Win a 52″ LCD and a spot on Rules of the League Season 2

I know I’ve been wrapping the season with several contests, which probably isn’t exactly the kind of heavy-hitting football analysis you crave, but…well, it is Super Bowl week.

I’m also in the middle of finalizing the redesign to make Fools more awesome for 2010. (If you’re sober enough, you may notice most of the changes are already in effect.)

The guys from Rules of the League shot me an email this week about this contest, and considering the prize is a shiny new TV that you receive in time to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, I couldn’t pass up the chance to tell you all about it.

Of course, you can help the Fantasy Football Fools out as well when you enter the contest, as you’ll read in their explanation of the contest below, exclamation points and all.

But for the CliffsNotes version, just tweet out the text in bold below and follow @therulesdottv on Twitter for a chance to win a TV. See? Easy.

Win a 52″ LCD and a spot on Rules of the League Season 2 – http://therules.tv (RT and follow @therulesdottv to enter) #FFFools

So be nice and tweet about the contest with Fantasy Football Fools’ custom hashtag “#FFFools.”

Not only will you be endeared in the hearts of…well, me…forever, you also might score an excellent TV to watch Peyton Manning and Drew Brees compete to hit 400 yards by halftime on Sunday.

And be sure to tweet now. The contest ends on Feb. 4 (tomorrow) at 9 a.m. P.S.T.

Here’s the complete message from Rules of the League:

Check out Rules of the League web comedy over at http://therules.tv.

Win a 52″ LCD TV?   No Way!

In celebration of their first season of the show, they are giving away a 52″ Widescreen LCD TV, and delivering it to your house in time for the big game this Sunday.  All you have to do is tweet out the following message:

“Win a 52″ LCD and a spot on Rules of the League Season 2 – http://therules.tv (RT and follow @therulesdottv to enter) #FFFools”

A winner will be chosen at random from all the people that participate.

Holy Crap!   A Spot in the Show, too?

The winner of the contest also gets to appear in Season 2 of Rules of the League.  Yes!   You heard right.  You get written into an episode of the show next season.

Help Your Favorite Blog!

See the #hash tag at the end of the twitter message above?   That means you’re helping your favorite blog get written into the show, too.  The blog with the most retweets also gets a spot in the show.  Awesome!   All you have to do to enter is retweet the message above.

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.

On the Wire: Playoff Week 15 Pickups to Block From Your Opponents (If You Dare)

It’s once again a weak waiver wire week, but you’ll have to deal with it. By now, your team should be well-equipped to weather the playoff storm. If not, how did you make it this far? Bribes? Trickery? Bribery and trickery?

If you’re looking for talent, the FF Librarian is holding it down with plenty of waiver wire links all around the Interwebs, and the FF Geek Blog covers every single base. I think I even saw my grandmother and kitchen sink on there!

But let’s walk through a few of my personal favorites.

The Browns continue to confuse their running back situation. Even though there’s talk of Josh Cribbs taking over, Chris Jennings and Jerome Harrison could touch the ball enough to prevent him from cleaning up against the rest of the Browns meager schedule. In my opinion, it’s not worth taking a chance on any of them in the fantasy football playoffs, but you could always stash any of the three to prevent your opponent from benefiting. The Browns schedule is nice  as The Hazean pointed out.

My pick would be Chris Jennings if you’re going to take any of the Brown running backs this week, but as an added bonus, some of you might be able to play Josh Cribbs as a wide receiver, making him an intriguing WR3 or flex option this week if he does get a larger share of the running game against the Chiefs.

I don’t understand all the love that Quinton Ganther is getting this week. Sure, he had two scores against the Raiders, but that’s exactly the point. It was the Raiders.

This week, he faces the Giants, followed by the Cowboys in Week 16. It’s hard to believe that the Giants, surging for a chance to make the playoffs will allow him, the same unspectacular running back who was unemployed before injuries to Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, to do much of anything.

I might pick Ganther up to block my opponent from getting him — crafty, I know — but that’s about the extent of my love for Ganther this week against a tough NFC East opponent.

I’d have to agree with Fanhouse that Willis McGahee is not worth worrying your pretty little head over this week, and it’s hard to trust anyone in the Houston backfield.

Arian Foster may be the hot start of the moment, but he could easily lose touches to Chris Brown or Ryan Moats if he fumbles, sputters, or coughs at the wrong time. How can you put that in your starting roster in this critical week? I can’t do it, not even against the Rams.

