Just a quick post here to make sure that everyone is aware of the new app on the site that will help you come up with a cheat sheet for your fantasy drafts. This app is powered by our staff projections and allows you to input your own scoring settings and then get a fantasy point projection to compare against various ADP sources.
Feel free to jump over and start playing with the app (always the best way to learn a new tool) if you don’t want to read my thoughts on usage.
The first step will always be inputting your league’s scoring settings. That part is straightforward. Note that we even allow for TE premium scoring.
The app allows download of data to a CSV file, which you can open in Excel. That’s probably how I will use the app. Because once I have the data in Excel I can do things like conditionally color cell values, delete players I won’t touch, and then print a cheat sheet for my draft. You’ll notice that the CSV file contains our projection for each scoring category.
Value Based Drafting
There is a group of inputs for Value Based Drafting baselines, even though the results of the VBD inputs are only shown in CSV output. If you select a baseline of RB40 each RB’s VBD points (in the CSV) will be relative to the 40th projected RB. If you don’t know anything about Value Based Drafting you can read up on it here.
While VBD is a very interesting concept, it’s also wrought with problems I think. If you don’t select the right baseline then by definition it has to be pretty worthless. The most common way to choose a baseline is what is known as the Top 100 method. But the Top 100 method is problematic for a few reasons. First, if you’re trying to exploit the market it seems odd to also rely on the market for your valuation. Second, the Top 100 method doesn’t involve an independent calculation. It relies on Average Draft Position, but it also has the potential to influence average draft position. It’s pretty easy to foresee a scenario where the more popular that VBD becomes, and the more people in a draft using VBD, the less valuable the Top 100 method becomes. ADP feeds the VBD baselines, which end up affecting ADP. It’s circular.
I still included VBD calculations in the app because I still think you could use the data to see how changing the assumptions for VBD baselines ends up impacting the VBD points. When I set the baselines at QB12, RB24, WR36, and TE12, then the top three players in VBD points are Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and Rob Gronkowski. If I change the baselines then the ordering of VBD points also changes. It doesn’t take much playing around with the baselines to see how important they are for player valuation… which would be great if we had a valid way to calculate VBD baselines. Note also that most methods of calculating baselines would also ignore format specific considerations. I’m sure that you could come up with a reasonable way to calculate VBD baselines for MFL10s and I’m also sure that method would probably be at odds with what we know about winning MFL10s. The VBD paradigm can’t account for how important we’ve found RBs to be in that format.
I was actually really intrigued by VBD at one time and wrote a post for Rotoworld that suggested an alternate way to calculate baselines. But what I’ve realized in the interim is that not only is VBD limited for the reasons I mention above, but it might not even be valid with proper baselines.
Consider these two sets of projections for the current year TEs. The first graph reflects our actual PPR projections. In the second graph I’ve just flattened TE2-TE12. VBD says that Gronk is worth the same amount in each (hypothetical scenario).
I’m sure you can see why that’s problematic. In the first scenario if you own Gronk you would have varying levels of an advantage at TE over the other teams in your league. In the second scenario you would have a unique advantage at TE that no other team would have. It seems impossible for Gronk to be worth the same (relative to players at other positions) in both scenarios. Maybe calculating VBD points as a percentage is the way to go? I really don’t know.
I tried to add some conditional formatting to some of the cells in the table although I’d like a better way to do that. Having 10 spots of equity for a WR with positional ADP of WR30 is a lot more valuable than for a WR with positional ADP of WR50.
The very most simple way to approach a draft is to start with a target list at each position. Make some notes of the players you’re most motivated to get and ensure that you know where to take them so you don’t miss out. I always print out my cheatsheets in descending ADP order because in addition to my targets I also like to scoop players that fall too far in a draft. But if you start with the players you’re most motivated to get, you can fill in the other positions relatively easy. I always feel like I can hit doubles to homeruns with players in the WR25 through WR35 range (Josh Gordon was a homerun, Kelvin Benjamin was a double) so I’m usually trying to figure out how to fill in my team after that. I also like to use the Draft Optimizer to see what it suggests as a draft plan.