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The Advanced Draft Sheet
David M. Dorey
June 28, 2004

Most people use a simple matrix to record a draft as it occurs, if they even bother. They’ll write down every player name in the column for the team and some will break out each team to the positions that are drafted. If, for some unknown reason, it is very important for you to always know what player is on which team, then that method is fine. If you consider yourself as a savvy veteran, perhaps you are missing a chance to make your draft sheet become a tool instead of just something that takes up precious time during your draft.

Lazy Like a Fox

Why not draft smarter and quicker? Most drafts are done either online or with a computer present, so you should be readily able to see what the complete results are later. It is important to know what positions are taken, but does it really matter who has Favre? Why not make your draft easier on yourself and more productive? All you really want to know is how many quarterbacks are gone, who still needs a tight end, are back-ups being taken and so on. For this, consider using the advanced draft sheet.

 TM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

 The advanced draft sheet is actually quite simple. It is nothing more than the positions you will be drafting and instead of places for player names, it merely has boxes where all you have to do is mark a large “X” for the position as it is taken by a team. If you are less dexterous or you’re leading the pack in beer consumption, just fill in the box. It is not only much faster to record, it is even faster to view and use as a tool.

During a draft, you need time to determine which player you are vying for with your next selection, how many of each position are gone, what players will be most likely be gone by your next pick and how you might secure the phone number of the waitress. The last thing you need is to waste time trying to spell Chris Fuamatu-ma’afala or Adimchinobe Echemandu. Keep it simple and you’ll keep it useful.

Considering that your draft sheet is merely a tool, there is no reason to make it extend any farther than what your decisions need to be. Who cares who has a 3rd quarterback? What is most important is starting positions and then only one back-up beyond that. By then you will be so deeply in the draft that there is little useful information to see since there is no pattern to take advantage of in regard to  your planning. Deeper in the draft, everyone is hunting sleepers or drafting players willy-nilly.

Swingers vs. Wingers

Your draft position is itself a tool because it is uniquely yours and is directly affected by those teams around you – particularly the “shorter” side teams. Consider you are drafting 9th in a twelve team league. In the first round, there will be eight players taken you never had a chance to draft. After your first pick, three teams will go twice (assuming standard serpentine drafting). By using your advanced draft sheet, it will be very easy to track what is going on as the draft evolves and how you might take advantage of it.

 TM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
QB   X   X            X  
  X X X X X X X X X X    
  X   X     X            
WR             X X       X

Consider the sample to the right. It shows what a draft might look like when the 9th drafter is about to take his 3rd selection.  Since the 9th pick here already has two running backs, the decision is whether to take a first quarterback or receiver, or to back-up the running back spot now before it has completely vanished. There will be six picks made by two teams before 9th goes again.

Whatever the 9th pick does with the #3 and #4 draft picks, he better be prepared to see 16 players taken before it wraps back to him. While you could just “wing” your picks from a cheatsheet, it makes more sense to consider the “swing” teams of 10th, 11th and 12th which will have a direct bearing on your fourth pick and can be far better forecasted than the 16 picks the “long side” has before returning.

Breaking down the three options quickly:

  • Quarterback – There are still two openings to the right. This means that at most, two quarterbacks will be gone and possibly only one or none. If the quarterback tier shows three similar players in it, then it makes no sense to take one here since an equivalent can be had with the 4th pick and instead a RB or WR could be taken that would likely be gone by the time the draft wrapped back.
  • Running back – This depends largely on how valuable running backs are in a league. There will definitely be at least two taken and possibly up to five. I would count on three being gone on the wrap-back, so if I really wanted a running back and only thought there were three or less desirable ones left, I better take one here or risk getting none of them.
  • Wide Receiver – Since one has been taken but the big three are gone in the draft, I would only consider a receiver here if there were only two still available that I really wanted. I am sure that at least one will be gone and possibly up to four since I know two of the next picks will be running backs.

With 16 picks happening when I leave the 4th pick, I have no control of what players will be gone but can count on a run for receivers and possibly quarterback by the time it returns. Likely a few more running backs as well. Under the above scenario, I would likely use my #3 on a running back to take them away from those swing teams and then grab the best receiver or quarterback with the 4th pick to at least get great quality before it is gone for one of them.

The Fifth Dimension

When the draft wraps back to the critical fifth round, the advanced draft sheet becomes even more valuable. Consider an example of what the 9th pick might face when the draft wraps back in the 5th round.

 TM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
QB X X   X   X     X  X  
  X X X X X X X X X X X X
  X X X X   X   X X X   X
WR X X  X    X X X X X   X X
          X X   X        
(TE)           X          

Now the rational choice is to grab a quarterback or take a second receiver. There is no need to take yet another running back since I would already have three and 33 have already been taken. Only seven quarterbacks are gone but two were to the swing teams I am watching.  Tight ends are starting to show up now with the top two being taken. There are no kickers (of course) or defenses gone. Using the advanced draft sheet, here are my thoughts:

  • Quarterback – There will be no more than one more taken by my 6th pick, so the only way I opt for quarterback here is if there is one guy I really want to have. If so, I grab him here and stop playing games. Otherwise, if I think there are two or more viable options for me I would wait and use a 6th on him.
  • Running backs – I have three already – no need. I should work on filling other starting positions first. Knowing there are 33 of them gone, I am free to make snide comments to teams 5, 7 and 11 who only have two and will be weak at back-up in the most important position.
  • Wide Receiver – The run happened as I feared. Now 13 of them are gone and those swing teams will certainly take at least one and probably three or more of them. Unless I can live with four more being gone when my #6 rolls around, I better take one here.
  • Tight End – A definite option if the league scoring makes them a good scorer. In my tiers I see three or maybe four of them in total being valuable and two are already gone. Those swing teams may grab the two remaining good ones. If I really want one and think they are an advantage, here is where I better take one. If not – pass.
  • Kickers/Defense – Unless these positions are far more valuable than in most leagues, I would not consider starting the run here. They are very unpredictable and I have other needs more pressing. I can wait until the run starts and still get good quality.

Armed with this knowledge I can see at a glance, I would likely opt for a receiver and then a quarterback with my 6th pick.

And so the draft would continue. The advanced draft sheet is useful for determining the likely patterns of other drafters as they relate to your team and especially those on the “short” side of the rounds. Once I have starters and maybe a back-up or two recorded for each team, there is no need to bother tracking the depth. In the previous example, I would still want to see where tight ends, defenses and kickers are going to be selected so I can throw some strategy into my plans as the draft evolves.

The advanced draft sheet must be kept current since it is a little harder to correct if you make a mistake or miss a pick. But it does not take long to make an “X” in a box and being diligent.  Perhaps the biggest benefit of the advanced draft sheet is that it can lead to the sweetest words you can hear in a draft…


Happy drafting!