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Drafting with Data – Using Excel to Stop Shuffling Papers

Three years ago I was at my fourth fantasy draft of the season, surrounded by paper. Big Board player rankings, positional rankings, my team list, all neatly organized at the start of the draft, but to become a mess of highlighter and missed opportunities by the end. For me, this was all part of the marvel of fantasy football, but there had to be an easier and better way to draft my team.

There were too many times I mistakenly marked someone taken but they really were available. I missed a player of good positional value because I was focused on my big board. I’ve drafted multiple players in position with the same bye week. Sometimes even skipped over a player because I hadn’t marked them, but they obviously had to be taken.

I’m a programmer. Why am I wallowing in a sea of paper. It was after that draft that I vowed to create an easy and stress-free way of drafting where I could easily and quickly choose players of the greatest value. Below I will show some screenshots and data I use to make my draft days easier and hopefully help out in your next draft.

This spreadsheet uses some functions that remove blanks from list an allow drop-down selections of the picks. The entire spreadsheet is driven by what happens in real-time during the draft. I’m the Red Stripes for all those following at home. I pulled off a killer preseason trade of Brandon Lloyd and Javhid Best for an extra second round pick and a swap of 8th round picks. This allowed me to pick Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Roddy White with my first three picks. All of the top-tier RB's were "kept", leaving me with a strategy of stocking up on top-tier WR's in hopes to trade for a high-caliber RB.

The players are listed according to their position on the big board. I used Yahoo’s draft order since that is the league default and it gave me a pretty good idea what the other people are looking at. With all the excess data I have, I didn’t need much customization to the list since it’s a base for displaying players. Excel offers all the functionality I need to sort by ADP or SOS or whatever else I want to.

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Here I am on the clock in Round 3. Looking at a tab named "My Team" I can see I’ve taken 3 WR’s and it’s time to take an RB. Let’s shift to the available RB’s tab which has been constantly updating as the draft wears on. Here’s a look at the available running back list.

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The individual player rankings have the meat of the spreadsheet data gathered from various sources on the web. This shows me strength of schedule, average draft position, bye week and location on the depth chart. I can quickly see that Frank Gore seems to have the most value according to ADP, but a stronger strength of schedule. I also mis-trust Gore’s production and his back. I opt for Matt Forte which was a pretty good pick in the third round.

For the second example, fast-forward to the 11th round. These are the rounds that make or break a fantasy team. Hindsight is 20/20, but Jimmy Graham would have been an absolute steal at this point.

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A quick jump to the TE screen show 8 already taken and a slew of talent I’m comfortable with including Gronkowski and Pettigrew. I believed people wouldn’t double-up on TE’s, but my waiting strategy ends up blowing in my face later as a second run on TE’s occur and I’m left with Marcedes Lewis who had an abysmal season.

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I turned my attentions to a back-up QB where a familiar face is available. I already acquired Manning in round 6 and was looking for a backup. I switch the NFL Week to 11 to see a players opponent for that week. Sam Bradford, coming off an amazing rookie season is playing a Seattle team I just know to be vulnerable. ADP tells me it’s close to his draft position and he probably won’t be there in the next round.

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I end up taking Sam at 11 and elicit groans throughout the table. Many people had him targeted at round 11 or early 12 and banked on my fear of taking Rams to let me pass him up. As you can see QB was a place of weakness for this team as stats can’t predict the future.

I managed to use the spreadsheet to get a couple good picks, but the best part of the draft was being able to calmly watch the other players shuffle papers and sweat out there pick while all my data was available to me with a few mouse clicks.

There’s a wealth of fantasy football knowledge out there, and buy combining it into an easy to use, always updating spreadsheet allowed me to quickly analyze scenarios and players. Now when I see a piece of new data, I think about how I can incorporate it into this spreadsheet. Never again will I use the paper method.

** I am not going to release the spreadsheet in its entirety as I have used stats/numbers for sites with paid subscriptions. This article is merely to show what can be accomplished via excel for your fantasy football drafts

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