How I build my cheat sheets

For most fantasy football players, a cheat sheet isn’t something you build, it’s something you find in a fantasy football magazine or on the Web somewhere and bring with you to the draft. While this approach certainly saves a lot of time, it puts you at a serious disadvantage to anyone in your league who took the time to put together their own sheets. A custom-built cheat sheet can take into account the specific rules of your league, such as QB touchdown scoring (4 points each or 6?) and whether your league awards a point for each reception (in which case you’d increase the value of the WR position and target running backs who catch the ball often). Most importantly, as you put your sheet together, you’ll be constantly learning about the players you’re ranking, and you’ll show up on draft day with a true understanding of the decisions you’re making. Really, how much satisfaction do you get at the end of a draft when you look at your team and realize that every player you own is there because someone else told you to pick them?

This is the process I use for building my cheat sheets. It doesn’t have to take an extraordinary amount of time – you can really invest as little or as much energy as you want into it. This is simply a framework to help you get started; where you go with it from here is up to you.

I should also mention that there are a couple of web-based cheat sheet tools that are definitely options. Neither lets me put together sheets with all the information and flexibility that I like, but your mileage may vary.

  • Cheat Sheet War Room is a web-based cheat sheet creation tool with a lot going for it. It’s free, it compares your sheets to rankings from three different sources, you can define players as “busts” or “sleepers” (though I don’t understand how this is useful – if I think a player’s a sleeper, I move them up in my rankings, and vice-versa for a bust), and it lets you drag and drop players easily around your sheet. Sadly, it’s also pretty slow once you add enough players to your sheets, and it doesn’t allow you to define tiers, which, as you’ll see below, is pretty central to the way I do things.
  • Cheat Sheet Creator is a website I reviewed earlier.

Here’s the step-by-step method I use to build cheat sheets.

Step one: Find a set of sheets you like online somewhere. There’s a list of them over on the Geeksource. My favorite source is KFFL because they update their sheets regularly and I know they work with Excel (see below). For this example, I’ll be using KFFL’s rankings from 8/23. You don’t really have to agree with the rankings; you’re going to be changing them later. Try and find something that was released recently, though; it’ll make your life easier (no injured players floating around in there).

Step two: Fire up Microsoft Excel. I’m using Excel 2007 for this example; if you’re using an older version, it should still work.

Step three: Go to the “Data” tab at top (which you don’t have if you’re in Excel 2003, but here’s a tutorial to help you late adopters) and click “From Web”. (Thanks to The Hazean for the tip – I used to have to copy this crap in manually.)

Step four: See the “Address” field at the top of the window? Copy the URL of the cheat sheet page (in this case it’s into that bar and hit enter.

Step five: Scroll down to wherever the cheat sheets are on the page. See the little yellow arrow(s) next to the table(s)? Check any of the arrows to the top-left of tables you need. When you check ’em, they’ll turn green. (Note: With this page specifically, it works best if you actually check the arrow that’s semi-hidden behind the top-left arrow – the one behind the one I checked below. That selects all of the tables. Remember this is just a quirk with KFFL’s site, not with all sites you’ll use this method on).

Step six: Once you’ve checked all the arrows you need to, hit the Import button at the bottom-right of the window. It’ll ask you where you want the data; it really doesn’t matter what you say here, it’ll work either way. If all goes well, you’ll see all of the data spread out (somewhat haphazardly) across your spreadsheet. It should look something like this. It’s ugly to look at at the moment, but keep the faith…

Step seven: Rename/add worksheets using the tabs at the bottom of screen until you have six separate worksheets called QB, RB, WR, TE, DEF, and K. (Not sure how?)

Step eight: Cut and paste the data for each position into its respective worksheet. Make sure to include the header (Rk, Tr, ADP and so on – see the KFFL page for what the abbreviations mean) on each sheet so you can tell at a glance what it all means.

Step nine: Now it’s time for the fun part – re-ordering the players to your liking. If you’re relatively new to Excel, cutting and pasting things around can seem cumbersome at first, but you’ll get used to it and it’s no big deal once you get it down. The way I do it: Select a row by clicking on its number to the left, then right-click and Cut. Then select the row you’d like to insert the player above, right-click, and choose Insert cut cells. Remember to group players in tiers – this is an essential part of any fantasy draft strategy. If you use KFFL’s sheets, they’ve got you started already (see the “Tr” column) so you have no excuse. Go ahead, do your research, and reorganize your sheet. I’ll wait.

Step ten: Welcome back! Nice sheet. You’ve got Portis way too high though, yeesh. Anyway, all that’s left to do now is make it pretty and easy to read on draft day. If I’m doing an online draft, I generally don’t even print my sheet out (I have dual monitors so I just put Excel in one screen and the draft window in the other, and delete players as they’re picked), so I can use CTRL-F to find and mark players as they’re selected.

That’s pretty much it! Enjoy, and if you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you.