If you are reading this, then theoretically you are doing your draft preparation for the 2014 Fantasy Baseball season.
That means maybe you bought The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014, "Professional Edition," in which Mastersball is not only featured, but which I think has the most player profiles, and its wonderful "Picks and Pans."
And, though I digress--and shill a little--the point is studying for the draft is critical to success in fantasy ball (it is also a lot of fun).
I always do a few things to get ready for mine, the most important of which is to know the player pool.
That means knowing who all the players on the 40-man rosters for certain, and depending upon the depth and rules of your league, the newbie prospects who are just filtering up from last year's June draft.
But, I think the next best thing a player can do to prep for the draft season is to participate in mock drafts.
Now, you might dismiss mocks as a point of self-validation for ADP, but truly, the two really have nothing in common save a data base by which to pull a statistical mean.
Truth is I don't really care about ADP: I am more of the opinion of drafting the player who best suits the needs of your team, not so much individually, but as part of a whole that will assemble a body of competitive statistics.
For me, mocks afford an opportunity to simply try things.
For example, in all five of the mocks I have done so far, I have waited as long as possible to draft pitching, usually until the fifth, or even sixth round, and as a result have been able to bag the likes of Mike Minor and Jordan Zimmermann pretty regularly as the core of my staffs. Which tells me that though pitching is always the danger zone, it is also deep enough that you can wait a bit to build a staff and still grab a solid pair of arms to anchor.
In an American League mock, I simply tried to not worry about a closer, again focusing on starting pitching, and in a league that produces offense, hitting.
So, my relief staff consists of Luke Gregerson, Bruce Rondon and Luke Hochevar, three arms who might get ten conversions at best, but in avoiding a closer, I learned first how my opponents did value closers. But, I also know in auctions, for example, I should be able to bag any of these three for a buck. And, I know that in the event of an injury or ineffectiveness, any of the three could be in line to close.
Additionally, as I see how my mates are drafting, I can see not just who they value and the players they think can be sneaked through (for ideally everyone in the mock is road testing ideas as well, and that affords yet another learning opportunity).
But, what I have really learned, especially in this year's spate of mocks, is that if you fancy a player, take him, no matter when.
Sure, there are those first rounders--like Carlos Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw--who are uber-talented and can provide the foundation for a team. But, even though the star players we grab can set us up, that is not where we win leagues.
That happens in later rounds, where ideally the overlooked, undervalued and/or dismissed can come through and give your squad a boost.
What playing out a mock does, though, is help you identify how fantasy players value Corey Kluber, Kole Calhoun and Michael Brantley (three guys I really like this year, all of whom have gone after the 12th round in the mocks I have done.
But, what this tells me is to go ahead and grab these guys in the 10th or 11th round, not only because I like them, but because most other players have made similar evaluations and observations, but also think those guys will slide. So, taking them--and Kluber, Calhoun and Brantley are just examples of players we might have our eye on--aggressively ensures that the players will be on our roster. And, as a secondary strategy, it forces our opponents to have to look elsewhere for those perceived sleepers/bargains.
Because, ADP and position scracity don't really matter once the draft starts: what matters is making sure you have a squad that will produce competitive numbers. So, who you think will help, or when those players are picked does not matter, as long as the aggregate provides the needed numbers.
To continue, by playing out as many mocks as you can, three goals can be accomplished. They are:
- You can familiarize yourself with the depth of the player pool at large.
- You can get a feel for how other fantasy players value that pool.
- Most important, you can practce. For, mocks are really just a rehearsal, and what better way to feel comfortable than to prep by mimicking reality?
That final bullet is the key, for like practicing a speech, or a song, or a presentation, what you are really doing is preparing for the real thing, and that means simply being comfortable and relaxed while drafting. For, if you are comfortable at the draft table, that is half the battle to success.
If you are looking to do some mocks, look to the following sites, try Mock Draft Central, Real Time Sports, or the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC), who run mocks regularly this time of year. (Note that NFBC participants are pointed to Mock Draft Central, but get mock access.)