App of the Week: Fantasy Football Edition

So I’d like to take this time to admit that I have a fantasy football problem.

That’s right, I’m that guy. The one with multiple teams, and a small fortune invested in their outcomes. The one who will watch every game to follow my players, and root against lifelong favorite teams if one of my guys needs to get be an extra point or so before the late games. Hell, I once introduced fantasy football into a conversation about a friend’s dad being hospitalized due to malpractice by saying, “Hey, speaking of dropping the ball, what do you think about Dez Bryant against the Eagles this week?”

Luckily I live in a football and fantasy crazed society that supports this sickness. More than support it, they allow it to successfully infiltrate other aspects of your life by providing awesome mobile apps so that you never have to sit through another social obligation or work day without having the ability to request trades, and change you roster for the 5th time in a week. Of those apps, here are the most essential ones that you will need come time for the new season.

For Your Overall Needs – ESPN Fantasy Football 2012

Available for iOS here, and for Android here

So, there’s a lot of sites you can play fantasy football on, but I say if you’re going to spend a disturbing amount of your life during football season watching the same SportsCenter over and over until the new one kicks in, you might as well stick with ESPN. Quite simply, this app allows you the full range of features you would get by logging into your ESPN league (trades, roster movements, league news, etc.) but of course here you have all of that power in the palm of your hands. Best of all is the notification alerts, so you’re never behind on an injury update, or smack talk opportunity ever again.

If you’re going with fantasy football through ESPN this year, then this is the most essential app you can download (and if you’re not, be sure to snag your host site’s alternative). Just try not to spend the whole day considering your WR loadout for the week, just because you have the ability to change it at will.

For Your Draft – Rotowire Fantasy Football Draft Kit 2012

Available for iOS here

If the draft isn’t the most important part of your fantasy football year, it sure is the most exciting. Watching your roster come together from the all star impossible selections of the first few rounds, to the vital sleeper picks of the late rounds, all while trying to beat your friends for the most bragging rights is the best part of any season. As my 2010 year proved, however, sometimes flipping a coin between tough decisions is not the best way to go. In that case, I have to recommend the unrivaled help provided by the Rotowire Draft Kit.

This is a smart draft app of sorts, as it allows you to set recommendations based on your preferences, and can actually adjust player rankings based off of your league settings and your needs according to the draft progress thus far. You’ll also find the usual range of stats, recommendations, and upset picks all tied together by a clean interface that allows you to smoothly navigate the various app features while keeping up with the draft thus far.

While this app won’t prevent you from picking the sure thing player gone bust, or keep your first two running back picks from blowing their ACL’s in week one, it is otherwise the closest you will come to a fool proof draft day.

For the Compulsive – Fantasy Football 12’ HD

Available for iOS here, and for Android here

From Bignoggins Productions, this is one of the most popular fantasy football apps available. It offers the same add/drop, roster changes, news updates, and trade abilities as the host site apps, but the difference here is you can manage your ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL.com teams all via this app without having to move back and forth. Plus, since you will be second guessing your every move throughout the year, this gives you another available outlet for recommendations and news.

If your fantasy obsession has taken you to the darken back alley that is owning and managing multiple teams over multiple leagues, then there is no more essential app available then this one.

For the Hell of It – Paper Football 3D

Available for the iOS here, and for Android here

Look, it’s quite possible that every one of your star players will go down and you’ll miss out on every great free agent pick up of the year leading to the dreaded winless season. It happens.

It’s at times like this that you need something to remind yourself that football is supposed to be fun. And since the official NFL Madden app will probably just remind you that Darren McFadden just will never stay healthy, and you should probably just stop drafting him already (sorry…still working through some stuff here), why not dial it back another notch and go back to the simplistic days of paper football. It takes the basics of the game (points, mostly) and gives you a reprieve from the brain crushing numbers of fantasy ball, while providing your methadone fix of the game that you most desperately need.

While I can’t guarantee that these apps will make you a lock to win your league this year, with Calvin Johnson most assuredly going down to the Madden curse, we could be looking at another topsy turvy anything can happen kind of season. Which is why you may soon find yourself needing my first four picks in this round of app of the week.

