Let's get started!
Below we will discuss how to use this cheat sheet to find the "sweet spots" and undervalued players in your draft. Read the guide in full and try a couple of the "examples" on your own and you'll be on your way to a league championship.
Before we get started head on over to our members area and customize your cheat sheet based on your leagues settings, then print it out so you can use it as a reference as you read this guide and make the required notes.
Table of Content:
- A look at the columns and their meaning
- Preparing your draft cheat sheet and strategy for the draft.
- Recap the most important key notes
A look at the columns and there meaning:
- Player, Team, Bye Week and Position - these are self explanatory, if you need an explanation you need to request a refund of your money and never play fantasy football again.
- Proj. Points - these are the players projected points for this NFL season based on your fantasy leagues scoring system.
- ADP - This is the estimated round the player will be available. We base this on current (live) draft data, known as ADP. Of course the flow of every draft is different so usually ADP and Next ADP is really only useful for planning as well as during the beginning stages and later stages of the draft.
- Value - is the number of projected points a players is expected to produce (plus or minus), versus the league average based on your point system and number of player slots. For example: Let's say your league has 12 teams and each team has 3 WR slots. If Andre Johnson is projected for 245 points the league average would be 175 points. This gives Andre Johnson a value of 70, which means he is projected to score 70 more points than your leagues 36 starting Wide Receivers.
- Next Value - is calculated with the same aforementioned formula however, you can use it to identify the drop off between the players Value you're looking at now and the next available player in that position.
For example: Pierre Garcon has a Value of 1 - looking at the "Next Value " you'll notice the next available WR has a value of -28. This is a 29 point difference in overall production between player A and player B. If this point difference is to wide by your judgment, or perhaps you're thin at WR or a run is being made on that position, then draft Pierre Garcon. Or you can then look at the projected "next available round" column to see when that "Next Value" player is projected to be available. Using this information you can determine if you want to draft the next group of players in that position with your next pick.
Another simple example: Joe Flacco has a value of -28 and is available in round 5.4 - well the next available QB has a value of -29 and is available a full round later. This means you can pass on Flacco knowing the next quarter back available will score just about the same amount of points.
- Next ADP - As explained above, this column is used to quickly access when that "Next Value" player is projected to be available.
- SOS - this is the projected strength of schedule based on that players position. 1 being the easiest and 32 being the hardest. Example: Miles Austin has the # 1 ranked "easiest: fantasy football pass schedule. This is because Austin faces 9 very suspect pass defenses this year and has a pro bowl quarterback.
Preparing your draft cheat sheet for the draft:
Login and Customize your draft cheat sheet. When you're done you'll be presented with ONE list of over 200 players ordered by their anticipated draft position, round by round. Print it out using the "printable version" above the worksheet. You can also download as an excel doc. You can also sort by position etc
Step 2 (preparation is the key to success)
Now I want you to highlight or mark (consistency is key here) all the sleepers and late round options you would like to target. Notice how our sheet is sorted based on the projected round a player will be available (based on several thousand current live draft results, ADP). Keep this in mind because it will help you make decisions on how long you can hold off before drafting in certain situations. You'll also use this information throughout the draft process measured against a players value which we discuss next.
Step 3 (mid to late round)
understanding value and how to quickly identify it during a live draft
Our value system is based on your league settings and is averaged based on the number of slots in your fantasy league for each position. It helps you identify drop-offs in projected production for each position, this drop-off is known as position scarcity. Let's now discuss leveraging value and determining a positions scarcity during the draft. Notice the columns at the top of the draft worksheet named "Value" and "Next Value".
"Value" is the number of projected points a players is expected to produce (plus or minus), versus the league average based on your point system and number of player slots for said position.
"Next Value" is tricky because its based on the estimated average draft position (ADP). The number is calculated with the same aforementioned formula (plus ADP) however, you can use it to identify the drop off between the players Value you're looking at now and the next available player in that position but sometimes, because of your leagues scoring system and ADP the next value will be higher than the current value. People using generic rankings found online will suffer because they don't have a tool, like you do now, to identify value.
Step 4 (ties right into step 3)
Go down the sheet and identify were the value drop off exist, you want to be sure to target the guys before the drop off takes place. You can also use the ADP to determine which guys may drop in the draft, but have a high value rating. Also take note of the SOS column, the lower the number, the softer the schedule. I recommend picking players with a soft SOS when the projected points are similar as well as ADP. Use "Next ADP" to see when the next player in the position is typically being drafted, if the difference between ADP and Next ADP is great then you may be able to wait until your next pick to draft a player with similar value. Of course the flow of every draft is different so usually ADP and Next ADP is really only useful for planning as well as during the beginning stages and later stages of the draft.
Example: The list is sorted based on projected points for your league. Start with WR and scroll down this list and circle or highlight the Wide Receiver(s) who have a much higher "Value" than the other Wide Receivers being drafted. I prefer to circle the players Value since this is where I'll be looking during the draft. You have now identified "loopholes" and "sweet spots" that exist in your league's draft based on its point settings etc. Also highlight players will soft SOS - SOS with a low number (like 1 thru 10) have an easier schedule than 20 thru 32.
So what does all this Value analysis mean and how do I use it?
Now, when you're comparing wide receiver A and wide receiver B - Value and Next Value - you can also quickly scan down the list about 10 rows for any other "high value" wide receivers that have lower ADP. Check out their Value and determine if you want to draft this position now, or hold off until later. Again this allows you to draft for maximum value for EVERY PICK you make. During the draft, in 10 seconds or less you'll know who you want or if you need to draft in a different position because the current position you're looking at is deep in Value and has less scarcity. This quick Value analysis is especially useful once your top 20 or 30 players are already gone. Which bring us to the last and final step.
