Fantasy Football: Tips and Tricks to Mock Draft Like a Champ
Many league mates and casual fantasy players might mock you for mock drafting. Many owners will do just a few mock drafts to “get a feeling for the season”. Mock drafts are an important part of the practice and preparation for the season. Serious owners will utilize months of mock draft results and experiences to absolutely dominate their drafts. Are you taking full advantage of all benefits of mock drafting?
Tip #1 – Use the same site your league uses
Assuming your league will use an online draft program, it’s extremely important to use the same website for your mock drafts as you will use for your league’s draft. First and foremost, drafting on the same platform will get you acclimated to the user experience. When you’re on the clock and only have 60-90 seconds to make your selection, you can’t be scrambling around trying to find a piece of info or a player. Mock drafting on your league’s website will give you the peace of mind you’ll need to be calm, cool and collected when that little bell rings on draft day.
Additionally, using your league’s website will give you a clear idea of that program’s ranking tendencies. The reality is that most casual players will rely heavily on the rankings of the draft software. This can give you a distinct advantage. A great example is playing in PPR league on a site that uses standard scoring for their rankings.
Tip #2 – Don’t solely mock draft on your league’s website
Once you’re comfortable with the user interface on your league’s draft platform, it’s time to move around. Each website has their own rankings. Their rankings will directly impact the draft program’s best player available lists, which will ultimately impact the sites ADP. Two years ago, I wrote an article about comparing ADP on different sites and finding values.
Again, as the timer ticks down, owners will panic and choose a player from the top of the list, even in mock drafts. Working through a few different draft programs will give you a good idea of which players are ranked vastly different across sites. That info will help you recognize trends.
Tip #3 – Draft from different spots
Even if you know your draft position, it’s extremely important to gain experience from different spots of the draft. When you constantly draft from the same spot, it’s very common to see the same players available at each turn, since we already recognize that most mock drafts will follow the sites rankings. Switch it up and draft from all the spots. This will give you a sense of which players are available to the other owners and what decisions they are forced to make. This will also prepare you for falling players in your real draft. Having that first-hand experience of being forced to choose player X over your preferred player is invaluable. This also brings into play alternate roster construction methods that you can be prepared for, which brings me to the next tip.
Tip #4 – Try different strategies
So, you’ve heard all about the ZeroRB strategy but never tried it. A mock draft is a perfect place to try it out. What will your roster look like if you draft Aaron Rodgers? What happens if you don’t draft a QB until Round 14? How does my squad look if I draft Rob Gronkowski or five straight RBs? All these questions can be answered in a mock draft. While we all tend to fall into the trap of using our “normal” strategy in a mock draft, it’s extremely important to try out other strategies and find out if you can implement parts of it in your plan.
The Ballers always talk about “being water” in a draft and mock drafting will give you the experience to pounce on an opportunity and completely change the course of your draft on a whim. Testing other strategies can also help you recognize the draft tendencies of your league mates, allowing you to exploit inefficiencies in their draft.
Tip #5 – Don’t draft the players you want
This one might sound a bit off, but humor me for a minute. I see “rate my mock” type posts across various platforms and I fully expect to see them in the Fantasy Footballers Community Forums. Most of the time, if you look at multiple mock drafts from the same owner, they will always have a handful of the same players. This tells us that the owner is clearly higher on that player than the consensus rankings. But what are you learning by drafting your sleeper in Round 8 when the ADP and league site would typically see him available in Rounds 10 or 11?
Instead of drafting “your guy” in Round 8, select the player ranked right below* him from the same position. Then track when “your guy” is actually drafted. (*By drafting the player below your target, you won’t artificially inflate his draft stock.) If you do this enough times, you’ll start to recognize the threshold of exactly how late you can wait and still get him rostered. If he regularly gets drafted in the 12th Round, resists the temptation of reaching for him in the 8th and draft him in the 10th or early 11th. It’s nice to get your guy. It’s really nice to make your team better AND get your guy in the draft that matters.
BONUS TIP – Track your drafts
This one is for the stat nerds like me. I keep an excel spreadsheet with the results of many* of my mock drafts. (*If I’m just goofing around with a new strategy I won’t include those.) Consider this your notes for the final exam. Do you consistently end up with the same player in Round 3, regardless of your draft spot? Are you consistently rostering the same late round QB and TE? Do you have an affinity for rostering players from the same teams or your favorite team? Recognizing the patterns of YOUR drafts is just as important as recognizing your opponent’s tendencies. Use the info to alter your mock drafts. Forcing yourself to break habits during a mock draft will improve your drafting skills.