Last week marked the start of the NFL season; an important event in most men’s live. Yet this weekend also marked another important event (Please remember this is all outside the realm of the anniversary of 9/11, I don’t think it warrants mentioning that the remembrance of that event supersedes everything I have been talking about) and that is the start of fantasy football season. It seems that the popularity of the latter has increased to a point that it is celebrated just as reverently as the NFL season.
For the last 5 or 6 years a group of my fraternity brothers have had a fantasy football league. One of the hardest things that I have found was deciding one which website to host it on. There are so many out there. In fact, even when you chose one, you may end up switching by the end of the year. So far our league has switched 2 times. Outside of my fraternity league I have had the opportunity to check out league sites on
yahoo, CBS sportsline and ESPN. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses as well as cost.
During my time at the Madden NFL 2011 flag football game this summer, I was introduced to NFL.com’s fantasy site. Considering that this comes from the actual league that the fantasy is based on, you would think that this would be the only choice to host a fantasy league. Unfortunately, after some inquiry to on the internet I found that in the past the site was just NOT at the level that other
league providers were on. Intent at leaving the situation as is, I was about to move on my way when I had the unexpected chance to speak with one the people at NFL.com. Needless to say he was able to change my mind about giving NFL.com/fantasy a chance.
The key thing that caught my attention was all the improvement made to the 2011 version. It seems like the individuals at NFL.com took all the comments and criticism from the past couple of years and decided to make their site the standard for all fantasy football leagues. Intrigued, I gathered a couple of my brothers and created an impromptu league. To say it was easy to put together a league is an understatement. I have never been a league commissioner and as such am very unfamiliar with the various settings and calibrations needed for the league, and NFL.com while super comprehensive and customizable was also user friendly with explanations and even examples of the various functions and how to use them.
One the biggest factors when starting the league is the draft. The picking of players is a very time consuming process as I am sure many wives who have been left alone at home with the kids as their husband’s attended a draft can attest to. Due to time constraints, as well as the goodwill lost already from staging a draft for our previous league, I took advantage of the automatic draft function for NFL.com. Basically it allows for the computer to make your team, therefore there was no need for anybody to do anything…you have to love the advancements of technology.
The second biggest factor is the ability to track your teams’ progress during the games. I have to say that NFL.com has everyone beat in this factor. In addition to the regular game center (which you have to pay for in other sites and are free at NFL.com) there are various
other charts and metrics that you can’t find anywhere else. My favorite was a real-time graph that would chart the progression of points your team has earned and then forecast the ultimate outcome of the game updating as event progressed during the game. In addition, NFL.com also provided access to clips of your players scoring plays, something that can be only had at NFL.com since they own all the rights to film and images during a game.
The last factor is portability, with my iphone it is utterly important that the site have an app totally dedicated to providing you with player stats and progress at a moment’s notice. Yes, the NFL has one. While it isn’t where I think it should be in terms of functionality I have to hope that updates are on the way, and already with the work that has been done on the site itself it looks like it won’t be long until the app has been improved as well.
Ultimately, what I would lvoe to consider as the next step for the site would be the ability to historical data from other league providers into NFL.com/fantasy, because it is super important to remember who won the league 4 years ago! While I might be kidding on the importance I am pretty sure that is one of the biggest barriers to leaving a league provider in the first place. Be that as it may, with one week under my belt I have had a good experience so far. If things continue to move along, I might even consider proposing a 3rd change to the fraternity league.