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Such a Mock-tease! How Mock Drafts Steered Me Wrong...

Mock Mock. 

Who's there?

Strategy. 

Strategy who?

Exactly.

Trying to prepare for your league's draft is a time-consuming strategy that we are all too familiar with.  Hours of research are put in.  Tons of fantasy websites are visited (Shameless Plug).  Mock drafts take place.  Do mock drafts truly give you the data you need? I have been partaking in mocks intensely over the last few weeks with each one resulting with entirely different results.  I have had my keeper league and seasonal drafts over the weekend, and I'll tell you what: I wish my mock drafts could be played out.  The results were not pretty.

Based on the feedback Ken has been receiving on his FF Draft last weekend: Another Fake Teams Plug, I thought it would be a good idea to share with our readers my PPR Draft Results from Saturday.  Now the purpose of sharing my results and game plan is not for you to critique my league or my picks (on second thought, criticizing my picks is actually okay), but to inform you that no matter how many mock drafts you partake in, you always need a backup plan.  You need to adjust your strategy and adapt on the fly.  No draft is the same as the other. 

This is my 3rd year in a 12 team re-draft league that's been existence since 2004.  I have made the playoffs both seasons, but I have not won the title, even losing a heartbreaker in the finals last year.  I joined the league at the urging of a couple buddies who play with their good friends from home.  Although I'm the only New Yorker in the league and only one who is unable to draft in person, I've been in the league long enough to know some teams' draft methods and am well-aware of all 11 other teams' Patriots homer-ism.  It's a $100 buy-in, and everyone is very aggressive on the trade front.

The league is 1 point per reception, 4 points for passing touchdowns (6 for all other touchdowns) and contains all your other basic standard scoring settings.  Rosters consist of 16 players, starting QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 DEF, 1 Kicker and 1 Flex RB/WR/TE and 7 bench players.

Every year I am handed a pick I do not desire, and 2011 is no different: pick # 12 of 12 (snake draft).  This season, I ranked 200 players in PPR Formats and even set up a fake roster of what I'd envision my team to look like at the 12 position.  However, what follows after the jump is almost everything that I didn't want to happen to me did during the draft.

Rounds 1/2:

I wanted 2 of 4 players at the turn of 12/13: Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White.  Based on so many mocks I've been a part of, I always see Michael Vick go in the top 10.  I figured best-case scenario, I land one or both of the WR's I so dearly covet.  One mistake I made last season was waiting on WR and juggling decent WR's in and out of the lineup.  This year, I wanted a stud WR I could set and forget.  Even though some teams have drafted WR's in the first round in our PPR Format, I haven't witnessed 4 WR's go before the 12th pick.  Naturally what happens is my two targets Megatron and Fitz go 10-11 forcing me to adjust on the fly (Roddy White went 8 and Andre Johnson went at 7).  The first QB off the board was Tom Brady at 9 (Pats' homers), leaving me with the option of reaching for a second-tier WR in Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace or Vincent Jackson...or going QB/RB.  What do I do? Pick the riskiest player in fantasy: Michael Vick (I have him #6 overall in my board) and another risky player: Darren McFadden (#7 overall on my board), going completely against my strategy and adjusting on the fly.

Round 3 didn't go as smoothly as I'd imagined either.  Since I missed out on one of the top WR's in the first two rounds, I would surely go WR here, right? Wrong.  Jahvid Best, #17 in my PPR Ranks, falls all the way to my pick.  I pounced as I can see Best being a PPR Monster with a healthy season (crossing my fingers).  My other pick was tricky.  With Vick as my QB, do I go DeSean Jackson and lock up the dynamic QB-WR Duo?  How about my boys Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant?  I figure at this point, instead of chasing Wide Receivers, I'll lock up yet another elite injury-prone player that gives me a leg up on the competition if he stays healthy: TE Jermichel Finley.  This way if my players do stay healthy, I have essentially a RB at the QB position and a WR at the TE position.  Besides, Antonio Gates went 4 picks before Finley, so I thought the Tight Ends would come flying off the board.  Dead wrong.  I could've waited until pick 60 to nab Vernon Davis or maybe even Finley.

