No other game — save March Madness — generates as much of a frenzy among its participants as fantasy football. It’s become so commonplace in the United States that a television network developed an entire, six-season comedy based on the premise of friends in a fantasy football league (aka The League). While you can’t deny its popularity, there’s also no other game — save March Madness, again — that generates as negative an impact on business as fantasy football. Studies claim the league costs businesses roughly $6 billion in productivity annually, with the its popularity only continuing to rise with each passing year. Fantasy football’s origins even date all the way back to ’62, beginning with eight league members encapsulating administrative affiliates of the AFL, pro football journalists, and season ticket holders to the Raiders. It’s revolutionized the way fans watch the sport in the 52 years in between, allowing football enthusiasts to see the game in a completely differently light while going beyond the simple win-lose formula. The competition gives anybody the ability to draft and manage a football team they way they see fit, albeit at a much smaller level and with far fewer teams.
Fantasy football isn’t just carried out on chalkboards, though. As the competition grows in popularity, more and more websites devoted to tracking players and managing leagues spring up. TV networks like ESPN, CBS, and Fox all provide its fans with easy access to its own fantasy football applications and supply world class analysis and research. After all, polls suggest more than 33 million Americans — 10 percent of the population — play fantasy football in the United States. Since we know you’re part of the 10 percent, we also know you want a reliable website to keep you both informed and entertained. To help you find the perfect site we’ve searched high and low for the absolute best fantasy football experiences on the Web. What follows are our picks, in no particular order, of the best fantasy football websites available for all you football fans.
Arguably one of the most popular fantasy football providers on the Internet, ESPN provides users with an impressive set of features. First off, its deep roster of fantasy experts — like the great Matthew Berry and Eric Karabell — provide plenty of advice columns and expert analysis to help craft your team. The site also offers a live fantasy show before kickoff on Sundays, covering which players might have a breakout game and who to pick up on the waiver wire. Not sure who to start in your second running back slot? ESPN’s writers also take to Twitter to answer any lineup questions users have before kickoff. The robust bevy of resources proves crucial when a starting player gets a sudden injury designation, or you need players to fill your roster during bye weeks.
Besides the expert analysis and advice, the website functions like a dream on game day. ESPN’s FantasyCast presents your weekly matchup in an easy-to-read window displaying you and your opponent’s team on the right and the slate of games on the left. Moreover, the score updates in real time as each play happens and the lag behind the action is fairly minimal. If Larry Fitzgerald makes a huge touchdown catch on your TV, the FantasyCast application automatically updates immediately. You can also quickly glance to see what the rest of the matchups look like on game day, or view each team individually. ESPN Fantasy Football remains one of the most complete and enjoyable fantasy football experiences on the Web, which is particularly surprising given the network’s dominance in the sports realm.
CBS’ lineup of experts stand toe to toe with ESPN’s crew, giving the fantasy site a much needed advantage over others on our list. Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg head the savvy panel of experts for CBS and provide unparalleled pre-draft analysis and insight. The duo even publishes daily updates on player rankings, league trends, and team specific news. If you choose to play fantasy football on a different site, we still recommend using CBS’ weekly analysis to stay on top of everything fantasy football related.
Where CBS fumbles in comparison to other sites is in its presentation and features. Most other sites make better use of what CBS provides, and the slew of information, alternate game offerings, and random news makes the site unnecessarily clunky. Navigation also isn’t the smoothest, so we recommend bookmarking your team once it’s created to quickly access content related to your team. Nonetheless, the site’s Game Tracker component allows you to easily follow your weekly matchups and updates game stats on the fly. The application displays your players’ locations on the field and updates projections as each game progresses. Though CBS’ fantasy football website doesn’t push the envelope with its features, it offers enough expert analysis and news to keep you on top of your game.
What better organization to get up to the second fantasy news than straight from the NFL, right? Over the past few years the NFL has stepped its game up in regards to it fantasy football offering, now standing among the greats on our list. It may lack in expert analysis, but you’ll hardly notice given your league updates are coming directly from the source. NFL.com also features Xbox One, DirecTV, and Madden integration, giving you many ways to access your fantasy team. For those of you who prefer commissioning your own leagues, NFL.com allows for an incredible amount of custom options and scoring settings. Its companion smartphone application also makes monitoring your team while on the go a breeze.
