Writing about mock drafts is one of the more common, perhaps easy topics for most fantasy sports writers/blogs/sites. Most mock draft articles focus on the results, rather than the process, perhaps with a sprinkling of insight or strategy beyond “what do you think of my team?” or “I can’t believe Anthony Rizzo fell to the 7th round!” or whatever. I have no time or patience for this sort of article, which is why the ‘Snake Draft 401‘ and ‘Auction Strategy and Strategies‘ articles on FanGraphs+ were a pleasure to read. The $5 a year’s subscription to FanGraphs+ is one of the better fantasy sports deals, and I’d recommend the investment highly.

Regardless of your draft type (auction or snake), the snake draft 401 article specifically has a lot of good advice on creating and working with spreadsheets. There are plenty of sources to download war rooms, player raters, draft trackers, and other jawns but there’s some understated joy in the time, energy, and complete geekiness in creating your own spreadsheet to evaluate players and manage your draft.

While the draft itself is the battlefield, your war room spreadsheet will save your neck in battle. Using Google Docs, I’m putting together my own war room to test in mock drafts and auctions and ensure I’m meeting my team goals and not getting too caught up in the excitement of the next pick that I miss my overall vision for my team.

My war room is probably in Beta mode, and already has a separate sheet for each position (with rp and sp separated), a sheet of all hitters/pitchers, a sheet for all players, a sheet with draft round tiers, and a home sheet for managing in the draft. Each sheet has its own function, which I’ll outline here in the order of their utility during the draft.

A Picture of The War Room Sheet

A working version of my war room spreadsheet

A working version of my war room spreadsheet

The most important sheet is that which I’ll use to track my draft picks for each turn, and manage my actual draft. Starting from the bottom and working up, I’ll explain what I have here:

  • At the bottom is a list of rounds and picks. Following the Snake Draft 401 article, I created a simple sheet listing every pick in a snake draft in a row. Then, when I found out what pick I had, I could copy and paste that row and know which number I’d be picking for the entire draft. This makes it easier to know when you’ll need to reach for a player, or when you might be overpaying
  • On the right  is a list of the players picked with each round. Whenever I picked a player I would copy and paste their stat line from the ‘all players’ sheet.
  • Top left is the cumulative projected stats of this team. I have this set to add up all the stats from the right-hand list, so that as soon as I add in a new player their projected stats are added to my team total. This is indispensable in figuring out what categories to target with the next pick. I’m using a slightly modified version of the steamer stats found on FanGraphs, simply because Steamer uses FG playing time projections and my research has shown these to be reasonably accurate. I probably trust the ZiPs projections a little more, especially with young players or projected rookies, but especially in mixed leagues where there isn’t so much depth, I’ve found Steamer to be fairly reasonable.
  • Below this on the left are a few fields that I’ve put together based on speculation and projections.
  • Team Goal: This is my guess at what it will take to win each category, based on the winners from my leagues last year and some inflation or deflation based on other research. Above this, just below the draft projection  total, I’m calculating the percent of my projected team stats against the overall goal. I’ve targeted a balanced team focusing on 75-90% in each category, but you can see if my team performs as projected I should expect to win the Runs category and could win AVG and RBI too, meaning the weaknesses of my pitching staff will be overcome.

I have tested this against a few mock drafts, and the format makes it easy to track draft progress without clicking between too many items. In a fast moving snake draft it’s still possible to keep up with this without missing a pick or overlooking a need. The true benefit to this is in testing my team in real time against a goal, so that I can determine with pick 20 whether my team needs SB or pitching depth more, or fill other holes.

It’s easy to modify and add in an auction calculator. I’ve begun testing this and will write about that in a future update.