Why It’s Never Too Early to Mock Draft (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Apr 7, 2019

What advantages can fantasy owners gain by mock drafting early?

While there can be a bit of a lull between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft, there is no offseason for the dedicated fantasy football manager! Now is the time to start planning, strategizing, thinking, and calculating so that you can be ready to go when it’s time to draft. One of the best ways to prepare is by performing mock drafts. Mocks are simulations you can run against computer software or friends to practice and prepare for your draft.

I know what you might be thinking. March or April is way too early to start doing mock drafts! That’s where you’re wrong. It’s never too early to complete mock drafts — and here’s why.

For the best mock draft experience, use our Mock Draft Simulator. You can customize using league size, scoring format, and draft position. You can import your team and league settings from a variety of platforms and even sync keeper picks. Check it out!

Practice

Practice makes perfect, right? That old adage is certainly applicable to fantasy football drafts, and the most effective way to practice is by completing mock drafts. Do dozens or even hundreds of them if you’d like. You can never have too much practice drafting. Our Mock Draft Simulator is a great tool to use for mocks because it mixes up computer simulated picks every time you mock (rather than going chalk) to give you a more genuine experience. By completing many different mocks, you can begin to understand where players are typically being drafted in the real world.

This brings us to average draft position, also known as ADP, which is a common tool used by fantasy managers to get an idea of where players are being selected on average in fantasy drafts. ADP is constantly changing based on injuries, trades, cuts, signings, position battles, training camp performance, quotes from coaches, etc. Keeping up with ADP early on will give you insight into players who are becoming more popular and those whose popularity is waning throughout the offseason.

Identifying risers will help you to make informed decisions on draft day by questioning why those players’ ADPs have risen, if the rise is warranted, and whether or not that player is worth his current asking price. On the flip side, identifying players whose ADP has fallen over time could land you some potential value in your draft. Knowing why a player’s ADP has risen or fallen is crucial to gain an advantage over fellow league managers who haven’t practiced or done their research. 

Draft Position

Understanding the most effective drafting methods at your specific position is crucial for success, and mock drafts can help you do that. Our Mock Draft Simulator allows you to choose your draft position so you can get a feel for what the actual thing will look like. It’s never too early to start doing mock drafts, because knowing how to draft at your position could be what gives you the edge over your fellow managers.

For example, there’s a clear difference in picking first, seventh, and 12th. The first overall pick gets the best player in the draft, but forces you to wait 23 more picks before selecting again. The 12th pick misses on a lot of first-round studs, but gets back-to-back solid players to start their draft. The seventh pick misses on the first wave of studs, but still gets a decent consolation and doesn’t have to wait as long between picks as the first or 12th pick.

There is strategy involved in drafting at any of the 12 slots in traditional drafts, and you can learn how to draft at any position by completing multiple mocks. It’s hard to see the advantage of some picks or know how to utilize them, but that’s where mocks come in. Maybe you’ve never selected at a certain position before. Maybe you’ve selected at a certain position multiple times but were unsure of how to approach that pick and finished in last place in your league. That’s where mocks come in. It’s never too early to get a good grasp on your draft position and figure out the most effective way to draft at that spot.

Strategy

Showing up to your fantasy football draft with a strategy in mind is key to winning the day, but what if you’d like to try a strategy you’ve never used before? Fantasy football big boards are often littered with running backs in the early rounds, making running back a very top-heavy position. You’ve read about the “Zero WR” strategy and think that it might be a good idea to employ it this season so you can load up on the best of the best running backs.

If you want to know how your draft could end up using that specific strategy, mock. You can run multiple simulations to determine if that strategy is right for you. If it is, you can then focus on maximizing each pick and do some additional mocks. If that strategy isn’t the one for you, it’s back to the drawing board. Developing those ideas and analyzing strategies take time. Mock early and let those ideas and analyses simmer in the offseason to eventually coalesce into a well-informed and thoughtful draft strategy you can use to win your league!

Sometimes, the best strategy is the one you haven’t thought of yet. The beauty of mock drafts is that they can reveal new strategies and effective draft techniques. Taking a quarterback early in 12-team redraft leagues is a move generally frowned upon by the fantasy community at large, but maybe that’s a strategy that piques your interest anyway. Start a new mock, and grab a stud QB in the third round to see how the strategy shakes out. Then, try another mock and wait until the 10th round to take a high-upside signal-caller. Compare the results, analyze the two draft strategies, rinse, and repeat.

There are all kinds of draft strategies you can employ, and to understand which works best for you, you’ll need to mock. With so many different strategies and draft techniques to study, it’s important to start doing mocks early.

Conclusion

The biggest takeaway here is to try new things. Don’t take an RB until Round 6. Punt WRs until you’ve filled out the rest of your roster. Grab a high-tier TE and QB within the first three rounds. Try anything and everything you can think of in your mocks.

The results are not real, and every mock you complete should take you one step closer to determining how you will approach your draft when the time comes. Make sure you take away at least one helpful hint from each mock and identify things that worked or didn’t work. It’s never too early to complete a mock draft, and when you’re nailing your picks at an actual draft in August, you’ll be glad you did!

Mock draft vs. experts with our free Draft Simulator >>


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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.  

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