Again, you could block your opponent from getting him as the TMR advises, if you have the space on the roster to spare, but don’t put all your hopes in Foster’s basket unless you are really, really in a tough situation.

I’d hate to have to look to Maurice Morris, or anyone in the Detroit backfield for that matter, to support my fantasy football team at this point in the season, but FF Toolbox does provide a few comments on this week’s running backs and highlights two very hot tight ends, Fred Davis and Jermichael Finley, who might, for some unknown reason you can explain in the comments, still be on your league’s waiver wire.

These two tight ends have been showing off for a few weeks now, but some people fear change.

And sadly, even though I’d love to end on a happy note (for those of you who must, I give you the Hot or Not of kittens), I’ll say that it doesn’t look good for those of you holding onto Colts as you enter the championship rounds. Fantasy Joe argues that it’s not worth grabbing at the second helpings Indianapolis will put on the field when they start resting starters. That stings.

Good luck with your lineup decisions this week.

Fourth & 1 Debate: Waiver wire stashes for the fantasy playoffs

So you’re prepping your team for the final push, but you’re worried you need a couple more warm bodies? Well, that’s not a problem. That’s what a fantasy football roundtable is for.

This week’s Fourth & 1 Debate topic came from Hatty Waiver Wire Guru. He asked:

Waivers are about to close in some leagues for the playoffs; who should we be grabbing for the final push?

My entry to the fantasy football roundtable:

Two players that I’d grab for the final playoff push are Mike Bell and Mohamed Massaquoi. There are far better options out there if you’re making a playoff push, but I’m assuming that both of these players would be available in most leagues right now as free agents.

Bell has been vulturing touchdowns from Pierre Thomas throughout the season, and while I’d hate to rely on him in a critical playoff week, if you were forced to start him, I wouldn’t consider it the end of the world. Bell has a chance to score in every game the Saints play from now until the end of the season, and he’s been the closer for the Saints in games they put away early.

Massaquoi is part of one of the most miserable offenses in the NFL. Luckily, he gets to play two of the most miserable defenses in the NFL in Weeks 15-16, the Chiefs and the Raiders. If you need a desperation play wide receiver for Week 15 or 16 due to injuries, Massaquoi might just do the trick. In deeper leagues, he’s worth considering for a WR3 spot those two weeks.

For all this week’s entries to the Fourth & 1 Debate, check out the complete fantasy football roundtable at Hatty Waiver Wire Guru.

The Fantasy Football Librarian, one of the best fantasy football bloggers out there and one of my competitors in the Buffalo Wild Wings All-Star Blogger League, has a readers’ choice poll going on to determine the best fantasy sites around the Interwebs. If you like what you see here (and I hope you do) on a daily basis, head on over to take her poll and vote for Fantasy Football Fools.

We anxiously await the results, but as long as we finish second-to-last or better, I’ll consider that a win. Just like the Buffalo Bills.

You can find the poll here. As always, I appreciate your support.

Foolish Games We Play: Win Fame and Fortune with Fantasy Football in Week 9

It’s been some time since we talked about the contest and competitions out there in the fantasy football world. If you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling for your current team, or if you’re so secure in your spot that you’ve grown tired of waiting for the playoffs, here are a few opportunities that might catch your eye.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ Football Challenge

Want to play in a game at Raymond James Stadium?

No, the Bucs aren’t having open tryouts — shocking, I know. Through a contest at Buffalo Wild Wings, fans can win a round-trip ticket to Tampa to play in a flag football game on Feb. 13. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration? I think so.

Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg from ESPN will coach the flag football teams, and Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk will act as team captains.

Sounds like a pretty nice little Saturday. Much better than Pottery Barn, but here’s the kicker: You have to register in person by tomorrow, Nov. 8. So if you are reading this post, you need to head on over to your local Buffalo Wild Wings right now or tomorrow (to watch all the games, of course) to get registered.

Buffalo Wild Wings Coke CouponYou don’t even have to buy anything to get a chance in this contest. It’s free to anyone who registers at Buffalo Wild Wings.

As an added incentive, Buffalo Wild Wings is circulating a coupon for the month of November (at right, click to view larger, printable copy of the coupon) as if you needed another reason to go right now.