Step 5 (early round help)
It's all about value and next value / this deals with position scarcity. Position scarcity means, for example, the drop off in points between the top five RB and the lower ten is much greater than the point drop off between the top five QB and the lower 10. You must identify where this scarcity exist so you know how to draft, this is most useful with your first two or three picks. In order to identify the MAJOR point drop offs for each position, mark it on your sheet so you know where these point drop offs exist. This helps you know what players you want to target in the early rounds and in what order. You can sort the projected points column if you want by clicking the column, but the sheet is meant to be used at draft time sorted on predicted available round (also known as ADP).
For example: Let's say you have the 3rd pick in a 12 team league. This means you'll first get the 3rd pick and then your second pick will be at the 22nd draft position.
Based on ADP data the available players around pick # 3 are: Drew Brees, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Based on your leagues settings:
Drew Brees is projected for 317 points
Ray Rice is projected for 188 points
Maurice Jones-Drew for 195 points
So who do you draft? Drew Brees? We'll you need to figure out what players are projected to be available at pick # 22 (Available Round 2.9) which are
Rashard Mendenhall is projected for 134 points
Tom Brady is projected for 290 points
Shonn Greene is project for 132 points
This tells you that if you drafted Drew Brees first at 317 points and Rashard Mendenhall @ 134 points you're total points would be 451 total points.
Or if you drafted Maurice Jones-Drew at 195 points and Tom Brady at 290 points your total points would be 485 total points.
Notice how drafting the RB first then a QB netted you an extra 34 points!
But position scarcity doesn't stop here.. look all all the players in each position and measure the point differences so you'll understand how to draft based on your players projected points are. The sheet is sorted based on ADP because it helps you follow the draft better and more organized. Try it in mock drafts and you'll understand the value if you don't already.
Value also helps you quickly spot players with a higher ADP (later rounds) that have a value equal to players (in that same position) being drafted to early. These are the guys you want to target because they will come to later in the draft allowing you to pick higher value players, earlier in the draft.
Since the sheet is sorted based on ADP it is likely that your draft will closely follow the list from top to bottom. If you know your position in the draft you can shade the side of the sheet around the areas where you'll be drafting and pre-plan (plot) you draft. Just count down the ADP column to find your draft position.
example: if you're the 3rd pick in the draft on a 12 team league you'll most likely have the players available around the ADP 3 in round 1 and ADP 22 in round 2.
This analytical approach is fast and easy to do during the draft, so long as you set your sheet up as referenced above. I suggest you practice this once or twice in some online mock drafts to perfect this method, just like momma always told ya "practice makes perfect"!
Kicker: Taking a note from "The Fifth Down" blog "You should always be the last team to take a kicker. You want an accurate kicker with a good distance leg, in an offense that might have trouble finishing drives. An extra bonus is a late bye week so that you don’t have to drop your starter for a backup kicker until later in the season. Janikowski fits every criteria on that list, and he, like Miller, should benefit from a rejuvenated Raiders offense. If Janikowski gets sniped from you before the last round, take Matt Bryant, the newly anointed starter in Atlanta."
Defense is important but even the stud teams will net you only 6 or 7 points on any given week. And predicting which defense will hit the turnover lottery this year is damn near impossible. I've always had success simply drafting a defense and playing them based on matchups against teams like St.Louis and Tampa etc. If you get lucky you might hit a stud defense that you can ride out a couple games in a row or even trade! By the third week of the season we usually spot the new "rising defense" and will let you know via our "Personal Agent" and Waiver Wire Updates. Oakland and Tennessee have sweet games to open the season and could be really strong defenses this year anyways. Target these guys late and also have a look at our defensive rankings for other ideas.
Position Runs (when teams start drafting the same position back to back to back, usually unduly because of fear)
If a run is being made on QB don't just jump on the bandwagon if you're at the end of the run. Analyze the data and realize that the point value between player A, that you can draft now, versus player B you can draft later, might not be but a hand full of points different, this is identified in the value column of the draft worksheet.
Example:Caught in a QB run you know that since all you can now draft is the 9th or 10th QB off the board, you would be better off drafting the 12th or 13th QB in a later round, and grabbing a stud top five TE now because he will max out your points for that TE slot and net you more points at the end of the day. Manipulate the run to your advantage because runs create value at other positions for you. You see this on your sheet plain as day. Just make sure you're crossing off players as they are drafted.
Condensed Version and Quick Tips, final thoughts.
Identify sleepers you want to target in the draft with a marker or by circling their names. (Step 2)
Circle or highlight players in each position who have a higher value than the guys being drafted before them. (Step 3 and 4)
Identify the MAJOR point drop offs for each position, so you know where the "stud cut off" is.
Join the draft early and find out what pick you got! You can then shade the area on your draft sheets where you'll be drafting.
Run a couple mock drafts. (this will go A LOT faster than your draft and are not based on your leagues settings, but they still help prepare you)
Cross players out as they have been drafted. You have time for this because you're not fumbling between countless pages of data between picks. Analyze the dynamics (how fast positions are going, trends) of your draft and be thinking about how this will effect your next pick.
All in all not only are you now more organized and prepared for the draft, you're loaded and confident in your approach. Your teams overall point value at the end of the draft will be much higher than everyone else who drafted with generic draft sheet and rankings. No one will be as prepared and stacked as you.
Good luck in this years fantasy football draft. I'm confident these five steps will ensure your dominate your league!