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Jobu discusses the art of the mock fantasy draft, and just how useful a tool it can be.

If you read this blog, you are probably involved in a fantasy sport of some kind. We cover a lot of fantasy sports topics here, from draft strategies (brought to you by our me and our own Dr. Draft), to strategies that are sure to keep your team in the running all season long. If you’re obsessed with fantasy baseball, you’ve been studying for a couple months already, and your league was created a couple of weeks ago, when Yahoo officially opened up the fantasy baseball servers for the 2012 season.

Any good fantasy owner will tell you that the easiest (and best) way to make yourself a successful fantasy baseball team owner (or any fantasy sport, really) is to get a good foundation of players in your draft. You can always do some damage with drop/adds, but it’s hard to build a winner that way, and it’s a lot more stressful. This is why I currently have a saved spreadsheet on my desktop with every player in the league that I think might be able to help my team at any point this season. It breaks down the player, his age, and how he fared last season in the twelve (six per batter, six per pitcher) categories that my particular fantasy league tracks. Now, you might not be as disgustingly obsessed as I am, but I’m sure you have some kind of draft preparation routine you go through as well (don’t judge me!). Today, we’re here to talk about mock drafts, and the right way to implement them into your preparation strategy..

How Useful is a Mock Draft?

This is what your fantasy draft preparation should look like (WarGames w/Matthew Broderick)

For those of you who don’t know what a mock draft is, you’ll probably never be allowed to play in my fantasy league. However, I’ll take the time to educate you. Any fantasy sports hosting website worth its salt allows you to do mock drafts. A mock draft is a way to practice drafting before your real draft. Basically, you go to a site like Yahoo! Fantasy Sports or Mockdraftcentral.com and do as many practice drafts as you like. You can do a variety of different drafts (10 team, 12 team, 20-25 rounds, etc), and when you finish, you get a copy of your results and you can do another one.

Just how useful are these mock drafts? It really all depends on who you get put in the draft with (most are random, although you can sign up for mock drafts with a group of friends), what kind of drafts you do, and how you analyze and use the results. If you’re drafting against the wrong people, not using the proper mock draft strategies, or not really digging deep to analyze your results, you’re definitely not going to get the most out of the experience.

If you’re drafting against a group of educated and dedicated fantasy sports fans and players, you’re going to get the most out of your draft. You can really get a feel for where most of the players you are targeting are going to get drafted. This helps you to not reach for a player you have rated too highly, as well as not waiting too long to nab that big sleeper you have on your board.

One thing you must absolutely understand is that, unfortunately, most of the people you’ll find in the mock draft rooms are idiots. You will see people making all of the typical draft mistakes, like reaching for their favorite players and impact rookies (Watch out for some early Jesús Montero and Paul Goldschmidt drafters this year).You’ll also see plenty of people who simply have no idea how to draft a fantasy team. You’d think if you’ve reached the point in your life where you do mock fantasy baseball drafts, you’d at least know what you’re doing (most normal people don’t do these).

This is the nature of the beast, and it’s what keeps me from doing more mock drafts. Last year i did a handful before quitting because i realized it wasn’t helping me at all. A few years ago i ended up doing about fifteen mock drafts because i ended up in some very competitive ones. It is important to know when you’re in a bad mock draft. If you see someone take Ike Davis in the second round, just close the window and wait for the next mock to start.

What is the Best Mock Draft Strategy?

Brad Pitt played GM for two hours, fantasy baseball owners do it full time. (nycfilmcritic.com)

I know this is probably something more up Dr. Draft‘s alley, but I know a thing or two about draft strategy too. My main strategy in mock drafting, surprisingly enough, does not involve trying to draft the best possible team. I don’t care if you draft the best team in fantasy baseball history, it’s literally meaningless. We’re talking about practice here. Not a draft. Not a real draft. Just practice. Practice (thanks A.I., we miss you)! Most of the time, I don’t even do my mock drafts myself. I treat them more as computer simulations, that I can use to gather data for the real thing.

Your strategy in mock drafting should be to make sure you know how to attack your real draft from every draft slot. If you’re actively participating in your drafts, do a couple from every area of the draft order (beginning, middle and end). This way, if your real draft order is randomly determined thirty minutes before the draft begins (like my league), you can be calm in knowing that you have a strategy, whether you get the first or last pick. It’s also important to learn to be flexible in your mock drafts, because your favorite ten players could all blow out their knees the night before your real draft. If you’ve done your research, and crafted a good general draft strategy, you’ll be ok.

No matter how you do your draft, it’s important to track all the data that you’re receiving from these drafts. Although there’s always an idiot taking Carl Crawford in the second round, the more drafts you do, the more you will see where he really should fall in a typical draft. As I mentioned earlier, the key to a good fantasy draft is knowing when the appropriate time to take your players is. Only use mock drafts to help you craft your strategy for the real draft. Don’t treat them like your real draft. There’s a reason the word “Mock” is in the term mock draft. Play around and have fun with them. You can even try different strategies (like testing out Dr. Draft’s theory about not taking a pitcher before the 7th round).

Final Thoughts

There are many tools you can use to prepare for your draft (vinscullyismyhomeboy.com)

The final verdict is that mock drafts can be a useful tool for draft preparation. You have to make sure you really pay attention to what’s going on in your mock drafts. Don’t just focus on picking the best team you can. Watch where everyone is picking. Gather all of your data and analyze it correctly, and you will get the most out of your mock draft. I cannot stress enough that you shouldn’t use mock drafts as your only tool. The most important part of a successful fantasy draft is knowledge. You have to know the players, their teams and their trends (if you know what they have for breakfast, it could be useful too!). If you know every player but don’t have a draft strategy, you’re not going to be as successful. The same thing goes for those drafters who do a million mock drafts but don’t take the time to learn about the actual players. All research is good research, you just have to know what to do with it.

Featured image courtesy of: http://chicksdigthefastball.blogspot.com/

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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