When it comes to fantasy football preparation, there are some owners who follow the NFL closely year round. They examine the NFL draft, team news, free agent acquisitions, and player movement with a magnifying glass.
I used to be one of these people.
As I've "grown up", staying up to speed on relevant NFL news has been replaced with real-life responsibilities like a career and children. Now when August rolls around I typically find myself completely out of the football loop.
I'm sure many other middle-aged fantasy owners echo this sentiment.
It takes a bigger man to ask for help
As my football knowledge slowly slips away with each passing season, I've become increasingly dependent on football publications to quickly bring me back up to speed as my fantasy draft approaches. Fantasy football magazines have been a big help in this regard.
In this article, I'll discuss why fantasy football draft magazines can be so helpful to those of us who need a quick refresher on the changing NFL landscape. I'll break down five of the best fantasy football magazines and how they can help you fill in those knowledge gaps so you can draft with confidence.
In closing, I'll crown the best fantasy football magazine for the 2017 season and explain why it should be your publication of choice heading into this NFL season.
Fantasy football magazine comparison table
Here is a list of the fantasy magazines I'll be reviewing in detail below. You can click on any of these links to quickly check their current price on Amazon.
(3 or 4 stars)
Finding the value in a fantasy football magazine
Before I considered purchasing a fantasy football magazine, I must admit was very skeptical about their usefulness. So I did all of the research myself.
I mean, with the way the fantasy landscape changes so quickly during the preseason, how could a printed draft magazine stay relevant for more than a week?
I'll take a closer look at this problem (and possible solutions) next. I'll also explain where the real value lies when purchasing a fantasy football magazine to aid in your draft preparation.
Another way to stay current on preseason news is to watch more preseason games. You can watch any NFL preseason game with NFL Game Pass. I wrote a review of Game Pass which explains how you can maximize this service in preparation for your fantasy drafts.
The perceived problem of stale information in fantasy football magazines
The truth is, many of the fantasy magazines you see being sold are very comprehensive and provide fantastic value. This remains true even if their information is slightly dated.
Sure, some people will get injured in camp so the printed rankings and player evaluations won't always be 100% accurate in a magazine. But that doesn't mean the other 95% of the content isn't useful and applicable to your fantasy football drafts.
Still, people start to question a writer's credibility if they can't provide 100% accurate information, all of the time. If this sounds like you, read on for some workarounds.
Avoiding the problem of outdated information
The fantasy landscape changes quickly. One injury to a key running back can throw entire draft strategies out of the window. And you know it will happen. It almost always does.
So how can you benefit from a fantasy football magazine and minimize the amount of dated information contained therein?
To minimize the problem of stale information, the best solution is to get your hands on the magazine as soon after printing as possible. Of course, this won't always be possible, and there is always the chance that player will get injured before the ink on the pages is even dry.
It goes without saying, but newer printings are generally better.
Purchase magazines backed by websites
Another option to avoid dated draft advice is to purchase a fantasy football draft magazine that has a sister website. This way you can use the magazine as a base, then scan the website to get up to speed on any significant shifts in player values.
Order draft magazines that you can download instantly (or purchase Kindle books)
Another obvious way to avoid the problem of dated information due to magazine shelf life is to purchase digital versions of the best magazines. Digital versions of books (and magazines especially) can be updated quickly, which means you can simply go download the newest version.
The top-rated magazine in this review is available in Kindle edition and updates are issued during the preseason.
But if we're being completely honest, isn't most of the information you find in these magazines readily available the Internet in some form or fashion anyway? Why even bother paying for a magazine?
This brings me to my next and most important point about fantasy draft magazines.
Where the real value lies in a fantasy football magazine
When you purchase a fantasy football magazine, you're not strictly paying for the wisdom it imparts. Yes, good content is important, otherwise buying and reading them would be a waste of both time and money.
The true value of a fantasy football magazine lies in its form factor. You're essentially paying these publishers to take the best nuggets of fantasy football goodness and condense them into a single, well-organized magazine that is easily (and quickly) digestible.
We buy a magazine because we don't want to do the work ourselves
The people whom a fantasy football magazine would benefit most don't have the time to scour the Internet for fantasy information, verify if the sources are trustworthy, page through hundreds of pages of player profiles, and transform all of this information into a coherent draft strategy and cheat sheet.
We need all of that information condensed down, organized intelligently, and delivered by trusted industry experts. This is the real value that a fantasy football magazine provides.
This is also the criteria that I'll now use to evaluate the best fantasy football magazines for the upcoming 2018 NFL season.
The best fantasy football magazines for 2018 reviewed
Most fantasy football magazines cover the same common topics: sleepers, busts, player rankings, cheat sheets, etc. But if that's the case, what makes one fantasy football magazine better than another?
There are several factors that can differentiate one fantasy football publication from another. Some of the most noticeable feature differences might include:
Let's take a look at the top magazines now to see how they stack-up against one another.
The Fantasy Football Consistency Guide is the brainchild of Bob Lung, a well-respected fantasy football writer who has written for Fox Sports, Fanball, and RotoExperts. As you can guess by the name of this magazine, Bob placed an emphasis on player consistency when developing his fantasy draft strategy.
