When the first iPhone was launched in 2007, it had more computing heft than all of NASA had in 1969. So, if a bunch of giant, whirring supercomputers can help mankind land on the moon, your tiny pocket-sized smartphone can certainly rocket your fantasy football team into contention.
But it doesn’t take an astronaut or a football expert to make all the right picks—someone with a good understanding of the Xs and Os of Apple iOS can stiff arm the competition. Try these tips to turn your iPhone into your secret fantasy football weapon:
Tip 1: Throw a Flag on Your Notifications
If you’re like most people, your iPhone’s notifications are like Wes Welker in the offseason: out of control. Go into Settings and then Notifications, and look at the effect of your haphazard app adds—you do not need alerts from Candy Crush Saga. So, for the rest of these tips to work, start by nuking your iPhone’s current alerts in order to start fresh.
Apps can have three kinds of notifications. Badges (the little red numbered dots on the corner of the app) are great for things that you can blast through later, like work email. Banners (small strips that come and go up on the menu bar) work well if you’re always eyes-deep in your phone, and want to know what’s happening outside the app you’re in. Alerts, meanwhile, are like a solid defensive tackle — they’ll stop you in your tracks (until you press “OK”). Set up your apps keeping these differences in mind, giving alerts to the programs with the most crucial information and putting badges on the good-to-know news apps.
In addition, swiping down from the top of the home screen reveals the Notification Center, a great place to quickly zip through alerts across your apps. Most apps display items in Notification Center, but the best way to ensure you don’t get hit with the same information twice is to allow notifications for apps you want to display info here, but then turn off their sounds, badges, alerts, and lock screen options. This app offensive might take a while to run, but at least it gives you something to do while watching this week’s Tampa Bay game at Washington.
Tip 2: IFTTT the NFL
Yes, your phone is your team’s MVP, but there’s a whole world of digital smarts that can also lead you to victory, and IFTTT (pronounced “ift”) is the playmaker that can make them play like a team. An online service that links web-based data with web-based services, this easy-to-use interface can do everything from flash your Internet-connected lightbulbs when your team scores to text-message taunt your league opponents when their players get injured — all automatically.
If you haven’t heard of IFTTT yet, you will soon, because it’s starting to attract users outside the geek-o-sphere. But more importantly, IFTTT has heard of the NFL, and they even have their own list of winning fantasy football plays. For instance, if you want send breaking ESPN fantasy news to your phone via text message, this service can make that happen. League operators are even starting to pile onto IFTTT too. For instance, by using IFTTT with Yahoo Fantasy Sports, you can receive a daily digest email of your players’ health changes, among other things.
Tip 3: Be A Social Media Sleeper
In today’s always-on information age, there’s a tremendous amount of news to digest — and that’s just what gets published. Sometimes the meatiest scoops are solitary posts on Twitter. If you want to be an expert on your roster, you have to gather social media news like a pro, and professionals use Hootsuite. Free to use (though you can pay for enhanced options), Hootsuite connects to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others, all within one application, allowing you to better organize your feeds. You can create lists of writers and outlets who cover football or report on your favorite teams individually, and you can even track hashtags and search terms (like your players’ names) to make sure you’re gobbling up every bit of news they’re making.
If that’s too involved for you, or you’re a rookie to the fantasy football scene, Reddit also has excellent analysis, with user-generated topics that get up-voted by other users. Specializing in injury rumors, the board can alert you to impending roster problems. The forum website has a great official app, though you might have a hard time finding it because it’s called Alien Blue. Just keep in mind that anyone can post here, including your opponents, so take every “day-to-day” with a grain of Gronk-sized salt.
Tip 4: Tap That App
Of course, when you think iPhone, you think apps, and when it comes to fantasy football there are enough iOS offerings to choke a linebacker. As far as free apps go, Team Stream is an excellent way to stay on top of the latest news with a customizable interface that stretches beyond football even into college sports. Combining popular Twitter feeds with news stories (even scouring the local papers) the app hits hard for fantasy football fanatics.
But don’t dismiss paid apps. Some 33 million people will spend more than $100 each on fantasy football this year, so at $9.99, RotoWire Fantasy Football Assistant is a bargain worth looking into. RotoWire has been in the fantasy game for more than 15 years, typically providing subscriber-based insight to guys who are mopping it up in their leagues. But this app is subscription-free, giving you all the numbers you need, as well as the ability to view depth charts, make watch lists, and project statistics. If you’re looking for an app to tell you who to add and who to start, this guy could quickly become your new best friend.