As NFL teams begin to ramp up their preparations with the regular season on the horizon, draft season is beginning to heat up in the world of fantasy football. While the pros play exhibition games to get ready, fantasy owners can use mock drafts.
It’s always easy to pinpoint which participants are prepared for the draft and which ones are looking at a set of rankings for the first time on draft day. Going through the mock process is a crucial part of getting acclimated with this season’s outlook.
With that in mind, let’s check out some popular cheatsheet alternatives fantasy owners can utilize as part of their prep. That’s followed by some tips for how to maximize the effectiveness of mock drafts.
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Strategy Tips for Mock Drafts
Vary Approach and Pick Location
Every fantasy owner possesses an ideal scenario for how the draft will play out. Whether it starts with going first overall to grab a running back or dropping lower in the order to grab a player from another position like Aaron Rodgers or Antonio Brown, everyone has “Plan A.”
Very rarely do things go smoothly, though. That’s why being flexible is vital to success. The more mock drafts you do, the more comfortable you become with any possible twists the draft may throw your way, and usually there’s a bunch.
Doing at least one mock from each draft position, and preferably more if possible, is going to provide invaluable experience. Not so much for the first round, but more in terms of what type of players are available once the draft circles back around in Round 2 and beyond.
Also, make sure to change your approach to see how to potentially increase the value of certain picks. The results of a mock don’t mean anything, just like the NFL preseason, so it’s a testing ground; whatever doesn’t work can get tossed out. But don’t leave any stones unturned.
Take Note of Important Trends
When doing a mock draft, don’t simply pay attention to what players you take. That only paints an extremely limited picture of how the draft played out. Since most people target the same group of players in each draft, it can cause them to miss key information.
Being able to get a feel for when certain things are going to happen is a major advantage. A couple of key points in every draft this year will be when quarterbacks start flying off the board and when the tight ends not named Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, who will go early, begin to be taken.
Of course, the edge comes into play because at the real draft fantasy owners can then beat the rush and start the run rather than get caught at the back end of it. Des Bieler of the Washington Post noted one trend he’s seen play out in the outlet’s 10-team mock draft.
“Selecting a wide receiver early is a perfectly reasonable draft strategy, but it does appear that there’s something of a bottomless well at this position,” Bieler wrote. “Here’s a short list of guys who weren’t even drafted (in no particular order): Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Doug Baldwin and Brian Quick.”
If you feel comfortable with the wideouts still available in the latter rounds, you can then load up at other positions in the early going. Discovering those types of details and how they match your draft strategy shouldn’t be overlooked.
Stay For Entire Draft
One curious decision that occurs in nearly every mock draft is people leaving the room after the first round. There’s really not much to learn at that stage because everything is pretty straightforward, so it makes little sense to only stay that long, as Matthew Berry of ESPN noted.
“Oh, and if you join a mock draft, don’t leave until it’s over. The people that join a mock draft and then leave early are among the worst people in fantasy football,” Berry wrote. “If you don’t have time, don’t do it. But if you join, stick it out.”
You’ll probably never land in a mock draft where all 10 or 12 participants stay for the entire mock. That said, the more that stay, the more realistic the results become compared to when it’s mostly autodrafted in the second half of the draft.
Staying for the entire draft is particularly essential when it comes to sleepers. In the Internet era, most fantasy owners are reading the same information, so the hype train can really take off for certain players who you may think are flying under the radar.
Getting a feel for when those players come off the board can help decide whether they still represent good value or if you should search for other late picks. After all, while the foundation for a championship is set in the early rounds, hitting on some sleepers usually puts a team over the top.
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