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Fantasy Football Fumble Angers Fans

Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football servers blocked users from making picks Tuesday, just two days before the NFL season kicks off.

Although several discussion board messages written Wednesday complained about the company's lack of response, Yahoo Sports' spokesperson Addison said the problem stemmed from an internal Yahoo server, not Yahoo Sports. She said Thursday that everyone who was affected received an e-mail about the problems.

"Those who had draft picks scheduled will be rescheduled," Addison said. "They were told they would receive their preferred slots and they did. Everyone is ready for the opening game." The New Orleans Saints take on the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Indianapolis Colts, tonight to start the NFL season.

The e-mail told users that the problems had been fixed, and the company apologized for any inconveniences caused to users.

BloggingStocks writer Jonathan Berr said Yahoo had already set up a new draft for his league.

"I'm not sure my friends and I are going to bother," he said in an article he wrote about the problems.

Beason said overload is understandable, but so are passionate responses.

"When you do the free model, you pick the draft, you rank your own players, and in a period of three or four days, the site auto-picks them," he said. "I can only imagine what kind of huge overload it puts on their capabilities. That kind of sheer overload would overwhelm nearly any system. They've got games starting tonight, and the psychology behind fanatics is they want to know everything now."

As soon as the draft ends, fantasy players want to know which of their picks will start and have the opportunity to find other players and drop some.

"If you take away their players, they're going to start calling and asking about it," he said. "For a lot of folks, this is a primary leisure activity, and, if it's something someone does in their leisure time, and you mess with it, you're going to hear about it. It's akin to any other psychological attachment to any other activity."

Beason had his picks selected before the problems arose.

Yahoo just kicked off the Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football '07 season about a month ago, with Yahoo Sports VP and general manager Jimmy Pitaro calling it "one of the greatest dynasties in sports today."

"Over the past decade we have established the most popular and reliable fantasy football service for players of all levels," Pitaro said in a prepared statement.

This year, the company invited fans to submit 30-second video clips of their own best touchdown dance moves, spikes, or flips for a chance to meet Cincinnati Bengal star receiver Chad Johnson.

David Geller, product manager for fantasy football, could not be reached Thursday for details on what caused the problems and what had been done about them, nor was a company spokesperson able to provide that information immediately.

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