Version Reviewed: 1.0
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Fantasy Football is definitely my second love, you know, right behind iPhone apps. I become a completely different person right around the end of summer... my Sunday beer consumption goes up right along with my pizza consumption, girls stop talking to me until I adapt to my football craze, and I spend many a night studying rosters even though my teams are usually fine. I may be compulsive, and in my compulsion, I have to be near a computer at all times just in case something happens. You just never know when Tom Brady will get hurt in practice forcing you to pick up Brian Hoyer on the fly before anyone else knows about it.
Chris Hall, as of the 2008 Fantasy Football season, was that guy. I had to know all the news before anyone else, because I had to win. 2009 Chris is a bit different though. No, I like the game just the same, but this time I have a real advantage. In the most Apple way possible, I can reasonably say that there is an app for that.
The ESPN Fantasy Football 2009 app is the answer to my needs, as I am playing in 3 leagues hosted by ESPN (I also play in 4 Yahoo! leagues, so I'll have the review of that app up later). The app is a fully featured ESPN fantasy app, giving you the power to check lineups, move around players, make trades, pick up free agents, and even check fantasy scores. With this app, you really don't need to own a computer for anything but the initial draft, creating a perfect storm of awesome on the iPhone.
Being a complete desktop replacement, I decided to run the app through the paces, just to see if it could keep up with my manic nature. The first thing that I wanted to see with the app was its ability to accurately keep the score of my fantasy match. It kills me not to be in front of a computer during football games for the sole reason that I never know when I'm scoring. After all, I only have one TV, and there are so many games going on. I was originally going to do this review yesterday, but with the NFL season starting last night, I had the perfect opportunity to test the app. To my delight, the app provided nice, up to date scores. There was a glitch though that I found while score checking though. On ESPN's website, there is this cool feature that tells you the predicted final score of the matchup. This score is constantly changing due to who is scoring and who isn't, and is usually fairly entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, on the app version, the projected total is just how many points the team has. For example, the team I'm playing against has Plaxico Burress, who had 100+ yards and a touchdown in week 1, scoring his team 25 points. On the website, the teams projected total skyrocketed due to this unexpected outburst, but on the app the projected total is 25. 25... really?
Looking past that, the rest of the app is pretty straight forward. Moving players around is as easy as hitting the 'M' button next to the players name, and trading players is as easy as hitting 'propose trade'. If you need to pick up the next Matt Cassell of the free agent list, just go to the player section and hit the 'C' button. Maybe I'm being dumb here, but I'm not entirely sure what the C stands for here... oh well. Other tasks such as checking the standings are performed by clicking on the easy to find buttons up top. I'll tell you right now though that 'easy to find' is not the same as 'easy to push'. For some reason, it usually takes me 2-3 clicks on a button to hit it just right... not a big deal, but it could be easier.
Another nice feature that the app includes is a page with a ton of fantasy news stories. It's pretty nice when you are on the road and just want some simple Start/Sit advice, but, like the rest of ESPN, it is riddled with 'Insider' articles. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and get 'Insider'. I don't know though, I have a real hard time throwing money at people telling me that players will have good games from week to week... there is definitely no gospel in football.
One last thing, and this irks me a bit. After paying $4.99 to basically see my fantasy score in real time (which, oddly enough, I'm more than happy to do), there is a nasty Bud Light add sitting at the bottom of the screen tempting me with a 'Tailgate Approved' slogan. Did I really just pay ESPN $4.99 to have them show me ads? I guess that Cable TV has no problem with it... it's just not something that I would think to see in an iPhone app.
I may seem like I have alot of complaints, but to me, I have to have this app. I'd liken the $4.99 purchase of ESPN FF09 to buying a Russian built car in Soviet Russia. Sure, I can complain all I want, but at the end of the day, I still need a car. Go ahead and pick this one up all you fantasy hooligans... you and I both know that you absolutely need those live scores.