The NFL preseason is upon us and that means fantasy football is as well. For the 25 million plus people that play fantasy football there is no better month of the year than August. Excitement is building, managers are creating cheat sheets, and most importantly fantasy football drafts are taking place. One of the exercises most so-called fantasy experts recommend is practicing before you draft by doing a few, or as many mock drafts as possible. While most think it is a good idea there are others that say there isn’t much need. Let’s take a look at the argument.
Proponents for Mock Drafting
Most experts will say the only real way you can practice a fantasy draft is to do mock drafting. Thus in order to have a good draft you must practice, practice, practice by mock drafting. Briefly a mock draft is a fantasy draft that you can do online on any number of websites for free. Sites like espn or nfl.com hold live mock drafts all day long through August and well into September. You can enter as many as you like. Experts suggest doing mock drafts so you can get a sense of where players are being taken, and how managers are drafting. It gives a manager the ability to test different strategies out to see what works and what doesn’t. It gives managers the ability to pick in the exact position they will in their own draft because you may pick your position in a mock draft. This is a huge benefit as you can do multiple mock drafts in the exact position you will be picking in your draft. If you don’t know where you will be picking you can at least get an idea of how drafts are going in all positions. Finally the biggest benefit is that once the draft is over you get a copy of the draft emailed to you. This is a huge benefit as it gives managers the ability to study what transpired in the draft. A manager can create a folder of drafts and study the drafts to see where players they like are being taken and what trends seem to be constant throughout most drafts. Succeeding in your league and winning a fantasy football trophy is all about information. Your fantasy draft is the foundation you build on your way to winning your league. In order to succeed in your fantasy draft you need to have studied as much information as possible going in, and mock drafts are one of the best ways to do so.
Opponents of Mock Drafting
Opponents will argue that the data is flawed and it’s a waste of time. They recommend when your free fantasy football draft board goes up at your draft this should be the first time you are drafting. The problem with mock drafting is that it’s not a true example of what your draft will be. For starters the managers you are mock drafting against are not the managers you are actually drafting against. This means the tendencies of the group and the group itself are two completely different sets of people. Also your league probably has slightly different rules than a mock draft is based from, thus players often get drafted in different spots than they will in your draft. Finally two of the most important problems with mock drafting are these. In a mock draft you almost always have at least one or more people on autodraft. This completely throws the sequence of the draft off. An autodraft robot will automatically pick the teams starters first followed by the bench players. This means that a kicker and defense will be picked in the middle rounds whereas your actual draft this will not be the case. Not only that but other managers may be trying out off the wall strategies just to see what happens. If you’ve done a few mock drafts in your time then you will know what I mean. These two reasons almost always cause the data to be skewed and not representative of an actual draft. It’s better not to waste your time mock drafting because the samples just don’t provide good enough data. Your time is better spent keeping up on NFL news and preparing for your draft by continually updating your cheat sheets.
In the end mock drafting has it’s pros and cons. In my opinion mock drafting is good practice but I wouldn’t dig to deep into the data. I would use it more as a tool to get comfortable with drafting again. Use the data you’ve learned from the previous seasons in your league and up to date NFL news rather than data from mock drafts.