How to Choose Your Fantasy Football Site
The days of analog fantasy football are, for the most part, gone.
Sparing a rare case of longstanding tradition, season-long fantasy football players have plenty of options that make being an educated and invested season-long player much easier.
Season-long fantasy football attracts perhaps the widest range of participants. From longtime friends, to your office, to those who play in random leagues, fantasy football is by far the most popular fantasy sport in America.
FF requires minimal effort for those whose involvement is simply to set their lineups each week but the hardcore fans can spend hours pouring over the waiver wire or making roster decisions.
It’s a low-to-no risk, marginal reward vehicle that gives you enough of a rooting stake to where you may find yourself tuned into a Thursday night midseason game between two teams you couldn’t care less about.
Interested in season-long fantasy, but don’t know where to start?
I signed up for a wide range of season-long Fantasy Football sites and ranked the top five on user experience:
I chose a standard, head-to-head 10-team league. I joined a free league and was launched into a live draft within five minutes. There are also money leagues with as low as $20 entries. The draft board included a potpourri of Yahoo!’s different ranking systems, such as expert pre-season ranks, rankings based on league settings, average draft position and fan points.
You can also find player stats from last season and any potential injuries or other recent headlines that could affect whether they’re on the field, and playing at 100 percent. This is helpful for those who want to take the expert rankings and compare it to where users at large actually draft a player.
It’s nice to have different metrics splayed out in front of you during a live draft. You can take one with a grain of salt, disregard another, or just trust one the entire time. Or you could roll the dice and auto-draft, but where’s the fun in that?
Simply click on a ranking system, and the chart reorganizes accordingly on the draft board, and utilize them to make an educated pick. There’s also a smack talk corner, which feels like it should be a requirement in a league with friends or coworkers.
What sets ESPN apart is its content. My FF experience has almost exclusively existed on ESPN.com leagues. It’s where I first started with a group longtime friends and ESPN has done nothing to steer me away. The library of fantasy content produced is some of the best in the business. What separates ESPN is the game day experience through ESPN FantasyCast. It provides a wealth of resources, live scoring and an easy-to-use mobile app to keep up to date on the go throughout your Sundays. Follow along with its daily podcast “Fantasy Football Focus” with Matthew Berry, Field Yates and Stephanie Bell to stay tuned in throughout the week.
Video highlights is what sets the league’s fantasy site apart. With a wealth of content, highlights and information, the league’s exclusive site has resources that can only be found with their access. NFL.com owns every game.
If you have the NFL Game Pass, which allows you to watch live out-of-market games, your football experience will be centralized on the NFL.com homepage. Plus, its projections and predictions make your game watching experience much easier.
The TV network that has long been interlocked in a rights deal with the NFL also has a highly detailed fantasy football site. With a section on your personalized fantasy home page dedicated to draft prep, you can access player rankings, cheat sheets, ratings by position and a stockpile of resources like its CBS Sports HQ, which includes fantasy analysis and NFL reporting from the network’s FF writers/personalities. The most helpful tool for me was the “Roster Trends” list. It ranks the most added and most dropped players by percentage of change.
Another network with a wide range of FF content, Fox Sports provides users plenty of resources to enhance the season-long FF experience. If that’s important to you, Fox Sports is a site worth trying. But the fantasy interface doesn’t necessarily offer anything the others don’t.
Andy Buhler is a graduate of Gonzaga University and writes for The Columbian. He's a lifelong fantasy football player.