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Fantasy Hockey Site Review - CBS

Note: This is the third in a series of reviews of the most popular online fantasy hockey league websites. All the sites have their strengths. The intention of these reviews is not to favour one site over another, but to provide a resource for league commissioners to determine which site will best meet the needs of their league. All sites are evaluated on the same criteria to provide for easy comparison, with a letter grade assigned to each factor. The opinions of the reviewer do not necessarily reflect those of Dobber Hockey.


Prior Reviews:

ESPN

Yahoo! 



CBS Site Review By: Steve Laidlaw

 

User-Friendliness: B

For the most part, CBS is one of the most user-friendly providers I have used. In terms of personal team management, the add/drop system is as good as any provider, as is the waiver system. Trading and trade blocks are very simple. There is an option to either broadcast your trade block update to the entire league via email alert, or without alert if just minor changes are being made. This is a great feature for those who are trade-addicted.

For day-to-day management of rosters, the lack of a drag-and-drop option can be bothersome to some, but it is not something I personally I have an issue with. I do enjoy that you can set your lineups well ahead of time and that on the lineup screen CBS provides each player’s schedule for the week ahead, which makes planning easier. There are also daily alerts on the main screen notifying you when lineups lock, so you are alerted to early games ahead of time.

For commissioners, it takes a little bit longer to acquaint yourself with the website. For instance, there are several commissioner tools that are not particularly easy to find or navigate. In particular, in H2H pools there is a requirement for commissioners to set the playoff matchups themselves. This is an added bit of work you won’t find with many other providers, and both remembering to do this each week and remembering how can be quite tedious.

 

Scoring and Stats: B

 

CBS allows for a variety of different scoring systems. All the generic pool types are covered (points only, head-to-head, rotisserie) but they also allow for unique takes on each format. For instance, I play in some points-based head-to-head leagues where you accrue points in each head-to-head matchup based on a variety of different scoring categories. So rather than the person who wins the most categories each week winning the pool, the winner is instead decided by who accrues the most fantasy points.

In terms of scoring categories provided, the CBS selection is probably one of the most extensive you will find, even allowing you to track niche stats like major and minor penalties, shootout goals, first period goals, hat tricks, shorthanded time on ice and many others.

 

The Draft: A

There really isn’t anything to complain about with regard to the draft on CBS. It allows for online and offline drafting as well as autodrafting. They also provide pre-draft rankings. I can’t recall if they allow for mock drafting but I am pretty certain they do.

A really nice touch is that CBS allows for in-draft trading of both picks and players, which is a unique feature I have not encountered with any other providers.

 

Keeper League Compatibility: B

Depending on your league settings, you may find CBS either highly compatible or highly incompatible. The single best aspect of CBS for keeper leagues is that the site is available for use year round so there is absolutely no need for an alternate site for tracking anything. As a result, there is no need to even import the previous season’s rosters; they are simply always available. CBS also provides an extensive league history area where you can track the standings of each and every season of your league, as well as dole out awards each season.

The main drawback to CBS keeper leagues is that after your inaugural draft CBS does not track draft picks so any draft pick trading must be done by the league.

Depending on whether you have a full keeper or a partial keeper, the lack of draft pick trading may be highly restrictive.

 

Farm Teams: D

CBS does not actually have a farm team setting. What must be done is to instead expand the IR to incorporate the size of the farm roster as well. It is a simple change that requires only minor tracking but does allow for abuse if you are not diligent. There is also a serious issue with regard to minor league players. Until players sign an NHL contract, they are not listed at all in the CBS system. CBS does allow you to create placeholders for these players, but this is an added nuisance and it also requires additional tracking, especially since most owners are not diligent in checking for these placeholders when the player is signed and becomes listed in the CBS database.

 

Salary Cap Leagues: F

They do support salary cap leagues, but the actual system is pretty terrible. The first issue is that you have to manually input all the salaries yourself which is a pretty unreasonable undertaking. The second is that CBS does not seem to enforce the rules of the salary cap. It’s basically one big pointless charade. I would recommend another site for your cap leagues or at least do not waste the time of inputting all the salaries into CBS since they don’t enforce the rules anyhow.

 

Playoff Pools: F

CBS does not offer playoff pools.

 

Customization: B

CBS is pretty flexible with regard to just about everything you could want to do in your pool. As terrible as it is for salary cap leagues, CBS does still allow for it and you can set your cap limits where ever you like. Farm team eligibility is similar: not actually built into the system, but you can customize the system to allow for it to exist and because you are not actually bound by CBS. You can set the games played limits wherever you like.

As mentioned in the stats section, stats are very flexible, as are roster sizes and the trade deadline. You can even determine when playoffs are, which is a feature many sites do not provide.

