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Making a cheat sheet is the most fun part of any Fantasy Sports’ preparation to me. It is the compilation of data in your own way that gives you the sense that you are in control.

However, we all know that we have no control. Injuries, trades, off-the-field issues; we have no real say in how our Fantasy team performs. But in the preseason, when you can build your cheat sheet, you have a say in how you will select players.

The thing about a cheat sheet is there is no “right” or “wrong” way to make one. There are so many factors between your league setup, keeper roster, time available, etc. that every person’s cheat sheet will be different.

I do not want to give you a black and white blue print for making a cheat sheet. I want to give you some tips to formulate your own method.

What it comes down to, is without a cheat sheet why even draft players? If we are just going down the list like an Auto-pick, then it is playing the lottery anyway, right?

2017 Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet

How Much Time?

Time is by far the biggest factor in both the format of your cheat sheet as well as the amount of information. I am not just talking about the time it takes to make the cheat sheet, but the time you have to make a pick as well.

There is almost zero opposition that a live draft is better than an online version. When you only have 30 seconds to a minute to make a pick, there is no time for trash talk, and barely time to update your cheat sheet. This has to factor into how you develop and format your sheet.

In the leagues in which I do a live, online draft with a short clock, I make sure to have as little keystrokes as possible for updating my cheat sheet. I want to be able to hit “delete” or “backspace” in one spot and have my entire spreadsheet updated. I do NOT want to be so caught up in updating different tabs that I am ready to pick someone who is already taken. Then, you are put in a time-crunch and you end up having an auto-pick.

The best way to have this easy update is with VLookUps in Microsoft Excel. Without getting into too much detail, these functions allow you to adjust/erase one cell on one tab of your spreadsheet and other tabs automatically update as well. When I get to the formats of making your cheat sheet, this will come into play.

This is where the other factor of time comes in: preparation time. As much as I would love to do Fantasy Sports full-time, I do have a full-time outside of Fantasy Sports. This means I have to allocate my time accordingly. So I get it if you do not have the momentous amount of time to learn the ins and outs of Excel as well as make an extensive sheet.

 

Choose Your Format

The biggest question facing you when constructing your cheat sheet will be which format do you prefer. The main two schools of thought are rankings and projections. Some people prefer to have their players ranked overall and/or by position to make it easier. These will be the people with not as much time to spend making their cheat sheet.

Other people like to have projections, either created or compiled, to evaluate players by. This is by far the most influential aspect that fully engaged me into Fantasy Sports. Instead of just going down a list of rankings (very similar to an auto-pick I might add), you can use strategy and logical reasoning to see who really is the best available for YOUR team.

For example, let’s say you are using the Fantasy Pros consensus rankings and you take Jose Altuve over Kris Bryant in Round 1 of your Head-to-Head categories league. A very defensible decision, it is really personal preference then. Then in Round 4, you have both Jonathan Villar and Giancarlo Stanton fall to you. By the rankings you should take Villar, right?

 

This is where having the projections in front of you can help. You know that you are way ahead of the game in stolen bases already and behind the numbers in power. So Stanton would be the logical choice to balance out your team (even if some might think he’s a bust this year).

So while I am the biggest advocate for using projections, I do understand it takes exponentially more time to implement. Using rankings in your sheet will not be your downfall, if they are used correctly.

 

Compiling the Information

Alright, so you know how much time you have to spend on the cheat sheet as well as picks, and you know which format you want to utilize. Now, how do you compile all of the considerable amounts of data available to make one spreadsheet?

There is a quick way, and a long way. As I stated earlier, I know that some people don’t have all of the time in the world for Fantasy Baseball. The quick and easiest cheat sheet is to just export the rankings you select to an Excel sheet. You can do this through our own rankings here or through the Fantasy Pros consensus rankings.

Now once you have the overall rankings exported, you can go down the list and adjust players as needed. There will always be players you are higher/lower on than any rankings set. This gives your cheat sheet your own touch. You will also want to add “filters” on the top row. This will allow you to search by position easier once the draft gets going.

Then, whenever the draft gets going, all you have to do is delete the player’s name or entire row to see who the next best available is remaining.

 

The Long (and Possibly Convoluted Route)

This route involves a pretty heavy knowledge of Microsoft Excel. However, it is not so much that cannot be learned in a short amount of time. The key is knowing about VLookUps, which I already mentioned, and the Max/Large functions.

First, you find the projections that you want to go by. Personally, I average out my most trusted sources, toss in my own set and go from there.

The next step is the biggest difference between Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, unless you play in a points’ league in both. With football, players across positions can be compared easier since everyone is scoring the uniform value of “points.” In the majority of Fantasy Baseball leagues, there are 10 different categories used, half for pitchers and half for hitters. This makes it extremely difficult to compare a pitcher to a hitter, because who knows which has more value, a 3.00 ERA or a .300 batting average.

 

Our friends over at Fantasy Six Pack had a great article about creating a player rater. This basically puts a value on each category the player contributes towards, and gives him an overall rating.

The other route is to figure out what total/average you are aiming towards. Say you are in a 12-team league and you want to get 130 stolen bases. Then you take whatever your projection was for stolen bases for a player (say it’s 13) and find the percentage that he contributes (10%).

This is the route I have used for the past few years and it has worked quite well. I create a separate tab for my team with a function cell adding up my totals. This lets you copy and paste your player’s projection percentages. That way you know where you stand in each category.

Now back to the VLookUp and Max/Large functions. By putting all of your projections on one tab in your cheat sheet, you can create two other tabs to differentiate positions and overall player rankings. Using the Max/Large functions you can see the best player available so that you only have to update the projections tab. The VLookUp functions will update the other tabs.

This will then give you an immediate picture of who is the overall best player or at his position that is available. It also can let you see who has the most projection at which category available.

 

The Cheat Sheet Conclusion

Like I said, it can be convoluted doing it my way. There is certainly nothing wrong by doing in the quick way with rankings. I just prefer to use projections to really balance or strengthen my team. As I have seen/heard, Fantasy Baseball is a grind all season long. I prefer to put the work/time in before the season starts with my cheat sheet. This lessens my need/load as the season goes.

 

What’s the best Fantasy Baseball draft tool ever created? Check out the details right here provided by David Gonos, where he discusses in great detail, the Draft Wizard and Draft Assistant. Voted the best Fantasy Baseball draft tool for 2017, the FantasyPros’ Draft Wizard is all you need for a successful draft, as well as in-season management, on your way to a championship.

 

2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
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