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Article 3: Pressure Cooker

As in Article 1 and Article 2, this was originally released 1999/2000.  Player names and advice have been maintained from those seasons.

In this lesson we learn how to put “Part 1

The Golden Rules” and Part “2

Eagle Scout” together to have a good draft. What to bring, what to do, how to do it. The draft, soup to nuts.


The draft is the single most enjoyable part of fantasy football. Whether it is over the Internet or a buddy

s house, the draft is what we live for. Months of preparation all boiled down into one slice of time and you better perform. The pressure is on you to create a winning franchise and your season will be over before it starts if you have a bad draft. What follows is a discussion on the draft and some tips to hopefully help you become a stronger fantasy football player. Roll the school bus safety movie!

Every “What not to do at your draft – Top Ten List” I read, repeats the same mantra over and over and over again. Do not drink, get plenty of rest, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Progno Rules state, you should be so prepared; your draft runs itself so you CAN drink if you want to. If you are properly prepared, have some fun, watch the other owners scramble through their magazines as you calmly pick the last piece of gristle from a thermonuclear chicken wing and ask, “Anyone need another?” Appearance my friends, is everything.

There is a ton of draft terminology that gets tossed around and it can be confusing. There is the ever popular “Stud-RB Theory” vs. the “VBD” theory. People will talk about “tiers” and sometimes “buckets” to rank groups of players. You

ll hear terms slung around like “good value pick” or “nice pairing”. There is another theory regarding matching QB

s and WR

s from the same team. Or, making sure you don

t have RB

s and WR

s from the same team. The list goes on and an entire book could be written about the multitude of “contrarian” views in the fantasy football drafting community. Bottom line, most people draft using the system that makes the most sense to them. If you think for yourself and reason it out, one system over another will make more sense to you. I recommend you go down that path as you

ll believe in what you

re doing, causing you to take it further, which ultimately will make you a better player.

If you wish to follow Progno Rules, and obviously I think you should, according to the Progno this is the way to go. Many years ago now, I sat down and devised my own system of drafting. I reasoned out what the best way was to draft, like any rational person with chemically electrified brain matter could. What I came up with and used as my own working theory was something similar to VBD (Value Based Drafting).

I do advocate the use of the VBD theory in part because it also encourages the drafting of RB

s, which in a lot of ways, covers the stud RB theory as well. Both systems emphasize the RB but a modified VBD (keep reading) can build some powerhouse dynasties. The other thing I like about the VBD is that the draft comes to you, you don

t have to go after the draft. Stud RB only handles the beginning of your draft and leaves you hanging later. The VBD narrows your choices down for you, making your decisions almost always between two or sometimes three players. There is power in simplification and letting your tools take the brunt of the pressure.

(2005 Addition: Tony – Everyone should know the basic principles of VBD to build on and you should operate a draft utilizing VBD. I’d like to see 2 to 3 years of VBD draft experience before you move on. The final step in achieving mastery will be to do something that will be very hard for you to do and to gain your black belt in fantasy football you’re going to go through some things some people won’t be strong enough to do. In Article 5 we drop VBD cold turkey from our style and after you rely and perhaps win with the style, it will be hard for you to do, but you must to grow as a fantasy player.)

Number one rule at the draft is “Keep it Simple Stupid”. An easy trap to fall into is bringing too much information to the draft causing frustration and problems. You need to keep pace while reserving time for you to think about the next chicken wing and not spend 5 hours turning pages.

In an earlier lesson we preached the value of a major web site or magazine cheat sheet. The Progno comes into a draft with two sheets, two red pens, and a small ruler. If you come into the draft with just your list of players, you

ll get killed. You will take players rounds ahead of when you should be taking them. That is why having the majority of your opposition

s cheat sheet in front of you gives you such an advantage. Make a point of knowing what magazines or web sites your competition use. Then make sure you

ve got the most popular in front of you next season.

Each one of these sheets is exactly that, one piece of paper with the players sorted by position then value. Your lists should be nothing but position, name, team and value (on sheet 2). If there is someone on the list you do not know, look him up now, as there will not be time to do all sorts of cross referencing with bleu cheese dressing on one side and a pile of thermo-nuculears on the other. The only cross-reference allowed, according to strict Progno draft rules is to check what the player

s height and weight are to be sure that you fulfill a Golden Rule. After you perform this practice for a few drafts you will start to learn all the heights and weights and will only have to look up the occasional stray. You also need a list of the bye weeks on one of these sheets.

