The Action Network Podcast

The Action Network Podcast

FACE IT: LIFE IS BUSY. Football season is already here, and you just haven?t had time to prepare. Maybe you need a quick podcast for your commute and your fantasy draft is tomorrow night. Perhaps you?ve done your homework but are looking for a few new insights and opinions. Heck, maybe you?re like me and didn?t believe the 2020 NFL season would actually happen amidst pandemic and now you?re playing catch up. Lucky for us, there?s a wealth of great NFL and fantasy football podcasts for anyone and everyone.

I didn?t listen to every episode. Impossible. But I did listen to at least four or five episodes from about 30 good ol? American football podcasts. I?m Team #2xNation (shouts Rachel Nichols) so the episodes move quickly, and I needed to get ready for the season anyway, so I took everything in. Some podcasts are full of numbers, others opinions. Some are guys that played for decades. Others are from nerds like me who?ve spent years watching ball and calculating Excel databases. But they all love football.

Below are the 15 best football podcasts I found. Not all of them are fantasy-focused. There?s a few that are just awesome NFL talk and a couple with great gambling insights too. Take a look. Promise you?ll find something new?

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This podcast was my prize discovery two years ago when I first did this research. Since then, the Action NFL Podcast joined with the other sports and, uh, I also started working for Action Network NBA. But I?m leaving this in anyway because I?d hate for you to miss out.

These NFL guys have each has done their own research, work, and projections and bring their own informed opinions to the mix. That often leads to thoughtful disagreements full of great nuggets. These guys just think about fantasy football and gambling the right way. They talk about range of outcomes and consider floors and ceilings, and they really hit the numbers, which is what this is all about.

They also mix in gambling talk, some over/unders, etc, and this just feels like a podcast attuned to the modern football conversation. I initially listened to one podcast and immediately downloaded the last 15 or so including everything on their rankings. My only critique is I wish they?d dig one step further sometimes on numbers, but this one?s a keeper. Lots of great content for NBA and the rest of the sporting world, too.

Grade: A

The Athletic Football Show

I?ve listened to exactly two minutes of this podcast because it debuts this week, but I already know it?s an A+ because The Athletic went out and got Robert Mays. There is no person in the world I would rather listen to talk about football than Mays. He?s passionate and knowledgeable and works as hard as his craft as anyone. Robert Mays makes me love football more.

It sounds like we?ll get a lot from Sheil Kapadia, my favorite analytics writer at The Athletic, and Lindsay Jones, another outstanding journalist. I have to believe the guest list will be excellent too, and they?ve got connections to beat writers from all 32 teams so I expect great insights on each team where it?s needed too. Will there be fantasy content as well? I would guess some, though Athletic?s fantasy football coverage is hit or miss for me.

I am extremely Bart Scott for The Athletic Football Show: CAN?T WAIT.

Grade: A+

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The Bill Barnwell Show

Bill Barnwell is a longtime football guy, someone I used to play in fantasy when names like Daunte Culpepper and Edgerrin James ruled the day. Barnwell wrote formerly with Football Outsiders and Grantland (RIP) and really knows his stuff. The typical format is Barnwell with a guest, and he gets great guests since he works at ESPN. This isn?t fantasy, just great NFL talk that will add to your depth and understanding of the game.

Barnwell has a nice congeniality and a good rapport with guests, making this an easy listen. This is a go-to during the season with a pair of pods each week, one recapping takeaways from each game and the other previewing the next week of games. Both are great. You?ll understand and enjoy football more.

Grade: A-

ESPN Fantasy Focus Football

I can?t make it through an entire podcast. I find myself constantly skipping ahead, and it just doesn?t interest me. If you like listening to Matthew Berry ramble on with his usual column drivel, maybe you?ll be more interested. These podcasts are like his articles. He talks about nothing for 10 or 15 minutes before even getting to football. Just not for me and never has been.