  

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Johnathan Gray wins Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award

We were in Hollywood last night to attend the 2012 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award ceremony. Johnathan Gray, a football player from Aledo High School in Texas, and Breanna Stewart, a basketball player from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York, both won the 2012 Athlete of the Year honors from among this impressive group of high school athletes:

GIRLS
Jordan Burgess – Volleyball
Molly Seidel – Cross Country
Breanna Stewart – Basketball
Morgan Andrews – Soccer
Geri Ann Glasco – Softball
Shelbi Vaughan – Track & Field

BOYS
Johnathan Gray – Football
Futsum Zeinasellassie – Cross Country
Jabari Parker – Basketball
Ema Boateng – Soccer
Lance McCullers Jr. – Baseball
Abraham Hall – Track & Field

You’ll be seeing many of these kids in the years to come on SportsCenter. Johnathan Gray is an amazing running back who will be playing for the Texas Longhorns this coming season. In his senior season of high school, he rushed for 3,891 yards on 346 attempts for a rushing average of 11.2 yards per carry. Even more impressively, he rushed for 65 touchdowns!! Needless to say the Texas running game will be getting a nice boost for the next several years.

Breanna Stewart is a 6′ 4″ basketball player who will join the parade of amazing players Geno Auriemma assembles from year to year at UConn. She has also played on the USA Basketball teams for three years, helping each team win a Gold Medal.

All of the kids were very impressive, but Jabari Parker also jumps out as a kid to watch. He was only a junior in high school last season so it’s highly likely Gatorade will be bringing him back again next year. Right now he’s the #1 recruit in the country according to most scouting services and every college basketball powerhouse is drooling at the opportunity to bring in this 6′ 8″ talent. Many are calling him the best young talent since LeBron James.

We had the opportunity to speak with all three players and they all came across as great kids. Each of them emphasized the need to keep working hard to improve their games at the next level. I asked Johnathan Gray about some of the running backs he looked up to, and he mentioned LeSean McCoy, LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. I also asked him about his patience running behind a great offensive line, and Jonathan responded with a great line, saying that running backs should be “slow to it, fast through it” when waiting for the hole to open up.

Check back as we’ll be posting our interviews with Jabari Parker and Breanna Stewart as well.

The award show was also very entertaining, with ESPN’s Stewart Scott hosting the show that included some great presenters, including Robert Griffin III, Alonzo Mourning, Landon Donovan, Lisa Leslie and Brandi Chastian among other notable athletes. Mourning is a former winner of the award, which has prestigious names like Derek Jeter, Lebron James and Peyton Manning among the many winners since 1985. Mourning stressed education in his remarks and in our interview with him afterwards. The beauty of this award is that it takes more than just athletic accomplishments into account. All of these kids excel in the classroom as well.

Along with Zo, we were able to interview Landon Donovan as well and had him size up the state of Team USA as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and we sat in with an interview session with RG3 as well. Check back as we’ll also be posting these interviews.

It was a great evening as we caught a preview of some of the athletes who will likely be dominating the sports headlines in the years to come.

  

NFL Draft kicks off tonight

Football fans everywhere will be glued to their TV screens tonight as the NFL Draft starts at 8 PM EST on ESPN and the NFL Network. Millions more will be following the action on Twitter, which has become the ultimate meeting spot for sports fanatics. You can follow me our NFL guru, Anthony Stalter, during the draft on Twitter @AnthonyStalter, and you can follow me @clevelandteams. Yes, I’m a tortured Cleveland Browns fan, so the draft is my annual Super Bowl.

Cleveland will be one of the pivotal teams in the draft with the #4 pick, and many are predicting that they will take running back Trent Richardson. But the Minnesota Vikings are making noise about trading out of the #3 pick, and that could mean Richardson goes to a team at #3. These tow teams will be pivotal in a draft that could be very hard to predict after the first two picks.

You can follow Anthony’s NFL draft coverage at ScoresReport.com. You’ll see his mock drafts along with analysis of the top draft prospects and sleepers.

There are so many mock drafts out there these days that you can OD on all the various projections. Of course Mel Kiper and Todd McShay at ESPN has some of the best information out there. Here’s a 7-round mock draft at NFL.com that would make me and other Browns fans very happy. Michael Lombardi’s first round mock draft would be even better, as he has the Browns getting Richardson and then Micheal Floyd dropping down to them at #22.

Search around and you’ll find plenty of information and speculation about your own team. Then you can load up on beer and munchies, invite some friends over and enjoy the show tonight.

  

Ron Burgundy’s “audition” with ESPN

Anchorman” is one of our favorite Will Ferrell movies, and this promotional video for Ron Burgundy’s “audition” with the fledgling ESPN channel back in the day before it was launched might be the funniest Ron Burgundy clip out there.

  

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