFC private leagues on Sept. 10-11 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas where folks can play for prizes that range from 90 percent to 95.8 percent. We are hosting 12-team NFFC Supers, Ultimates and Diamonds in Bellagio – with online access for all of them – as we know many die-hard fantasy players will be in Las Vegas for the first weekend of the NFL season. And we know these high-payout private leagues will be a big hit with the industry. We are just a couple of spots short of filling the Diamond League at $10,000 per entry as folks like the idea that one person can win as much as $80,000 by beating just 11 other competitors, and we already have one full Super League.

 

So this is the first time we do have two weekends of events for football, even though as I said previously, we did have two weekends for baseball in March. And I’m confident we will stick with the two-weekend format again for baseball in 2011.

 

One more note, this is the first time in the industry’s history that anyone is offering a national contest for the auction championship or a draft champions format. In the past we always ran private auction and DC leagues, but this year we want to combine all of those players to see who really is the best auction player in the country and who really is the best Draft Champions player in the country. Both of those contests have $10,000 grand prizes and competitors from New York to Las Vegas will be combined in the overall standings all year long and one overall champion will be determined. Our goal is to honor national champions and this year in the NFFC we have six national championships that we’re offering. So I look forward to crowning and rewarding five different national champions. Nobody else is running their contests that way.

 

 

What are some of the online options for people who want to compete but can’t travel?

 

You can compete in both main events online against other people who are competing that way. Both the Classic and Primetime will have Online Main Events on Saturday, Sept. 4. If you can’t make it to one of our eight cities for Draft Day, you can still battle online for the $150,000 in overall prizes in those two contests.

 

We can hook you up via phone or online for any of the Super, Ultimate or Diamond leagues. Those payouts are 90 percent, 92.5 percent and 95.8 percent, respectively, the highest in the industry for this format. And both of those have 14-team and 12-team formats.

 

And of course we have our second annual NFFC Online Championship, an affordable $350 entry fee, 12-team league format that has a $50,000 grand prize. Most of those drafts are in late August and early September and we offer solid league prizes of $1,400 for first place and $700 for second. A total of 600 teams will have a shot at that $50,000 grand prize, which should be fun.

 

What are some of your new league options this year, price and format?

 

We are in the process of formulating the NFFC Cutline Championship, a $125 entry fee 10-team league format that is very unique. Teams qualify for the playoffs by finishing first or second in their league and then each week a percentage of teams are eliminated starting in Week 11 based on points scored each week until we are left with 15 teams in Week 16. Those 15 teams then have a shot at the grand prize. To watch your team on the bubble during Live Scoring of the playoffs is worth the price of admission as you try to survive another week. This should be a lot of fun.

 

Again, the overall championships in the auction and Draft Champions formats are new, but the leagues play out the same way. And of course our Diamond League – the $10,000 entry fee price point – is new.

 

Which package deals seem to be most popular and why?

 

We have a main event doubleheader package that waives all of the Events Fees and co-manager fees if you sign up by June 30th that is very popular. Last year we had 182 teams compete in the Classic and Primetime main events – the ultimate fantasy football doubleheader if there ever was one – and I think we’ll top that number this year. We also have $100 off on three NFFC Online Championship teams ($950 total) if you sign up by June 30.

 

Are there any major rules changes this year?

 

Not really. Last year we allowed the top three teams from each Classic to make the Championship Round for a shot at the $100,000 grand prize and I think that added a lot of excitement. More teams get a shot at the $100,000 grand prize and that’s always a good thing. That remains the same for 2010. We are looking at some defensive scoring tweaks, but nothing else.

 

Just a reminder that the NFFC is still the only game that has Third Round Reversal (3RR) and the Kentucky Derby System (KDS). We started 3RR in 2007 and use it for all of our leagues. What that means is that we go 1-14 in Round 1, 14-1 in Round 2 and then back to 14-1 in Round 3. Then we continue 1-14, 14-1 from Round 4 on. We believe it makes all draft spots more comparable and past history shows the playing field is more level this way.

 

While 3RR is good, it’s made even better with KDS. What KDS does is allow owners a chance to pick their preferred draft spot and rank them in order from 1-14 (or 1-12 for 12-team leagues). Knowing that we have 3RR, some people prefer the back end and may list their KDS as 14, 13, 1, 2, 12, 3, 11, 4, etc., for example. When we form the leagues, we then randomly pick the draft order and then seed the owners based on their KDS preferences. In this case, if this owner was randomly picked first in his league, we’d look at his KDS and give him the 14th pick. We’d then look at the second owner randomly picked and give him his highest preference and continue to do this through all 14 owners. History has shown that 3-5 people in each league get their first preference and the average draft preference received is usually their third or fourth. Not always, but many times it works that way. We want to give YOU some say in where you pick on Draft Day. At this price level, don’t you believe the player rather than the game operator should decide where you draft? We do.

 

There were some administrative bumps at the start of the NFBC season. Will those problems follow to football, as well? Why or why not?

 

Admittedly, the first two weeks of the NFBC were a struggle with a newly developed back-end system. We struggled out of the gate with our first FAAB, our first set of standings, our player pool and even our first set lineup. I admit that those mistakes were on us and our players were frustrated. I wish they had never happened, but as you know we all worked long and hard to correct everything and right now the NFBC is running rather well. FAAB results are available four minutes after deadline each Sunday and we haven’t had a hiccup there since Week 1.

 

The good news for the football folks is that the programming for many of those same features are now tried and tested for our new back-end. FAAB will be very similar for football and should not be a problem. Set lineup, standings, free agency, etc., are going to be ready to go much sooner with football. We’ve even added some nice features in baseball that will carry over to football, such as the one-page Free Agent Quick, which shows every available free agent in your league by position on one page. You can even make bids on Free Agent Quick, saving folks who do multiple NFFC leagues a lot of time. The Conditional Bid feature has also worked very well in the NFBC and is ready to go for football. So again, I apologize to our NFBC guys for the rough start, but football should not have the same problems because many of those issues have already been ironed out.

 

I will admit that I’m very excited about the upcoming football season. The economy is still tough for a lot of people, but we have a lot of different price points for folks and I truly believe there is a game format and price level for just about everyone. The early drafts I’ve competed in also shows that this year the drafts are going to be as unpredictable as ever before. You really can win from anywhere this year. It should be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to crowning several NFFC champions this year. We are expecting to award more than $1 million in 2010, so join us and jump into the game.

 

Thanks for the time Brian.

Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.

 

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