There are others on this pod that are better, and I swear by my guy Mike Clay, but I?ll just read Clay?s articles and skip this podcast. The conversation is long, meandering, and nondescript without timestamps. Pass.

Grade: C-

Fantasy Footballers

Easily the most entertaining fantasy podcast I found.

Just a delight, really. It feels like sitting down to talk fantasy with a bunch of your buddies. It?s a handful of guys, and you immediately hear the great rapport between them. They remind me of No Dunks, my very favorite NBA podcast, and that?s quite the compliment. I just have fun with these guys.

I personally don?t find these podcasts particularly chock-full of fantasy insights, but that?s because I?m already in pretty deep. This is the perfect fantasy podcast for a more casual or intermediate fan. This podcast has won a ton of awards, and it?s easy to see why. A good listen for any football fan.

Grade: A

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Fantasy Pros Fantasy Football Podcast

A good solid ?B? podcast.

These guys do their homework and had some interesting numbers. They have nice rapport and decent insights. There are a ton of ads but good timestamps and descriptions make things easy to navigate.

But there are just a few too many cliches for me. I heard ?they drafted him for a reason? about a rookie three times in one pod, and not every rookie gets to play right away. On another pod, they ranked WR2s from each team but compared them as though WR2 is equal on every team when some teams give the RB or TE more attention and leave the ?WR2? more like the fourth target. This podcast is fine, but fine isn?t enough with the quality elsewhere.

Grade: B

Get Paid

A pretty straight forward sports gambling pod with occasional DFS insights as well. This one is two guys breaking down any and every gambling line in the sports world. I found myself interested in the topics available but didn?t feel like they added a ton of value to the conversation.

For me, it feels like a lot of mostly surface-level analysis, and anyone can have an opinion about a line. There are terrific timestamps, so that helps find something quickly. It?s a good idea but the execution leaves me wanting. I may check back in-season.

Grade: B

Harris Fantasy Football Podcast

This is a podcast from Christopher Harris, a longtime fantasy analyst from ESPN. I?ve known Harris?s work a long time and respect it a lot. He does all of his own work, his own research and projections and everything else, before ever consulting ADP tools or other things. Harris produces a ton of fantasy content on his own, so most of it is behind a paywall and he toots his own horn a lot on the podcast. I get it, gotta make a buck, but it gets a little old.

The best thing about Harris is he sticks to football and has unique opinions he?s come up with himself, but I didn?t hear any super unique insights. Nothing in particular made me rush back for another listen. I most enjoy his annual Flag Players series, a list of ten ?his guys? that he?s planting his flag on for the year.

Grade: B+

In This League Fantasy Football

The ?In This League? team does a handful of different podcasts, some for each sports, but not much stood out to me here. This is just guys talking football, and I didn?t come away with the sense that they really knew their stuff or did much homework going in.

They did little guessing games that showed they didn?t even know simple numbers like which players had double-digit TDs last year or 100+ receptions, staple numbers any fantasy analyst would know. These are really long meandering pods with vague descriptions and no timestamps.

Grade: C-

The Mina Kimes Show ft. Lenny

I said earlier there?s no one in the world I?d rather listen to talk about football than Robert Mays ? but I sure hope Mays is talking with Mina Kimes.

To call Mina a rising star is underselling her at this point. I remember thinking Mina Kimes was having a moment last fall when she did a few preseason national broadcast games and showed up in every ESPN spot possible. She?s no longer having a moment ? because moments don?t last for over a year.

Mina Kimes is a perfect blend of pure joy and elite football knowledge. Don?t you dare say Mina is a pretty good analyst ?for a woman.? Kimes is an elite football analyst, period. She?s one of the very best at breaking down the game, and she gets me excited about the sport and makes me love it more.

All the better when her dog Lenny makes his usual appearance.

Grade: A

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NFL Talking Heads

This was the most unique fantasy podcast I found, and I mean that in the best way. These guys release an annual multi-part draft special with everything you need before your draft, and the best thing about Talking Heads is that they take interesting angles and give you something different.

