Mock Draft Strategy

USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafts are an intregal part of my preparation for the upcoming fantasy season. While none of the teams I draft will be played-out, mock drafts allow me to apply different strategies and ideas, and help me determine how effective they might be.

I participated in a mock draft Sunday night. It was my second of the day. There was a time I would not even consider participating in a mock draft. Now, it is an intregal part of my preparation for the upcoming fantasy season. While none of the teams I draft will be played-out, mock drafts allow me to apply different strategies and ideas, and help me determine how effective they might be.

All of the reasons I used to use to not participate in mock draft are just not true. First, it will never be played-out. Why bother? That excuse completely misses the point of a mock draft. A mock draft has three primary purposes. First, it allows you to try different strategies to determine which will serve you best in the coming season. For myself, this involves trying last year's strategy of taking four batters and two pitchers, in the first six rounds, and not taking the first pitcher until round four, and seeing if it is still effective. Because of the above two mock drafts, I am no longer comfortable with that strategy. More on that, below. The second reason to participate in mock drafts is to find out how the market perceives certain players. The deeper the league, the more late round go-to players you need. This year, both middle infield positions have a decided drop-off, after the first dozen players, or so. If you play in a fifteen team league, this means that at least three teams will not have acceptable starters at the 2B and SS position, and the MI slots will be barren. In my opinion, after those mocks, the positions that will be most difficult to find late-round go-to players will be starting pitching and closers. I would not know that without mocks. The third reason to participate in a mock draft is to practice making quick decisions and adapting to changes in the market, before the real McCoy.

The second reason I used to avoid mock drafts is the belief that some of the participants may be sandbagging. i.e. They are not drafting the players they normally would in a real draft, to throw their opponents off the scent. Even if this is true, however, it does not matter. Even if everyone except you is sandbagging, the mock still allows you to practice adjusting to market conditions, which, afterall, is all you can do in the real thing, anyway.

Enough theory; let's get to some real-life uses of mock drafts. My dad and I are partners in fantasy baseball. We each bring different ideas and priorities to the table, we each want to win, and we each love baseball enough to enjoy the whole process. As I mentioned above, I participated in two mocks on Sunday. They will be two of three I will participate in, for this year. Each draft on Sunday was used to prepare for the two leagues Dad and I will participate in, during 2013. The first is a start-up dynasty league and the second is a fairly competetive, Champion's league. Both are 15 team, mixed leagues, each using two-catchers. Both have players that are, quite frankly, better than us, but, we still intend to win. The first mock was just my dad and I. We each took a particular strategy, and applied it, throughout the draft. Our goal was to determine which strategy we would be most comfortable with, for the upcoming season. Strategies included taking a catcher early, taking a closer early, taking pitching early, waiting on pitching, and so forth. The second mock was with some pretty good industry folks and others. I, at least, thought we would come away with the idea that our strategy last year, mentioned above, would be the one we use again, this year. After Sunday, I no longer believe that. What I found, in all scenarios, was that good starting pitching dries up quickly. Our dynasty draft starts Friday, so we will have to make some adjustments, before then.

If you are a serious fantasy baseball player, mock drafts can help you hone your strategy for the upcoming season. In addition, they give you the opportunity to practice adjusting quickly to changing market conditions. Reading about a mock draft on a website or in a magazine is helpful, but not enough. If you want to give yourelf a decided advantage against your opponents, mock drafts will help you do, just that.

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