As part of an occasional series, Fanspeak will offer tips and best practices for its wildly popular and first-of-its-kind On The Clock draft simulator.
Today’s topic: How to assign a numeric ranking to each player when setting up a customized big board.
It’s my favorite tool.
Of course, I’ll draft with all big boards, from the Fanspeak-Steve to the Matt Miller big boards. (We’re working on getting you more big boards from additional draft experts, too!)
But I like customizing my own big board – after all, the only “idiot” I can blame is me when I come up with my own rankings. And it allows me to save my big board, which means I can tinker with it over and over again.
However, starting from scratch is never an easy task, especially with 400-plus prospects in the player database. Therefore, if you really want to put together a detailed big board that accurately reflects your personal rankings, you need to use a numeric system to rank each player.
Just a word of warning: This takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it afterward.
But you don’t have to use someone else’s rating system, as it’s not rocket science. For example, I came up with my own simple ranking system that uses a scale from 0.0 up to 10.0. Generally speaking, in my rankings, players that receive a 5.3 score or lower generally do not get drafted.
Now comes the hard part, and there’s no quick way to do it: You need to add all the names of the prospects, and their positions, to a spreadsheet.
In this example, we’re going to put the rankings in Column A, with Column B for the player positions and Column C for the names of the players.
You may want to consider splitting your computer screen with the big board and the Excel sheet so that you’re not constantly opening and closing windows.
Again, this is the most time-intensive part, but you can also stop the rankings at any point, including after pick No. 254 overall. That’s up to you!
Once you’ve add the names, click Column B so that it highlights all the player positions, then click on “Sort and Filter” on the far, upper right of your screen. This now arranges all the players by position, which makes it faster and easier to rank.
For each position, you can rearrange the prospects before you start assigning numeric rankings, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, are the rankings themselves. Just remember: Whatever your top grade is, all other players will fall below that. So, for example, if you think Ohio State’s Chase Young is the highest-rated player in this draft but you give him a grade of only 8.8, then all other players will need to be graded below that.
The highest grade I’ve ever given in recent years was the 9.8 I assigned to former Texas A&M edge Myles Garrett. This year, my highest grade goes to LSU’s Joe Burrow, who I give a grade of 9.35, followed by Young’s grade of 9.3.
Now assign grades to every player, by position. I like doing this by position because I feel like it saves time and lets me see the respective positional rankings.
It’ll look something like this:
Again, though, this takes time.
After every player has been ranked, now you can rearrange the cells by those rankings. To do this, highlight Column A, the row with the rankings, then go back to sort on the far right. You’ll want to sort from largest to smallest (and, yes, you’ll want to expand selection).
Wala! Your big board is now set up according to your personal rankings!
You’ll see some surprises by doing this exercise – some players will be ranked higher than you’d expect, and vice versa.
Now it’s just a matter of tweaking these rankings with some corrections. I tend to move the top-tier QBs up, regardless of rankings, and, in the case of tie-breakers, I go with QBs, OTs, Edge rushers, CBs and even WRs over interior linemen, safeties, TEs, LBs and RBs (for example, a RB has to be a Saquon Barkley-type to be considered in the top 10 of my big boards).
From here, go back to splitting the screens between On The Clock and your spreadsheet. Now it’s just a matter of moving the OTC players per your own spreadsheet. This won’t take too long, but be sure to save multiple times throughout the process, as OTC will log off automatically after a set amount of time – you don’t want to start all over again!
Once you’re done, this is a good time to look over all your rankings one more time and make any last-minute changes before you save for the final time.
Now comes the fun part – drafting with your own customized big board!
I recommend going through at least one draft on the “difficult” setting, at least the first time, to get a better feel for how your rankings will impact the rest of the draft.
Remember, with a premium subscription, you can always go back and tweak your rankings as necessary.
Have your own method for setting up a customized big board? Let us know! Send your suggestions by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We may share some of the best ideas!
Jake Rigdon covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak. He can be reached at email@example.com.