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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coming Back Around

Let's talk about serpentine drafts for a moment.  This is a fairly straightforward concept, and it does piggyback off of the last post on conventional wisdom.

In that post we talked about building your team, your way.  Many of your opponents will be held hostage by the draft rankings on your particular website.  Some will go so far as to pick their first player or two and then go into coast mode and allow the draft software to pick for them the rest of the way.

There are market inefficiencies here that you can exploit.

There is a complex way and a simple way, but both will give you value versus your competitors.  The complex version involves a fair amount of research and the simple method will give you a quick, but small boost in how you construct your squad.

First the labor-intensive way.  Most drafts are going to be held on Yahoo, ESPN, or CBS.  And, whether they are or not, do the work to compile the ranked players (at least the top 100 or 150 if you don't want to do all of them) from all three sites in a spreadsheet.  Add other sources if you can because the more rankings you bring into play the better your results will be.  The thing to look out for is the league format for which the rankings are derived.

One note on a pretty basic point, but it is critical... Compile rankings from different sources that use the same league sizes and formats.  That way you know that the rankings are apples-to-apples.

Once you have all of these rankings in one place you can find the average for each player.  This is easy enough to do in Excel and will give you a baseline for how each individual player is regarded on average.  You can also do this on a one-off basis and manually score one player at a time, cherry-picking the ones you care about the most.  This is obviously much less valuable, but also a lot less work.

Now, as an example: let's say you are drafting on Yahoo and they have an outfielder you really like ranked #46 overall.  You think that is too low by at least a round or so.  ESPN agrees with you and ranks him at #28 overall and CBS is also in line with what you are thinking, ranking this player at #32.  If you take the average of the three rankings you get 35.33.  So, you can feel confident taking that player at least 10 spots ahead of where they are ranked on Yahoo.  When it comes time for you to draft, your league software will show that player valued as #46 but you will know that the average value (which actually includes the 46) is around #35.  This is a market inefficiency that you can exploit.

The more work you put in, the better results you will have.  If you have a full list you can see the players with the biggest differences and target them.  Heck, build a whole team of them... Chart out the optimal way your draft might go.

The more players you rank, the better,  The biggest differences will be found later in drafts.  There will always be significant outliers from one site to the others.  Let's say that one site has a player at #210 while the other two major sites have the same player at #120 and #150.  You can take the average and see that this player ought to go around #160.  That is huge value if you are drafting on the site that ranks the player #210.

Conversely, the opposite is true if you are drafting on the site that has him ranked #120.  It goes both ways.  Let some other poor slob grab Mr. #160 with pick #120 and you will reap the benefits as players slide to you in the middle and later rounds of the draft.

I promised a simple version.  This won't give you nearly the value as the complex version, but it is an easy mind-shift that will help you to enjoy drafting more.  When you are making a pick consider all of the players that are unlikely to still be available to you when you pick next and take the one you want.  Even if you are picking #1 in a 12-team draft, look at the next 22 guys in your site's rankings and pick the one that fits your preparation and drafting plan the best.  Don't be concerned if it isn't good value to take the guy projected to go something like 12 picks later.  It's your team and your draft and if that's the guy you want, go for it.

Just make sure he fits into your overall strategy.  If you are prepared and you are executing your plan, you will have an edge even if other people think you "reach" on a pick.

And, as always if you are interested in personalized consultation on keepers, drafting, waivers, or anything fantasy sports related... Please reach out to Dave at

Thanks for reading, my friends.  Good luck with your drafts this year!

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