Fantasy Football Freakout: Yahoo!'s Outage

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Eli Manning of the New York Giants throws a pass at the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football training camp in New York City. (Bill Kostroun/AP, Yahoo! Sports)
Eli Manning of the New York Giants throws a pass at the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football training camp in New York City. (Bill Kostroun/AP, Yahoo! Sports)

At about dawn last Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas, new dad Andy Powell caught a break.

“My son Landon woke up early and was crying,” said Powell. “And I wanted to let my wife sleep in, so I got up and tried to get him back to sleep.”

Eight-month-old Landon really helped his dad out last weekend. While Andy was trying to get the baby back to sleep, he grabbed his iPhone and prepared for that day’s fantasy football match-up. On Twitter, Andy read that his starting tight end, New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, was too injured to play.

“So, I went into the Yahoo! mobile app and subbed Greg Olsen into my lineup right then, at like 7 -7:30 in the morning.”

It ended up being a good move. For one, the Yahoo! servers would crash at around noon Sunday—right at the time Andy said he normally made his final roster changes—and two, because Greg Olsen had a monster day for the Carolina Panthers.

Another player in our league wasn’t so fortunate.

It’s a very helpless feeling and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Roy Anderson, Yahoo! Fantasy Football Team Owner

Roy doesn’t have any kids, so early Sunday morning he was still in bed. But right before the day’s first games kicked off, he knew he needed to make a last-minute change.

“Rob Bironas is my backup kicker. He’s got to go in for Mason Crosby who is on a bye week.”

Like Andy, Roy tried to use Yahoo!’s mobile app to make the switch, but the servers had already crashed. Bironas went on to have a great day and scored 15 fantasy points. But thanks to the Yahoo! glitch, Roy lost his matchup by a painful seven points.

“It’s a very helpless feeling,” Roy said. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Gregg Rosenthal, a fantasy expert with, said that for fantasy players needing to win now, the outage came at a really, really bad time.

“Every week’s huge. And we’re leading up to the fantasy football playoffs in just a few weeks because those happen well before the NFL playoffs. So teams are needing wins right before their playoffs to get into position.”

When Yahoo! users figured out they were locked out of their rosters, many melted down. Twitter reflected their frustrations. A lot of the reactions can’t be shared here. Some users said they were done with Yahoo!.

[sidebar title="More From Scott Graf" width="630" align="right"]In June 2012, Scott Graf reported on Furniture Row Racing, a NASCAR team that set up shop in Denver, far from auto racing's Southeastern hub.[/sidebar]“When something like this happens, people are going to react emotionally and say, ‘Next year let’s try a different service out,’” said Rosenthal. “It’s a serious problem even though we’re kind of making light of it. As a business, it’s something I’m sure Yahoo! is taking very seriously.”

And it appears the company is. Though our request to interview Ken Fuchs, the head of Yahoo! Fantasy Sports was denied, he sent users emails to say he’s sorry and explain what happened.

But for people like Roy Anderson and teams like Deer Tattoo, apologies and explanations only go so far.

“Yahoo! really let us down,” Roy said.

But in terms of the big picture, it’s just fantasy football.

“Well, I wouldn’t say just fantasy football for me,” Roy said. “Because it’s one of the few things I get to do with my spare time. But yeah…it is just fantasy football.”

This segment aired on November 17, 2012.


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