Saturday, July 31, 2010

Customize your cheatsheets

The Counselor is IN:

I love it when I enter a draft or auction room and  many of the individuals are flipping through their recently purchased fantasy magazines. This scene screams that these fantasy owners have not done their due diligence in research ahead of time. They are using cheatsheets which are months old without the latest information. I start to salivate about my chances in these leagues.

A little more effective but still a mistake to surf to your favorite fantasy football website  right before the draft, print out their list, and carry it to the draft.  This information is usually updated in the last few days but it is limited to the rules and scoring of this site and more importantly it is only one opinion.  

Another issue when bringing the printed out list from one site, like“ESPN”,is many of the owners will have examined the same list multiple times and some of them may be using it themselves. Those owners will know what players you have listed and in what draft order and whom you may be likely to pick with your next selection if they can guess where you got your list.  

If you examine the top 12 players on 5 different websites, most of the players will be the same names but in a slightly different order.  After the top 25, the differences are usually profound on where is player is ranked.  Customizing will help you to rank the players where you believe they need to be on your sheet and will give you a better overall understanding.

There are Fantasy Football leagues with a variety of scoring options out there. I am in a league that is Touchdown heavy which only gives points for scoring and a few rare bonus points for yards. Previously I was in a league that gave huge bonuses for Tight Ends to increase their value.  In both of these leagues, I had to change my cheatsheets to match the rules.  If your league, like many leagues, is not a regular scoring league, then you will need to customize your cheatsheets.  If it is a standard league, I gave the reasons for you to customize your sheets above.

When you are starting out, here are a few tips to customizing your lists.  

1) Get multiple cheatsheet lists to compare. There is nothing wrong with buying your favorite fantasy football mag but do not let it be your only source. Some of the magazines will give you free updates online which can be helpful. You will have the FSC Cheatsheets available for free. There are plenty of other websites out there where you can get free cheatsheets.  Cowboys Pride, Sports Jabber, The Bleacher Report and Yardbarker have posters who give out their lists. There are sites that have customizable cheatsheets like FF Toolbox to help with leagues with non-standard scoring rules. Of course there are the big FF sites like ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL that have their lists available.  Do not rule out the pay sites because they can bring a ton of information and research with their lists for reasonable low amount of money such as my favorite Pigskin Addiction, which is well worth the money if you are in a league that has sizable prize money.

2) Compare and contrast each list. You will see that every list has a different take on how they think each player will perform.  This is one of the most time consuming aspects to customizing your cheatsheets.  Don’t let it grind on you.  You are doing what is required to give yourself the best chance to win.

3) Make your own list. I use a spreadsheet to create my lists which allow you to move players around fairly easily. You can combine the various lists and add your own twists, bias, and gut feelings. It is your list. If you think Peterson will have a terrible year then move him far down your list (I am not advising it but ...).  This is also very time consuming but well worth it.

4) Remember the off weeks. It is important to add bye weeks to your list. Every draft there is at least one person that drafts two QBs off the same week. They are not watching their off weeks. Having these listed on your cheatsheets is a great way to stay on top of the bye weeks.

5) Cheatsheets contain an overall list.  You should have the top 150 - 200 hundred players ranked on your sheet.  Your overall list is most important in the first half of the draft.  You are looking to bring in the best players for your team  especially  in the first half of the draft.

6) Cheatsheets contain individual position lists.  It  is extremely helpful during a the  draft to have a list for each position.  In the second half of the draft, you will be  more concerned with finding the best player at specific positions and may not be concerned with the overall list.  These can give you a quick reference without having to scroll through the top 200 to find the best tight end left.  

7) Tier your lists. Tiers work by grouping players together that are comparable. You want to Tier the position rankings. It is not as important to Tier the over all list but some people find it helpful. The advantage of using Tiers give you a visual on the level of that position players left and will assist you in deciding when to draft a player.

The Counselor is OUT:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pre-Draft Preparation and Cheat-sheets

The Counselor is IN:

Before Draft day, there is much preparation to be done. Here is a list of the things to examine. Most of them are related to your cheat-sheets. Your cheat-sheets should be the results of your hard work. It is also important to know your league.

1) Know your league rules and scoring
This may appear obvious but many of the owners do not fully grasp the rules and scoring of their league. They may not know that Tight Ends get a 5 point bonus if they have over 5 catches per game or that interceptions are minus 2 points. Owners need to know how to pick up players for injuries and if their league has injured list spots or does the league have a waiver wire. You need to know all of the rules and how they will affect your team and what kind of backups you need to draft.

2) Customize your cheat-sheets
I will update and re-post the article from last season about why you need to customize and how to customize your cheat-sheets. In a nutshell, you need cheat-sheets which are specialized to your league and your preferences. Stay tune and the article will be posted in the next couple of days.

3) Overall and Positions with your cheat-sheets
It is important that your cheat-sheets should have an overall rankings of the players especially at the beginning of the draft. Equally important is the rankings of each position on your cheat-sheets. This allows you to easily find the best wide receiver left on the board, according to your rankings. During the draft, you usually have less than a minute to pick your next selection so you need quick access to your lists.

4) Tier your cheat-sheets
Along with the customizing the rankings, you need to Tier your lists. Tiers work by grouping players together that are comparable. You want to Tier the position rankings. It is not as important to Tier the over all list but some people find it helpful. The advantage of using Tiers give you a visual on the level of that position players left and will assist you in deciding when to draft a player.

