Disclaimer: These are our opinions, and we'll do our best to explain how we think about things.
Previously, we compared Sleeper with ESPN and Yahoo!. As mentioned before, Sleeper's growth rate has been tremendous, and will be be equal to that of Yahoo! in 2020, and far surpass ESPN in 2021 if the growth rate maintains.
In this article, we are going to take a look at how Sleeper stacks up with some of the smaller competitors in the space.
In 2018, just the second year of our leagues platform, we already surpassed CBS, MyFantasyLeague, FleaFlicker, and Fantrax in app downloads. In 2019, we are on track to be larger than all of those platforms in number of users - combined.
Since we are comparing 6 different platforms, we will be ranking them for each category, which will help frame how you think about Sleeper as an offering, depending on which service you currently use.
You may also discover that another service is right for you.
The following is how we rank the services on design - based on user-friendliness and visual appearance.
Sleeper's design is modern and easy to use, and is consistent on both web and mobile. The app is user friendly for both power users and beginners. As the newest product to market, Sleeper had a chance to learn from previous platforms. It's also the highest rated fantasy app - above ESPN, Yahoo!, NFL, CBS, etc.
CBS and NFL.com are also well-designed products, with CBS getting the edge due to a better mobile app than NFL.com.
If you like pure simplicity, FleaFlicker is a good choice. Some prefer it to CBS and NFL.com.
MyFantasyLeague and Fantrax are considered the most bare-bones in terms of design relative to the other platforms. MyFantasyLeague has been around the longest, has not seen much design change for over a decade.
Not all platforms are free to use.
- Sleeper (Free, no ads)
- NFL.com (Free, ad-supported)
- FleaFlicker (Free, ad-supported)
- Fantrax ($75 for premium leagues)
- MyFantasyLeague ($89.95 per league)
- CBS ($149.99 for Commissioner upgrade)
Sleeper is the only free app with no ads. Sleeper makes money from selling cosmetic upgrades for your team, such as mascots.
NFL.com and Fleaflicker both rely heavily on ads, which may be disruptive to your user experience, particularly on the mobile app.
Fantrax, MyFantasyLeague, and CBS all charge for their commissioner services if you are looking for anything more than the most basic settings.
If you are using one of the smaller sites, chances are, it's because you want customization. Here is how we think we rank based on customization:
MyFantasyLeague and Fantrax win in customization because as offer obscure scoring settings and options like Salary Cap / Devy leagues, something that nobody else on the market offers. You can also re-design the entire league home screen on MyFantasyLeague, just like MySpace.
Sleeper, FleaFlicker, and CBS are very close in terms of customization. This is essentially a 3-way tie. All offer Dynasty and Keeper leagues, as well as Taxi Squads.
NFL.com is closer to Yahoo! and ESPN in terms of customization. ESPN, NFL, and Yahoo! do not offer dynasty leagues at all, for example.
It's 2018, and most people now manage their fantasy leagues from their mobile app instead of websites. Here's how we rank the mobile apps, and in parentheses, you can see how users rate it in the app store.
- Sleeper (4.8 stars)
- NFL.com (4.7 stars)
- CBS (4.5 stars)
- FleaFlicker (2.3)
- MyFantasyLeague - MFL Platinum (3.9 stars)
- Fantrax (no app, must use mobile website)
Sleeper, NFL.com, and CBS have the most modern apps. NFL.com recently redesigned their mobile app and we believed it has surpassed Yahoo! and ESPN in terms of design and usability. CBS is close behind with a very functional mobile app that is easy to understand and use. One element that is missing in NFL.com and CBS is the social features, specifically modern real-time chat, that make Sleeper stand out in terms of having a great experience with friends.
FleaFlicker recently released new mobile apps for iOS and Android. The app is faster than before and easier to use, but is a bit of a chore to navigate around if you use the app very frequently.
Fantrax does not have a mobile app, but does have a mobile website.
MyFantasyLeague does not have a mobile app nor does their site appear to be mobile optimized, thus is last place here. There is a third party mobile app built for MFL, however.
While mobile apps have gained more popularity, it would be silly to ignore the web experience. Here's how we rank the 5 web apps in order:
Sleeper's chat-focused design helps leagues communicate better. The modern league management interface compares very favorably to even Yahoo!, which has been the industry standard since the beginning of online fantasy football.
CBS and NFL.com are very close. Both have websites that are simple to understand and use, with visuals like player photos and team logos to bring out an NFL feel.
FleaFlicker has a very simple website that is more bare-bones.
Fantrax is closer to FleaFlicker than MyFantasyLeague, but doesn't feel as fast or crisp as FleaFlicker's simple interface.
MyFantasyLeague is likely the most complicated website to use, especially for new users. Unless you've already been using MyFantasyLeague for years, it has a very difficult learning curve.
Chat is a critical component of all fantasy leagues. Whether it's keeping leaguemates informed or discussing trades with other owners, modern chat is now a must-have for any fantasy football league. Here's our rankings:
The chat features on Sleeper are second to none. Even ESPN and Yahoo! are playing catch up here as well.
CBS, NFL.com, and FleaFlicker are tied because they all have the concept of message boards.
MyFantasyLeague has chat but it's very clunky and they don't have a mobile app. They also have message boards.
FleaFlicker, Fantrax, and MyFantasyLeague also seem to lack mobile push notifications for messages, so it's hard to coordinate anything on the app itself without massive asynchronous delays.
It's Sunday, and you need to track everything. Which app is the best? Here's how we see the rankings shaking out:
Sleeper has the fastest scores (faster than TV), easy to understand matchup grid, projections, win%, play by plays, player scoring alerts, injury alerts. What makes Sleeper special, however, are the mascots that sync reactions to your team's performance in real-time.
NFL.com is unique in that it has player videos from time to time on Sundays, and deserves second place just for that experience. It's something Sleeper is adding this season.
CBS is like NFL.com, but without the player videos. It's very neat and easy to understand.
FleaFlicker has play by play, but lacks in visual appeal and doesn't seem to be real-time.
Fantrax and MyFantasyLeague is like FleaFlicker in terms of design, but seems to lack play-by-play and real-time capabilities.
Technology affects the speed and performance of the app, as well as enabling certain features. Here are how we rank the platforms in terms of tech.
Sleeper's real-time technology ensures that you never have to perform a refresh. Every interaction on Sleeper also loads on average 2-10 times faster than any of the sites listed above, including ESPN and Yahoo! Sleeper leagues can handle more concurrent users on less servers than any platform as well.
CBS is one of more polished products on the market, and is very comparable to a Yahoo! or ESPN. However, lack of chat features puts them in a distant second.
FleaFlicker seems to load pretty fast, as well as offer a pretty good feature set, but otherwise is in the same boat as CBS.
MyFantasyLeague gets a bump in rankings due to the high degree of customizability and being less buggy than its direct competitor Fantrax, who also focuses on customizability.
NFL.com seems pretty on the surface but since they don't build their own technology in house, their product suffers and becomes worse year over year.
Fantrax seems to be MyFantasyLeague with a slightly better interface but more bugs.
If you want to learn more about specific features on Sleeper leagues like scoring settings, how waivers work, or how trading works, please explore the rest of the documentation.