Positions are as flexible as you like. The commissioner has the power to edit the position of any player. The issue is that this player is locked into that position because CBS does not allow for multiposition eligibility. I find this to be a positive thing however, because it evens the playing field. Going into the season, you know exactly where each player will be playing, whereas other providers are far too giving with their positional eligibility. It is somewhat problematic that CBS is very slow with regard to changing position eligibility in the offseason. For instance, Jeff Skinner was a center in the CBS database this season.

 

Fun Features: A

CBS is great for fun features. You can upload team and league logos and there is an extensive league history section where you can track stats, records and hand out awards. The message board is linked to your email account in such a way that you need not actually access the site to respond to the league or individual owners. This makes for some great trash talk/league discussion. CBS also allows you to create your own articles to post on the league page and also create your own league polls for addressing league issues.

 

Resources: D

CBS is probably the last place I would go for fantasy hockey information. They do provide articles and injury updates and insights; the whole nine yards, really. I just have much better resources and find their information is either coming way too late or often the information is incorrect. Also, as a fantasy writer myself, I find their fantasy writing to be very bland and obvious. Maybe that is what most of the population is looking for, but I am looking for deeper insights.

I would also point out that in terms of doing your own research, the CBS website is not very handy. Their player profiles are among the worst I have seen and their lists such as free agents are just not very easy to use in terms of ranking players based on production.

 

Responsiveness: B

I have never actually had to email CBS about any issues because all of my issues have been answered by their extensive FAQ section.  I feel that not even needing to interact with someone to sort out issues is certainly the most efficient way of conducting business.

 

Cost: D

For the most part the cost is worth it, but it is quite expensive, ranging from upwards of $100 US per year. Start-up costs are even more expensive.

 

Overall (Keeper Leagues): B

I definitely feel like CBS is a worthwhile investment for a specific type of keeper league. The overall feel of the website is very user-friendly, and if you are committed to a long term dynasty league, then the cost of the service is more than worth it. The bigger your league the better with CBS, because it helps spread the cost around and adds to the professional feel that the CBS site exudes.

 

Overall (One-year Leagues): E

I would not recommend this for one year leagues or for salary cap leagues however so CBS is more of a niche website.


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Comments (11)add comment

ChicagoChief said:

ChicagoChief
... It seems clear that CBS are happy to maintain the same old engine for fantasy hockey as they have had for years.

My biggest beef with CBS is that the live scoring. For some categories, plus/minus, GAA, PPP, SHP, SO off the top of my head, thhey do not update live. You have to wait until sometime usually 3-4am EST to get final results. So often you're left to wait or try to calculate GAA for the week's games on the last day of the period to see if you won.

The lack of draft picks and lousy options for controlling roster rules leaves us having to track a lot of stuff ourselves.

We'll likely be moving over to Fantrax soon. They only added our scoring system, head-to-head category-based scoring, in the middle of last season. Hopefully, it runs with no hiccups, but the customization I've seen in their hosting looks great.
August 20, 2012
Votes: +0

tedduf said:

tedduf
... We gave up on them after a few years of them not splitting +/- stats of forwards from defense for our rotisserie, a category that was lost when they merged with TQstats a few years ago (TQ was better). They may have the feature now, we left over a year ago.

These reviews are very handy Glen, thank you for your work !

Ted
July 09, 2012
Votes: +0

coachsoup23 said:

coachsoup23
... as of last season, cbs still didnt support the option of minimum goaltender starts. yahoo has that minimum start rule or you forfeit all goalie categories for the week, and it forces you to pay attention. if they can figure out how to build this in, i would be open to moving my league there. no site is better for trash talking!!
July 08, 2012 | url
Votes: +0

Steffen said:

Steffen
re: CBS Support Mr Wedgy,

I can see how that could happen. cbssports.com is not the type of small business that typically does better at personalized customer service, and failed communications can abound in such environments.

We haven't (yet) had that kind of a problem, but it's probably coming.

Maybe we could institute a sub-forum for commissioner kvetches...
July 08, 2012
Votes: -1

Atomic_Wedgy said:

Atomic Wedgy
CBS Support CBS are always quick to respond to your support requests. Unfortunately for me, they were also quick to say there wasn't a problem. Something changed on the CBS website, I'm not sure what b/c they said nothing changed and it had always been like that... Anyways, I had been in the pool on the same website, making trades in the same way for 8 years and something definitely changed. Anyways, they said that if we wanted to keep the stats broken down into periods the way we did for 8 years, we would have to email them to rerun the stats every time we made a change. Either that or wait until the monthly period was over and it would fix itself then. I said to create a simple batch file on windows scheduler or create a SQL agent job to do the job automatically everyday instead of us emailing whenever our very active league made a change.

I was told that they would not do any work for our league alone. To me, I thought it was quite clear that if I wanted this change, many, many others would like it as well. No deals.

Anyways, I figured out a way to fix it on my own by changing the way I was making the trades. I shouldn't have to figure it out for them as I am the customer in this relationship. Responsive support, but not necessarily do they know what they are talking about.