5) Other important information on your cheat-sheet
It may be important to include other informaiton on your lists. The off weeks for the player is very important because you do not want to draft your top three running backs with the same off week. There may be other important infomation to include depending on your needs and your league.

6) Fantasy Mock Draft
Nothing prepares you for an event like practice. Fantasy Mock Drafts are your practice before Draft Day. There are a ton of sights that have mock drafts set up such as ESPN.com and NFL.com. Most allow you to pick your draft position so if you know your draft position ahead of time then you can practice from that position numerous times.

Do not expect your draft to go just like the Fantasy Mock Drafts because it won’t but it should give you an idea of where players are going in the draft. Face to Face drafts are much less likely go like a mock draft than an online draft.

7) Understand the tendencies of your league Owners
If you are in a reoccurring league, you can examine the draft tendencies of the owners over the seasons. Most of us are creatures of habits. Most will use similar draft strategies from year to year.

8) Know your own tendencies
If you know the tendencies of your fellow league owners, some of them are likely to know your tendencies. It is important to be aware of your tendencies and if you are tipping your next pick. When possible during the draft, it is good to occasionally change up slightly to cause confusion to your opponents but don’t do something crazy just to do it, like drafting a kicker in the first round.

The Counselor is OUT:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Early Round Fantsy Football Draft Strategy

The Counselor is IN:

There are different philosophy and theories when looking at Fantasy Football drafts. We will examine some of the of the early round strategies and discuss advantages and disadvantages of these philosophies.

1) Running back/Running back
This has been one of the major strategies in Fantasy Football for a long time. Because quality running backs are in short supply, you pick a top back with your first and second picks. Usually you follow it up with a WR or QB in the third and fourth round and then take a back up RB by the fifth round.

The running backs are the most consistent score players over the course of the season and from season to season. They can be the bread and butter of your team. Having two studs can lead you to the playoffs.

The league has changed from every team having one premiere running back on a team to the running back by committee style which dominates the NFL. There are a handful of top running backs that are studs and are premiere players but not enough to get two unless you are extremely lucky. The running backs you will now get in the second round are often at the same level as a running back you can pick up in the fifth round.

2) Wide Receiver/ Wide Receiver
This strategy is like the RB/RB strategy but instead of RB in the first two round, you take the top Wide Receivers on the board. Third through fifth rounds, you usually try to get your two starting RBs and your QB.

Top level Wide Outs are also at a rarity. Getting one of the studs should be a top priority. Getting two can also lead you to the promise land.

Advantages: Two top wide receivers can more than make up for mediocre running backs.

Disadvantages: Wide receivers are not consistent producers from year to year. The top WR one season can easily fall out the top 10 the next year. I have seen this strategy back fire most of the time.

3) Best Quarter Back
This strategy picks the best QB available in the first round. This has been a pretty popular strategy over the last few years. It has been a balancing strategy in leagues where RB/RB dominated as the main strategy.

Pick up a stud QB to lead you team. Some leagues are very QB heavy and you need a top QB. If a QB has a super season like Brady had a few years ago, he can single handed win your league for you.

Quality Quarter Backs have become much more available. The NFL has become a pass happy league. There is at least 8 quality quarter backs. You can pick up a quality QB in the 3 round and after.

4) Top Tight End
This strategy often occurs in leagues which give special bonuses to Tight Ends. I appreciate leagues that do give extra bonuses for TE because often Tight Ends are less valuable to a team than their 4th WR. This strategy suggests drafting one of the top 5 (if not very top TE) in by the fourth round.

There are only a few truly stud Tight Ends out there.

Even in leagues which give extra bonuses to Tight Ends, the difference in a fourth round TE and 8 round Tight End are only a few points a game. Those points can be made up with picking up quality QB, WRs, and RBs. Tight End touchdowns vary extremely from season to season and if rarely see double digits.

5) Best Player on the Board
This strategy sounds easy and logical. You take the best player available to you in the first few rounds for your league rules. You do not worry about the shortage at a position or runs on positions.

Getting the best player available is a smart way to draft. It is the best way for an NFL team to develop and grow from the draft and will add the highest impact players to your team.

This method discounts the needs you have to fill out a starting roster with the best possible team over all. If the best player on the board according to your rankings are wide receivers for the first 4 rounds, then you have four great WR but no top QBs or RB and in most leagues you can only start 2-3 WRs.

6) Best Player With Balanced Approach
This is my favorite strategy. It calls for a balanced approach in the draft. Get the best player available when possible but you need to appropriately fill out your roster. If you hit the end of the third round with out a quarter back and their has been a run on QBs and only one left that you would consider a top level guy, then you should draft him even if you have him ranked far less than a WR or RB which is still left.

You are still looking for the best players available for your team. It allows you to make flexible changes as the draft goes on.

Some owners can not handle flexibility. They need a solid list to pick from or they may go off the deep end. This strategy can also lead to a team pulling the trigger on a player way too early because they think he will be gone before their next selection.

The Counselor is OUT:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time to think Fantasy Football

The Counselor is IN:

The Baseball All Star game is currently going on. The All Star game is not just the traditional half way point for MLB, but it is time to pull out the fantasy football mindset and get to work. Many FF drafts will be occurring in less than a month. It is time to start making lists of players and examining strategies. The moment is upon us. If we do not start now, we might be the guy who is printing off the canned list from the 4 Letter network (not that their list is bad but it is not specific to your league or your needs).

The Fantasy Sports Counselor will be coming out of the fog and start posting regularly again. You can expect articles on how to prepare, strategies, and our list of players and values.

The Counselor is OUT: