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Dominating your Draft (with the Draft Dominator)

There was once a time when you could walk into your draft with a cheatsheet and expect to leave with one of the best teams.

Then people got serious. Websites like Footballguys.com sprang up looking at every possible angle on the players, the strategy, etc.

  • Last year's numbers were thrown out the window as the experts generated projections that met league norms and historical position scoring curves.
  • Value-based drafting concepts showed us all how we could compare unlike positions to determine overall value and create Top 200 lists.
  • Data from mock drafts slotted players into average drafting position so you could know when a player would likely need to be taken.
  • The NFL schedule was analyzed for impact to a player's value looking for his easiest and hardest games.

And that was just the first wave.

Five years ago, Footballguys.com introduced a software program called the Draft Dominator. It's goal? To combine all of this knowledge in an easy to use software program that allows you to dominate your draft. We created this tool, because it was impossible to juggle all of the info, do the required Value Based Drafting (VBD) calculations, analyze the schedule strength, simulate what different players would add to your weekly results, etc. in the 1-2 minutes one has to make selections.

As value-based drafting evolved to dynamic value-based drafting (values change based on players already selected), the need for a computer to solve the algorithms became a necessity.

One needs to just scan the room at the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) to see how prevalent this software is. About 1 in 5 drafters the last few years were using a version of this software as they prepared to win the biggest prize in fantasy football.

Now in its 5th year, the Draft Dominator does things never before thought possible:

Consider the following Draft Dominator features

  1. Ability to tailor the Draft Dominator to your League
    One of the first things you do is tailor the Draft Dominator to your league. Here you enter league variables like number of teams in your league, number of rounds that you draft and number of starters at each position. Then enter your team names, fantasy schedule, pick order and your league scoring system. All of this information is used to tailor the player rankings based on your league. You can configure and save multiple leagues, each with custom player rankings. You can also print out custom cheatsheets and Top 200 lists based on this information.


    Figure 1: Setting up your league variables


    Figure 2: Configuring your league scoring

  2. Ability to Tweak the Player Projections
    The Draft Dominator comes with the award winning player projections from Footballguys.com. These projections are updated weekly throughout the preseason. You can use these projections as is, or tweak them as needed. For example, if you think Terrell Owens is good for two more TDs this year, then bump his TDs up accordingly.


    Figure 3: Tweaking Terrell Owens' projections


  3. Ability to see all of the Players in the Player Pool
    After entering your League Variables and Scoring and tweaking the Player Projections, the Player Pool is recalculated automatically.


    Figure 4: Player Pool

    The Player Pool displays the players ranked from top to bottom based on fantasy points. You can display the players ranked by position or by overall rank. The VBD numbers and ADP numbers are displayed right next to the projected Fantasy Points to assist you during the draft. There are also three columns available for you to enter your own player notes.

  4. Ability to run Mock Drafts
    Run mock drafts and try out different draft strategies out beforehand. For example, how strong will my team be if I draft a quarterback and wide receiver in the first two rounds? What if I draft two running backs in the first two rounds? With the Draft Dominator it is easy to step through these scenarios before the draft. You can set the other teams up to mock draft by ADP to get a pretty good feel for which players will be available to you each round.

  5. Ability to see what players/positions each team has taken
    The Team Stats window and Team Data window let you see at a glance how many of each position have been taken by each team real-time during the draft. Lets say you are drafting close to the turn, and both the teams after you have already selected a starting quarterback. You can use this information to scoop up a running back or wide receiver now and wait until after the turn before looking at a quarterback. The Team Data window shows each of the teams and the players drafted so far.


    Figure 5: Team Stats


  6. Ability to see the Best Value Pick (Recommended Player)
    As the draft is going on, the Best Value Pick window will calculate the "drop-off value" for each position and multiply it by a "need multiplier" to determine which player should be taken. The "drop-off value" is calculated by looking ahead to see how many of each position are going to be drafted between now and your next pick and then subtracting the difference between the player you would get this pick versus the player you would get if you waited until next pick. The "need multiplier" is based on the players that you have drafted already. If you still need starters at a given position, then the "need multiplier" will be one. If you already have your starters covered, then the "need multiplier" will be less than one. The "drop-off value" multiplied by the "need multiplier" gives us a Dynamic VBD. These Dynamic VBD calculations are recalculated on the fly with each pick.


    Figure 6: Best Value Pick

    Keep in mind that the recommended pick shows the top player left at each position, but there might be several players that are close in value (same tier). For example, if the Best Value Pick is recommending a wide receiver, click on the wide receiver tab of the player pool and see which other wide receivers are close in value. If there are three or so really close together in value, then select the player you are most comfortable with.

If you only used the six features listed above, the Draft Dominator would be a powerful tool for dominating your draft. But there is more...

Advanced Draft Dominator Features

  1. Ability to Configure the VBD Baseline
    The Draft Dominator comes preloaded with "Joe's Secret" VBD baseline. This works well for most leagues. But you have the ability to tweak the baselines if you desire. You can select the Worst Case starter method, or you can create your own baseline based on either player rank or player fantasy points.


