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The Value Of A Mock

There are a lot of factors that go in to having a successful draft and unless you are a firm believer in your magic 8-ball, the psychic hotline or the Nostradamus code, predicting the outcome of a fantasy football draft is nearly impossible. There is one tool however, that with a little preparation, can help you calculate your draft with greater accuracy. It’s called the mock draft. It is draft prep 101, and preparation is what separates the average owner from the consistent winner.

We all know that the draft is the most important part of your season and practice makes perfect. The more you know, the more dangerous you will be on draft day. Drafts never go as planned, so being prepared when opportunity presents itself is critical. If you stopped at Walgreen’s on the way to your draft and bought a magazine for the cheat sheets, you are going to be miles behind everyone else and you will lose. And sometimes it will be more than just your pride that’s gone.

Mock drafting is nothing new. There are dozens of websites dedicated to this very subject. One in particular, Fantasy Football Calculator, allows you to join a live draft approximately every 10 minutes, free. You can join in 8-14 team mocks and also view previous mock drafts. These sites provide the freshest ADP (Average Draft Position) information available. But, while these sites may be entertaining and somewhat helpful, the dilemma with them is they may not always take into consideration your league rules, scoring system, keepers, or that owner who year after losing year, decides round four is kicker time.

This is why I recommend the individual mock draft. Take on the mindset of the other owners and draft according to their tendencies. There are two crucial factors in properly performing a mock draft so that it becomes an effective draft tool, and not just a time- killer in July when football fever is setting in:

  1. Having a list of player projections.
  2. Knowledge of your league’s scoring system.
  3. As much knowledge of your owner’s draft tendencies as possible.

You can also try mock drafting with a friend or another league owner for an additional point of view. But be careful not to give away any valuable information!

Before you begin your mock draft, you need to put together a list of player projections. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but be honest here. Just because you are the biggest Jets fan this side of the Mississippi, doesn’t mean projecting Chad Pennington to throw for 5000 yards and 45 touchdowns is reasonable. Take a look at some other lists like the one here at FFToday and weigh them against yours when you are finished to see where you differ from the general consensus. If you’ve got Ronnie Brown penciled in for the 5th overall running back and he is 25th on everyone else’s lists, you’ll either want to adjust your projections or make note that you might be able to take another player ahead of Brown and still have the Dolphins RB fall to you. Otherwise you will end up reaching for a player earlier than you should. While projecting the statistical performance of every offensive player will take a lot of time, as Matt Waldman stated in his recent article on projecting player performances, “good projections can make or break your fantasy season”. If you just do not have the time or want to keep things uncomplicated, I would suggest the Cheatsheet Compiler/Draft Buddy. It can be customized to fit your league’s scoring system and is great for keeping you organized on draft day.

Now that you have your projections, begin planning your mock draft. Obviously it would be an enormous advantage if you knew the actual draft order ahead of time, but if this isn’t the case, it shouldn’t stop you. Blindly select the draft order and begin making picks either from the point of view of what you know about each owner’s tendencies or using your projections. This is where knowing the history of your fellow opponents will help you in choosing each pick. Draft results from previous years would also come in handy.

Does the owner at the 4th spot always without question, draft the top QB in the first round? Will the team drafting 10th, go back to back on wide receivers like last season? Again, be truthful here! Don’t pass on players for the other owners just to let them fall to you. This will not help you. Once you have completed your draft, reselect the draft order and repeat the mock process until your team has chosen from a variety of positions. This will help you anticipate which players will be available to you at the top, middle and end of the draft as it progresses despite your actual draft position.

After having spent the majority of your weekend mock drafting, take a break. That’s right, grab a beer and wipe that ridiculous smile off your face because Brian Westbrook fell to your team three mock drafts in a row. Have a few sips and then put your work to use, because valuable information can be uncovered in a mock draft and applied to your strategy.

Using your mock drafts to compile an ADP (Average Draft Position) for each player is probably the most common. This is easily computed by adding together the draft position of each player and then dividing by the number of drafts you have completed. For example, in the 10 mock drafts you finished, Peyton Manning was picked 6th, 5th, 8th, 13th, 6th, 9th, 8th, 10th, 8th and 5th. Add these together and it totals 78. Now divide 78 by 10 (the number of mocks you completed) to get your ADP of 7.8. Meaning Peyton Manning, based on your ADP should be chosen right around the 8th pick of your draft. Complete this task until you have developed an ADP value for each player you drafted in your mocks.

Mock drafts also help you gain an understanding of position depth, showing you the correct place to take the players you value highly. It will also assist you in developing a plan for draft day. Will you be going with the stud RB theory if drafting from the top 5 picks? Will you go for that top QB if you are drafting from the middle or late rounds? This type of information becomes apparent as you analyze your mock results.

Over the years, my own mock drafting has revealed hidden secrets that have lead to many victorious seasons. Although there are undeniable uncertainties in this game, I have tried to reduce the luck factor through projection and preparation. In 2005, I went into my draft targeting a player I considered to be the buried gem after doing my mock draft homework. Knowing the history of my opponents, I felt I knew how late I could wait to select this player. That late round pick turned out to be Carson Palmer. Now it was no secret to many fantasy footballers that Palmer was a sleeper candidate and being projected for a possible breakout season. But through my individual mock draft preparation, I was able to calculate a reasonably accurate ADP for Palmer in my league and predict the correct round to select him without reaching for him prematurely.
I went on to win my division that season and with the assistance of the mock draft, I am looking for that diamond in the rough that will catapult my team to a third straight in 2007!

Mock drafting is a simple, fun way to prepare for your season. While the other owners are scouring through dozens of magazines in July, you will be putting together real, usable information based upon YOUR league and its owners to help you in your quest for supremacy. Good luck!