For any fantasy football fan, draft day can be filled with mixed emotions – excitement at the impending start of the season, hope that you’ll get to build your dream team, and nervousness about where you’ll be in the draft order and whether or not you’ll get your top picks before someone else does.
Predicting the outcome of any fantasy draft is hard to do because there are so many variables in terms of drafting order, draft type, the team that you want to build, and the choices that other members of your league will make. That said, solid research and preparation can go a long way to helping you build a winning team and there are some great iPhone and iPad apps out there to help you before and during your draft.
All your draft research is important, but you still need a good cheat sheet app.
There are a handful of different ways that iPhone and iPad apps can help you get prepare for and manage your draft. The first and most obvious is researching the picks that you’ll want to make. That involves looking at the results of the NFL’s draft during the off-season, the performance of key players over the course of the past several seasons, the shake-ups that occurred on various teams before the start of this season, news and information from NFL training camps and pre-season matchups, and fantasy projections for the upcoming season. The apps covered here can help you find all of that data as well analyze it and make recommendations based on it.
All that research is important, but in order to use it during a live draft (be it online or in-person) you’ll want to use a cheat sheet that includes your own notes as well as all that research and all those projections. Apps really outweigh a paper cheat sheet because they can incorporate your league setup and scoring rules, the real-time selections made by other league members and their potential impact on your team, and offer suggestions accordingly based on available players and player stats.
The third way that iOS apps can help is by giving you the chance to practice your draft choices in mock drafts. Going through a few mock drafts is great practice for fantasy football novices, but they can also be good for seasoned fantasy fans, particularly if you’re new to a league that uses different rules or scoring than leagues you’ve been in previously.
Beyond getting ready for your draft, iPad apps can make a great replacement for the draft board traditionally used for in-person drafts. Simply pass an iPad around the room and everyone can see available players and make their picks or display an electronic draft board on your HDTV. Some online leagues and apps also support using a mobile device like an iPad instead of a Mac or PC for online drafts – if you want to draft from an iPad, however, you’ll definitely want to try out the app that you’ll be using before draft day to make certain that it works without issues (no one wants to be shut out of the draft and forced to auto-draft if they can help it).
Now that we’ve covered the features and how they can be helpful, let’s move on to the apps themselves.
NFL Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet 2012 for iPad ($2.99 iPhone | $4.99 iPad) – This is the NFL’s official draft cheat sheet app and it’s one of the best. It includes up to the minute and in-depth details about players and teams including injuries, provides complete team schedules with strength of schedule data, offers individual defensive player data if you play in an IDP league, supports all major draft types, and allows you to sort players in a range of ways – your picks, value based drafting (VBD), average draft position for players across all NFL fantasy leagues (ADP), average auction value for players in leagues using auction-based drafting, and Accuscore projections.
RotoWire Fantasy Football Draft Kit 2012 ($4.99) – RotoWire is considered on the best resources for fantasy sports of any kind and the company’s draft kit is an incredible value. It focuses on value based drafting, offers rankings specific to your league setup and scoring rules, is full of useful stats and news, allows you to rank players and create watch lists for potential breakout players, includes individual defensive player stats for IDP leagues, and it allows you to customize the app to any league rules or setup options.
Draft Machine 2012 – Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet ($0.99) – Despite the low price tag and rather basic interface, this app has some useful features. It includes a custom ranking engine, the ability to use custom scoring rules popular on many fantasy sites, includes individual defensive player data for IDP leagues, lets you mark players as keepers before the draft, and offers advice on rookie players as well as players from last season. It also incorporates a fantasy football blog.
Fantasy Football Draft ’12 – for Yahoo/ESPN ($2.99 iPhone | $4.99 iPad) – This app offers live drafting from your iPhone or iPad for leagues hosted by Yahoo or ESPN. In addition to mobile drafting, the app offers offline access for in-person drafts and the ability to act as an interactive draft server for in-person drafts that lets each participant draft from their mobile device via a Wi-Fi network. It also adds player news and information from RotoWire, a complete database of player and team information, and supports individual defensive player data for IDP leagues. The clear value of this app is more its draft capabilities, which are pretty great, rather than research or cheat sheet capabilities.
Fantasy Football Draft GM 2012 ($2.99) – This app is a good cheat sheet app that focuses on the basics. It includes custom analysis of players and projections from Pro Football Focus that it uses rank calculations, supports some customizations, and can pull league setup and scoring rules for leagues hosted by MyFantasyLeague.com. It supports most league types and rules with the exception of auction draft leagues.
Draft Board for Fantasy Football 2012-13 ($4.99) – This is a dedicated iPad-only draft board app for in-person drafts. It offers a great interface that will work well for passing an iPad around on draft day or with an Apple TV and AirPlay mirroring (or connection to a TV using Apple’s iPad to HDMI cable). It also stream and display draft data to a computer with via the Internet. While a great solution, this app doesn’t support dynasty leagues, individual defensive player (IDP) leagues, or leagues that use an auction draft.
In addition to these great draft-specific apps, there are a lot of great fantasy football apps (for iOS and Android) that we covered in a recent feature on our sister site Cult of Android. That list includes apps for managing your team throughout the season, some of which include mock draft and live mobile drafting features. It also includes a range of news and information apps that can be useful to look through before your draft in addition to apps included here.