25 Most Influential People in Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports is a game played and understood by lots of people, but it is also a game that lots of people don’t play or understand. However, fantasy sports offer fans an opportunity to involve themselves with their favorite sport teams and players through interaction with results of the real game.

Types of fantasy sports includes points leagues and head-to-head leagues. In a point league, a team’s performance accumulates throughout the entire season and the team with the most points at the end of the season wins; while in a head-to-head league, Head-to-head leagues teams play against different teams each week. Whichever team has the most points during that week wins.

“Whatever happens in the real life game affects your team,” said Pierre Noujaim of KCEN TV sports.

Fans can log onto sports websites and act as general managers and create a team.

How Did Fantasy Sports get started?

The creation of the fantasy sports frenzy is credited to sports journalist Dan Okrent. Okrent was working for the New York Times when he created a system of statistical analysis of how well teams and/or player would perform, and winning the game is determined by how well the person predicts or well the teams performed.

Because Okrent and his friends were journalists working at newspapers, this idea was widely publicized and caught on quickly with fans.

“…And from that attention, people began to pay more attention and by within a year or two, there were many people playing a version of it across the country and we began to publish an annual book,” said Okrent.

Okrent’s creation was significant to the emergence of fantasy sports and his contribution to the game led to an online gaming explosion with the development of such fantasy sports websites as FanDuel, DraftKings, Star Fantasy Leagues and as a result, the creation of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association was established in 1997 as an advocate group for fantasy sports industry. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., with Megan Van Petten as the associate director, the association estimated that at least 42 million people over the age of 12 has played fantasy sports between the U.S. and Canada and has gone to the mat in Federal court on behalf of the fantasy league and its supporters.

From Pencil and Paper to Digital

With the onset of the Internet, notable contributor Molson Breweries of Canada launched a popular fantasy hockey website that allowed fans to move from the original pencil and paper established by Okrent to computerized and computer-based gaming. Established 1995, and headquartered in Canada, Molson’s web site allowed hockey fans to participate in the great Canadian sport through online interactive gaming.

With that in mind, other entrepreneurs followed with the use of the Internet. Notable contributor Nigel Eccles of Edinburgh, UK and founder and CEO of FanDuel, built the web site that allows fans computer-based gaming. Established in 2009, and headquartered cbd oil in New York, FanDuel had its first $1 million winner, Travis Spieth of South Dakota in 2013. Spieth said that he turned $10 into $1 million… and was thrilled to put together a winning team…

Jason Robins, CEO and founder of DraftKings is making fans millionaires too though huge payouts of their own, a notable winner of DraftKings is Peter Jennings. He took home a $1 million fantasy baseball pot in 2014. Robins also made huge purchases when he bought DraftStreet and StarStreet.

Making contribution by keeping fans up-to-date with the latest information through news and updates is Chris Towers with CBS Sports fantasy player news.

25 most notable contributors to fantasy sports includes:

1. Dan Okrent – Journalist and Sports Writer


Daniel Okrent is an American writer and editor. He is best known for having served as the first public editor of The New York Times newspaper, for inventing Rotisserie League Baseball.

2. Nigel Eccles (@igeleccles) – CEO and founder of FanDuel


Mr. Nigel Eccles Co-founded Fanduel Inc in 2009 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Eccles served as Business Development Manager and a Member of Group Management Board of Johnston Press plc. He has over 10 years experience in the technology and media industries, and was recently a consultant with McKinsey & Co.

3. Jason Robins – CEO and founder of DraftKings and owner of DraftStreet and StarStreet


Jason Robins is the CEO of DraftKings, Inc., one of the nation’s leading daily fantasy sports sites. An avid sports fan, he started the company in 2011 with hopes of creating a forum that allowed the public more options when playing their fantasy sports games.


4. Justin Shulman – CEO and owner of Fantasy Fued


Justin Shulman is the CEO and owner of Fantasy Feud. Founded in 2011, Fantasy Feud Inc. is a leading privately held daily Fantasy Sports game operator. The social gaming platform enables consumers to participate in daily/weekly Fantasy Sports contests that provide instant gratification without any season long commitment.


5. Anoop Patel – CEO of StatClash, Inc.


Anoop Patel has more than eight years of experience in fantasy sports and online gaming. He is the co-founder of StatClash, a popular daily fantasy sports website.

6. Greg Ambrosius (@GregAmbrosius) – Board member of 247Drafts


Greg Ambrosius is the founder of the National Fantasy Football Championship and the Director of Consumer Fantasy Games at STATS LLC. Greg has been in the fantasy sports industry since 1989 and was the editor of the industry’s first national newsstand publication, Fantasy Baseball Magazine. Greg was the editor of that publication for 22 years, was the founder of the Fantasy Sports Trade Conference in 2000 and president of both the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) and the Fantasy Sports Association (FSA) from 2004-10.

7. Paul Charchian (@PaulCharchian)  -President – Board member of 247Drafts


Paul Charchian Founded LeagueSafe, LLC in 2007 and serves as its President. Paul Charchian is an industry pioneer who started Fanball.com way back in 1993, and also serves as the Chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and makes regular appearances on AM-1130 KFAN and Fox Sports Radio as well as ESPNews.

8. Mark Hanna – Board member of 247Drafts

Mr. Hanan currently serves on the board of directors for the daily fantasy sports website, 247 Drafts.

