As the NFL season winds down, so is the AA Sunday Studio Spectacular. As we end Week 14 and head into Week 15, there are just a few more programs to watch and those that will be next in line for this series will fall on either on a Monday or Thursday, but we’ll get to those when the time comes. We still have a Sunday NFL studio show to review and this week, it’s ESPN2’s Fantasy Football Now.
This show has occupied the 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET Sunday timeslot over the past few seasons and is co-hosted by Robert Flores and Sara Walsh. The analysts are fantasy expert Matthew Berry and physical therapist Stephania Bell. There are contributions from ESPN’s NFL on-site reporters Lindsay Czarniak, Josina Anderson and Sal Paolantonio.
Overall, this program does not get as much promotion as its ESPN brother that airs concurrently on the Mothership, Sunday NFL Countdown with the bombastic Chris Berman and its merry crew. Fantasy Football Now does not have its analysts debate or yell. They discuss football and the implications of the actives and inactive players for your fantasy team and for those who want the latest information on whom to add and whom to drop just before kickoff, this show is perfect.
So let’s take a look at the show.
FANTASY FOOTBALL NOW — ESPN2/ESPNEWS
Hosts: Robert Flores and Sara Walsh
Analysts: Matthew Berry (Fantasy), Stephania Bell (Medical), Tim Hasselbeck
Some of the best discussions come when the panel rank the top 50 players in various positions whether it be quarterback, running back or wide receiver. These discussions take up the second half of the show and give the viewer plenty of perspective on whom to pick or which player is dropping off in production.
Another good segment is when Bell talks about injuries and the impact of inactive players on teams for the week.
Also, the reports from certain game sites provide the latest information on who’s playing and who’s not.
There’s not a bad segment in Fantasy Football Now. Each segment in this program is quite strong and in one segment, you can learn more about the upcoming NFL game day than the other pregame programs.
Stephania Bell and Matthew Berry are the stars of this program. Berry who came from his own site (Talented Mr. Roto) knows his fantasy and has a savant-like mind when it comes to the industry. Bell gives unique perspective on injuries and how they can affect play and your team. They’re the stars of this show and are fantastic in this platform.
Say What? (weirdest quote)
N/A. This show just provides the basics, football and fantasy and without analysts trying to yell or fake debate, none of the analysts try to top one another with cute one-liners or pound the table as with the other Sunday pregame shows.
It’s quite refreshing actually.
What’s Unique About This Show?
Lots of information on fantasy. With fantasy as the focus, you don’t get heart-tugging features or silly segments to stretch the program. It’s just the facts and for faithful viewers, they’re grateful.
Why You Should Watch
When analysts pound the table or yell or try to get cute, that’s when viewers tune out. You get none of that with Fantasy Football Now. You don’t get fake laughter on the set or faux debate. The show makes two hours palatable and it doesn’t drag. Viewers enjoy the show for what it is, a program that doesn’t go overboard and provides the latest information.
It may not get the promotion that other pregame shows receive, but this no-nonsense approach resonates with fans.
Why You Should Stay Away
If you’re not a fantasy player, then Fantasy Football Now is not for you, but even if you don’t participate in a league, this show is good just to find out who’s playing and who isn’t playing.
In a roundabout way, we’re saying that there’s really not a reason to stay away from this show.
When we gave a A+ to DirecTV’s Red Zone Channel, we said it would be difficult for the shows that followed in this series to receive a top grade. Well lo and behold, Fantasy Football Now has reached the mountain top. This program with its bare-bones and no-nonsense approach to football deserves an “A” and that’s exactly what it will receive.
It’s well-deserved and hosts Flores and Walsh do a great job in keeping the show moving and pointing out some of the funny and not-so-serious parts of their show. In addition, Tim Hasselbeck is quite underrated in his analysis. If ESPN flip-flopped Fantasy Football Now to the Mothership at 11 a.m. with Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN2, we would wholeheartedly approve of that move.
Next week, it’s onto ESPN’s NFL Matchup and Monday Night Countdown.
Sunday Studio Show Rankings
Red Zone Channel (DirecTV): A+
Fantasy Football Now (ESPN2/ESPNews): A
Fox NFL Sunday (Fox): B+
NFL GameDay Morning (NFL Network): B
That Other Pregame Show (CBS Sports Network): B
Fantasy Zone Channel (DirecTV): B-
Fox NFL Kickoff (Fox Sports 1): B-
NFL GameDay Final (NFL Network): B-
Football Night in America (NBC): C+
NFL GameDay First (NFL Network): C+
The NFL Today (CBS): C
Sunday NFL Countdown (ESPN): C-
NFL GameDay Live (NFL Network): D-