Football season is fast approaching and it kicks off September 8. Now is the time for true fans to start putting together their fantasy teams with a draft or by tweaking their rosters, possibly with an assist here or there from their iPads. Whether you’re new to the hobby or a veteran, you probably already have some favorite players in mind. However, iPad apps can help you out with statistics, up-to-the minute news, mock draft simulation, and more. Here’s a round-up of some of the downloadable apps in this category.
This is the ultimate app for those who want to manage their fantasy teams on the go. It supports ESPN, NFL.com, and Yahoo leagues. When you first start up the app, you’ll be asked for your logins for each site. After that, you can take care of business easily, editing your lineup, reading player news, and adding and dropping players from your team. You can even check out the league standings and the latest scores and injury reports.
The app is somewhat slower than just about all of the other apps I tested, perhaps because it has to go out to those other sites, log you in, and pass information back and forth. This isn’t a major issue, but one that I felt should be mentioned in this review. That’s a small price to pay for managing multiple leagues from the comfort of your couch with just one app, however. This app gives you a great way to stay on top of your league while watching all of the games on the big screen at the same time. It is worth the cost.
CBS Sports Pro Football for iPad (Free)
This is a good app for those who are either newer to the hobby of fantasy football, or those who want something beyond the typical dry statistics. CBS Sports Pro Football for iPad can give you real guidance when you’re making your fantasy picks — something beyond page after page of player lists and statistics. The focus here is on education and preparation, with actual NFL preseason news and results, plus expert columns and videos.
Could you use some help in structuring your fantasy draft, or in figuring out when to pick which position or when to go for that emerging player? Are you so into the game that you’d like to work through several mock drafts in exhaustive detail?
This probably isn’t the app you’ll use to actually build your fantasy team (although you can log in to your CBSports.com user name to access your teams). However, the app does offer some interesting information, and it comes at an unbeatable price: free.
If you’re more interested in getting results than in spending a lot of time pouring over all the numbers, then you need Decision Maker. This app helps you drill down into your choices and determine exactly who you should start each week by taking everything into account — from player performance to team support — with risk-reward calculations thrown in for good measure.
Just pick two players to match up, and then tap the Run the Numbers box in the middle of the screen for an almost instant forecast for your best pick of the week. You can take that information as is, or you can tap on one of the breakdown boxes in the bottom of the screen for more detais.
Decision Maker is quick, simple, and easy to use, but different enough from most of the other apps in this category to make it an excellent choice to use alongside something like the RotoWire app reviewed below.
Draft Analyzer – Mock Draft for Fantasy Football 2011 (Free, universal)
Instead of presenting you with statistics so that you can make your best player decisions, this app focuses on the strategy of the draft.
Once you set up the parameters for your fantasy league on the first screen (such as the number of owners and your draft position), the mock draft starts and proceeds through each round. You can see who the other (virtual) owners are drafting, and how that affects your picks as you go through the rounds. You even get pop-up alerts from the commissioner when it’s your time to make a pick.
It’s a fun app, and another useful for one for those who want to try out multiple possible scenarios before going through the actual fantasy draft. What will happen if you take Aaron Rogers with your third pick? What will happen if you wait until a much later round?
Fanball.com Fantasy Sports News (Free, universal)
It’s pretty rare to find an app in the Apple App Store that just doesn’t work at all. Unfortunately, though, that’s the experience I underwent with Fanball.com Fantasy Sports News. The app looked promising when I ran across it in the App Store. I liked the fact that it covers more than just football, offering news for the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, and NASCAR.
Yet when I first started the app I saw nothing more than a spinning icon with the word “Loading” in the middle of the screen. Nothing ever came up, even though I left it to work for more than twenty minutes at a time over several days. The regular Fanball.com Web site comes up immediately, so I’m not sure what the problem is with this iPad app. Hopefully it will be fixed soon, but meanwhile, this is definitely an app to avoid.
NFL Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2011 for iPad ($4.99)
Like the RotoWire app covered below, the NFL Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2011 app is a treasure trove of statistics and news. It isn’t quite as clean as the RotoWire app. That’s ironic since much of the news in this official NFL fantasy football app seems to come from RotoWire. Yet the NFL app does offer deeper information about each player, including four years of statistics and star ratings based on team offense, schedule, and play consistency.
Use the search box in the top left corner of the screen to search for a specific player, or tap the buttons just below to narrow down the player list by position, status, or even experience. Tapping on a player’s name brings up all of the relevant statistics and news. Meanwhile, your fantasy team is always shown at the right so that you can see how the whole roster is shaping up.
This is a nice app and it gets the job done, although it isn’t quite as good as RotoWire’s app. The interface is somewhat busy, and the app doesn’t offer the same detailed customization settings that allow you to control every aspect of the fantasy draft, no matter which fantasy league you’re playing.
RotoWire Fantasy Football Draft Kit 2011 ($4.99, universal)
If you’re more interested in clean statistics than in flashy videos and other extras, look no further than the RotoWire Fantasy Football Draft Kit 2011. When I first opened the app I wasn’t too terribly excited, but the more I used it, the more I liked it. Sure, there aren’t a lot of fancy photos and gee-whiz videos, but everything you do need is right here in one place.
Tabs at the top of the screen serve as quick navigational aids. You can switch between viewing all players, or just the ones you’ve already drafted or the ones you’re thinking about drafting. If you’re doing research on a particular position, the second row of tabs is what you’ll use to narrow the list down to quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends.
Buttons on the bottom of the screen let you switch between the various views, such as the individual players, depth charts for specific teams, the team you’ve created, the search feature, data updates, settings, and information about the app. (You’ll want to visit that last spot, because if you use the contact feature within the app you’ll get a ten-day free trial for RotoWire.com.)
Tapping on a player’s name brings up an information box with last year’s stats and this year’s projections, as well as the current outlook and the latest news for the player. You can quickly add a player to one of two fantasy dream teams with the touch of a button, or if you’re still not sure you can add him to a watch list. Once you’re done creating the perfect fantasy team, just go to the My Team button at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see all of your picks together, and a single tap of the Email Results button at the top right corner of the screen will send all of the information straight to your inbox.
Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide 2011 ($4.99, universal)
This app is less stat-heavy than the RotoWire offering. You’ll find only one year of statistics for each player, along with full projections, but the news is the star here. I saw stories from a variety of sources, including local newspapers, ESPN, the Associated Press, team Web sites, and others.
You can search for a particular player or just scroll through the ranked lists. Tapping on a player’s name is the quickest way to access his stats. During the fantasy draft, you can mark players as drafted, add them to your team, or mark them as favorites if you’re considering them for later rounds.
This is a good app if you just want the basics with ranked players. It’s not anywhere near as deep as the RotoWire app, but it is appropriate for beginners and others who are not completely obsessed with fantasy football.