Dominating your Draft (with the Draft Dominator)
Posted 6/23 by Bruce Henderson, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
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
Now in its 5th year, the Draft Dominator does things never before thought possible:
Consider the following Draft Dominator features
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Figure 13: Built-in Depth Charts
- 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
- 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
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.