Bob's website, BigGuyFantasySports.com, also focuses heavily on evaluating player consistency. The site provides tools to assist you in determining which players have performed the most consistently based on your specific scoring system.
For example, you can utilize Bob's Clutch Report to see which players at each position performed consistently over the course of the previous NFL season. Just click the 'Edit Scoring' button at the top to specify your league's scoring rules.
The differentiating feature of this fantasy magazine is that it details consistency profiles for over 175 NFL players. The analysis considers player performance for the last three seasons, even looking at consistency during home and away games (and also against good vs bad defenses).
Below is an excerpt which details the consistency profile of Drew Brees. Here are some relevant terms you'll see mentioned:
- FP - Fantasy Points
- QG - Quality Games
- GP - Games Played
- QSR - Quality Start Rating
- FPG - Fantasy Points per Game
In addition to identifying those consistent players that you should be targeting in your fantasy draft, Bob also breaks down his Clutch Games system. Once you read this guide, you'll have a clear understanding of why consistency is so important when drafting the best fantasy football team possible.
What I like
Not so much..
The 2018 edition of the Fantasy Football Index is what you'd expect from a publication that is focused entirely on fantasy football draft preparation: detailed cheat sheets, stat projections, depth charts, team analysis, and player evaluations.
This fantasy football magazine is largely an extension of the Fantasy Football Index website, but admirably condenses the large volume of website information into an easily scannable format for quick consumption. As their website motto says: they do the math so you don't have to.
So how can a publication that hinges its legitimacy on accurate rankings and player evaluations put out a magazine this early in the pre-season (June 30 publication)? That's where having a sister website comes in handy.
A hidden password inside the magazine will give readers privileged access to updated draft prep materials through the website. This ensures you always have access to the freshest data possible, even if some of the magazine content is no longer 100% accurate.
You won't get a ton of theory in this draft preparation magazine, just in-depth and actionable predictions for your upcoming fantasy football draft. For those looking for more coverage of draft theory and strategy, check out my best fantasy football draft strategy guides.
What I like
Not so much..
The 2017 fantasy magazine from Draft Engine builds on the success of their 2016 edition to provide even more player evaluations, rankings, and team previews.
The Draft Engine authors vow that their insight will help you make smarter and more-informed decisions at your next fantasy football draft.
Like most fantasy football magazines, this edition from Draft Engine covers most of the fantasy basics. Here is a small sample of the topics that are discussed:
However, unlike many fantasy football magazines, Draft Engine does delve a bit into draft strategy. They also provide bonus content that promises to help owners who participate in 2-QB leagues.
If you're looking for a publication that provides a good mix of projections, rankings, and even a little bit of strategy, the Draft Engine fantasy football magazine might be your key to fantasy success. If you're in a 2-QB league, then this is definitely the publication for you.
What I like
Not so much..
The Fantasy Sports Boss Draft Guide is a yearly publication written by Michael Keneski. Michael runs TheFantasySportsBoss.com and is the author of numerous sports guides.
Michael's guides focus mainly on fantasy and draft evaluations for both football and baseball. The 2017 Boss Draft Guide focuses less on theory and more on the classic subject matters familiar to fantasy footballers
Here are a few of the things that Michael covers in this year's draft guide:
Addressing the burning questions
In addition to going through the fantasy football basics, this draft guide also answers 10 burning questions. These are questions that fantasy footballers should be considering in the days leading up to their draft.
Some of the most enticing questions:
If you're more interested in getting up to speed on the latest player information and projections than you are in learning about theory, then the Boss Draft Guide could be exactly what you need.
What I like
Not so much..
The final fantasy football magazine in this review comes from a familiar name in fantasy sports: CBS Sports. If you follow CBS Sports in any capacity or use their platform to host your fantasy football leagues, then you'll be familiar with 2017 magazine authors: Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings.
A magazine from CBS Sports will have everything you'd imagine from a company with fantasy football skins on the wall. There is no shortage of fantasy experts who get to add their insights on the latest sleepers, busts, breakouts, and team evaluations.
One unique feature of this magazine is that they publish the results of an expert mock draft. A mock draft from June or even July would be mostly irrelevant at this point. But because this edition of their fantasy draft magazine was updated in August, you can be sure the information you glean from the mock will be actionable.
CBS Sports also goes a bit deeper than the other magazines in this review, analyzing over 400 players in detail. If you play in a dynasty league and need quality analysis on players that might currently be slightly off of other experts' radar, then you can't go wrong with this magazine from a proven fantasy powerhouse.
What I like
Not so much..
My Choice for the Best Fantasy Football Magazine?
TheT 2017 Fantasy Football Consistency Guide from Bob Lung is my choice for the best fantasy football magazine of 2017. Even though this draft magazine doesn't have flashy graphics or compelling imagery, it provides the best value per page of any magazine in this review.
Another great feature of this magazine is that it is available as a Kindle edition. Bob has stated his intention to update the magazine as the preseason rolls along, so it should stay relevant as the season nears.
Finally, Bob provides tools to apply his system to your specific fantasy league (and your league's custom scoring rules). The presence of a sister site makes this magazine an even more compelling option.