Now I was so pissed off that I actually looked around for another league host. In the end, CBS provided most of what we wanted, it was easy to use for the most part and better the devil you know. The cost of moving was outweighed by the hassle to do get 10 other guys used to another website.

I thought I would add this to the above review as it is quite relevant info.

July 08, 2012
Votes: +0

buck0198 said:

buck0198
CBS I would also say I feel like they list too many people as Center when a guy has C/W on yahoo? Are these things able to be changed?
July 08, 2012
Votes: +0

bullwinkle said:

bullwinkle
Great series... When completed, it would be very helpful to have a spreadsheet to compare the features of each of these providers.
July 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Steffen said:

Steffen
Clarifications from a cbssports.com commissioner Thanks guys. This is a great series, and undoubtedly helpful to commissioners (particularly those starting up a new league).

I've been commissioner for a keeper league using this site for three years now, and I love its functionality, but dobberhockey.com is where I've always come first for info. I'd like to add a few comments to your review.

User-Friendliness: Agreed. Easy for users (even first-timers), but some of the extensive functionality available to commissioners can be a little hard to find. Their online help staff always responded within 24 hours, but if you can explain your problem in IT terms rather than hockey terms, you'll be ahead of the game.

Scoring and Stats: The main reason we initially chose this site is that two of our roto-categories are D-goals and D-assists (i.e. separated D and F scoring stats). This was the only site I could find at the time that allowed this.

The Draft: We allow 0 to 15 keepers, then we hold a salary-capped auction to get to 20 players, then we draft 10 more to get to 30 players. Show me another site that accommodates this! Their pre-draft rankings pretty much suck though.

Keeper League Compatibility: Easy roster management year-to-year, and owners use checkboxes in September to identify their own keepers. We allow trading of upcoming draft picks, which we have to fake as ten extra "injured Avalanche goalies" named "Steve's 2012 1st pick", etc. Sounds weird, but owners got used to this workaround pretty quickly.

Farm Teams: Ditto. We have "prospect keepers" that we manage like draft picks. Another clunky workaround, but implementable.

Salary Cap Leagues: I don't understand the reviewer's comments here at all. The site attaches Salaries (a user-field I specified once at initial setup) to each player automatically when they're purchased at auction. I have to manually enter the Salaries for draft picks, but that takes only an evening each fall. After that we have a weekly cap on the total Salaries of each team's Active players, and the site automatically checks that rosters are legal. Salary cap rules we specify are religiously enforced by the site.

Playoff Pools: I sure wish the site offered these, but they don't.

Customization: Superb (and yes, even for Salary Cap leagues). We only use F, D and G for positions, but guys like Gragani, Byfuglien and Staubitz force us to pick just one position. I can't comment on how quickly they recognize new positions (LW, RW, C) but those can always be overridden by the commissioner if required.

Fun Features: Lots of opportunities for owners to communicate with each other via a message board, a news/article area, polls... And commissioner controls over individual owners' abilities to do same (in case you have an abuser).

Resources: Their newsfeed info is Rotowire's, verbatim (or was last time I checked). I don't even read their columnists. Their draft lists are unreliable (and if you have to miss the online auction or draft, the site's helpful robot might land you Lidstrom this fall). They still don't know who Justin Schultz is.

Responsiveness: I've dealt with the site's support staff a few times (once to figure out how to hold our unique staged auction + draft). Prompt responses within 24 hours, but sometimes several iterations before resolution - clear explanation of the problem, ideally in IT-speak, is helpful.

Cost: Is there a more expensive site? We spread the annual $99 US renewal charge across our 19 owners, so it's negligible. They usually offer a $100 credit for referring a new league ($149 for a new league), so there's an angle there...

Summary: For a league that needs customization, this is the way to go. Two thumbs up from me. And I run a Salary-cap keeper. Thanks to Steve and Glen for this series.
July 08, 2012
Votes: +1

GMGates said:

GMGates
... Having experienced CBS this year, I will not allow myself to ever spend another dime on their services. I really did not enjoy my stay with this provider.
July 08, 2012
Votes: +1

JollyRoger said:

JollyRoger
Fantasy Hockey Site Review Hi,

There is a feature that I would like you to include in you evaluation. It is the complementarity with third party tool like Pickemfirst. While this tool works fine with Yahoo and CBS, you can't access your Fantrax teams. It might be the case with other Fantasy sites.

Pickemfirst is a tool I really enjoy. Especilly when I read Dobberhockey and Rotoworld.
July 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Millhouse said:

Millhouse
cbs The biggest problem CBS has is a lack of knowledge. When I sent an email to them requesting why a reasoning behind a player positioning, their defence was to send me a roster from 5 years ago. They said they need to research the roster for validity. Anyone with knowledge of hockey would have identified the glaring errors of 2 retired players, 2 traded players, one major player missing by injury and 4 major free agent signings off of the roster they sent me
July 08, 2012 | url
Votes: +0
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