You know, I am a company man when it comes to Buffalo Wild Wings since I’m playing in their All-Star Blogger League this year — or, attempting to play, as my current record might indicate. But you have to appreciate all the love they’ve been giving fantasy football this season.

The official rules and more details are available on the Buffalo Wild Wings contest site.

Best Buy’s Weekly Fantasy Football Challenge

This one’s pretty simple. Best Buy is hosting a contest in which you pick a roster every week to go head-to-head with a celebrity’s team. For every point you beat the celebrity by, you get entered in weekly drawing for prizes. Pretty painless.

This week’s celebrity is Gavin DeGraw, and he’s left himself open for a challenger by choosing Eli Manning as his “bonus” player. You can beat that, people.

Win $50 Gift Card to NFL.com from the Fantasy Football Geeks

The Fantasy Football Geek Blog teamed up with Monster.com to promote the search for the new NFL Director of Fandemonium.

To get your chance at the $50 gift card to NFL.com, all you have to do is pick this week’s top quarterback.

I’d give you a hint of my pick, but I don’t want to taint the contest. Let’s just say I like a certain quarterback coming off a bye and playing a team from Florida, and it’s not Matt Cassel. Piece that cryptic puzzle together if you can.

FanDuel

Finally, Fantasy Football Goat had some nice things to say about his experience with FanDuel. I’ve never played there myself, but he likes it. How can you not trust the word of a goat?

If you take the Goat’s advice and give it a try, feel free to share your experience in the comments for our education.

That’s all I’ve got. Sorry for the late notice on some of these contests, but I thought they were worth sharing, even last minute.

Week 1 Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders: The “Are we there yet?” Edition

The kickoff cometh! In just a few hours, the NFL will return to that magic box in my living room and all will be right with the world. In the meantime, it’s time to make sure you’ve got your best fantasy football roster forward.

Much like our waiver wire recommendations have been shortened up to get with the times, I’ve taken the liberty of consolidating our start or sit feature, Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders, into a more compact version of its 2008 self. I’m focusing on just a handful of players that you may be on the fence about starting each week.

If you have questions about other players on your roster or whether you should give these alternatives the nod over your current starter, submit your questions in the comments. Our shortened features should open the comments up for more discussion, more Q&A and, of course, more cowbell.

Now back to this week’s good-looking starters…

Hot Hands Start of the Week

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I might as well put my fantasy money where my roster spot mouth is. I have Rice on plenty of my teams this season, and rather than wait to see what you have in him this year, I’m all about jumping him into your starting lineup immediately. Kansas City won’t know what hit them.

Last season, the Ravens could run over any team in the NFL, and I expect them to do the same in this matchup. While LeRon McClain and Willis McGahee could be lurking in the wings to steal some touchdowns, the Chiefs’ defense should give Rice at least a handful of opportunities to break a big play.

Others receiving votes:

  • Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos: Another sleeper with plenty to like this week in Palmer’s return
  • Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers had a weakness for tight ends last season
  • Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos: I just doubt the Broncos defense this much
  • Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots: He’s the guy for Buffalo until Lynch returns. How good can New England’s defense be after losing all those veterans?
  • Almost every Saint you can find vs. Detroit Lions: It’s a party, and all the fantasy players are invited

Cold Shoulders Sit of the Week

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s hard to sit your first-round running back right after drafting him, but Johnson should be limited this week in the Titans’ debut against the defending Super Bowl champs. I like my running backs to have a shot at the end zone, especially a guy like “Every Coach’s Dream.” LenDale White should steal any short-yardage chances, and I don’t expect there to be many breakdowns in the Steelers’ defense.

The Super Bowl champs are rarely upset in their opening game, and I am sure the Steelers will control the clock. Unless you are lacking in the running back department — or you just like torturing yourself — try someone who has a bit more upside this week. Play Chris Johnson only if your alternative is Larry Johnson or Jamal Lewis.

Others receiving votes:

  • Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans: Much like Johnson, Holmes should be bottled up in a low-scoring contest
  • Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings: Very little chance he shows any more signs of life in this one…
  • Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans vs. New York Jets: Glad you’re back to full health, now dodge Jets for four quarters! Schaub’s risky this week.
  • All your Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens: Until Matt Cassel is 100 percent, the Chiefs can only play at 25 percent. No likey.

