As Zach takes a well deserved vacation, I get to sit in and try to shed some light on the fantasy universe as we know it.
This week we hurtle towards the opening of the NFL season and partake in our said drafts in anticipation of that first kickoff. This makes for a good time to contextualize the 14 mocks in which I participated. The bulk of these were as part of the #mockdraftarmy as curated by my mate Howard Bender (@rotobuzzguy) and hosted by another bud, Tim Wagner of Fantrax.
This Wednesday I will take a look at some of the specific picks I favored, why, and on how many of the mock rosters these guys appeared, but right now I want to give a list of reasons why, if you are serious about your game--no matter what your sport--the single best way to prepare for a draft is by mocking.
So, the benefits of a lot of mocking are:
Simple draft preparation: I do a lot of writing about players in both MLB and the NFL, but often our notes and memories fall short. Just going through the motions of drafting a dozen times as a preparation exercise simply build confidence. But, a lot of practice simply facilitates our ability to problem solve (more on this later).
Know the player pool: In concert with the prep step, drafting simply puts you more in touch not just with the player pool at large, but reveals players as of lesser or more worth. For example, John Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Willie Snead all slipped to seventh and eighth round selections in my mocks, and in leagues that value receptions, building out with those guys as secondary receivers, allowing one to focus more on RB and QB earlier than before, makes for a great strategy where the balance and strength of a team is meted out pretty evenly.
Know how your opponents assess: As documented, I am not a big fan of ADP primarily because I want to focus on drafting the best team as I see things, not as the masses do. That said, it is indeed good to know how your opponents value--or don't--the likes of John Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Willie Snead for such knowledge allows you to exploit the troika as potentially late picks, and draft accordingly.
Draft with different variations: If you play PPR, it is good to mock in a standard format, and if you play in a standard format, it is good to mock in a PPR format just to see how differently players and drafts and strategies fall, for that can push towards a strategy insight that helps in both set-ups. Similarly, again it gives a feel for how different drafters value draft slots and positions and ultimate the player pools.
Experimentation: All of these steps are inter-related, but this step is really at the crux. Ever wonder if it makes sense to draft to a bye week? What about stocking up on RBs who can catch, like Bilal Powell to offset not grabbing a WR in the first round, or drafting three QBs in a set-up where you can play two signal callers each week? Since mocks don't count, anything is acceptable strategy-wise and that means any way you want to shake the dice cup and play whatever combination of numbers falls is legit.