NFL season starts in five weeks. The time to mock draft is now.
Mock, mock, mock, I cannot stress enough the importance of participating in mock drafts before the real ones. I have been singing the praises of mock drafts for years now. Enough said.
Nevertheless, fantasy football mock drafts have one undeniable drawback. Every football league I ever participated in had its own peculiar rules. This customization of football leagues seems to be the nature of the beast. You know what I am talking about. Unfortunately, even minor scoring rule differences may reshuffle player rankings, making mocking less productive or even counterproductive.
While fantasy baseball has its own drawbacks that make it more strenuous than fantasy football, rule variations are limited to a half dozen scoring systems. Not so in football. To win we must understand the rules extremely well. We know that. Going into a real draft unprepared would be suicide. The sad reality is that this preparation may include the time-consuming effort to develop our own custom cheat sheets. Naturally, these custom cheat sheets are useless in mocks that do not follow our league rules.
One way to alleviate the problems caused by dissimilar scoring rules is to group players into tiers. Mastersball Platinum members are familiar with baseball projection colored tiers. Grouping players does not solve all the problems, but it helps. Allow me to elaborate on this point.
Players located within a tier are interchangeable. That is, their projected production is within a small variation. The jump from one tier to the next occurs when the delta, in algebra lingo, or the numerical gap between the expected productions of two players is large enough to justify a new grouping. I am pleased to see that some websites like USA Today that offer free draft guides have recently begun adding a column aptly titled “tier”.
Rankings on the many websites still list players by their positional roles as it always had. However, the “tier” column offers a different perspective. It allows combining players of different positional roles in accordance to their value. If, for example, your league values quarterbacks and running backs equally, you could combine these two positions into one group according to the tier of their rank. Grouping players has two advantages. For one, the effort to develop custom cheat sheets becomes less time consuming. Secondly, mock drafts become effective and productive. That, in turn, is a competitive advantage that I will take any time.