    Figure 7: Tweaking the VBD Baselines

    In Figure 7, notice that I tweaked the Running Backs baseline from 24 to 30. By increasing this number to 30, I effectively made the running back position more valuable as compared to the other positions. Likewise, by decreasing the Tight End baseline from 12 to 8, I decreased the tight end's value as compared to the other positions. These changes are immediately applied to the player pool.

  2. Ability to distribute the Player Projections by week
    This feature allows you to Distribute the Player Projections by week in order to handle injured players, rookies, suspensions, etc. Lets say a player gets injured in the preseason and is expected to miss the first four weeks of the regular season. You can set the first four weeks of the season to a weight of zero, and set the remaining games to a weight of one. This will distribute his yearly projected fantasy points over the remaining weeks.


    Figure 8: Configuring the Weekly Weights

    In Figure 8, the weights for Daunte Culpepper have been preset to account for his knee injury. Likewise Drew Brees' weights have been adjusted to account for his shoulder injury.

  3. Ability to Find Complimentary Players
    The Find Complimentary players feature is great for separating the middle round players, by focusing on which ones can help your team the most based on the players you have already drafted. The Find Complimentary player feature looks at the players you have already drafted, calculates their weakest weeks based on the built-in Strength of Schedule, and then weights those weeks a little higher and resorts the player pool. The re-sorted player pool will now have the players that will help your team the most at the top.


    Figure 9: Player Pool before Find Complimentary Running Back selection


    Figure 10: Player Pool after Find Complimentary Running Back selection

    Notice that Frank Gore was the highest rated Running Back on the board, but Fred Taylor is the best compliment to the Running Backs that you have already drafted.

  4. Ability to project weekly fantasy results
    The GameByGame window shows your projected wins and losses for each week at a glanced based on your fantasy schedule. You can adjust the weekly weights to increase your team's strength for important weeks, for example, divisional games and playoff games. Lets face it, some fantasy weeks are worth more than others. For example, in most leagues, you have to win your division in order to make the playoffs. By setting these weeks with a little higher weight, the Draft Dominator will recalculate the player pool, and move the players that are projected to do well during those weeks up in value, and players that are projected to have off weeks, or bye weeks down in value.

    How does the Draft Dominator project good weeks and off weeks for players you ask? With the built-in Strength of Schedule of course. Our own Clayton Gray has this down to a science. The SOS is broken out by position for each team for each week. Red numbers mean that the position, for example, quarterback will face one of the softest eight defenses against quarterbacks for the week. A Blue number means that the quarterback will face one of the toughest eight defenses against quarterbacks. The Draft Dominator uses this information to divvy up the players yearly projected points by week.


    Figure 11: Strength of Schedule

    The GameByGame projections are updated real-time as the draft is taking place.


    Figure 12: Game By Game Projections

    Looking at the Game By Game projections in figure 12, which was captured halfway through the draft, it is easy to see that your team is projected to go 9-5 for the regular season. The weekly weights are currently set at 1.20 for divisional opponents. At this point in the draft, you can re-weight the weeks in an effort to convert some of the losses to wins. For example, setting weeks 1, 4, 6, 9 and 11 to 1.20 and the rest of the weeks to 1.00, will strengthen those weeks during the remainder of the draft.

  5. Ability to see the depth charts
    Team Depth charts available during the draft. Not sure who the backup running back is for the Chargers or the Bengals? It is all right here at your fingertips. Notice that the players that have already been selected are scratched off.


    Figure 13: Built-in Depth Charts

  6. Ability to handle Auction Leagues, Keeper Leagues and IDP Leagues
    The Draft Dominator is not limited to basic leagues. It will calculate auction values and keep track of team caps, dollars spent and dollars left for Auction Leagues. It recalculates the Auction Values based on the players selected and the amount of money spent on each pick.

    The Draft Dominator will also keep track of keepers for keeper leagues. Even if your league allows teams to keep different number of players each year, we have you covered.

    For the IDP leagues, it will add three more categories to the player pool: LB, DB and DL. These positions are also added to the Best Value Pick and Team Stats windows for IDP leagues, so that you can track these positions throughout the draft.

  7. Ability to import your Draft Dominator files into the Lineup Dominator
    After the draft, make sure you save your league, because the Draft Dominator information can be imported into Footballguys' Lineup Dominator. The Lineup Dominator debuted last year. Its goal is to help you maximize your lineup each week, to assist you in making waiver wire moves that will help your team both short-term and long-term, and for evaluating trades.


    Figure 14: Maximizing your weekly lineup with the Lineup Dominator

Conclusion

In summary, we have tried our best to illustrate How to Dominate Your Draft, using the state-of-the-art Draft Dominator software. But like all software, you need to kick the tires, start pressing all the buttons and see these things for yourself. Footballguys.com offers a free version of the Draft Dominator, supplied with data as of June 4th, for just that purpose. The software also contains an extensive user manual and help section. Both our staff and many people on our message boards all use this software and are ready to help should you encounter questions. We promise you that once you have drafted with this tool, you will never go back to pen and paper. Subscribers to the Footballguys.com website get all 2006 enhancements plus weekly data (projections/schedule strength/player distribution curves) all season long.

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