Sunday, August 23, 2009

NFL Football Weekly Pool Pick Em Spreadsheet Masterpiece - 2011

August 13, 2011 - UPDATED with 2011 Season!!! Check the Spreadsheets Tab.

First, I do realize this spreadsheet may not excite you like it does me, but I'm weird like that. I love my spreadsheets; probably because I love organization, but not to the point that I'll be appearing on A&E's Obsessed any time soon.

And I've created an awesome NFL Pick Em spreadsheet, available free to anyone who wants it. Like many of my spreadsheets, I've been using this one for years, but just took the weekend to completely revamp it. I've saved it as an XLS (Excel 2003) file.

You can get the file (for non-spread pick pools) from my folders on MediaFire here:
NFL Pick Em-2011.xls

And you can get the file (for pools against the spread) from my folders on MediaFire here: NFL Pick Em-2011-Spread.xls

Before I make my picks each week in the office pool, I have a ritual.

  • Find out the favorites.
  • Check out the point spread.
  • Read about the matchups.
  • Check for key player injuries.
  • Consider home field advantage.
  • Make my picks.
  • Predict the Sunday Night and Monday night scores (you need those for tiebreakers).
  • Predict the team who will score the lowest and the highest (also needed for tiebreakers).
  • Choose my survival pool team (pick one team to win each week but can't choose same team twice). I actually have two of those going in the beginning of the season, then I'm quickly down to one.

As the games complete, I update my spreadsheets and see how I fared. I also check out what would have happened if I chose all favorites or all home teams. Each year, I would have won the pool at least once, if I had tried one of these methods, even after the tiebreakers - usually with all favorites. Home team advantage is not as big a factor as local fans would like to think.

So if you're detail-oriented or just want some helpful organization, this is the spreadsheet for you. I embrace my neuroses! Maybe I should be on A&E.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Draft Day Spreadsheet

My 2010 Draft Day spreadsheet is ready on MediaFire (my hosting site): FF-2011 Draft Day.xls

Feel free to give it a try. I've been tweaking this one for years.

Here is an explanation of each tab:

Draft League - I use this when following the draft for my fantasy league. I copy and paste the player selected in each round under the owner's column. The positions are also color coded. They're currently in my rank order - I like the rankings and tips from Fantasy Source Football from the SportingNews. It's well worth the $19.95 per year for all of their insight. I also love their player tracking (you can track multiple fantasy teams), injury updates, sit/start tips and their player star ratings each week.

Draft - this is where I keep track of my own picks. I start with a strategy of which positions to draft first, but change that as the live draft progresses. I also follow the bye weeks of my selections to make sure I'm not too vulnerable for any one week.

Bye - just a quick chart of what teams are off on the various bye weeks to check when I'm plotting.

Depth-AFC - It's the current depth charts for all 16 teams in the AFC. Remember to tweak every few days in the preseason because it's always changing. This is helpful when selecting in later rounds - you still want a starter!

Depth-NFC - Current depth charts for the 16 NFC teams.

QB - Quarterbacks in rank order, with other helpful info like last year's stats. I like the SportingNews info here again. On Draft Day, I can delete players as they're taken (or use the font strikethrough), so I can plan my next few picks based on who's left in each position.

RB - Running Backs in rank order with last year's stats.

WR - Wide Receivers in rank order.

TE - Tight Ends in rank order.

K - Kickers in rank order.

D - Defenses in rank order.

Rookies - Rookies to watch. QB Matt Ryan was a rookie last year. You never know who will step up this year!

Sleepers - I haven't done my research this year, but they're always fun to track so you can choose one in the late, late rounds.

This is the only spreadsheet I need on draft day. I keep a template and reuse for each league.

Tell me what you think!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rookie Mistakes

Here are a few helpful hints when heading to your Fantasy Football Draft.

  • Bring the Depth Charts! NFL teams carry large rosters. Know who the starters are! I'll post a separate piece on each position.

  • Don't get sucked into the hype about last year's Heisman Trophy winners. It doesn't guarantee a starting position this year!

  • Know who's injured. A mild preseason injury isn't serious. A torn ACL is a season-ender. Don't count on your fellow owners to let you know before you say, "Final answer!" Many will, but it's also a competition and they're not obligated.

  • Know who's suspended. You read about player notoriety in the headlines all the time. Now you need to pay attention. For example, this year Wide Receive Donte Stallworth has already been suspended for the year because of his March 14th DUI Manslaughter conviction.

  • Know who's throwing to whom. A great wide receiver who moves to a new team, new offense and rookie quarterback may not be pulling down all the yards, receptions or touchdowns like he did in years past.

