Posted: 28 Aug 2010 01:43 PM PDT
Miranda Lin recently completed an M.S. degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and now works as a freelance writer and full-time sports fan.
While the opening kickoff to the 2010 NFL season is still over 2 weeks away, die-hard fantasy fans are already hard at work crunching stats and scouting players to build their own dream team.
With an estimated 27.7 million fantasy football players around the world and thousands of sites dedicated to the game, the competition this year is fierce as ever.
Here are 10 websites that might give you the winning edge over your competition:
Having up-to-the-minute breaking news is the life-blood of any fantasy footballer, and Football Guys’ network of writers and inside sources is one of the best in the business, producing an “avalanche of news” that will keep you ahead of the game.
Though their news, forums, podcasts, depth charts and basic draft guide are free, access to their statistical and forecasting tools costs $28.95. But for those who are serious about winning, it may be worth the investment. The premium version of their Draft Dominator app alone might justify the price tag as it uses the Value Based Drafting system they invented to customize and compare projections for every player, across all positions, for any league setting.
Also included with your subscription are custom cheatsheets, ADP lists, weighted expert projections and daily email newsletters. In fact, Football Guys are so confident in their product that they offer a money-back guarantee up until the end of Week 3 action.
Owned by NBC Universal, Rotoworld is one of the biggest players on the fantasy field. The speed and quality of their newswire is second only to Football Guys and their “On Demand Draft Guide” ($14.99) produces an easily printable document filled with player profiles and stat projections, ADP reports, rookie rankings, depth charts and injury reports that are updated in real-time and tailored to your league settings.
3. The Huddle
For $29.95, The Huddle has it all: Cheatsheets, player profiles and rankings, mock drafts, game predictions, free agent reports, start/bench advice and stat trackers. Their award-winning draft kit also includes player consistency rankings, ease of schedule updates and the especially helpful Better Than Average (BTA) ranking, which measures how well a player performs compared to everyone else in his position.
But what really sets The Huddle apart are its forums. Few other sites have such a large community of knowledgeable and enthusiastic fantasy players actively posting on its message boards.
This is the only site on this list that is 100% free – and it doesn’t give up anything in quality. Its Player Projections page presents a variety of graphs, interactive statistics and feedback from other Fantasy Shark members to predict how every player will perform during the season.
The Fantasy Sharks Lineup Coach, an integrated myfantasyleague.com add-on, is another handy tool that will give you direct advice about who to start and who to sit for every matchup.
Team and player statistics are one of the most crucial – and frustrating – parts of fantasy football. Fantasy Football Champs takes out some of the headache with its array of proprietary statistical tools. The site’s crown jewel is the FFC Performance Index, an in-season ranking and projection system that calculates which of your players will have the best outing. It is updated daily, right up to kickoff, and has been shown to predict the exact tier of each player with 70-80% accuracy.
The Champs Customizable Cheatsheet (C3) also uses proprietary algorithms to help users find sleepers and avoid busts on draft day. The draft kit is $16.95 while the full-access premium package is $29.95.
Under the slogan: “Where geeks meet the gridiron,” Football Docs is owned and operated by a group of fantasy addicts with PhDs. Apparently the Football Docs’ advanced degrees in engineering have also given them an inside track on fantasy football trends, draft tactics, lineup decision-making, and player rankings and projections.
Most of their expertise is offered for free, including their weekly, Ask the Docs write-in advice column. The only exception is the Draft Advisor software ($10.95), which creates custom rankings, tracks draft selection for up to 20 different teams and is completely updated every week.
7. CBS Sports
Although it’s not as organized or as user-friendly as some of the other sites, it’s hard to argue with the quality of CBS Sports’ product. Its Power Projector feature offers three expert projections on every player in the league. It has downloadable draft kits, analyst mock drafts and draft video preps – for free. And according to the New York Times’ NFL blog, CBS had the most accurate rankings across all positions in 2009.
Think of this as the fantasy football almanac. Mathematician/Sports fan Doug Drinen has put together a super-organized, easy-to-navigate collection of football statistics that allows users to search any aspect of a team or player’s performance throughout history and updated throughout the season.
9. Draft Sharks
With a sleek-looking interface that provides custom tailored cheatsheets (called MVP Boards), weekly player rankings, newsy and gossipy articles, personalized trade advice and in-season strength of season updates, Draft Sharks believes it can “out-analyze other websites.” Unfortunately, it also out-prices other sites with its hefty $43 premium subscription fee. At least they have a 30-day money back guarantee.
Last but certainly not least, the venerable grand-daddy of sports websites celebrates its 15th year on the fantasy gridiron by offering its most complete collection of fantasy tools yet. In addition to the usual news and analysis from its stable of experts, including five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner Matt Berry (aka “The Talented Mr. Roto”), ESPN has begun to offer a variety of services across different media platforms. This includes mock drafts, forums and live-chats on ESPN.com, fantasy-focused podcasts, mobile alerts and TV segments, and a free mobile draft kit app that provides news and commentary for iPhone and iPod devices.
And for those who will spare no expense to win their league, try ESPN INSIDER, the $39.95/year subscription service that provides extra online tools to help draft, manage and analyze your fantasy team, including Insider Recommends and Draft Analyzer.