All the gizmos, tech, and subscriptions you need to rule your league this football season.
Most people don’t use much more than their home laptop or office computer (don’t worry, we won’t tell your boss) to get their fantasy football fix. But there’s a wonderful world of tech out there to help you tune out of reality and become a fantasy football god.
NFL.com’s bread and butter is offering football seven ways from Sunday. In fact, between Weekly Pick ‘Ems, fantasy lineup tools and other contests, NFL.com offers a staggering amount of ways to watch and compete with the world, but our two favorites are GameRewind and Fantasy Genius. GameRewind is a subscription service that archives all the games from this season (and going back to 2009) and lets you watch them, in HD with full DVR controls, almost as soon as they’re done airing on TV. If you’re sick of only coaches being able to review game tapes, this is the access you want. Fantasy Genius, on the other hand, is for all the slacker coaches out there who’d rather ping a huge community to get their fantasy picks than do their own research. It’s like that “ask the audience” option in Who Wants to be a Millionaire, only you’re playing for fantasy football glory instead of a million bucks, and the audience is full of hardcore football fans and not morons who voluntarily signed up to sit and watch other people fail to win money.
DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket and Sunday Ticket Max
DirecTV may still have a stranglehold on the NFL’s live streaming content, but you can’t deny that they do a damn good job with it every year. This year does see the disappearance of Sunday Ticket streaming games via PS3, but it does open up a host of streaming options, including phones, tablets, and computers, thanks to Sunday Ticket and its punched out big brother, Sunday Ticket Max. This means live HD streaming of the Sunday day and afternoon games (no Thursday, Sunday Night or Monday Night Football, sadly). You’ll be able to get up to eight games at once, player trackers, and stats with the regular subscription, or you can go Max and get the utterly essential RedZone channel and ShortCut condensed games, which are certifiably incredible, especially when you realize a three-hour football game really only takes 30 minutes to watch. Small warning to those who absolutely love two and a half hours of commercials and Jim Brown unintelligibly parroting every other commentator: This one might not be for you.
Now that you’ve spent a pretty penny on all these subscription services, you’re gonna want to watch them on TV. But how? While Google’s Chromecast offers almost the same entertainment offerings as AppleTV, the latter includes one important feature: Wireless Airplay Mirroring. This means that anything you can see or hear on your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or Macbook’s screen can also be watched on your television thanks to this little gizmo. Bonus: when you’re done streaming all the Sunday games from your iPad to your TV, you can flip the AppleTV over to HBO Go and catch the latest episodes of Boardwalk Empire, too.
No shocker here. While Windows and Android phones all end up seeing the best Fantasy Apps and streaming options eventually, Apple’s devices always seem to get the newest goodies first. Whether your league is on Yahoo, ESPN, NFL, or CBS, all of them have excellent apps to track and manage your team on Apple’s iOS. The NFL and DirecTV’s streaming options are better on Apple (we know; we tested it out on each of the big three mobile operating systems), and surprisingly, there’s quite a bit more versatility thanks to Apple’s unified system – meaning you can get it all in your pocket, on your couch, on your home theater, or in your office bathroom (if that’s your thing).
You’re about to become a lot more familiar with Microsoft Surface, not because you’re running out to buy one, but because they’re the official tablet of the NFL this year and you’re gonna be seeing them on the sidelines of every single NFL game thanks to Microsoft’s new sponsorship of the NFL. While we are big fans of the Surface’s hardware and thoughtful design, it’s their gung-ho attitude towards football that really has us excited, as they work with the NFL to bolster their official NFL App with excellent features like Stat Tracking and free replays. They’re also working with doctors from each NFL team to streamline the sideline diagnosis of injured players. You won’t actually be able to get that app, since it’s made specifically for the teams – we asked, and it’s “technically illegal” to share that information - but that’s not gonna stop us from pausing our DVR to glance over the physical therapists’ shoulders and see how Andre Brown’s leg injury is doing.
Yes, we know that the Xbox One won’t be out until November 22nd and the bulk of the football season will be over by then, but that’s not stopping us from recommending it, because Microsoft’s new console is just that Goddamn impressive with how it handles the NFL. Thanks to a combination of the X1’s pass-through HDMI port and inking important deals with ESPN and the NFL, Xbox is going to be offering a ton of football content. More impressive than the amount of content though, is how they’ll be delivering it. The Xbox One’s interface is, to use a scientific term, slick as fuck. Watching one game on the main screen, with a sidebar for stat trackers and an extra screen for replays from your fantasy players no longer requires two TVs and a laptop, since the X1 can do all the heavy lifting by itself. Best of all, The Xbox One will also allow you to actually play video games while running stats and NFL replays as a sidebar to the game. And, with Kinect’s voice controls, you can swap the two just by talking to it. The possibilities are beyond anything we’ve ever seen before and, with rumors of Yahoo’s and ESPN’s fantasy leagues ready to join next season, we’re putting our money on the Xbox One now.
Tailgater Portable Satellite Dish
What else is there to say on this one? It’s a compact satellite dish that will let you bring the games with you anywhere. We’re slightly frustrated that this is from Dish Network instead of the NFL’s beloved DirecTV, but that doesn’t change the fact that every single play that your fantasy players make can be watched from the comfort of your RV on a cross country trip, or the parking lot outside of the stadium as you chug keg beer and grill burgers.
If you’ve tried everything else and the streaming options simply don’t blow your helmet off, you can rely on good ol’ Sling to hook you up. The Slingbox sends your own TV’s content directly to your phone or computer, and even lets you remotely control your cable box and DVR to make sure you’re tuned into the games that are important to you and your fantasy team. Sure, you might still have to deal with those awful commercials or pesky half-time shows, but the content is there, it’s reliable, and it doesn’t ring up additional monthly fees like some of the other offerings on this list. But then, you can’t really put a price on fantasy football glory, can you?
If you’re bummed about DirecTV’s inability to show Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night games – and you should be, since Monday Night Football can make or break your fantasy week – then Verizon is the company to watch. Verizon Wireless subscribers can get their hands on Verizon Insider, which will deliver scores, highlights, and select games to your smartphone this season. More important, however, is the deal that Verizon has inked with the NFL for the 2014 season, which will put ALL the games on your phone. It never hurts to be in on something this good at the ground floor.
ESPN’s already got a butt-load of great offerings, from their podcasts to their apps to the fact that every one of Matthew Berry’s opinions carries their seal of approval. And then there’s ESPN Insider, the subscription service that offers the deepest information on sleepers, keepers, injuries, and other minutia that could go a long way in giving you the edge every Sunday.
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