Kickoff: #FantasyFootball Season Begins

Kickoff: #FantasyFootball Season Begins
By Rose de Fremery

Are you ready for some football? Of course you are!The NFL kicks off its 2012-2013 season today and, like many of our readers, we here at The Social Media Monthly are getting excited. We’ve even started a fantasy league to better get us into the spirit. Let the anxious Sunday maneuvering, bellicose trash-talking and strategizing over rosters begin. It’s my first year managing a fantasy team but, in true fantasy football fashion, I’m confident that I’m going to dominate my league. You’re on notice Bob, Brant, Barry and Lauri!

What does the virtual gridiron offer fantasy football fans this year? Here are a few new developments that have caught our attention.

As Engadget reported last month, the NFL has incorporated Google+ Hangouts into its fantasy football leagues. Whether your friends are plunked down on the couch watching the game in the next room or camping out in their living rooms hundreds of miles away, you’ll be able to describe to them exactly how and in what way they will suffer crushing defeat at the hands of your championship-caliber team via live video chat. All you have to do is start a Google+ Hangout directly from your league’s page. And, as Google’s Official Blog postnotes, NFL Fantasy commentators are going to get in on the action during the season by joining in hangouts and sharing their expert analysis with fans.Also at NFL.com, where our league is hosted, they’ve added some shiny new gamification features. By roaming the site and completing challenges (some of which are part of drives—for instance, commenting on a fantasy analyst’s blog would count towards a drive), you can rack up coins that you can redeem for a chance to win a trip to the Super Bowl, discounts on merchandise, and more. If you’re feeling competitive, you can check how many points you’ve accumulated to see your location on the leaderboard. You can also earn badges similar to those on Foursquare by completing certain tasks on the site.

As with last year, the NFL offers a slick NFL Fantasy Football Mobile app for managing your team. I’m already sizing up my opponent for Week 1, perusing the matchups and assessing our respective strengths and weaknesses. And although the draft took place on Sunday, the NFL Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2012 app still provides a wealth of up-to-the-minute information to help you manage your team.

Throughout the season, we’ll be keeping tabs on creative ways fantasy football fans are using technology to enhance their experience of the game. Found a tool you particularly like? Let us know on Twitter at @socialmediamos or on Facebook at TheSocialMediaMonthly.Rose de Fremery is Managing Editor at The Social Media Monthly. She writes on a range of topics related to social media including crowdfunding, social travel, sports, and startup culture. Her article “#FantasyFootball” appeared in our November 2011 issue. You can follow her on Twitter at @rosedefremery.