You know the drill. It’s a football weekend. You’ve studied up and selected your favorite players for your fantasy game. You’re certain they will all have great games. Alas, the weekend passes and you’ve lost, in some cases by just a tiny margin. You thought that the weather in that Green Bay game wouldn’t be a factor, but you were wrong, and that made all the difference.
The fantasy pros, of course, have access to tons of data that you don’t. Wouldn’t it be great to be at the same level?
Clickstream President Michael O’Hara, a 30-year defense industry veteran with master’s degrees in physics and computer science, states, “I’m fascinated by artificial intelligence and sports pools. I wanted to find a way for the former to enhance my skill with the latter,” he explained.
“Obviously, the goal in fantasy sports whether it be a cash game or tournament, is to pick the optimal team. But that’s not so easy.”
Indeed. A McKinsey & Co. study showed that in Daily Fantasy Sport baseball for the first half of 2015, 91% of profits were won by a mere 1.3% of players. Another study showed that even the best players only win 65% of the time. Novices have a steep hill to climb to compete in the world of 57 million players.
Via DraftClick, Clickstream wanted to devise a way for those millions to compete with the pros. A prototype has been designed that is operational. It’s provides a user interface that looks like the team entry pages on DraftKings or Fanduel. However, whereas those established brands allows for filtering up to six levels deep and 100 variables, DraftClick offers 144 variables for each player, with data derived from a pool of 40 algorithms.
It is these algorithms that select the optimal fantasy team for any given day.
“What is unique about DraftClick is that our algorithms have three levels of operations, all of which build on each other,” O’Hara says.
The first level concerns statistics, which is something for which plenty of competition exists. However, the second level of algorithms involves data mining. This finds patterns that are hidden in the data. There are far fewer competitors with these features. The third layer involves machine learning, and it’s where the prototype becomes particularly interesting.
“We are able to build models based on historical data and backtesting. We train our system using this method. If applied properly, we assumed that it should be able to predict the fantasy points earned in a given game,” O’Hara explained.
This system was tested on NBA results and found to have an accuracy rate greater than 70% using first-generation algorithms. Because the answers were already known in advance, finding that such training data was able to yield such a high percentage predictive result was very encouraging to the company.
The other unique feature of DraftClick is the auto-fill function. Fantasy participants don’t have to do any research. They can just choose the event they wish to participate in and DraftClick will run its algorithms to offer choices.
While it’s possible that any given participant would end up choosing the same players, the system also allows for participants to override any entry with a manual selection. Many participants have favorite players, or sentimental or emotional attachments, which may result in more varied selections.
ClickStream also hired former NFL great and current NFL Network commentator Brian Baldinger to its Advisory Board. Baldinger states, “The new sports fan is a fantasy sports or sports gaming fan first, the team loyalty mentality is secondary.”
In addition, O’Hara notes, the entire system is updated daily using results from the previous day. Breaking events during the day can also change the algorithm’s optimal selection. Changes in weather, injuries, or other newsworthy moments could affect the algorithm at a given moment.
When might DraftClick be ready to go? When might DraftClick be ready to go? The company is working with a software developer and anticipates launching the product in the Spring of 2017.
“It’s an exciting development for those who love to play fantasy sports but are a bit frustrated at their level of play,” O’Hara concludes. “We hope that DraftClick will encourage and give confidence to the millions of players out there, and increase interest in American sports as a side benefit”.