For more start or sit recommendations this week, read up at FootballDocs, Fantasy Football Xtreme, Fantasy Football Oasis (one of the more detailed out there), Fantasy Football Goat, The Fantasy Football Geek Blog and Fanhouse’s Week 1 Wake-Up Call.

Also, don’t forget to enter for your chance to win free Dominator Service from Top Fantasy Football by commenting on yesterday’s post.

As always, the comments are yours.

Foolish Contest: Win a free season of Dominator Service player alerts

Now that you have your fantasy football team drafted and ready for action, you should be looking for any way to get an edge on the rest of your league. Besides subscribing to Fantasy Football Fools, another great way to stay in the know is by signing up for player news alerts.

Top Fantasy Football recently contacted us to offer one free subscription to their Dominator Service to one lucky Fantasy Football Fools reader, and we decided to make it happen. It is, after all, a special day — 9/9/09, the final day before the regular season begins. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

Their Dominator Service sends out updates about waiver wire pickups and notifications on up to 20 preselected players of your choice. You also get injury news and game day weather updates to save you time on your research each week.

It’s almost like the Dominator Service makes fantasy football your significant other — girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, puppy or houseplant, as the case may be. From time to time, you get a message with an important update that you have to act on immediately. The rest of the time, you may get a few flirty texts or email messages that keep you informed and in touch with your fantasy football team’s inner feelings and emotions…

It’s really much less like “The View” than I just made it sound. You can see everything that comes with the dominator service at Top Fantasy Football.

To enter to win this free service for the 2009 season, all you have to do is leave a comment on THIS post, and, in your comment, tell us why you need to win your fantasy football league this year. Comments that do not include an explanation of why you deserve the Dominator Service this season will not be considered.

Note: Humor will be taken into account when choosing the winner of this contest. While the most important thing is to leave a comment with a reason, the more entertaining your comment is, the better.

For example, explaining that you need to win because your leaguemate recently stole your lunch money, your girlfriend or your job will win you special bonus points. We have a soft spot for revenge tales.

On Thursday night (or Friday if we have to wait for a few more comments), we’ll select a winner based upon how much we liked a particular comment and how many “likes” it received within our new Disqus commenting system on this post. The winner will be notified and setup within the Dominator Service system by Top Fantasy Football.

So that’s it. Make sure to get a comment posted by Thursday night. That’s tomorrow! And don’t forget to subscribe to receive our updates from Fantasy Football Fools while you’re at it.

Make your stories good, but try not to make anyone cry, okay? After watching Seven Pounds this weekend and talking to OU fans, I don’t need to see any more tears this week.

UPDATE: Brian is our winner. Congrats, Brian! Now he gets to overcome having just one keeper in a three-keeper league. Ouch!

Preseason Fantasy Football Product Roundup 2009

From time to time, I get emails from folks within the fantasy football community telling me about their great products, and most of them really are useful. Unfortunately, I rarely get a chance to highlight them for you, the readers, because fantasy football talk, the heart of all we do here at Fantasy Football Fools, always comes first.

To make you aware of some of the cool fantasy football projects, applications and items out there, and to clean out my email inbox, I’ve decided to do the occasional product roundup post — starting with the one you’re reading right now if you couldn’t tell where this is going.

Many of them are products that I haven’t gotten a chance to test out. I’m just relaying the info to you. If you have any experience with them, if you like what they have to offer or if you want to take it upon yourself to review them for the fantasy football community, please, by all means, share your knowledge in the comments.

For Your Fantasy Football Draft

I know it might be too late already for some of these draft products, but if you like what you see, there’s always next year.

Free Footballguys.com Fantasy Football Magazine and Tools

Football Jabber highlighted the Footballguys.com free magazine offer earlier this offseason, but if you missed it, you should visit their free offering now before you draft. Footballguys.com provides some of the best analysis and fantasy football scouting in the biz, and if you’d rather have them speak it at you, their podcast, The Audible, provides you with more sound-bite-size nuggets of fantasy football information than you can listen to in any given week.

Not only is Footballguys.com giving away their 250-page magazine electronically, but they are also providing in-depth fantasy football tools like Rate My Team, which provides you with a complete analysis of your draft once you’ve assembled your squad. People love it. It drills down to which players might start for you each week throughout the season and where bye weeks could hurt you. I’ve enjoyed plugging in a few of my teams to see what they recommend.

