Football is officially back for the 2011 season, which means the return of ESPN Fantasy Football presented by GEICO and GMC for its 17th season on the digital gridiron. On Monday-Tuesday, July 25-26, ESPN Fantasy Football logged two of the three biggest days ever for sign-ups in a single day, five times more than the previous Monday and four times more than the previous Tuesday. Additionally, page views for both days to Fantasy Football content on ESPN.com were up 85% compared to the previous week. Last year, unique users to ESPN Fantasy Football grew 19% compared to the 2009 season.
To kick off the season, ESPN.com introduced its “Fantasy Forever” campaign urging fans to get ready in anticipation for the season. The spots depict the fun, social traditions that fantasy leagues take part in and the humorous obstacles that leagues have ‘survived’ over the years. The spot is available at http://www.espnmediazone3.com/
For the 7th consecutive year, the game will feature the broadest collection of expert analysis, news and statistical information available – all for free. ESPN Fantasy Football players can begin drafting (and mock drafting) on ESPN.com now and will be served by integration across ESPN’s many media platforms.
ESPN Fantasy Football
This year, iPhone and Android users on the go will have the added benefit of downloading the ESPN Fantasy Football app for free – previously offered as a paid app – beginning in mid-August. Highlights and new features to the game this year include:
- Fractional scoring and the option for a RB/WR/TE slot;
- Fantasy Football tutorial videos;
- Insider Recommends, a seamless tool integrated within the ESPN.com Online Draft window that suggests the best available player during the draft and for a manager’s team during the season;
- Insider’s popular Draft Analyzer tool, which assesses which player will benefit a team the most based on a roster’s needs and the players still available, and then optimizes the pick with that information;
- Sharing league and team transactions via the “Share” icon on Facebook and Twitter.
As always, managers will be able to customize their league with a variety of features and options, including the ability create standard and public leagues, set up new rules and scoring, transfer existing keeper league settings, choose auction bidding over waivers for free agent pickups, select from multiple draft options (online auction, live online or automated online) and more. ESPN.com also provides multiple tools for the draft including a Fantasy Football Draft Kit that breaks down every player, a Mock Draft Lobby for players to prepare strategies of picks and the option to trade draft picks in leagues with a fixed draft order.
During the season, managers can follow ESPN FantasyCast for free live scoring in real-time during fantasy football Sundays, access embedded player information cards and have the ability to add/flag players to better manage the waiver wire throughout the season. Each league also features message boards, chats, polls and smack boards. All features are highlighted by ESPN.com’s fantasy experts with both weekly player projection totals and position ranks.
On ESPN.com, players will again find the most useful and comprehensive information, analysis and insights in the industry. ESPN has assembled an unmatched roster of writers, analysts and media personalities, including:
- Matthew Berry (a.k.a. “The Talented Mr. Roto”), a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner, will release weekly columns on free-agent pickups, loves/hates and positional rankings;
- Award-winning analyst Christopher Harris will provide comprehensive game observation-based analysis throughout the week; and
- ESPN.com Fantasy Insider Eric Karabell will blog daily and post his popular weekly Flex Rankings every Thursday.
Other contributors include FSWA award-winner Tristan Cockcroft, ESPN Insider K.C. Joyner and ESPN.com sports injury expert Stephania Bell. Fans will also find insight from ESPN.com’s football experts and analysts, including Hall of Famer John Clayton; Mike Sando, Dan Graziano, Kevin Seifert, Bill Williamson, Pat Yasinskas, James Walker and Paul Kuharsky of the NFL Blog Network; and Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson.
- ESPN Fantasy Football App – Previously offered as a paid app, iPhone and Android users this year will be able to download for free beginning in mid-August.
- Mobile Team Management – Players with access to the ESPN mobile Web site will be able to set rosters, trade and waive players, and check scoring – all from their mobile devices.
- Mobile Scores and Alerts – Players can access their roster, scores and latest news on their mobile device. ESPN Insiders can opt to receive personalized team alerts with breaking news, scoring, injury and substitution updates.
- Mobile TV – Fantasy football-related video content from ESPN programs.
TV & Radio
This season, ESPN will once again bring fans fantasy football insights, information and analysis on its television and radio networks, including:
- SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special: On August 18 at 7:00 p.m., ESPN will televise its fifth annual “SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special.” The program will feature a preview special highlighted by analysis and debate from a number of ESPN analysts and experts, including Matthew Berry, Tim Hasselbeck and ESPN.com sports injury expert Stephania Bell.
- Fantasy Football Now: The Emmy Award-winning live Sunday morning program, incubated on ESPN.com and now available on ESPN2 will air every Sunday during the season at 11:30am bring you right up until kick, the show returns beginning with four half-hour preview shows beginning August 14. ESPN’s Robert Flores hosts with Berry as lead analyst, football expert Tim Hasselbeck breaking down fantasy, Stephania Bell, Sara Walsh and a collection of additional contributors each week.
- NFL Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Mike & Mike, ESPNEWS: ESPN’s signature news, information and analysis programs will feature fantasy football content integration, with additional in-depth attention to fantasy football in late August.
- ESPN Radio: Throughout the season, ESPN Radio will devote attention to fantasy football in popular programs like Mike & Mike in the Morning (simulcast on ESPN2) and on Football Tonight.
ESPN Radio and the ESPN.com PodCenter will bring fans two original podcasts dedicated to fantasy football this season:
- ESPN Fantasy Draft Special presented by Geico – 6 Pre-Season – approx. 30 minutes. Hosts Jon Anik and Christopher Harris will discuss position rankings and strategy leading up to the season.
- ESPN Fantasy Focus Football – Daily – approx. 30 minutes (5 days per week in-season only). Hosted by Berry and Nate Ravitz, and featuring a host of guests and interviews, the podcast will provide player previews, game overviews, injury analysis with Bell and strategies. In 2009, Fantasy Focus was named in the PodcastAwards.com awards for “Best Sports Podcast” and “People’s Choice.”
- ESPN Football Today – Daily – approx. 30 minutes. All things football with in-depth pre- and post-game analysis, players, coaches and more with hosts Ross Tucker and Matt Williamson.