CFL Fantasy Football: Choice in gaming emerging … slowly
Nothing has raised the general football fan’s week-to-week knowledge of the game than the astounding and continued increase in popularity of fantasy football. While Rotisserie-style football games have been around since the 1960s (you know, when the league commissioner had to actually go and buy a newspaper and total up statistics by hand) and tabletop sports games even longer, it was the launch of an online league by US-based television network CBS in 1997 that transformed fantasy football into fantastic international phenomenon.
A generation later, fans of the Canadian Football League are finally getting some options in fantasy football games based on our beloved CFL, though the range of said offerings remains fairly small.
TSN’s “Fantasy Football Edition” ran its inaugural season under the rubric of salary-cap rules in 2014. At TSN.ca, the fantasy football coach constructs a team of seven players (one quarterback, running back, kicker and defence/special teams each plus two wide receivers and one RB/WR flex player) for a cool fictional $1 million. Not only does this style of league force coaches to construct a solid roster for week one, the salary cap also adds an element of “buy low/sell high” that demands weekly attention to stay competitive.
The bad news about the TSN game? It’s open only to those residing in Canada. Despite a flurry of tweets and Facebook inquiries/demands when the network announced the opening of the league in June 2014, it appears as though once again it’ll be Canadians only playing CFL fantasy football this season. On the plus side, Canadians can play for $250 weekly prize packages and a grand prize trip to the Grey Cup.
An outfit called Fanium released an app in 2013 that it claims is the first all-mobile CFL fantasy football game for Apple devices, and for 2014 added an Android version. “Fantasy Canadian Football” allows smartphone and tablet users to participate in no-wager, six-team leagues while providing the requisite news feeds and other goodies helping fantasy coaches to play smart.
One real disappointment (or, optimistically speaking, perhaps just a question mark for 2015 as of this writing) is the eccentrically-named Fantas-Eh Football game, which branded itself as the world’s first CFL fantasy game back in 2011. The homepage and Facebook pages for the ‘site appear to have lain fallow since August ’14, however, and no firm notices exist for play this season.
Despite the paucity of variety, however, CFLpass.ca will be covering the various versions of CFL fantasy football throughout the 2015 season and beyond. In the meantime, let’s just hope some of the big boys get to work on creating a new game engine or two for fans of the Canadian game – ESPN? Yahoo? Are you guys listening…?