9. Megan Van Petten – Associate Director of Fantasy Sports Trade Association


Megan Van Petten serves as the Executive Association Director for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) — the 9th fastest growing business sector — directing all activities for the only global association dedicated to the fantasy sports industry. Van Petten became Association Director of FSTA in 2009.

10. Matthew Himelstein- CEO of Swoopt

Matthew Himselstein is currently CEO of Swoopt, a fantasy football sports app. Matthew has worked with minor league baseball teams, major league soccer teams, the NFL on its international expansion plans, and helped eBay Motors launch its Android app. Matthew holds a Bachelors degree in Economics and Visual Arts from Columbia University in addition to an MBA from the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.

11. Michael Ferguson – COO of Swoopt

Michael Ferguson is currently COO of Swoopt, a fantasy football sports app. Michael previously co-founded and lead product development for Geomium, a top-25 social-location app. He has been featured on the BBC and in the Guardian newspapers and regularly gives talks on how the mobile space is impacting business and commerce globally.

12. Matthew Primeaux – Owner and CEO of Victiv


Matthew Primeaux is the CEO of Victiv, a weekly fantasy sports website where users can win money.

13. David Kitchen (@SocrDave) – Owner of FantasySports.org


David “Socrdave” Kitchen is not only the owner of FSO and Fantasy Insiders, he’s also one of the original co-hosts of Grinders Live. Kitchen is a top ranked daily fantasy player who is on record for saying that he used his daily fantasy winnings to purchase FantasySports.org.

14. Ryan Mercer – Owner and CEO of Statchat

StatChat provides the official fantasy league rankings. The site actually ranks your league vs. other leagues across multiple host sites. We prove just how tough your league really is from top to bottom.

15. Travis Spieth – 2013 $1 million winner of FanDuel


Travis Spieth, a 37-year-old general sales manager for Siouxland News in Sioux City, Iowa, won $1 million dollars by becoming the 2013 Fanduel Fantasy Football Champion. He is known for being the 1st Fantasy Sports Millionaire ever.

16. Dan Back (@dan_back) – Co-host of Daily Fantasy Forecast on Sirius XM Radio


Dan Back is one of the original hosts of GrindersLive and has found tremendous success both as a player and broadcaster in DFS. He started the first Daily Fantasy Sports exclusive podcast on RotoGrinders in 2011 and has steadily been a top 75 ranked Grinder over the years. He is known as one of the very best college football DFS players, but has also garnered much success in NBA basketball qualifying for both the DFBBC in 2012 and PBC in 2013. Dan has made weekly appearances on NBC Sports Radio Fantasy Football syndicated show and co-hosts the Daily Fantasy Forecast on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio.

17. Peter Jennings (@CSURAM88) – 2014 DraftKings Fantasy Baseball Championship winner


Peter Jennings is not only the 2012 FFFC Champion, but soon after that win he also became one of the first people to quit a highly lucrative day job to concentrate 100% of his efforts on Daily Fantasy Sports. He recently won $1 million to become the 2014 DraftKings Fantasy Baseball Champion. Yes, this is the guy mentioned in the DraftKings commercials!

18. Robert Gialloreto – Owner of The Week news blog for ESPN


Known as G-Man to his friends, Robert plays fantasy sports to keep in touch with those nearby and far away. Being a Canandian, he may not be a baseball statistical guru, but he can tell you all about the nuances of playing the point on a power play. He’s also managed to carve out a career in professional hockey, as he’s the VP of sales for an IHL team called the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg.

19. Eric Karabell (@karabellespn) – Host of Fantasy Baseball Countdown-ESPN


Eric Karabell has covered fantasy sports for ESPN since 2001 with a focus on football and baseball. In addition to his writing for ESPN.com, Karabell also hosts a radio show on ESPN Radio, makes frequent appearances on ESPNEWS and writes for ESPN The Magazine.  He has twice been honored as Fantasy Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

20. Tristan Cockcroft (@Sultanofstat) – Host of Fantasy Baseball Countdown-ESPN


Tristan H. Cockcroft is a Senior Writer for ESPN.com and co-host of the ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast with Eric Karabell.

21. Chris Tower (@CTowersCBS) – CBS Sports Fantasy Player News

Chris Towers is a Fantasy sports columnist, analyst and podcaster for CBS Sports.

22. John Buttedahl – CEO of DraftTeam Fantasy Sports

John Buttedahl is Chief Executive Officer at DraftTeam Fantasy Sports Inc.

23 & 24. Zack & Justin Stanley – Co-Owners and Founders of Star Fantasy Leagues


Longtime fantasy sports nuts growing up in Rochester, NY, the Stanley brothers came together to lay the groundwork for Star Fantasy Leagues.

25. Thomas Dwyer – CEO Ballr Fantasy Sports

Thomas Dwyer is co-founder of the daily fantasy site, Ballr.

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Juke is an avid daily fantasy sports player who competes in NFL, NBA, EPL & UCL. He's been playing DFS for 5 years and shares his successes & failures on RotoJuke. You can track his DFS gameplay by checking out his RotoGrinders.com profile: jukebox9988. Follow Juke on Twitter.

One thought on “25 Most Influential People in Fantasy Sports

  • September 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    No love for Matthew Berry?! That’s messed up


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