The first time I heard of mock drafting, years ago when I was the typical part-time fantasy owner, I thought it sounded like a complete waste of time. My thoughts included things like, “why would I want to go through a draft that doesn’t count for anything?” and, “I know the players I like and I’m smarter than every other owner in my league anyway.” Or even, “the draft isn’t that important, I’ll win the season on the waivers.” While there may be a sliver of truth to each of those thoughts (I’m definitely the smartest owner in my league), they were mostly flawed logic. Eventually, I gave it a try, and the more I tried, the more I learned. If there’s any piece of offseason fantasy advice I can give to somebody in a redraft league, it’s to use mock drafts as a tool in the offseason. I’ve collected a few pointers that will help you make the most of your offseason mock drafting.
Mock Early, Mock Often
It’s NEVER too early for a mock draft! If you stop paying attention from the end of your fantasy season until August you’re missing out on a great deal of valuable fantasy information. There is still fantasy relevancy happening in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. It doesn’t hurt to do some mock drafting the week after the Super Bowl to check the stock on the latest and greatest playoff MVPs.
Then, of course, there is the combine, free agency, the NFL draft, training camps, and preseason. Each of these events can cause significant rising or falling of a player’s value. It’s a great idea to run at least one mock draft to coincide with each of these events, just as we do here at DFF. Most of the big name fantasy football websites don’t start offering mock drafts until sometime in the summer, but there are places out there like fantasyfootballcalculator.com that allow you to run mock drafts all offseason.
Mock In Your Format
While mock drafts can be the most useful part of your offseason, they are pretty useless, or even counterproductive, if you don’t use your league’s format. Roster, scoring, and league size makes a huge difference in a players average draft position (ADP). Make sure you know your league’s setup and mock accordingly. Larry Fitzgerald or Duke Johnson will go much higher in a PPR draft than a standard scoring draft. If you have 12 teams in your league, but you mock with ten, then that player you’ve got targeted in the 8th round will probably go in the 6th.
Experiment With Different Strategies
This is my favorite part of mock drafting. You can use it just like you would any other simulation. Since the results won’t count towards anything, you can try different strategies and see how they play out. How does drafting from the number one pick compare to drafting from the number 12 pick? What does your team look like if you draft nothing but running backs with your first four picks? What if you take two receivers in the first two rounds? What happens if you wait on your quarterback until the twelfth round? There’s no limit to the number of mock drafts you can use to play out different scenarios. You may be surprised with some of the resulting teams, and by the time your real draft comes around, you’ll be confident in your chosen strategy.
Keep a Record and Use What You Learn
This is probably the most important tip. All the mock drafts you do won’t help much if you don’t learn anything from them. Record the teams you end up with, track risers and fallers, decide when you need to target your favorite players. It can be as simple as recording the teams you end up with. Or as intricate as setting up a spreadsheet with multiple tabs covering any draft trend you can find. If you’re drafting on a mainstream website, they will surely have their expert rankings. Use those against your opponents. The rankings for some players may be vastly different than the ADP you’ve been tracking. Causing your less prepared opponents to unknowingly reach for some players while waiting too long for others.
Mock drafting doesn’t guarantee a fantasy championship, but it will give you an advantage over those who don’t. Fantasy football has become so competitive that you want to utilize any advantage you can. Not to mention, mock drafting brings a small taste of the real draft excitement to the otherwise stale offseason. Trust me, having your targeted player sniped right before your pick hurts almost as much in a mock draft as it does in the real thing. So what are you waiting for, get out there and start mocking!
Find me on Twitter @aalarson for any fantasy football discussion or if you want to talk mock drafts.