Fantasy Football: Make the Most of Your Own Mock Drafts

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Andy, Mike, and Jason just completed a mock draft in the most recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers podcast. Following along with these experts as they navigate a draft allows you to glean useful insights that will certainly help you when it comes to your real drafts. That said, there’s no reason you can’t put them to practice sooner by completing your own mock drafts. You don’t need to be a professional fantasy football analyst to partake in mock drafts and there are advantages to be gained by completing your own.

I’ll admit, years ago when I was first introduced to mock drafts I thought they sounded pretty pointless. My thoughts included, “why would I want to go through a pretend draft that doesn’t count for anything?” and “I know the players I like and I’m already smarter than every other owner in my league anyway.” There may be a sliver of truth to each of those thoughts, but they’re mostly flawed logic. 

I’ve come a long way since then. Once I gave mock drafting a try it completely changed the way I prep for fantasy during the offseason. Taking advantage of mock drafts is the top piece of actionable advice I give to anybody looking to up there fantasy football game in the offseason. It allows you to go into your real fantasy drafts with a legitimate plan. Here are some useful tips to get the most out of your mock draft experience.

Mock Early, Mock Often

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’s still fantasy relevancy in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. It may seem ridiculous, but 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. The rest of the offseason follows suit with the combine, free agency, the NFL draft, training camps, and preseason. Each of these events can cause major rising or falling of a player’s value. It’s a great idea to run a few mock drafts to coincide with each of these events. Most of the big-name fantasy football league platforms don’t start offering mock drafts until sometime in mid-summer summer, but there are places out there like the Fantasy Footballers Draft Simulator, Fantasy Football Calculator, and Sleeper that allow you to run mock drafts all year round.

Mock in  Your League Format

This may seem obvious but it needs to be stated. If you’re mocking outside of your league format, you’re actually putting yourself at a big disadvantage compared to the rest of your league. When setting up your mock make sure to confirm the most important league rules and settings.

Not sure what your league settings will be? The Ballers preferred league settings are a great place to start.

Use Rankings and Average Draft Position

If you really want to get the most out of your mock drafts, incorporate rankings and average draft position (ADP). You’re probably already doing this for your real drafts, but using them in mocks allows you to prepare for every situation. Remember, the “A” in ADP is for average, not absolute. Just because a player you have highly ranked carries a fifth-round ADP doesn’t mean somebody won’t reach for him in the third round. If you do enough mocks these types of scenarios will occur and you’ll be able to work on a plan to pivot.

When using rankings and ADP make sure you’re aware of the source. You can’t get any better than the tiered rankings in the Ultimate Draft Kit, but don’t be oblivious to other sources. The default rankings on your league’s platform (ESPN, Yahoo!, etc) are good to follow since your league mates could lean on those platform-specific rankings and ADP. Identifying large differences between the UDK and platform rankings can give you a leg up on the league and open up huge value. The more mocks you run, the more glaring the differences will become between your rankings and the default platform.

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But what if you’re in a league with savvy members that all rely heavily on the UDK? Michael Wenrich has got you covered with his two-part series on building your own rankings.

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Experiment with Different Strategies

This is my favorite part of mock drafting. Since the results won’t actually count towards anything, you can try different strategies and see how they play out. What does your team look like if you draft nothing but running backs with your first four picks? What if instead, you try a zero-RB strategy and don’t draft one until the fifth round or later? How late can you push the late-round quarterback strategy? Is it worth spending an early-round pick on Travis Kelce or George Kittle? There’s no limit to the number of mock drafts you can use to play out different scenarios. You may be surprised by some of the resulting teams, and by the time your real draft comes around, you’ll be confident in your chosen strategy.

Your draft position has an enormous impact on your draft strategy, so if you know this ahead of time you can really hone in on a strategy. However, if you don’t know where you’ll be drafting from it’s vital to do some mocks from all over the draft board. The players available from different draft slots is most glaring in the first round or two, but it goes deeper than that. If you’re drafting at or near the turn of rounds, as The Ballers did with the twelve spot in the most recent mock, you’ll have to make consecutive picks pretty quickly and then have long nerve-wracking waits. Drafting from the middle of a round allows you to have a more balanced time in time between the picks. Getting a feel for each of these slots can help ease your mind when it’s showtime for real. 

Learn Your Lessons

All the mock drafts you do won’t help much if you don’t learn anything from them. Note what could have happened if you’d drafted differently, as The Ballers noted they would’ve had plenty of solid WR options at the 3-4 turn had they decided on two RBs to start the draft. 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 jotting down notes on paper or as intricate as setting up a spreadsheet with multiple tabs covering any draft trend you can come up with. The more you review your process, the better you can craft your draft strategy.

Get Out There and Mock

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, it’s fun! Mock drafting brings a small taste of the real draft excitement to the offseason. Having your targeted player sniped right before your eyes hurts almost as much in a mock draft as it does in the real thing, but the glory of putting together a squad that you love can be almost as fulfilling. 

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