RotoLab 2022 Draft Software Review

In my research of fantasy baseball draft tools, RotoLab is perhaps the most consistent recommendation. Despite a steep price tag of $69, it has a devoted following from over a decade of development.

Here's my review of RotoLab, as I build my own fantasy draft tool (DraftKick). Disclaimer #1: I'm not an unbiased reviewer. I'm building my own tool, which I hope does an even better job than RotoLab or anything else. So my "review" is mostly me asking:

Disclaimer #2: I'm using the 2022 demo version of RotoLab, and I'm not an experienced user. It's possible that I might be misjudging some features, but I'm trying my best to evaluate it fairly.

Okay? On with the review.

Basic Usage

I found the draft controls in RotoLab to be pretty intuitive. Left-clicking on a player name selects the player and shows their info in the top section.

To draft a player, right click the player name and choose the drafting team. (For auctions, you also enter the winning bid.) If you right-click a player on the results views (Rosters, Picks), the menu instead gives you the option to "un-draft" that player.

By always specifying the drafting team, you can keep up with a draft even if you miss a pick or two: You can skip over the missed picks, leaving them blank and filling them in later. The downside is that two clicks are required for every pick: one to select the player and a second to select the team.

The results views also have a pretty good drag-and-drop interface. You can simply grab a player and move him to a different position or a different team.

The Five Views of a Fantasy Draft

I've suggested that there are really only five ways to view a fantasy draft:

Simple draft tools will focus on a single view, while more complex software will show most or all of them.

Anyway, I think this these five views provide a good starting framework for evaluating a fantasy draft tool. Let's go through RotoLab with regard to each one.

Overall Players

In a draft, we want to see all of the players available with their relevant fantasy stats. So the overall player view is a pretty fundamental view.

So... Wait a second... How can I view all players with their stats in RotoLab? I...don't think this view is included in RotoLab.

For such a well-regarded tool, I'm a bit surprised by this omission. Everybody else includes this. I mean, it's the only option in the Razzball War Room!

RotoLab gets close to an overall player view, with a view of hitters or pitchers with their stats. (Even this could perhaps be separated better from the positional view, since many of the options and toggles seem to only work on one view or the other.)

Players by Position

We're back on track, because RotoLab does have a positional view. In fact, it's their primary view of the draft.

They show tiers by color on "Cheat Sheet":

Which can also be arranged to show gaps in tiers on "Auction Grid":

Good:

Bad:

Rosters, Draft Board, and Standings

These are simpler, so I don't need to spend much time on them. RotoLab has all three: Rosters are under "Rosters," the draft board is under "Picks," and the standings are under "Totals."

Good

Bad

Projections and Valuation

The projections are from BaseballHQ, which is fine enough.

The valuations give you a choice of z-scores, SGP, or PVM. I've always been a big proponent of z-scores. However, the high-end values look a bit low to me (topping out at $37), so I'm not confident in the implementation. Fortunately, there's a slider in the settings that lets you move towards "stars and scrubs." Moving the evaluations in that direction helps give more realistic values. And all of that doesn't matter unless you're in an auction, of course.

Actually, RotoLab lets you tweak values in three very useful direction:

For a situation where you know what to expect from other drafters, a few nudges can really help optimize your values and rankings.

As a pretty minor quibble, I think I'd group the valuation settings with the league settings.

Good

Bad

Dashboard

In addition to those five big views, there are usually a few smaller views included on whatever draft screen is primary. This is what I've called the Dashboard.

RotoLab's primary screen is the Players by Position view, and that's where they have a dashboard across the top. This includes:

Conclusion

RotoLab lacks an overall view of players, which I think is a disadvantage in a straight draft. However, it has a great "cheatsheet" view of players by position, which is sufficient for auctions.

RotoLab has a ton of powerful options and ways to tag players, but they tend to buried in a poorly designed UI. Dragging and dropping players makes fixing draft-entry errors much easier.

I wish it had more flexibility in projection sources. Their valuation algorithm supports lots of scoring formats, but (for auctions) their high-end values seem a bit low.

Features to match

Ways to be better

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.