Review of Free Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet Providers
2019 Review of Cheat Sheet Providers
If I Google "Free Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet" what will I get? Surprisingly, I only get organic results, that is, no sponsored results and the top-TWO results are ESPN followed by a RotoWire and then a FantasyPros cheat sheet. Only organic? No sponsored! That's really unusual and probably deserves another investigation at a later date.
When I click through the first link I don't go directly to a ESPN cheat sheet; I go to "Fantasy football cheat sheet central" which is a bunch of links to news stories in the NFL. NFL news is not a cheet sheet (that's how they spell cheat in Port St. Lucie). There are links lower on the page to cheat sheet PDF, which I discuss below, but, first, what makes a good cheat sheet?
What makes a good cheat sheet? First, it should be a densely informative (no fluff) sheet that you can print. Also, obviously, you want to see an up-to-date average draft position, ADP, but what else do you need? First and foremost, everything needs to be custom tailored for your league because no two leagues are alike and 'little' differences in scoring rules and league configuration matter. Here is the rubrik for getting an A+ if they have these then that's great! So, lets start with the top of the search results:
All I can say is OMG. This is horrible.
- It has nothing but ADP. It does have the auction price (equivalent of ADP for auction leagues), but that is worthless information to a snake drafter.
At the bottom there is some more info about the scoring rule assumptions and a totally useless list of bye weeks:
- So, does your league match these assumptions? Given there are a near infinite number of possible league setups, I'm going to guess this doesn't exactly match your league configuration. ESPN does, however, offer a non-PPR cheat sheet, but still, they don't give variations on the number of teams in your league (8 vs. 10, vs 12 vs…) or the positional configurations (2 WR vs. 3 WR, flex, 2 QB, etc.) so value based draft (VBD) adjustments to your cheat sheet won't happen.
- Even if these assumption match your league setup, ESPN still lacks tiers, hot/cold, depth chart (by week), etc. Also, the ratings are a week old and a lot happened this week. Two top picks announced hold-outs, Zeke and Gordon, but I imagine ESPN will still assume Zeke and Gordon to be season long RB1s until they don't show-up for the practice on week 2. You might think I'm joking, but ask Le'veon Bell owners how much help ESPN was last year.
Paying subscribers can get a customized auction draft 'value generator'
- Generating 'one' auction value is about as useful as one ADP. Even if the value generated is correct for the opening player bid; that value will change on the second player bid. Why? Because there are fewer of something out there to buy (a player was sold) and there is one less team that has to buy a player at a position. As the supply and demand of players fluctuates so do their values. RoboAuction sorts this out live in the draft and ESPN's effort to customize a 'value' is laudable, but ultimately fails.
- Clicking around I found the dynasty cheat sheet. I liked this matching of a players age with their ranking.
- Dynasty decisions are made in the offseason, however, and don't really come into play on draft day. Again, this cheat sheet lacks in all the respects the other ESPN cheat sheets did.
There are also celebrity cheat sheets, like Mathew Berry's (below) but they lack even the basics, just rankings and the celebrity's headshot.
- Overall rating D+. I'm shocked. Really, be better ESPN. But, then again, they're making all their money because people keep going there so, fantasy football players, be better!
On down the Google page and we get to RotoWire. I like Rotowire, I wrote an article about The Art of Fantasy Football Trades about a decade or two ago, reproduced here. Let's see what they offer for cheat sheets.
RotoWireHere's their basic free cheatsheet:
- Its not customized, just like ESPN they offer a few common scoring configurations (ppr vs non-ppr, etc.).
- No depth chart, no ADP, no VBD, no nothing.
- The health report is a nice touch, but last year's stats are a complete waste of space.
- They do have a custom feature
- Customization breaks out nicely into league configuration and scoring, plus it covers the number of teams in your league (6 vs 8 vs 10 vs N) so VBD is going to be included in the customization, nice.
- I increased the WR to 4 to see if the WR would pop in the rankings and they did. Good work, but after looking at ESPN the bar is pretty low!
- Customized forecasts are great, but the custom sheets still lack rubrik items: Tiers, Hot/Cold, wait-until-pick, consensus ADP (for sleeper/bust comparison). They should dump last year's stats and add this info, but if it were easy (it isn't) they'd have already done it.
- They do provide a depth chart on the site, but it isn't incorporated into the cheat sheet. It might not even be incorporated into the forecast as I would think Nick Chubb isn't going to be RB1 material all year (what about Kareem Hunt taking is spot mid-year?) and this rating is too high. Zeke is going to hold out so he won't be #1 RB and neither is Mel Gordon. This is critical, just ask a 2018 Le'veon Bell owner. They have to say their assumptions about these players and assuming they're RB1 all year long is a ridiculous assumption.
- For example, I'm not taking Chubb over Conner (above), are you? Not! This projection doesn't appear to take Kareem Hunt (lurking at RB2) into account. At the very least Chubb is going to be in a RBBC by week 5. I can't know for sure what is going on, but that's Rotowire's fault…they need to list their forecasting assumptions somewhere, if not on the cheat sheet itself, then elsewhere on the site.
- There is consensus ADP, like MyFantasyLeague (MFL), which is interesting and give the user a broader view.
- The consensus ADPs breakout by popular scoring configurations and popular league setups. Why not merge this into your custom cheat sheets, Rotowire? A cheat sheet is just that, one sheet, I shouldn't have to click all over your site to get this info.
- Overall. Better than ESPN, but C. No Tiers, No Hot/Cold, No wait-until-pick. No number of teams in my league configuration and hence, no VBD. Rotowire has a very simple customized forecast but it doesn't integrate consensus ADP (for sleeper/bust comparison)
Rubrik For Fantasy Football Cheat SheetRUBRIK
- Tier: not ADP…you want tier! There's a big difference. Tier, cluster, group…call it what you want, but most players are basically the same and any draft sheet that doesn't acknowledge that is basically saying, for example, #10 RB is better than a #11 RB, really? Are they sure about that? No, they aren't.
- Hot/Cold – Not were they hot or cold at the end of last season, but will they be hot or cold to start the season. There's a big difference. Nothing is worse than picking a great player who will be great in about 4 weeks after they get past the tough part of their schedule.
- Customized Point Forecast: if you're in a PPR then obviously you want a PPR, but it can get way more complicated. PPR with 6 point tds, PPR with 4 point tds, half-point PPR… I could go on. Even if the scoring matches your league, the configuration matters (big time) too! 8 team leagues vs. 12 team leagues is simply a different game. Positional configurations are equally important, for example, 3 WR vs. 2 WR will change player values enough to determine the winner of your league. So, in summary, there are three types of 'scoring' differences that when combined create a near infinite number of possible cheat sheets. 1. Scoring points 2. Number of teams and 3. Positional counts.
- Customized VBD Forecast: Value based drafting is critical. For example, 3 WR vs. 2 WR…supply is the same, but demand for WR will be higher in the 3 WR league.
- Custom ADP: Given the customized forecast you'll need customized ADP.
- Customized Stud/Duds: Sleepers and busts depend upon the scoring system and league configuration. For example, yardage backs are great in yardage league, but not so great in td-only leagues.
- Customized WUP: "Wait-until-pick", this is what it all boils down to. If I've got 8 teams in my league can I afford to wait until next round? The answer is different if you've got 12 teams in your league.
- Accurate Depth Chart: Teams list starters, but its rarely that simple. A good depth chart shouldn't just regurgitate what the NFL coach says. For example, Bill Belicheck almost never give a completely accurate depth chart when it comes to WR and RB. Also, if a player is going to start for an injured or suspended player then, obviously, the forecast should adjust for that.