For all this fantasy football research and more, visit the Footballguys.com free tools section.

iPhone Fantasy Football Draft App: Studs & Duds

I’m not an iPhone user, but the creator of the Studs & Duds Fantasy Football Draft Kit contacted us about testing it out, and it seems to be one of the good ones.

If you’ve used this app or any other iPhone apps to draft your fantasy football team, how did they stack up? The only person I’ve seen using an iPhone app cheatsheet thus far was a Houston Texans homer who drafted Matt Schaub in the third round. I’m guessing the draft app didn’t tell him to do that.

FanDraft Digital Draft Board

The first of its kind, FanDraft is a piece of software that projects your draft board onto a wall or television and allows players to select teams with all the excitement of the real NFL draft … but without the Mel Kiper — is that an upgrade?

The application looks pretty entertaining with team logos, an automated draft clock, a streaming ticker and sound effects. I’ve been tempted to try out a digital draft board, but most of my leagues are still in the dark ages — hauling that giant sheet of paper and cardboard stand into the draft room for players to select their teams with stickers.

The paper draft board for one of my leagues was actually pretty unreliable this year. They should apologize to “Steve Slayton” and “Austin Miles” (a.k.a. Miles Austin) for botching their names on the sticker sets.

If you’ve ever used FanDraft, I’d be interested to hear how you liked the draft experience.

Managing Your Team and Lineups

Sports Data Hub

Sports Data Hub is great as a draft prep tool and a hot spot for mid-season research. A friend of the Fantasy Football Fools, SDH has made some updates this offseason and exited beta this August. You can now import your Yahoo! leagues straight into the site and analyze player rankings and projections based on your own custom scoring rules.

They also offer instant projections via Twitter and a Facebook app so that you can continue to trash talk your friends and stalk your ex-girlfriends while you research your fantasy team. Just tweet “@SDHnow Player Name” to get projections on demand. I’m a fan of their work.

SDH requires you to subscribe for the really meaty material, but based on their free tools and various demos that I’ve seen, I’d say it’s worth a few bucks a month for the serious fantasy football stat addicts out there.

RallyCast

Rallycast Demo in LabAvailable in Best Buy on September 6, RallyCast allows you to view your scores and stats for fantasy leagues on CBS, ESPN or Yahoo! right on your TV screen. It’s for those times when sitting with a computer in your lap is impossible, such as binge eating … or drinking … as the case may be.

Apparently, you can view RallyCast on top of any channel, so you don’t even have to miss the in-game action — or the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance — while you check your scores.

The app also allows you to post to Facebook and text message your friends from your remote control. It sounds like you never have to leave the couch on Sunday again, or move more than your little finger … Awesome.

For more on RallyCast, you can watch this handy little clip they put together to introduce it to the fantasy football world.

Impressing Your Friends

Fantasy Football Trophies: FantasyTrophies.com and iwonmyleague.com

Fantasy TrophiesIs it time for you league to upgrade your trophy? Or does your league even have a trophy?

In my most serious and bloodthirsty league, our trophy could probably use an upgrade, and both FantasyTrophies.com and iwonmyleague.com offer some very cool alternatives to the norm. I mean, a fantasy football trophy should stand out from all those trophies you collected by playing in little league every year, right?

It just doesn’t say fantasy football unless the trophy on your mantel contains a fat metal man in an armchair. That’s one that not only impresses your friends but also ruins your reputation at the same time.

Fantasy Football T-Shirts

You can find some of the most snazzy fantasy football t-shirts around at Art of the Fan if you want to sport your addiction on your chest. (Just note that these may get you beat up depending on where you wear them.)

I like the fantasy sleeper shirt.

Protecting Your Dough

Fantasy Sports Insurance

Playing fantasy football is risky, and I’m sure we’re all still feeling the hurt of losing Tom Brady in the first game of the season last year. But you can protect your investment in big money leagues with some insurance.

Oh, that’s right. Fantasy football insurance exists, and Chris Cooley is a fan.

If you draft a lot of Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams or Kansas City Chiefs, insurance on your entrance fee might not be a bad idea.

League Safe

If you’ve ever worried that your league commissioner spent your entrance fees on his last beer run or lost it in Vegas, League Safe might help establish that nice level of trust … by not trusting at all.

Fantasy Football Goat wrote up a great explanation of the service last season, and Football Jabber tried it out.

