Sunday, August 26, 2012

Choose Wisely, You Must

After completing the 2013 Draft Day Spreadsheet (I keep it under the Spreadsheets tab - it's free to download), I can now respond to Kerry's second question in her recent comments: "Do you have any recommendations for comparing or combining rankings from different sources?"

As a matter of fact (OK opinion), I do.

I pull rankings from five different web sites: NFL, CBS Fantasy Sports, ESPN Fantasy Sports, FantasyPros and Sporting News. Then I average the five sources and rank my players based on that average. These are standard rankings, meaning they are not based on Point Per Reception (PPR) performance. And they change all the time so I update the ranks from each source as close to my draft as possible.

Some sites offer Average Draft Position (ADP), but I don't put much stock in how the rest of the world drafts their players. There are a lot of different leagues, roster requirements, scoring schemes, draft strategies and enough insanity that says: I'm not down with ADP, hey you know me.

Fantasy Projections are nice but I don't how how accurate they are. We should get a report card on these projections mid season and again after the season to see how effect they really are in predictability. We should get the same from meteorologists, but that's another topic for another day.

In my draft spreadsheets, I include several things:
  • Last year's stats for each player as reference, knowing full well they may not perform like that again.
  • The bye week for each player because it's crucial when building your roster (having a backup QB with the same bye week doesn't help you).
  • The player's age. It can help when deciding between similarly ranked players.
  • The current Depth Charts - it's quick reference to see which teams have formed a Running Back committee (just like work, committees should be avoided), who the quarterback is this year (I want to know who's throwing to this "awesome" receiver or tight end), and who are the true starters. This also changes during the preseason so later drafts benefit from more realistic information.
  • A grid to track the draft for the entire league, if you're so inclined. I am so inclined.
  • A grid to track the team as you choose, along with the bye weeks, and what spots are left to fill.
Before Draft Day, it's a good idea to color code players that are injured, suspended, or sleeper picks. You can add your own notes to the side.

When we're actually drafting, I shade out the players that have been picked so I can see who's available as we pick.

I'm a spreadsheet guy, so this tool helps me tremendously for all my drafts. I simply make copies for each league. Then I adjust each according to the number of teams, roster spots, bench spots and the draft order itself.

When I'm all done the draft, I use the FF 2013 Roster Management spreadsheet (also under the Spreadsheets tab and free) to manage my roster each week, track player progress, track upcoming bye week substitution needs, and prospective players available on the wire.

Thanks for the great questions, Kerry! Hopefully, this information, and my obsession with spreadsheets, is helpful.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Picking Order

In a recent comment, Kerry asked: "Do you have any recommendations for position picking order, outside of player valuation? I feel like there must be a best way to choose based upon limited players available versus limited team slots versus the limitation of how many players you can play at once."

Honestly, you've just summarized what you should do!

When I head into my fantasy draft, I have a game plan and an order of positions to fill. However, it is dynamic and I adjust as the draft moves along.

The order in which you fill the slots of your roster should be based on several factors, round by round:
  • Your league's scoring system
  • The number of teams in your league: 10? No worries. 16? GFL.
  • The roster slots you need to fill
  • The number of players you can carry for each slot (for example, 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 WRs, etc.)
  • The number of players you can play each week (for example, 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex RB/WR, etc.)
  • The best players available in the slots you're filling and how many picks before your next chance comes up again
  • The BYE week of the player you're considering
  • And if it's a keeper league, who's gone before the draft even starts.
Think of it like inventory management for a huge, one-day sale.

In most leagues, Running Backs are the toughest and go early and often. Just remember to watch the BYE weeks before each pick so you aren't scrambling to replace multiple starters on different weeks. Also, consider the team: is it running back by committee? Do they have a strong run or are they pass happy? Do they had the touchdowns to someone else seemingly every time this guy is in?

Wide Receiver performance doesn't really show until a few weeks into the season, and there are usually at least two good WRs per team, as opposed to RBs. Every season I end up pulling WRs off the waiver wire as the strongest players show themselves well after the draft. And I'm always concerned about off-season changes. Does this WR have an established chemistry with his QB? So I try not to sweat the WRs on draft day and just make sure I get some starters.

For QBs, it's often the top three and then everyone else. Again, this depends on how your league handles scoring. And remember: there are 32 teams with full-time, starting QBs.

Tight Ends can act as receivers and pull in some touchdowns, but often their primary duty is to block. So there are only a few good fantasy tight ends each season. Personally, I don't fret over this position.

Defenses can really bring some points in, especially with special teams opportunities, but it usually takes several weeks for the strong Ds to show themselves. Even after that, consistency for big points can be rare.

Kickers can always be picked last. Just like QBs, there are 32 starters. Yes, they have the potential to provide your team points each week but the negative points from missed Field Goals or lack of opportunities for low-scoring offenses (or phenomenal offenses that only offer extra points) usually deflates that potential.

And try not to get caught up in runs, like when everyone goes for a Defense or Kicker in an early round. Let. Those. Runs. Go. But if the #1 Tight End is out there in the fifth round, it can be fun to start a run by grabbing him and then getting a WR on the swing back.

Finally, keep track of who you're picking, the bye week of every player on your roster, and who's still available in every round. I use a set of Draft Day spreadsheets (you can find mine under the Spreadsheets tab) to track all of this. Saves my ass every time.

There's no science here. Just my strategy for draft day. I hope it helps you! And thanks for the question, Kerry! It's nice to post again.