HorsefeathersThe calendar says it’s early July, time for most to enjoy a summer that is just beginning.  For an ever increasing contingent of Fantasy Football players, however, the calendar tells them there’s three weeks until training camps open as they count down the days of summer in anticipation of the coming football season.   The Fantasy preview magazines have hit the stands, there are fantasy rankings to consider and draft cheat sheets to be written.  There is also the very important business of deciding where to house your online fantasy football league and what kind of players should be a part of it.

In its infancy, Fantasy Football appealed to its participants for a number of reasons.  It allowed them to pit their knowledge of the game against one another, compete for cash prizes and stay connected with friends.  Back in the day, anyone that wanted to play fantasy football had to first assemble at least nine others with a common passion; not always an easy task. Next, one of the members needed to agree to be the “stat guy”, diving into the NFL summaries each Monday morning in order to update the league’s standings.  Weekly transactions became problematic if league owners were remiss in phoning in their lineups.  Not a perfect system but, all in all, better than the alternative: no league at all.

Before the advent of online fantasy football, many who wished to be participants found themselves on the outside looking in.  Simply put, if you couldn’t find enough guys to play, you couldn’t play either.  Until CBSSportsline, Yahoo and ESPN came to the rescue.  Now, individuals have the ability to link up with each other regardless of their geographic location and experience the same enjoyment as those in a friends’ league.  With the new technology, however, comes a number of choices to be made regarding statistics, rankings and drafts.

Of the three, I prefer CBSSportsline.  While free leagues are offered, their premium leagues offer quite a bit more than Yahoo and ESPN for the fee charged.  Mock drafts, player updates, rankings, cheat sheets, injury reports roster grids and a player comparison tool are all featured on a site more easily navigated than its competitors.  YAHOO and ESPN offer more than enough to satisfy the Fantasy Football Fanatic and do so mostly at no cost.  The one thing each has over CBS is the ability to tailor free friends’ leagues, something not available on CBS,

Finally, for Mock Drafts, the pick here is Mock Draft Central, as it offers free signup for once daily drafts and membership options that range from monthly to yearly.  Essentially, for a few bucks, you can sign up for one month in July and get unlimited mocks until your draft in August.  Also, members are allowed to create drafts, giving you an opportunity to simulate the draft circumstances that exist around your own tailored leagues.

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