The second sheet is your modified VBD sheet. You need projected statistics, either you can project them or what I recommend, grab a reputable person

s projected statistics, plop them into a spreadsheet, then massage the list to make it more in line with your beliefs. Apply your scoring system to the projected statistics and come up with a value number for each player. For example, a player is projected to score 30 TD

s and your league rewards a TD with 6 points, 6 * 30 = 180 + other point worthy categories and you have a players seasonal worth under your scoring system. You then compare the top player at the position with the projected last one to create a VBD number. Progno likes to assign two value numbers, one for starters and one for backups. Let

s say you

re in a 12-team league and you are required to start 1 QB. Progno then knows there will be 12 starting QB

s in this league, my VBD base for a starting QB is based on the top 12 QB

s. Take QB #1 and divide by QB #12. QB #2 by QB #12 and so on. This gives you a VBD number just for your QB starters. Do the same for RB

s, WR

s and TE

s. Then go back and project how many total will be drafted at that position and use that as your divisor to create a 2nd VBD number column.

For example, if there are 9 weekly starters and your draft is 16 rounds that means everyone will have room for 7 more players. Reason out given your scoring system what the average team will do with those 7 picks. You then will have a close approximation of the total number of players at each position that will be drafted. To create your VBD numbers for your backups do the same thing as above but instead of using the #12 QB use the #30 (for example). I tend to approximate 1.5 more QB

s to be drafted after the starters are drafted.

Do NOT apply VBD to your kickers or defenses, the numbers are meaningless so don

t waste your time.

The first column is the VBD number you use until all your positions (excluding K and D) are filled. You may have a few more RB

s and WR

s before you get to your QB so realize you may be in the 1st column for a while. As soon as all positions are filled with starters, jump over to the 2nd column for the remainder of the draft but focus on QB for a pick or two because you will probably be the last owner to pick up a QB if you follow this advice. You

ll notice how the system fits one of the golden rules learned earlier in lesson 1 quite well. That Golden Rule of drafting a QB late but draft a bunch of them, will keep you honest and your eye on the prize when your system also keeps saying, “not yet”, “not yet”.

So now you will have two sheets of paper in front of you, your modified VBD sheet on the left and a popular cheat sheet on the right. As you proceed through your draft, consult both sheets for your next pick. Take a look at your VBD sheet for the next best value pick but also look at the next best player at each position. Discard any players that do not meet all the Golden Rule requirements (Lesson 1). Then consult the popular cheat sheet to see which is in the most danger of being drafted before you draft again and take that guy. You will find that the next best player according to the VBD numbers we concocted earlier will often slip many rounds. In a recent draft at, Plaxico Burress was the next best value pick but according to the popular cheat sheet could be had later. We let Burress slide for two rounds while we collected other value picks and still got Burress. You really need to leverage the data you have free access to and pistol whip your opposition with it.

Now, I

m not saying to blindly draft because you do still need to make some decisions. You need to be comfortable with your choices so if the next value pick is Terrell Davis, he is ranked higher than James Stewart and you like James Stewart better, by all means, grab James Stewart. Just be sure you primarily draft from the position that the value number tells you to draft from. Towards the end you often will have to look away from the best value pick because you need to fill a position but that is fine. You

ve already done your dirty work.

At the end of the draft, draft the minimum number of Kickers and Defenses according to your rules. Just make sure you have both positions for Week 1 and don

t skip drafting them if free agency starts after Week 1. A number of people have been calling me out on this Defense posture of mine. There are some leagues that reward a lot of points for good Defenses or inversely, severely punish poor ones. Many associates a VBD number to the Team Defense position and panic because the top D

s have such flamboyant VBD numbers compared to other positions. You have to temper those numbers with the realization that the #1 can

t miss Defense on your list has a good shot at being the #31 Defense. Anyone draft the Rams last season as the #1 D drafted? Not that you

ll admit to I

m sure. In a league where a good Defense means so much, the majority of them will be overvalued anyway, why bother paying the exorbitant price? But we can agree to disagree on this one.


s about it, stay on the path of enlightenment grasshopper for the rewards are often and great. Now that you have this war machine, how do you contain it? Look for Lesson 4

The Art of War, to appear on this web site soon.

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