  • Don't get carried away with your home team. When I first started, all I knew were the local heroes. Stockpiling all players from one team screams rookie, and rarely does anyone any good. However, refusing to draft certain players based on personal choice is fine. I'd select Marc Bulger's backup before picking Michael Vick. Just sayin'.

  • Avoid the Committees! Just like at the office, committees can mean trouble in Fantasy. I mean Running Back by committee. You want the RB on a team where he gets the majority of carries on the field (for the yardage) and into the end zone (for the TDs). Nothing stings more than watching your guy carry the ball 59 yards and some other tank running it in for the big score.

And, yes, I'm speaking from experience on all of these. ;-)

Fantasy Football 101

Welcome, new readers! If you're new to Fantasy Football (FF), or you've played for years, I hope you find this information helpful. My goal is help demystify the world of Fantasy Football, and offer simple advice and encouragement to anyone who partakes in a weekly NFL Pool (pick the winners), Survival Pool or a FF league. I love football, and numbers, and trying to keep it all in perspective.

In this first FF post, I'd like to start with the basics. Fantasy Football "skill" has nothing to do with gender, athletic ability, or maintaining an encyclopedic knowledge of sports. It's about assembling a team of players, deciding who to start, and quite often luck. Pure luck. So don't let the trash-talkers intimidate you. You're not actually playing football or coaching professional players; it all falls to the numbers. And you don't have to be a math whiz to succeed. But it sure doesn't hurt to have one on your side. That's where I come in. I love football and love numbers even more.

Feel free to ask any questions you like in the comments and I'll do my best to help you out.

I'm sure you can get great information out there but I'll give you my description of a few key items:
  • Fantasy Football: Remember the first Basketball Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics (Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, ...)? It was a team of legends. In Fantasy Football, you create your own virtual dream team of current NFL all-stars. You, along with the other FF team owners, choose your players in a draft. Once your teams are formed (usually 10-12 teams total in a league), you're paired up to play against different owners in a weekly schedule. You get points for how your fantasy players perform that week in their real NFL games, as does your opponent.

    Points are earned for things like touchdowns, field goals, yards passed, yards received, yards rushed (run with the football), and deducted for errors like fumbles, interceptions and missed field goals. The team with the most points in the matchup wins the "game" that week. The teams with the best records at the end of the fantasy season (usually around week 14 or 15 of the 17-week NFL season) make it in to the playoffs, and the final two teams to your FF Super Bowl where you play for whatever your league decides: cash, trophies, cookies or bragging rights.
  • Fantasy Draft: Although each draft works a little differently, the typical draft has 10-12 team owners get together, in person or online, and choose their rosters (list of players). I'll speak to the details of rosters and strategies in another post, but the basic idea is everyone chooses a quarterback, a pair of running backs, a pair of wide receivers, a tight end (essentially a receiver), a kicker, a team's defense and backup players. Everyone can't have Peyton Manning as their quarterback so owners take turns choosing players, keeping track of who's available as you build your teams. And don't worry, you don't need to be an expert when it comes to choosing players. There are lots of really smart sports folk out there that rank players for you, and plenty of tools and guides available to help you. I'll be posting some spreadsheets shortly that have helped me (and others) come prepared to their draft, and put you on the same level of the FF greats.
  • NFL Structure: The NFL is divided into two Conferences, the AFC and NFC. Each conference has four Divisions (East, North, South and West). Each Division has four teams. That makes a total of 32 teams and a potential of 16 games played each week.
  • Bye Week: The NFL schedule is 17 weeks long, but each team has one week off between Weeks 4 and 10, called the bye. This week is critical. You need to take note of your players' bye weeks when drafting, and more importantly, scheduling. Your players can't play on their week off. I'll be posting a set of spreadsheets to help manage this, too.
  • Pick Em: An office-type pool where you predict the game winners each week. The person who predicts the most correct wins the pot. Usually there is a long series of tiebreakers for deciding the final, single winner. Most pools are not "against the spread".
  • Against the Spread: A 50/50 choice would be too simple. So Las Vegas oddsmakers add "the spread". For example, if Baltimore is predicted to beat Cincinnati by a spread of seven or more points, your two choices are: (1) Baltimore wins by seven or more points, or (2) Cleveland wins outright or Baltimore wins but only by six points or less. Most pools don't include these complications.
  • Survival Pool: A different kind of weekly pick em game where you only have to choose one team to win. The catch? Once you choose a team, you can not choose them again the rest of the season. Sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong. Upsets happen all the time. And as the season progresses, your choices are reduced. I personally love survival pools. They're not too complicated, but it's very tough to keep your streak alive.

I'll be posting more articles as the summer winds down with helpful spreadsheets (yes, I'm a spreadsheet guy), links, and tips.

Good luck!