We already went through which fantasy football platforms you should and shouldn’t use this season, but now it’s time to dig into the nitty gritty. In the second half of our tech guide to conquering the virtual gridiron, we’re giving you our picks for the most helpful supplementary apps and websites. Let’s exit the huddle.
How you perform at your league’s draft is going to define your season, so you’re going to want to nail it. But how do you make sure you nail it? Cheat! Okay, so it’s not really “cheating,” but the NFL’s official Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet is a flexible and good-looking way to prepare for draft day.
It gives you news, injury reports and depth charts for each NFL team; it provides deeply customized player rankings based on your league’s scoring system; and it has loads of projections and rankings, all in one place. On iOS, you can even do mock drafts right from the app. It’s $5, and there are similar apps out there, but we think the NFL’s solution is the best mix of looks, performance and comprehensiveness.
We said it in the first half of our fantasy football tech guide, but we have to say it again here: When it comes to the major fantasy football platforms, CBS has the best app of the bunch. It’s attractive and snappy, with the latest insights, reports and projections from CBS Sports’ excellent team of fantasy football writers.
CBS knows that its own fantasy platform isn’t going to rival the likes of Yahoo or ESPN anytime soon, so it’s done the (relatively) selfless thing and made an app that’s useful for anyone. Of course, if you do play on CBS, it’s even better. But either way, this app gives plenty of news and knowledge, and it looks good while doing so.
It’s a sad fact that Android and iOS users are treated to the majority of handy football apps, while Windows Phone and tablet users are usually left out in the cold. But with Neuralnet’s Football Pro+ app, Microsoft’s mobile OS has a snazzy solution for getting all the NFL news they need at any time. No, it’s not a fantasy app per se, but it does provide live scores, standings, news and stats for every team in the league, making it a handy tool for keeping up with real teams alongside your virtual ones.
You can mark your favorite team and keep track of its news specifically, and you can also listen to a variety of podcasts and live radio stations to dig into NFL happenings. This all comes in a handsome and fluid setup that fits right in with the Windows aesthetic. It’s hard to be a fantasy football fan without being an ordinary football fan, so Football Pro+ makes a good companion to your virtual gridiron needs.
You’ll be going to the land of the hardcore with the FBG Mobile app, which is effectively the mobile version of the subscription-onlyFootballGuys.com website. That’s one of those granular fantasy sites in the vein of GridironExperts below, so you’ll need to shell out $33 to be able to take complete advantage of its insights and $5 for the app itself.
But if you can stomach that upfront cost, FBG Mobile will reward you with a full suite of articles, podcasts, depth charts, forums, cheat sheets, rankings, newsletters, projections, and much more from its team of experts. It’s even got little fantasy trivia games for when you want to climb out of the statistical trenches for a while. The cost may scare some users away, but FBG Mobile gives you more useful content on the go than some full websites do altogether.
Rotoworld may be the most successful of the dedicated fantasy news sites. It’s earned critical acclaim for its far-reaching coverage over the years, and its readership has only grown since it was acquired by NBC in 2006.
That big reader base has helped keep the site one of the most fully-stocked of the bunch, with a large staff of professional analysts whose articles are just as lucid as they are informative. It’s got all of the rankings, projections and analysis you’d expect from a fantasy site, and its partnership with Yahoo means that users of that fantasy platform will be able to access Rotoworld’s articles right from their league pages.
If you’re looking for buckets of granular fantasy analysis that isn’t hidden behind a paywall, then FantasySharks is your site. It’s not pretty, but its big team of writers provide analysis that is heavily in-depth.
It’s got everything from individual defensive player rankings for IDP leagues, to a draft trade calculator tool that determines whether or not you’re making smart deals, to a “team locker” tool that lets you enter in and track all of the players you own across various leagues. FantasySharks has a partnership with hardcore fantasy king MyFantasyLeague, which is fitting–both aren’t very accessible to newbies, but they’re godsends for those who’ll do everything to win.
GridironExperts is one of many fantasy sites that require a subscription to access, but we think it stands out from the pack for a few reasons. Yes, you’ll need to fork over $20 to get the premium content, but once you do you’ll be treated to custom ranking tools that change based on the settings of your particular league, a range of in-depth breakdowns and analysis articles, and live chats with members of the GE staff.
But the biggest incentive to use GE may be its star writer, Jody Smith, who is among the best at week-to-week projections. GE isn’t worth it if you’re a casual player, but it’s a true friend if you’re the hardest of the hardcore.
Why listen to experts when you can listen to science? That’s the pitch behind numberFire, a young analytics site that takes the hunches and gut feelings out of fantasy prognosticating and gives you recommendations based on cold, hard data. It mines massive swaths of statistics and uses proprietary formulas and algorithms to determine projections, cheat sheets, rankings, draft kits and all the other tools you’ll want for your league.
It’s got partnerships with ESPN, Yahoo and FleaFlicker, and, at least according to its owners, “outpredicts” online fantasy experts 70% of the time. (Also, it was started by a guy who won $100,000 on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, so that’s neat.) Football isn’t just a numbers game, but fantasy football is, so numberFire is worth checking out if you’re willing to give in to the calculators.
Look, we could write a hundred articles about fantasy football tools and still not get to every analyst, app and news site out there. Thankfully, the folks over at FantasyPros have us covered. Along with their own team of writers, FantasyPros aggregates dozens of expert opinions from fantasy sites across the web.
It offers rankings, news, draft help and the like, but it all comes from one amalgamated mother brain of football nerd knowledge. It also ranks the most accurate individual analysts every week, so even if you feel like trusting the words of one over the many, FantasyPros is worth a visit.
This article was originally published in August 2013, and has been updated by Ian Debevoise.