Hi. Im Grid… and I don’t believe Value Based Drafting is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s been 11 years since I last used it.
Yea, as far as I can tell I’m the last one who still attends these meetings. As popular as VBD has become over the last decade, I guess I can understand why. But I for one (and perhaps the only one) am not buying it. Well, I’m not buying it anymore.
I’ll grant you that the theory is sound, well thought out, and mathematically accurate. There are even variations of VBD that make perfect sense. Some weigh in intangibles. Some consider the schedule. Some average in prior year stats. All good stuff mind you. VBD even takes most of the thinking out of the actual draft which is a great thing for Fantasy Football newbies.
NOTE: That last sentence just enraged every VBD purist reading this. It always does. I have no idea why. As I understand it, that is the whole point of VBD.
The problem I have with Value Based Drafting is that everything, the whole kit and caboodle, the resulting ultimate draft list, is based on projecting the stats for every draftable player.
What? So if your projections are wrong your entire draft strategy is now flawed?
Guess what Nostradamus? Every projection, regardless if you developed it yourself or if it was provided by some website (an idea which still boggles my mind) is inherently flawed. Easily 99% of the time, the projections you feed into the formulas and use to rank the players will be incorrect come year’s end. Ouch! I personally can’t live with banking my Fantasy Football season on a bunch of wrong guesses. Me, I want to get my hands dirty during the draft.
Now before I go into detail about my personal strategy, I do want to say that I know a lot of guys that I consider expert drafters that do use VBD. However… none of them use it exclusively. Not one of them looks at their list and instinctively drafts the player with the next highest X-Value or whatever. Not one of them chooses Dallas Clark in the first round. They may start with a VBD list, but I find that they abandon the base theory pretty quickly as the draft goes on.
That said, my drafting strategy isn’t necessarily an alternative to VBD either. It can easily be used in conjunction with it if you want to spend the time projecting the stats for every player. Hey, knock yourself out. It’s not something I’ll be doing again, but whatever floats your boat is okay with me.
The method I use incorporates several items, all equally important. These include a tiered player list, player ADPs, an “opponents drafting tendencies” cheat sheet, and a running list of league rosters. I know that sounds like a lot of papers strewn about… but in reality I have great eyesight and print really small so I rarely have more than 2 sheets of paper myself. But like I said, I like to get my hands dirty. If you do too, the extra paperwork wont phase you.
Tiered Player List: This is your typical player “rankings” list broken down by position. However, instead of just having WRs (for example) listed 1 – 60, I have them broken into 8 – 12 sub-groups. Each sub-group (tier) includes a group of players I feel will produce very similar numbers over the course of the year. Again, unlike VBD…I am not going to guess at what exactly those numbers will be. All I am concerned about is that those numbers will be similar for all of the players in this tier.
ADPs: Average Draft Position lists found on the web vary wildly, so be sure to pull a list based on the group you will be playing with. If it’s a league of new guys, a Yahoo list will work. An average league could use a list from one of the many Mock Draft websites out there. If you’re playing with experience owners, I would suggest only using an ADP list comprised of data from serious drafts made up of serious players. I rarely bring an ADP list with me to the draft because I do so many mocks during the preseason (I’m embarrassed to say how many) that I gain a real good grasp of where players will go and when a good value is available. I’ll write about my love affair with mocks at another time, but for now just remember, mocks are your friend. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
Opponent Drafting Tendencies: Obviously, you probably won’t have this available to you unless you have been playing with the same group for a long time and have been noting how they draft. I know this part may sound silly to some and be considered overkill by others, but knowing that a guy is more likely to take a backup WR over a backup RB or that he will take a QB before the 5th round can be immensely valuable information if you are paying attention. I am rarely surprised by the players picked in my money league, of course I have been playing with them over 20 years. I suggest if you haven’t been tracking the drafts, you start now. If you have access to old draft reports from your league, go back and do some analysis. You’ll be surprised to see how consistent most players are. Perhaps even yourself! (For those in my leagues….yea, I’m watching you!)
League Roster List: This is one of the most important things that I keep at my finger-tips during a draft: A chart showing each franchise and who they have drafted so far, again broken out by position. This will give you much of the information you need to make the tiered draft list work for you. Tracking the other team’s progress, needs, and wants is crucial.
Below are a couple of “tiering” rules I follow that may be helpful.
1. As I mentioned, I establish my tiers by grouping players who I feel will have similar stats throughout the year. I don’t try to guess what those stats are exactly; I just want to feel each tier will include similar players that are better or worse then the groups around them.
2. I see many people who tier in even numbered groups. For example, every tier has 5 players in it, or ten players in it. That makes no sense to me. Some tiers might have 2 players, some might have 15 (Late WRs for example). Don’t get tied into a norm for simplicity sake.
3. Using whatever method you prefer (perhaps VBD), rank the players within each tier. Be sure the players are similar enough that you would basically feel just as comfortable taking the last player in a tier as you would taking the first player in a tier. If you don’t, you need to re-adjust your tiers as this is a very important aspect of this type of drafting.
“So how about getting to the ‘Strategy’ already!”
Okay, here's the idea. Say you’re in a 12 team league and it’s the 4th round of a serpentine draft. You are in the 4 Spot (pick 4.09) and you think you need a WR and a RB in the next couple rounds.
5 of the 8 WRs in the current WR tier are still available.
2 of the 5 RBs in the current RB tier are also available.
You glance at your running League Rosters List and notice that the guys ahead of you (who will pick twice before your next pick) have the following rosters so far….
1 Spot: QB, RB, WR
2 Spot: RB, WR, WR
3 Spot: RB, RB, WR
Just by looking at these current rosters, it would be safe to say that at least two RBs will be chosen before it gets back to you. You could also say with some confidence that at least one WR, perhaps as many as four could also go before your next pick. At this point, knowing your opponents drafting tendencies takes a lot of the guess work out of this process.
With that knowledge you can safely choose a RB from your current tier now, while knowing that at least one of your remaining WRs will still be there after the turn. If you were to choose a WR here because their X-Value was a point higher than the RBs, you would have missed the boat.
Often times there will be no guarantee that you will be able to get the players you want if you wait. In those cases, you have to play the odds. As in any situation that you are playing the odds, whether it be poker or the stock market or a Fantasy Football draft, the more information you have, the better your chances are of playing them correctly.
It takes some thinking during the draft and confidence in your choices (as does every decent drafting method), but it gives you a reference point for when to draft a certain player and when you have the luxury to be able to wait on them.
Anyway, that’s pretty much it. Perhaps you’ll find this useful. Perhaps you’ll stone me in the halls for talking bad about VBD. Perhaps you have your own original drafting strategy that works for you.
Whatever the case may be, good luck in this year’s drafts!
**I wrote this article years ago and thought it might be a worthwhile repost for any new sharks who might find it helpful**