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Published: Saturday, 7/19/2008

Perrysburg native has active fantasy life

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Davis Davis
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Craig Davis rolls out of bed each morning, fires up his computer, and begins researching the latest happenings in professional football. He'll exchange e-mails and phone calls with other football enthusiasts throughout the day, and often won't call it quits until it's time for bed.

Is Davis a slacker? No. Does he have a job? Yes, and this is it.

Davis, a Perrysburg native, is the president of FantasyPlanet.com, a company devoted to something that was once a hobby and has since evolved into big business. Davis oversees the operations of FantasyFootball.com, FantasyRacing.com, and FantasyBaseball.com, which are derived from FantasyPlanet. Davis is also the publisher of the company's football magazine.

"I never imagined in a million years that there would be a full-time job for a fantasy sports Web site," said Davis, 34.

To say Davis plays games all day would be underestimating his influence in the sports world. Like a president in any competitive industry, Davis is constantly working the phones to promote his company and to obtain marketing dollars. He's also trying to create innovative ideas to offer his clients what his rivals cannot.

Still sound like all fun and games? On an average day, Davis spends no less than 10 hours in his home office in Oklahoma City, while pulling double-duty as a husband and a father of four.

"My wife used to joke about how I play for a living," Davis said. "But now she sees what I do, and I think she has a new respect for it."

Davis never had visions of doing this, mainly because it wasn't an option until recently. He aspired to be a sports radio personality, and in truth, that is still his goal. As a student at Perrysburg (he graduated in 1991), Davis interned at 93Q before attending Oklahoma Christian University, where he played baseball and worked in student radio. After taking a job in Hobart, Okla., Davis was hired to do a sports talk show in Lawton, Okla., and lost his job when the station was sold on the last day of 1999. He was out of work for seven months when a friend from church offered Davis the president position of a newly formed fantasy football Web site. It was an interesting proposition, to say the least.

"It's almost like God took me in a different direction," Davis said. "I enjoy what I do, I can't complain, but someday I'd like to be a play-by-play announcer for a pro sports team."

Davis turns away about 100 applications a year from people wanting to write for the site. With a finger on the industry's pulse, Davis recruits some of the best minds to work for him, both from a writing standpoint and visual technology.

Unique to FantasyPlanet are customized cheat sheets that factor a player's value based on the specifications of a certain league, as well as a chat in which clients can receive immediate advice from Davis and others.

"Everybody is playing these days," said Ryan Brooks, the vice president of operations for FantasyPlanet. "The last research I saw said 11 percent are females. We get a lot of new fans because of the generic domain name."

Pressed for some drafting advice, Davis said to not overvalue players. In other words, one can be set up for success by resisting the temptation of drafting a superstar in the first two rounds when someone of similar talent will be available later on.

He said he usually wins at least one of his leagues each season.

"But the odds are pretty good of me winning because last year I was in 14 leagues," he said. "That's too many. I think I'm going to scale back and do no more than eight this year."

Work comes first.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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