I love my fantasty sports. Not to a ridiculously insane degree, but I do. Let’s face it, people love their fantasy sports. They’re obsessed with it. As computing power grows, it seems that more and more of it is devoted to crunching numbers about teams and players in every sport imaginable. Listen to a baseball game and you’ll hear absurd statistics like: “John Doe is currently two for 56 in at bats against a right-handed pitcher when the count is either 3-0 or 0-2 and Jim D’oh is on second base with first base open and less than two outs in an inning that is either a prime number or divisible by a prime.” All this computing power and number crunching is just the sort of thing that make fantasy sports players drool.

Sadly though, there are times when your favorite fantasy sport is not in season; it’s hard to play fantasy football in March. True, any real fantasy sport fanatic would tell you that you still need to be paying attention to transactions and injury reports and the upcoming NFL draft, but lost is that sense of immediate gratification garnered because you just knew that Brandon Jacobs was going to break free four times for 42 yard and three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys.

What is a fantasy football player to do?

If crying and whining about the lack of competition isn’t your style, you could always try out Football Mogul 2007 by Sports Mogul. Using the rosters form the 2006-2007 NFL season (updated midseason) and updated career statistics for all NFL players, it has just the sort of incredible range of statistics that will make fantasy players go wild.

New to this year’s version is an in-game play calling engine. Clearly they are trying to entice non-stat-heads to play the game. For the most part, it’s a wonderful addition to the game. Despite not giving players the opportunity to control what happens after calling a play, simply being able to call one is a good addition. At this moment, the number of play choices is rather scant, but it is a move in the right direction for the franchise.

On the negative side of this in-game engine is the fact that results of the plays, as written out by the computer, are not always accurate. Players can, according to the computer, hit a big hole and then gain only one yard, that sort of thing. More disturbing however is the fact that sometimes the read out is downright wrong. There seems to be an error in the coding where, on kickoffs, which side of the field the ball is on is stated incorrectly (though it does appear correctly following the play); runbacks that sound huge all of the sudden turn into a mere five yards.

More happily, the stat-tracking, trading, drafting, and general franchise-building sections of the game are better put together than the in-game play calling. They are relatively easy to use and provide loads and loads of information. I would like to see a slightly more in-depth set of choices for resigning players, I didn’t feel as though bargaining with players or their agents was terribly involved. The menus are detailed and provide easy access to all various areas of the game one might want to see.

Watching these stats change and the players progress, or regress as the case sometimes is, over the course of a season or a number of seasons is great. And, it’s one of the ways that the in-game play calling engine shines. Certain players seem to run certain plays better, so you can find your favorite running backs favorite play, make sure that you run it often, and boost his ratings.

The graphical interface of the game isn’t top-of-the-line, but it doesn’t need to be. Any player of this game will have to sort through so many statistics anyway, that a more text-based menu system over a graphical one isn’t hugely detrimental.

Overall, the game is fun and great for stat-heads, but the in-game engine could use some tweaking in next year’s version (and hopefully there will be one). Right now however, there is very little there to entice non-stat-heads. Though it’s stats aren’t quite as in-depth, I’d still rather play Madden.

Football Mogul 2007 is available for download from the Sports Mogul website.

Football Mogul 2007 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

3 stars out of 5