With League Safe, You can also collect your league dues online through their site so that your out-of-state buddy doesn’t skate by without paying when his team starts 0-4.

Fantasy Football Games and Hosts

FanSection Fantasy Football 2009 on Facebook

FanSection_FF2009HomeFanSection LogoCombining two things that fantasy football players love, playing it and flaunting your success in front of friends, Watercooler’s FanSection Fantasy Football 2009 Facebook application is a full-featured fantasy football management suite inside Facebook.

You can invite friends, get news updates from CBSSports.com and post your latest scores right in your Facebook news feed. The only knock I have on it is that it doesn’t offer free live scoring.

If you’re a Coors Light fan, you’ll like that the beer that tastes like licking a mountain has also sponsored the FanSection experience.

eCouchCoach

If you want a more custom-tailored approach to fantasy football this season, you might find what you’re looking for at eCouchCoach.

They offer custom league domains so that you never suffer from lag during the afternoon games on Sunday, and even if you don’t host your league with them, they offer a handful of useful Twitter bots to get your fantasy football fix on the go — or on the couch.

Fantasy Fat Cat

For instant gratification, Fantasy Fat Cat offers daily and weekly fantasy contests. I can’t vouch for it since I’ve never tried their games, but they offer free live scoring on your iPhone.

Fantazzle

A fantasy sports games site with some of the best rankings around as proven by Fantasy Football Librarian, Fantazzle not only gives you rankings but also a few games to test their rankings out on and win money. Isn’t that nice of them?

RapidDraft

If you always wanted to draft against the pros or just like Second Life avatars, RapidDraft is another fantasy football contest out there. Unlike the typical fantasy football league, you play in single-player mode at RapidDraft.

After buying a team, you draft against the avatars of 11 experts in the fantasy football industry. If you put together a winner, the grand prize is $250,000. If not, at least you can pretend Victoria is your girlfriend, right?

Share Your Reviews

Good luck this season, and if you’re drafting this weekend, prepare by reading our 2009 Foolish Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

As always, the comments are yours. If you’ve tried out any of the above products or have more info, please share your reviews with the foolish community.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Cutting Out the Middle Men from Best Player Available

I’ve been a complete subscriber to the “best player available” school of thought when it comes to fantasy football draft strategies, but in 2009, I’d argue in favor of a more enlightened form of drafting a starting roster. Regardless of who you take in the first two rounds of your draft, most fantasy draft strategies boil down to one of two plans: “best player available” or “drafting a starting roster.”

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me explain the difference.

Best Player Available Strategy

By drafting the most valuable player, regardless of position, this fantasy football draft strategy aims to load a roster full of the most productive fantasy studs possible.

In order to prepare for your draft, you must tier your rankings and cheat sheets in advance. The tiers allow you to see the most productive fantasy studs across all positions and draft accordingly. For example, rather than continuing to draft running backs in the fourth round, you might notice that all the running backs are gone from your top two tiers while three wide receivers in your second tier are still available. These receivers would be more valuable to have at that point in the draft. The schmucks who don’t have their rankings tiered will just keep following their running back rankings down the board while there is a run on running backs and lose value with every pick they make.

Tiering your rankings is fairly simple. Here are the basic steps:

  • First, create your rankings. I often combine many sources into one consensus ranking, much like Fantasy Football Nerd does for you, and then adjust based on my own gut feelings and predictions.
  • Start dividing your rankings into levels, or tiers, by separating starting-quality players from backups. Separate your RB1s from your RB2s and your QB1s from your QB2s.
  • Keep dividing your rankings by position down to the point level, or projected scoring for the 2009 season — players who you expect to produce ungodly point totals each week in the first tier, those who produce five points less in the second tier, 10 points less in the third and so on. The more tiers you can create, the better you’ll be in you draft.
  • When you’re done, layout your draft notes and align the tiers in such a way that you can see your draft tiers across every position in just a glance. The first tier would be one row, and the tiers go down the page from there. When your cheat sheet is compiled, you’re ready to draft.

In theory, this best player available draft strategy ensures that your team is well-rounded, but it doesn’t guarantee you strength at any one position. If the draft follows a certain path, you could end up with strong wide receivers and running backs but an incredibly weak quarterback situation. When there’s a run on running backs early, you could end up with a slew of wide receivers from which you can only start two each week.

