Fantasy Draft Software Feature Comparison

Everyone approaches fantasy drafts in a different way. Even so, when you start trying out various draft apps, you see the same patterns cropping up over and over. The trick is finding the tool that matches your style, or else the tool that is customizable enough to handle your style.

As I build DraftKick, I need to decide which of these patterns are worth including, and which ones add little value (but additional clutter).

So let's dig in to the tools that are out there to see what they can do. I primarily focused on these six tools:

Traditional Desktop GUIs

Spreadsheets

After spending some time trying each of these out (or trying out a demo, or watching a YouTube video of it), I've found that there are five basic ways of presenting draft information. I group them as draft views and results views.

Draft views are active. You are choosing players, and so they focus on available players. The two big draft views are overall ranks and positional ranks.

Results views are passive. They shows you what has already happened and focus on drafted players. The primary results views are a draft board, rosters, and standings.

Besides those five big views, there are lots of other smaller nuggets of information that show up along the outside of your primary screen. I call these dashboard views. Dashboard views are the glue that connect the draft views and the results views. They often are selecting important tidbits from the results views and inserting them alongside the primary draft view.

With that framework in place, we can make some comparisons between draft programs. If I found the feature in a given app, I've listed the in-app title for it. It's quite likely that I missed a few.

Let's start with draft views.

Draft Views

DraftKick RotoLab RotoWire Fantistics Big Board Mr. Cheatsheet Razzball War Room
Overall Ranks "Overall" "Player List" "Top 100 VAM" "Big Board" "Your Roto Draft" "THE BOARD"
Positional Ranks "Positions" "Draft" "Draft Advisor" "Best Remaining" "Positions"

There are two basic views for players to draft: overall ranks and positional ranks.

Positional ranks are most useful in an auction. Overall ranks are most useful in a straight draft. Even so, I find that it's helpful to have both, regardless of the draft format.

I think it's interesting that RotoLab relies on the positional rankings and lacks an overall view, hinting at its auction focus. Every other app focuses on the overall view.

Mr. Cheatsheet is the only other option with a high quality positional view, as the Fantistics and Big Board options are limited.

Summary: Both of these views will be part of the initial release of DraftKick.

Results Views

The other group of "big" views are the results views. Typically, there are three ways to see what has happened so far in your draft:

DraftKick RotoLab RotoWire Fantistics Big Board Mr. Cheatsheet Razzball War Room
Draft Board "Board" "Picks"
Rosters "Rosters" "Rosters" "Rosters" "Teams" "Rosters"
Standings "Standings" "Totals" "Standings" "Draft Summary" "Standings" "Projected Standings"

The projected standings are present in almost every app. Rosters are also fairly standard. (RotoWire doesn't have a roster view, but shows one team at a time as a dashboard view.)

These are features that get a lot of attention in draft software, but the truth is that they aren't actually very helpful. There's very little actionable information, and the most useful data probably need to be on a dashboard. (That's the approach of the Razzball War Room.)

However, results views do have their moments: You realize that a team picking after you started pitcher-pitcher and so you can wait on a SP for your next pick. You notice that everyone else has filled their C, so there's no rush to fill yours.

Summary: I'm going to include all of these with DraftKick. I think they are rarely useful, but they are easy enough to include.

Dashboard Views

Here are the smaller views that surround the primary draft view. I discussed it above, but these are crucial to get right. You want to curate valuable information and present it in a way that is digestible when the clock is ticking.

DraftKick RotoLab RotoWire Fantistics Big Board Mr. Cheatsheet Razzball War Room
Draft Log ? X X X X
Player Detail X X X X
Category Tracking X X X X X
Needed Positions X X X X X
Probable Availability X X

Some observations: It's really hard to implement a player detail view in Excel, so that feature is standard in the three desktop apps but completely missing from the three spreadsheets.

The Razzball War Room has left out tons of features from the previous sections, but it has nailed some really valuable ones here. The probability that a player is available with future picks is a great idea (and deserves a better implementation than in a spreadsheet).

Summary: I'm undecided if the draft log is useful enough to include, especially on the dashboard. I think the Draft Board view will suffice. Other than that, I think these are must-haves for DraftKick.

Bonus Features

Lastly, here's an assortment of other features that I noticed in various products:

RotoLab RotoWire Fantistics Big Board Mr. Cheatsheet Razzball War Room
Search X X X X X
Colors/Tags X X X
Keepers X
Mock Draft X X
Trade Evaluator X X
News X
Bullpen Chart X X
Prospect List X

Notice how RotoWire wisely integrates some of their valuable subscription content.

Summary: Besides search, I don't see any of these making it into the initial version of DraftKick. I do think some ought to be included eventually.

Conclusion

I'll keep updating this list as I find new software to try out. And, if I start looking towards fantasy football, it will be a whole new bucket of comparisons.

Hi,

I'm Mays. I've been playing fantasy since I was in high school (over two decades ago).

My speciality has always been player valuation—converting player stats into rankings and salary values. VBD? Z-Scores? We go way back. In 2009, I started Last Player Picked, a site that generated fantasy values customized for your league.

These days, I'm building DraftKick and Projectile, a fantasy baseball site with in-season projection visualizations.

You can find me on Twitter at @MaysCopeland or email me at mayscopeland@gmail.com.