Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets
How to Build a Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet
The best way to arm yourself for a season of fantasy football is surrounding yourself with stats, player info, and expert advice and analysis. One of the major sources of fantasy info used by fantasy owners around the world are known as "Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets". A cheat sheet is like the crib sheets you used to make to cheat on tests in school -- come on, we all did it once or twice. The big difference between cheating on a Spanish test and using a fantasy football cheat sheet is that anything goes in the world of fantasy football. Using "cheat sheets" isn't really cheating at all. The name comes from the idea that printing out advice and stat rankings (or projections and "insider info")is similar to writing an equation on your arm for a math test.
When you're ready to participate in your fantasy football draft, you'll want to bring a few things to the table with you. A beer would be a good start, something crisp and refreshing to get you through the draft rounds and trash talk. Be sure to have a pencil and paper somewhat nearby for note taking purposes. But your most important weapon could be your cheat sheets. How does one go about building a fantasy football cheat sheet?
If the name of your fantasy draft game is selecting the players most likely to score you fantasy points, a cheat sheet is a necessity. These tables, available for free all over the Internet or in the pages of fantasy sports publications, list players by position in order of their "projected stats". A typical fantasy football cheat sheet will list QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, Kickers, Defenses, and perhaps individual defensive players like LBs, DLs, DBs, etc. After players are categorized by position, they are ranked in descending order of their potential fantasy point totals. Looking over a cheat sheet I used in this year's draft, we find the top five QBs listed this way:
- Drew Brees (NO )
- Peyton Manning (IND )
- Tom Brady (NE )
- Aaron Rodgers (GB )
- Tony Romo (DAL )
Here we see that the player's name is listed next to their team in brackets.
The list is then further illuminated by various categories. For the cheat sheet I used, these categories are Bye Week, Age, Yrs Exp, and Projected Fantasy Points. Bye Week tells you what week in the NFL season that player will be idle. Age gives the players age, while Yrs Exp tells you how many years experience that player will have at the end of this season. The last category, "Projected Fantasy Points", is the main crux of fantasy football cheat sheets. That projected determines a player's rank within his position (and ultimately his rank in the entire NFL) based on past performance, this year's "schedule strength", and a few other pseudo-mathematical mostly scientific pieces of information.
For example -- the number one QB in this year's draft, Drew Brees, is projected on my cheat sheet to earn 304. 5 fantasy points, while number two, Peyton Manning, earns a projection of 304.2 The difference in projection is negligible, but merely because Brees is projected as number one by most cheat sheets, he will likely be the first QB taken in most drafts.
The key to using a fantasy football cheat sheet is to know when to follow the advice given and when to go out on a limb and use your own gut instinct. Just because some fantasy football dorks expect Tony Romo to earn 270.8 fantasy points this season does not mean he will come anywhere near that number. The guys who make these lists don't want you to think that either -- fantasy experts hope you know how to balance projected info with your own understanding of the game. Remember, cheat sheets are only tools. Lawnmowers don't cut your grass, they just make it easier for you to do so.
There's more than one way to skin a football, and there's more than one way to use a fantasy football cheat sheet. If you'd rather trust your own instincts about a player's fantasy performance, use your cheat sheet to anticipate how other fantasy football owners in your league will draft. Let's face it -- we all have guys in our league who follow the cheat sheet pretty much to the letter. Understanding how the majority of cheat sheets in a given season rank players will give you an insider's look at many of your opponent's draft strategy. This is also a good reason NOT to follow your cheat sheet to the letter. Remember that everyone has access to the same cheat sheets, even those which require registration or subscription.
Using a cheat sheet to build your draft strategy can be dangerous if you don't do your homework. Run a few mock drafts with your cheat sheet in hand to see how your fantasy draft is likely to shake out. After you've run a few mock drafts, build draft strategy based on different picks you may earn. Then build your OWN cheat sheets -- one for an early or top pick, one for a middle pick, and one for the dreaded last pick. Or you could just compile a ton of different cheat sheets, average out their rankings, and head to your draft equipped with a "super cheat sheet", ranking players based on their average projections made by multiple fantasy analysts.
I hate to give up my favorite cheat sheet sources -- so I'll keep a few under wraps. Below are sources for reliable and free cheat sheets that should get you started on your way to draft dominance. Some say a fantasy owner is only as good as his paperwork. I agree, with one caveat -- a fantasy owner is only as good as his worst source of data.
- Fantasy Football Toolbox Cheat Sheets
- Fanhouse Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets
- The Fantasy Football Times Cheat Sheets