Buzztime Fantasy Football: Fun game even during the time you aren’t buzzed

A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to play Buzztime Fantasy Football. If you’ve never played it at your local watering hole or seen it in real life before, it’s much like the trivia games you’re used to seeing at sports bars and restaurants. In order to play, you have to get a keypad console, or Playmaker, from the establishment that allows you to login to your Buzztime account and participate in the games that are scrolling across the various Buzztime-dedicated TV screens.

Like many of the games I’m sure some of you are seeking this time of year, Buzztime Fantasy Football allows you to pick an entirely new team every week. Just like college graduation, your past defeats no longer continue to haunt you like they would with a traditional fantasy football team after a poor draft.

Each week, you select two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one team defense as well as a tiebreaker question. Buzztime gives you five players to choose from for each position, and once your picks are entered, you’re good to go.

The onscreen experience enhances your pick selections by running through player stats. I would have liked more side-by-side comparisons or a commentary provided in video format about each of the players, but in a busy bar environment, the Buzztime selection screens worked for what they are.

It was a little nerveracking to select my team on location at Buffalo Wild Wings, which I chose to draft at because I’m a company man like that (Buffalo Wild Wings had me participate in their All-Star Bloggers League this season).

I brought along some friends, which made the evening more enjoyable but added an extra layer of difficulty to selecting players.

Between each position pick for your team, there’s a break. That could sometimes lead you to forget about selecting your next player, but the Playmaker does beep at you to let you know it’s time to get your head back in the game. If you came to your local Buzztime location ready to do some serious drafting and with a few fantasy football friends in tow, I don’t think you’d have as much of a problem.

If you do miss anything, as an added bonus, you can always login to the online site, Buzztime.com, to make picks that you left blank or change your picks before the games start.

Luckily, I found that it wasn’t too difficult to make your pick if you know your fantasy football, but the player selection is no cakewalk. Buzztime creates an interesting mix, not just the top five at each position or the most highly projected in any given week. You have to know when there are favorable opponents for a fantasy stud, which the Buzztime stats help you see, but you often have to make a call between a stud and a sleeper.

Buzztime.com and the mobile site, Buzztime.com/m, allow you to track your scores and see how you stack up each week.

I was impressed that Buzztime had the mobile site, especially considering sites like Yahoo! and Fleaflicker still haven’t caught up to ESPN’s mobile offerings when it comes to fantasy football management. I found myself more involved in my ESPN leagues this season and more comfortable tracking scores from my phone thanks to their mobile sites — although an application for Android phones would be great, whichever one of you big guns wants to make one first.

It’s clear from Buzztime’s mobile site offerings that they have thought about accessibility, and I like that. You don’t have to go to a restaurant or bar that has the Playmakers available, but they certainly do make it more social and sports bar-friendly.

While the Playmaker itself leaves something to be desired, it’s not bad. So it’s pretty much just a keyboard with a two-tone green-on-black input screen? So what? The real visuals here are the TV screens that show you the players that you’ll be selecting. You’re just inputting numbers into the Playmaker to make your selections. If you want more aesthetics, they do have that mobile site I just plugged.

It’d be nice if there were more times available to draft your team “on location.” The Buzztime locations I found all offer fantasy football selection times several times on Wednesday nights, but no other nights of the week were available.

As long as you plan to be there on time, you’ll be around for the selections, and even if you miss it, you can always put together your team on Buzztime.com. But it’d be nice if I could do it on Thursday night before Thursday Night Football begins or on Monday, right after the Monday Night Football game has ended. For those of us who can’t frequent sports bar establishments, it would allow us to maximize our football watching time.

Then again, maybe we deserve an excuse to go out with some fantasy football buddies on a Wednesday night?

Overall, if you’re looking for a fun way to relive the fantasy football draft throughout the season, or if you need a fantasy football fix when your playoff hopes have run dry, head down to your local sports bar, restaurant, or watering hole and try out Buzztime Fantasy Football. Use Buzztime’s Site Finder to find the location nearest you equipped with Playmakers.

As an added bonus, after selecting my players on the Playmaker, I used it to enjoy some football trivia. The questions weren’t your typical “going to commercial” tossups that you see during football broadcasts. They were tough, but Buzztime keeps it interesting by providing clues, the last of which would often give away the answer for lesser sports fans with logic skills.

Buzztime also offers an interesting game called QB1, where you try to predict the play just before a team runs it. I might have to give that one a try next time I’m in there on Sunday.

Even if you don’t get a chance to try out the fantasy football game this season, the trivia and other games are worth battling in next time you’re out and in need of some midgame entertainment.

And it’s hard to beat the price. All of Buzztime’s games are free.

If you’ve played Buzztime at your local house of sports, share your thoughts in the comments. I’m interested to see what others think of the games and the experience.

Full Disclosure: Buzztime covered my visit to Buffalo Wild Wings to experience the Playmaker device and play some Buzztime Fantasy Football (http://cmp.ly/2). No wing sauces or Playmakers were injured in the writing of this review.