Well now that you have hopefully digested Draft Prep: Part 1 and have that somewhat fresh in your minds, Part 2 will expand on the final rule of Part 1 - which was what, class? "Believe what is guiding you and know it like the alphabet." After you have decided on what is going to guide you through your draft, you have to put that information into a "tool" that you can use on draft day. Whether it's a MS Excel spreadsheet on your laptop or a list of names and numbers scribbled on a legal pad, you have to have a system to organize all the work that you have put in preparing for the draft. Be sure to use the following rules as well:
Rule #1 - Be comfortable and competent with the tool you are using
The absolute "best tool in the world" may be the worst tool for you if you can't use it efficiently. Someone who has never used Excel before probably should use that program as a draft tool. You don't want to put yourself into a situation where if something goes wrong with your tool in the middle of your draft you will be left completely lost for the rest of the day. Either be sure you have the knowhow to fix any foreseeable problem or have a flawless backup plan.
Rule #2 - Simplicity is in the eye of the beholder
As I mentioned in Part 1, I use projections to drive my drafting decisions. The Excel workbook I put together for each of my leagues has all projections of possible drafted players, other "intimate details" on the players, and a way to track the projected outcome of my team and all the other teams participating in the draft, keeping an updated total of the projected league outcomes. I have built this over the past three years and was able to do so because I took a couple in-services on Excel. Since I built it, think the tool is fairly simple but when I showed the application to the buddy I am sharing an NFBC team with, he wanted no part of it and said: "you can do that part on draft day."
The point is that these tools are not one-size-fits-all. I know Rule #2 kind of reiterates Rule #1 but I want to stress that if you do not think a tool is as easy as it should be or aren't comfortable with it, find a different one. There are so many fantasy tools available now that there is no reason not to find one that you are extremely happy with and can navigate easily. I am not saying that you have to go the electronic route (though I would probably nudge you in that direction since it is 2010) because I am convinced that there are benefits to writing all the information down on paper (for instance, you remember and know that information a lot better than someone that just uses some downloaded stats or projections). However, if you do not go the electronic route you are limiting the ways you can manipulate possible data..
Rule #3 - Have a backup plan
This was mentioned already but deserves a little more discussion. First, anything electronic that is essential to you being successful on draft day needs to be in paper form just in case of a hard drive malfunction, a computer going kaput, or a power outage (have any of you had to draft by candle light?). Notice in that last statement I said essential. Is it essential for me to keep track of all team stats and an updated league total? No. I still can have a successful draft if I know what my team goals are and am able to do some quick math to keep track of my team's projected stats.
The easiest way to accomplish this backup plan is to print out what you are using a couple days before the draft and take it with you. Most likely, if you can't print it off it is not essential. Now, those of you using strictly a web-based program need to make sure the draft site has a reliable internet source. Your paper backup may have to come from a different source because some web-based programs do not allow you to print them off, but do not go on draft day and just think: "Ah, it will work." Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Rule #4 - Do not use the same tool that everyone else is using on draft day
This is less of a rule and more of a suggestion (and sometimes is not all that possible to accomplish). But the reason I am throwing this in here is: if everyone is using the same set of information and has a similar strategy, then it is no fun. Really, part of drafting is the perception that you are already beating someone- hopefully everyone. If everyone at the table is the equivalent of the Yahoo! Sports draft room AI, then there is no reason to even have a live draft. Try to see at least a few different sets of numbers before going into the draft so that you know how to value players comparatively. If you think outfield prospect Jason Heyward will produce 7th round value, that is great, but if there is enough information out there that makes you think you can get him in the 12th, then don't reach for him in the 7th (this is a slight exaggeration but his ADP is fluctuating because OF Johnny Damon is in Detroit and he has a tendency to damage cars in the parking lot beyond the right field fence during batting practice). The more unique information you can associate with your tool, the better off you will be.
A lot of Part 2 is common sense, but that sometimes is an oversight. The main thing I want you to realize is the amount of draft tools is endless, so there is no reason to not be happy with what you are using. If you really want to personalize your tool but are not familiar with Excel (I know it is not the only spreadsheet program out there, but I can safely say it is the most used) then become familiar with Excel. You can do anything from taking a couple hours of free training at a public library to enrolling in a class at a local community college. There are opportunities out there to educate yourself- you just have to look for them.
I have never personally had an electronic problem occur at a draft, but every year I lug my three-ring binder of spreadsheets, blank worksheets, and a calculator along, just in case (make sure you bring a calculator so you can accurately figure your team's ratio stats: AVG, OBP, ERA, WHIP- along with a cheat sheet of how to figure them). The worst disaster I ever had was when, one year, I was keeping all of my draft information on a jump drive because my laptop was about to die and I didn't want to lose everything. I was doing some final updates to my stats on my desktop computer and printing them off the night before. The morning after, I left for the draft with my jump drive still at home in my desktop. When I got to the site and realized this, I did not have time to run home and make it back without missing a pick. So I had to draft off my paper backups for two rounds as my housemate woke his lazy ass up and ran it across town to me (thanks Stone). I was fine without my backup sheets for those first two rounds but if we would have got to the 6th round, I would have been lost without them.
In part three of my draft prep series, I'll discuss the different drafts available to fantasy owners along with some simple strategies.