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There are many proponents of Value-Based Drafting. The key to determining a given player’s value is creating a baseline. Unfortunately, baselines are often misunderstood, so an automatic Baseliner was added to the 2013 version of the Draft Planalyzer. This article steps through how to setup, use and understand what the Baseliner does and what it is telling you.

Note: The Baseline is in its infancy and is subject to change/refinement in future iterations of the Draft Planalyzer.

SETUP

When you click on the Baseliner tab you see a small but busy page full of values. To set up the baseliner, we will focus on the yellow boxes (they are the only ones you’ll be able to click on). Let’s step through them.

Total # of Off. Starters: Simply, how many offensive players must you start each game? Its up to you whether you want to consider a kicker an offensive player- I do not. So, for my league, I must start 1 each of QB/RB/WR/TE, then 3 flex of RB/WR/TE. That’s 7 offensive players, so I’ll enter a 7 in this box.

Total # of Starters: How many players do you start per game? In my league, we have the 7 offensive players, 1 kicker, and 4 IDP (1 each of DB/LB/DL plus one flex). So, that’s 12 starters.

# of Positional Starters: This is where we actually start classifying the total number of starters. So, in my case, I must start 1 of each position in my league: QB/RB/WR/TE/K/DL/LB/DB. So I enter a 1 in each box under each valid position. For the positions that start with ‘X’, those are unused and I leave them at 0. That accounts for 8 of my starters.

# of Flex Starters: This is where things get a little tricky and will be an area we’ll seek to improve in the Draft Planalyzer. Essentially, you need to divvy up your flex starters across the valid positions, and right now you need to manually decide how to do that. For my league, I noted the total number of RB/WR/TE drafted and subtract 12 (the number of positional starters) from each. Note that these numbers are available on the Dashboard.

So, the average number of RBs drafted in a year are 61. I subtract the 12 positional players to get 49. I do the same thing for WR and TE, yielding 54 and 7 respectively. Adding all those together gives me a flex/bench population of 49+54+7=110 players. About 45% (49/110) of those 3 flex players will be RBs (1.3) & 49% will be WR (1.5). 1.3+1.5 = 2.8, leaving only .2 for TE. So, for Flex starters, I put 1.3 for RB, 1.5 for WR, and .2 for TE. I repeat the process for IDP if I want to, but since I don’t even baseline those players, I just split the 1 between LB and DB. (Yes- I can probably automate this in a future version of the Draft Planalyzer).

If you did everything right, your Total Starters (Validation) must = your Total # of Starters.

WHAT’S ALL THAT STUFF MEAN?

Now that we’ve set up the Baseline, everything has been calculated for you and now you have a variety of Baselines to choose from. Let’s walk through the computed values:

Starter vs Flex/Bench Ratio: This is simply a value measuring the ratio of how many flex/bench there are in that position. The higher the value, the deeper the flex/bench is for that position.(This may be changed in the future to be incorporated into auto-flex calculations).

League Baseline-All: This Baseline considers all of your starters, so essentially the #of starters multiplied by the number of teams. In my league, I have 12 starters and 12 teams, so my baseline is pick 144. The baseline players are denoted in the columns to the right. At pick 144, based on the weighted average, my baseline players would be QB 20, RB 47, WR 48, etc.

League Baseline-Offensive: This baseline considers only offensive starters.

First 100 Picks: Pretty self explanatory- Joe Bryant of Footballguys.com uses this benchmark as a general purpose, default pick.

Worst Starter, No Flex: Just use the worst starter in each position.

Worst Starter, +Flex: Worst starters including flex positions.

SO- WHICH BASELINE SHOULD I USE?

Great question. The official Draftologist answer is whichever one makes the most sense to you. If you are looking for a recommendation, I’ll tell you I use the League Baseline- Offensive, which in my league of 7 offensive starters and 12 teams puts me at pick 84. I wrote a big article last year about this method, though I need to revamp it. I called it the Market-driven baseline, but decided this year to call it the League Baseline. Last year’s article is here; I will be refining it soon.

WHY?

Why did I choose that baseline? My valuable players, to me, are offensive starters, they are the ones that have the best chance to set me apart. They are my bread and butter based on my scoring rules. Given that, then, the most valuable players *should* be the first ones taken off the board. That means, if I were drafting for all 12 teams, I’d draft 84 offensive starters in a row.

That’s not what happens, though. So, in order to figure out where the value will be in my draft, I set my baseline at 84. I see how many of each position is gone at that pick. Again- I use only QB/WR/RB/TE baselines, I don’t care about K/IDP for baseline purposes (because the best of these guys are usually less than 2 points a week better than the worst starters), I’ll just take best available for them in my last 5 picks.

So, for me, QB 13, RB 31, WR 32 and TE 7 are my baseline players in each of those positions, and that determines my value. Why do I do this? Why not just use worst starter, then? If I used worst starter with flex, I’d use QB 12, RB 29, WR 29 and TE 14. Not a big difference except in TE. But what I do by using my league’s tendencies is capture its understanding of the scoring system, perceptions and prejudices; it reveals where my league perceives the value to be.

That doesn’t mean that I agree. But by setting a baseline where I think it aught to be, then measure how my league behaves against that baseline, I can identify where I can wait and where I might have to reach. It also allows me to plan my draft against my own league, given its tendency, rather than a generic one.

There isn’t really a wrong way to use baselines; but I think encapsulating your league’s habits into your baselines can help you in ways generic baselines cannot. Couple this with a customized ADP and you’ll truly own your draft, year in and year out!