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:

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