As long as you keep balance in mind near the middle and late rounds of the fantasy football draft, you can usually field a solid team with this draft method, but in recent years, I’ve often found myself wishing I had more superstars on my roster. Consistent point totals can only get you so far when you get to the playoffs, and this draft strategy often discourages you from starting the runs on the top tight ends or quarterbacks.

Starting Roster Strategy

Often practiced by fantasy football newbies who don’t know any better, the starting roster method fills every starting position for your Week 1 lineup before drafting any backups. The reasoning is simple: pick the best player to start at every position so that your starting roster is as strong as possible. This method receives plenty of criticism if players go as far as to select a kicker or team defense with their middle-round picks rather than waiting until the final rounds of the draft.

Players employing this strategy are usually the first to draft a quarterback, a defense, a tight end and a kicker. Most of the time, that proves to be a fatal move in their draft because they lose out on depth at running back and wide receiver.

The major flaw in this system is that not all positions are created equal. A starting tight end isn’t worth grabbing over a strong backup wide receiver or running back when there are 10 more tight ends of equal value still available.

The Sleepers Complication

But what if you could take a little from column A and a little from column B?

As a bit of a fantasy veteran at this point in my career, I usually identify several late grabs who could pay off in a big way for me on my fantasy roster. Depending on the experience of my draftmates, and their own sleeper picks, it’s usually possible for me to get a few, if not all, of my guys. While they may not all hit for me, I believe enough in my track record to continue to rely on my sleepers late in drafts, so what’s the harm in betting hard on my fantasy knowledge?

With this all-in thinking applied, I constructed a new draft strategy this season.

The “Cut Out the Middle Men” Draft Strategy

If you know what you are doing, you can adapt the starting roster strategy to your advantage with a little influence from the best player available draft strategy.

  • To begin your draft, pick the best players available — running back, wide receiver or quarterback — in the first two rounds. Select the guys that will produce the most fantasy points early and fill your starting positions with who you believe are the strongest options overall.
  • In the third round, start thinking about your starting lineup. For example, if you already have two stud running backs for your two starting slots at that position, draft a top-tier tight end or quarterback to guarantee that you’ll have elite production across your roster. By breaking away from the best player available strategy and starting the run on these other positions, you reach for your top choices but maximize the chances that you’ll end up with the strongest starters.
  • Once you have all your starting roster spots filled, excluding a kicker and a team defense, begin to draft backups for each position once again basing your picks on the best player available mindset, but lean on your sleepers rather than middle-of-the-road picks. Consistent veterans may be the “best players” on the board, but a sleeper who could quickly become a startable fantasy stud is worth more on your bench since your starting roster is already so strong.
  • In the final two rounds, draft your team defense and kicker. If you have a defense you absolutely love, you could still include them in drafting your starting roster, but I find that most defenses drafted early don’t perform well enough to deserve the pick.

The third point on drafting backups and sleepers could probably use a little more explanation.

Say you have your starting lineup finalized and are now looking at backups. Rather than draft a fantasy backup like Ricky Williams or Fred Taylor, you would look to grab Shonn Greene or Jonathan Stewart. Instead of having a mediocre backup wide receiver like Torry Holt, pass for a few rounds until Chris Henry looks like a reasonable selection.

By the time many backups are being drafted, the players you’re taking won’t be much better than what you can find on the waiver wire throughout the season. While you’re sacrificing depth in loading up on sleepers, you could end up with a stronger roster if many of them pan out for you.

Assuming these guys, sleepers and mediocre starters, are all going to be drafted, you’re loading up your roster with players who have the potential to be top-10 players at their position for the few weeks they may see time on the field rather than reliable players you may never start. If the sleepers pay off, you get to trade them for positions of need or sub them into your lineup. If they don’t, you can easily drop them and await a waiver wire gem midseason.

What’s your draft strategy?

I believe that this “cut out the middle men” fantasy football draft strategy will allow me to compile a more boom or bust roster that should free up some roster positions early in the season and, hopefully, allow me to get more of my top picks on my roster.

My gripe with the best player available method is that you often sit back and never start the runs on any given position during your draft. While that allows you to build great depth on your roster, it doesn’t mean you’ll put together the most points each week since the bench only helps you out in a tie.

I’ll be experimenting with this draft strategy in a few of my final drafts this season.

Would the “cut out the middle men” work for you? What’s your draft strategy this season? As always, the comments are yours.