NFL.com’s presentation is where the site truly shines. Each week before your matchup the site populates not just stat projections, but also a brief synopsis of how the matchup might play out. Using players’ season stats and weekly averages to pick a winner, the synopsis talks about where each team has an advantage and where each team could improve. The site uses its experts analysis of player projections to suggest who you should pick up each week or who on your team should start and why. The Game Center window presents the matchup in an easy-to-view manner and fluctuates you and your opponent’s projected final score on the fly. You even have the ability of viewing a flow chart showing you at what time you scored the bulk of your points and where your team’s final score should end up. With its advancements over the years, NFL.com’s fantasy football offering make it one of the most entertaining sites available.
Yahoo Sport’s fantasy football website takes the crown for the oldest and largest fantasy option on the Web. People new to the fantasy football game have the ability to dive in to Yahoo’s simple interface with little or no experience whatsoever. Advanced fantasy players also have an arsenal of tools available at their disposal, allowing them to spend hours tinkering with their lineups and comparing player stat projections. Perhaps one of Yahoo’s best features is its team of experts who publish fantasy-relevant content during each Sunday game. Besides the slew of content leading up to Sunday’s kickoff, the in-game articles keep any football fan thoroughly entertained. Its Roto Arcade blog features several sports writers who publish various fantasy themed columns throughout the week.
Outside of the analysis, Yahoo’s site excels with its execution. Not only do you have the ability to draft at all hours of the day, seven days a week, but Yahoo allows you to draft via a smartphone, tablet, or PC. What’s more, Yahoo gives each drafting team a report card at the conclusion of the draft grading them on how well they drafted their team. Though not necessary, it’s still a unique feature which creates a fun sense of ownership of your newly minted team. Yahoo’s game day presentation also thoroughly impress, providing real-time stat updates and a basic stat tracker so you’ll always know how your weekly matchups progress. Yahoo has long provided a solid fantasy football environment, whether talking football or baseball, and the service continues to update its impressive website with plethora of new content and features with each passing year.
Fans of old-school, pen-and-paper fantasy football should look no further than the Flea Flicker site for the upcoming season. The site lacks the bells and whistles of other fantasy sites on our list, thus allowing you to manage a fantasy football league with a straightforward ease not offered elsewhere. Though you won’t find any expert analysis or dedicated fantasy blogs, you’ll still have access to player statistics and relevant team news. Also, although Flea Flicker doesn’t offer an accompanying mobile app, website is optimized for mobile devices and automatically adjusts on tablets and smartphones for access on the move. It also lets you customize your league’s features and structure to let you play exactly how you want to.
On game day, Flea Flicker features up-to-the-second game and player updates for every game. Each stat updates right on its site to give you accurate information about your weekly matchups. It also offers unparalleled draft day support, with additional options not available on other sites. For instance, the site allows you to draft your teams via email, giving your league even more flexibility. There’s always one person every year who misses the draft and ends up with a computer auto-drafted team of four quarterbacks and no defense. With Flea Flicker, auto-drafted teams won’t exist, which makes your league much more competitive and fair. What’s more, the site allows you to trade draft picks during the season in addition to players. With the convenient ability to trade future picks and make multi-team deals, even teams who occupy the bottom of the standings can find relevancy throughout the season. This kind of flexibility isn’t found elsewhere and helps Flea Flicker stand apart from the crowd. If you prefer an old-school approach to fantasy football, then Flea Flicker is undoubtedly the site for you.
Yet another TV network sponsored fantasy site, Fox Sports’ offering likely doesn’t offer anything noteworthy to deter you from the other fantasy sites on our roundup. Though Fox has improved over the years when it comes to fantasy football, the network continues to get a bad rap for being at the bottom of the totem pole regarding its fantasy experience. Regardless, Fox’s cast of writers offer greater levels of analysis and content than they have in past years, providing several daily guides to help prepare you for the season. Curious where experts might draft a certain player? Fox provides mock drafts and breakdowns so you are able to get a feeling for where your favorite players get drafted. Fox Sports also offers various podcasts and blogs to keep you in the know regarding everything from the year’s sleepers and busts to who the projected, breakout rookies are.
Fox’s gameday presentation won’t astonish you, but it does offer an easy-to-navigate interface. The accompanying GameTrax application makes keeping track of your weekly matchups a breeze and features real time stat tracking, while the app’s automatic alert system keeps you in the know when it comes to player touchdowns and your team’s position on the field. GameTrax also displays the running scores for other matchups at the top of the window, so you’ll know who’s delivering a fantasy beat down and who’s getting humiliated. Again, Fox Sports Fantasy Football isn’t the best fantasy website on our list, yet you’ll know doubt enjoy the service if you’re already a fan of Fox Sports’ TV programs.