Your fantasy football draft is coming up on the 7th round. All of the teams are starting to flesh out and you have a good feel for each team’s identity. The adrenaline level has tapered off just slightly. Nevertheless, the next 5 or 6 rounds will be a grind.
Notice how some of your opponents are shuffling papers, frantically tabbing through websites, trying to beat the clock and make their next pick.
You evaluate your roster, focus on the weak spots, and ponder your next pick. There are a number of directions you can go this round – another running back or receiver, a quarterback, a tight end, or you may be one of the first to grab a defense. It all depends on your and the other teams’ needs.
The confidence with which you make your next pick can be determined by answering one simple question: “Do you trust your cheatsheet?”
Trusting your cheatsheet means that you firmly believe that you have ranked all of the players, from the first pick to the last (grouped by position). It means that when you are in the later rounds of your draft and you want a receiver, you’ll take the 47th ranked receiver over the 48th ranked receiver every time. Why? Because your cheatsheet says so!
Now that may sound like common sense, but is not always the case with fantasy players. A lot of times our cheatsheet is simply a guide. An outline. Players with similar expectations are grouped together, but there is no determining factor that says one player should be picked over another.
This may be intentional (you may have divided your cheatsheet into tiers). Or it may be from a lack of preparation.
Yes, tiers are great and highly recommended. Tiers give you flexibility during the draft. They allow you to improvise and be in the moment. You may see two players that you consider to be dead even as far as rank. Your instincts and existing player knowledge at that moment will determine which player to draft.
But cheatsheet trust is about putting in the preparation ahead of time so you can focus your energy on strategy and team analysis during the draft. Rather than trying to determine who’s the better running back – RB#54 or RB#56.
How To Establish Cheatsheet Trust
1. Put in the time.
Establishing cheatsheet trust requires a fair amount of preparation prior to the draft. You should start customizing your cheatsheet at least a month prior to the draft. This will give you enough time to focus on the entire cheatsheet, not just the top half.
Continue to do your player research and fine tune your cheatsheet up until draft day.
2. Don’t neglect the lower ranks.
In order to trust your cheatsheet from the number one pick all the way down to Mr. Irrelevant, you’ll need to spend time fine tuning the bottom half of your rankings.
It’s always a lot of fun ranking the top players. Figuring out how the first few rounds will play out according to your draft position is great. It easy to spend a lot of time thinking about who you’re 1st 3 or 4 picks will be. As you approach the middle to lower ranks, the players are less familiar so its not as fun and takes more time.
Analyzing and customizing these rankings, however, will pay off as you enter the later rounds of your draft. You’ll be familiar the 3rd and 4th string players while your league mates are asking, “What position does he play?” or “Who is that?” You can talk smack when someone unknowingly picks a guy who just got cut. He was probably ranked higher on every one’s cheatsheet, except yours because you put in the extra prep time and moved him down in your rankings.
Remember, your time and effort at the draft should only be on strategy and the analysis of you and your opponents’ teams. What position do you need to fill? What do the other teams need to fill? Do you need to fill it immediately, or can you afford to wait?
Once you have identified the position you are going to pick, let your cheatsheet do the rest.
Cheatsheet Trust will empower you to make timely, confident draft picks throughout the entirety of your draft. It will give you an edge on your opponents and allow you to capitalize on their lack of knowledge of the entire draft pool. It will also allow you to focus on strategy and team analysis instead of player analysis. You will need to put in a good amount of preparation in order to establish cheatsheet trust. Start building your cheatsheet at least a month prior to your draft and revisit it often. Focus on the middle and lower rankings. Your will see the results of all your hard work on draft day.