They have one podcast analyzing early-season schedule to see which players will have increased trade value early. They look at second- and third-year breakout candidates and considered guys age 30+ that might be due to drop off. Their ?Same Player Different Round? is especially unique as they note similar players with wildly varying ADPs.

My lone complaint is that the analysis starts getting a bit repetitive when you listen to them all, but hey, you gotta listen to them all to get there, so that?s a pretty good problem. You?ll learn new insights here you won?t find elsewhere.

Grade: A-

PFF Fantasy Podcast

Like anything Pro Football Focus (PFF) does, these are top notch. It?s often just one host on their own, with Ian Hartitz taking Jeff Ratcliffe?s place since I started listening. The solo pod style gets a bit monotonous, but the podcast is meant to inform, not entertain, and it does so brilliantly.

I find myself jotting down interesting stats and notes every podcast, great little morsels told in a direct, succinct way. These are smart, well-informed takes. Each podcast is around a half hour and jam-packed (though timestamps would be nice).

It?s hard to come up with something new and interesting every day but PFF does it, and at 2x-speed, you can knock one out in 10 or 15 minutes. There are season-long and DFS nuggets here. I initially listened to three in a row and immediately downloaded eight more, and this one?s now in the rotation.

Grade: A-

Pro Football Doc Podcast

This podcast is different from anything on this list and perhaps the most uniquely valuable. There?s no better NFL injury resource, at least nothing I?ve found. Dr. David Chao is the real deal. He?s an orthopedic surgeon with a long list of athletic background including X Games, the Olympics, and, most notably, 17 years as the Head Team Physician with the San Diego Chargers.

Dr. Chao gives it to you straight. He?s very clear what he can and cannot count as expertise. He?s not reporting sources (HIPAA wouldn?t allow it) but there?s no one better at interpreting the video evidence and giving a realistic timetable on return. It?s a huge tool for both fantasy and gambling purposes.

The weekly injury recaps are must-listen. The interviews are hit or miss, though he gets very good guests. Still, the only thing you need to know is that this is the sort of podcast I would never share with my league mates.

Grade: A-

Rotoworld Football Podcast

I often see folks talk about the Rotoworld pods on social media, ranking them among the best out there. It was Evan Silva for a long time, one of the biggest names in fantasy, and there?s a full panel now featuring Josh Norris, John Daigle, Roto Pat, and others.

It?s pretty standard thoroughfare. The team goes through each preseason game and talks about key players and takeaways. They know their football. But I don?t always feel the fantasy analysis matched the same level.

Football and fantasy football are different sports. Roto will sometimes see a trend in preseason, something valuable I might not have noticed, but then jump a player 10 or 15 spots in their rankings. That?s just too reactionary for me in a game predicated on numbers, and that?s just not my style of fantasy football. I?d be happy to listen to these guys talk football, but this is not how I process or think about fantasy football.

Grade: B

The Ringer NFL Show

This has been my favorite NFL podcast for years, but unfortunately the biggest reason for that has moved on. I adored listening to Robert Mays and Kevin Clark talk football. Clark is still there, and he?s come a long way as a podcaster since he made the straight-faced case for Andy Dalton as a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers a few years ago, even if I?ll never get over that take.

With Mays at The Athletic, this looks like Clark?s show going forward. I?m hoping we get more Nora Princiotti too, as she?s been really good so far. One thing I won?t touch is the weekly ?Dantasy? podcasts on fantasy football. I just can?t take Ringer fantasy coverage seriously ? it?s so reactionary and lacks the depth you?ll find elsewhere. But just football talk with Clark, Princiotti, and others is still worth your time. Let?s see if this holds up without Mays. ?

Grade: TBD

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What other football podcasts did I miss, or what are your favorites? NFL, fantasy, gambling, or all of the above? Leave a comment below!

Follow Brandon on Medium or @wheatonbrando for more sports, television, humor, and culture. Visit the rest of Brandon?s writing archives here.

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