Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports is continuing to rapidly expand, announcing three more new sports this month — basketball, baseball and football.
“Fantasy football is huge and we’re going to take it to a new level through digital asset ownership,” said UFF Sports president and co-founder Tony Charanduk, citing 40 million people play fantasy football in a $7 billion industry that is growing year over year. “Football is the most popular fantasy sport in the world, but baseball and basketball are more global and will be a real hit with the scouting side of the UFFS platform.
“All three of these sports are going to become integral parts of our ecosystem and mirror the real world as closely as possible.”
Football will kick off in September — alongside the NFL season — with franchise auctions running from July 4 to July 18 for the Ultimate Fantasy American Football League (UFAFL). That will provide franchises with plenty of time for professional branding, drafting rosters and auctioning prospects, while also getting the football scouting off the ground.
Andy McNamara is heading up football operations for UFF Sports as a true pro with experience from Sportsnet, TSN, DraftKings and Bleacher Report in his roles as an NFL and fantasy football analyst, reporter and radio personality.
“I am so pumped and thrilled about the UFAFL and what this means for the future of fantasy football,” McNamara, a third-generation Cleveland Browns fan, said on Episode 21 of the UFFS Podcast. “When you can be on the cusp of something new, something special like the UFAFL … I just knew I had to be a part of it. What better way to combine the worlds of NFT and blockchain, which is the hottest thing going, with fantasy football at an in-depth level that I personally haven’t seen and I’ve covered just about everything when it comes to different types of fantasy football.”
McNamara has already assembled an impressive supporting cast, with Jamie Thomas joining the fold as director of football scouting and Will Harris hired as the UFAFL commissioner. Thomas is another renowned broadcaster in Canada — currently a colour analyst for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets — but is an avid fantasy football player who took a pro football scouting certificate course, making him the perfect fit for that role. Harris, who owns and operates a football apparel company with Veridian Global, has a ton of fantasy football experience as both a commissioner of big leagues and on the analysis side, so the UFAFL will surely be in good hands from the outset.
“Whatever a normal NFL team looks like on game day — from roster size to practice squad to salary cap — that is what we’re going to be emulating. So when you have a UFAFL franchise, you are operating it as an NFL franchise,” explained McNamara. “This isn’t for your office pool guy who forgets to set his lineup. This is as intense, as real as it gets — and then when you add in the NFT blockchain side, it’s just the perfect blend of investment and fantasy sports. It is phenomenal — what we have to look forward to here.”
Basketball will tip off in October — alongside the NBA season — with franchise auctions commencing on Sept. 6 and culminating on Sept. 19 as the first step in launching the Ultimate Fantasy Basketball Association (UFBA). The rest of the process is the same for all sports as far as drafting rosters, auctioning prospects and unleashing the scouts on the Open Market to monetize their eye for talent by registering the future stars.
Alex Leblanc is serving as head of basketball operations for UFFS, already a passionate member of the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League (UFHL) and proving very ambitious in the crypto world as well, with an understanding of the blockchain technology that is powering the UFFS platform and the NFT craze that has boomed through projects like NBA Top Shot.
“The crypto side of it is exciting and seeing the NFT market popping off the way that it has and absolutely exploding lately. That’s where our drive has come from to really get these other leagues up and running,” said Leblanc. “It’s seizing the moment and building off the hype, and really showing the next layer of value that we’re bringing with these collectibles — these NFTs of players — and their utility into our fantasy leagues.
“The reason to join this and the reason to get excited here is the exclusivity. It’s the blockchain, these are 1-of-1s, there is no other. There are going to be 30 auctions — one for each franchise — and that will be your way in, then it will be the elite of the elite, the most high stakes, the biggest and best league going. That’s where I hope to take this, to be known as THE fantasy basketball league. We’ll be known as THE league!”
Leblanc is also a hardcore fantasy enthusiast — joining a mind-numbing 42 NBA leagues this season to ensure UFBA offers the best gameplay options and the most realistic experience available.
“I’ve played fantasy sports all my life, since I was 10 years old, and it got me right from the beginning. It’s been something that has carried me throughout life and to find myself here in this position, it’s just so exciting with where we might be able to take this,” said Leblanc, who hails from Ontario as a rabid Toronto Raptors fan, having been introduced during Episode 20 of the UFFS Podcast. “I’ve got so many different ideas, I’ve been writing the rulebook already and we’ve got a decent foundation started. There’s going to be 30 new franchises for basketball, all with their own unique logos and branding and colour schemes — it’s going to be so cool to see what these owners come up with and put together. It’s going to be such a fun process — every single part of it. I can’t wait to see where it goes and, partially, where I take it.”
Baseball’s first pitch is scheduled for April 2022 — alongside the MLB season — but franchise auctions for Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball (UFLB) will take place throughout this year’s World Series, starting Oct. 26 and ending Nov. 7. Those franchise owners will have the winter to prepare for their inaugural campaign when the boys of spring return to the ballpark.
Dean Millard has added head of baseball operations to his duties with UFFS, which also includes producing several podcasts for the Ultimate Fantasy Sports Network (UFSN) on YouTube and his roles within the UFHL as a hockey franchise owner.
“I’m a massive, massive baseball guy, so I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” said Millard, a diehard Los Angeles Dodgers fan since Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series. “Everything is coming together in my world — the Dodgers win a World Series for the first time in 32 years and I get the opportunity to build the greatest baseball fantasy platform ever. I can’t wait to put all my baseball passion into this amazing league that we’re going to build.”
Millard, who also comes from a broadcasting background with decades of fantasy experience in a variety of sports, has appointed Bryan Hernandez as his director of baseball scouting and also recruited Matt Soren as a consultant with significant real world experience who will be representing Israel at this summer’s Olympics.
“The UFLB is going to be big and bold. Like Andy and his group are going to change the football fantasy world, we’re going to do the same with baseball,” boasted Millard. “We always want to mirror as much about Major League Baseball or the NFL or the NHL as possible. We want to model it like Major League Baseball and this is just the beginning. There will be minor leagues — AAA, AA, there’s two classes of single-A, you’ve got the KBO, the Dominican league — so we start with one and build to many. It’s going to be so much fun.”
Golf is also in the works for UFFS, teeing off in September with franchise auctions for the Ultimate Fantasy Golf Association (UFGA) concluding on Aug. 8.
Mixed martial arts is on tap too, with the Ultimate Fantasy Fighting League (UFFL) previously announced and those franchise auctions planned for later this year — potentially taking place in November or December.
Hockey is already well established as the flagship sport with the aforementioned Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League (UFHL) and also the first minor league on the UFFS platform, the UFAHL. Between those 64 franchises and the 36 active scouts, more than 3,250 hockey players have been registered as NFTs on the Zilliqa blockchain. The UFHL expansion franchise sold for $10,000 USD on March 1 and that league’s progressive prize pool was recently capped at $51,396.52 USD on April 12. The hockey platform — hockey.uffsports.com — has formed key partnerships with EliteProspects, InStat and Fantalytica as industry leaders.
“The goal is to keep expanding and offering every sport at every level all around the world. Our vision is to bring the entire sporting world to the Zilliqa blockchain as NFTs with utility and forever value,” said Charanduk, referencing the Legends Leagues that will provide sustainability beyond retirement for all professional athletes. “We need to find the right people to head up each sport and we’re very confident in the leadership groups that we’ve put in place for all six of our sports thus far.”
For more information, check out the new website at www.uffsports.com and register as a fan ahead of the Score Token launch, with the private sale beginning on May 1.