As the WR2's come off the board for the teams that already have their WR1, I figure maybe the 5th round is a good time to pick my # 1 WR.  Not the route I wanted to take, but the draft unfolded that way.  Round 5 (60 overall) I finally take my # 1 wideout: Santonio Holmes of the Jets.  I actually have him 34 overall in PPR and just outside the top 10 WR's, thus making him a borderline WR1.  I'll take it...I guess.  On the turn I really panicked.  Taking Finley in the 4th kind of hurt me.  I wanted to go Mario Manningham or Kenny Britt here, but I instead chose Jeremy Maclin A) because I have Britt in my keeper league and B) I am a whore for the QB/WR duo.  It gets me every year; I had dreams of Stafford to Megatron in this league.  Those dreams were quickly shattered. Shattered!  I ignored the fact that Maclin was recovering from a mystery sickness (AIDS?), and thought since Desean Jackson is afraid of going over the middle, Maclin will be that possession guy in 2011.  Eek.  I've regretted this pick ever since Saturday.

Rounds 7 and 8 come, and there are slim pickings at RB and WR.  Everyone is stocking up.  Kenny Britt is even slipping in this round, so maybe I can redeem myself.  Dare I take a rookie WR in Julio Jones? Nope, both taken shortly before I'm up.  I decide right before my pick I'll go with some more injury-prone guys: Matthew Stafford and Austin Collie...except Collie goes at the pick right before mine.  I've been hearing good things about Lance Moore especially in an offense sans Reggie Bush, so I take Moore in PPR...and then a day later Moore hurts his groin and is out for the rest of the pre-season.  Wowza.

I'm covered at QB now with one injury-prone QB backing up another, and TE is all good.  At this point of the draft, I am just going to go best player available regardless of position.

Rounds 9/10: Rashad Jennings RB & Michael Bush RB

I need to cover my ass if McFadden gets hurt as he does every year, so this round seemed appropriate to grab Bush (haha).  Although I am not the biggest advocate of "handcuffing" players, I felt Bush was proper value here and actually could be a starter on most NFL Teams.  With MJD a heavy injury-risk, I thought I could grab Jennings here and at the very least have some sort of trade bait for the MJD owner.  If MJD does go down, I'll profit one way or another. Edit: Aaaand the hits keep on coming. Jennings is on crutches.

Rounds 11/12: Jacoby Ford WR & Rob Gronkowski TE

Lee Evans was my target here...until he was picked at #131 overall.  I pick 132.  Instead, I went with a potential break-out in the quickest man in football: Jacoby Ford.  I grabbed Gronkowski for several reasons: I need a TE to back up Finley in case he goes down, and I also can slot Finley at Flex and start Gronkowski at TE when the match-up is right.  I just couldn't look at a washed-up Tony Gonzalez go off the board before Gronkowski did, even with a draft full of Patriots fans.  Ford and Gronk were good value here as I have them ranked 109 and 116, respectively.

Round 13/14: Jordy Nelson WR & Stevan Ridley RB

Talk about value: Nelson is a top-100 player on my draft board (Well, 100th overall to be exact, but still). The Green Bay WR Corps is a crowded group, but it's inexcusable to let Nelson fall all the way to 156.  At the next pick, I was contemplating grabbing Jerome Harrison to back up Jahvid Best, but I don't like handcuffs, especially with Harrison being an average NFL-talent (I am aware of what he did in Cleveland 2 seasons ago.  What has he done since?!) and possibly not the only backup.  At this point in the draft, I aim for upside.  It was between Emmanuel Sanders and Ridley.  New England has a plethora of running backs, but Ridley looks like the most talented back on that roster.  Under the right scenario, he could break out.  And if he doesn't? Then I'll drop him to pick up the next hot free agent on the waiver wire.

Rounds 15/16: Houston Texans DEF and Sebastian Janikowski Kicker

My top 12 defenses were off the board.  I never draft a defense until the second to last round as I like to play match-ups throughout the year.  The Texans are my sleeper defense in 2011 under defensive guru Wade Phillips.  They face the Indianapolis Colts, who may or may not be without Peyton Manning in Week 1.  If they face Kerry Collins, then I'll gladly start the Texans D.  If Manning returns in time, then I'll drop the Texans for a better match-up.  Janikowski is my top kicker, so I'm glad he dropped.  Likely won't make a huge difference on my team, but he's nailing 57-yard field goals in the preseason with ease.

My final roster is NOTHING of what I wanted it to look like before the draft.  All of my mock drafting did not help me very much in the early rounds.  I researched for hours even labeling players to take in the round where I expect them to be available, along with Options B, C, and D.  It seemed I was always taking Options C and D.  My team clearly has some weaknesses I need to address during the season, especially at WR and RB.  I'm also screwed during bye weeks as my team is thin.  I do think that Finley and Vick do give me a leg up in match-ups against lesser options at those positions.  I am praying for a healthy season.  If not, there's always the trade route and free agents.  Maybe I pick up the next Peyton Hillis.  Who knows.  I almost never finish my season with the team I drafted in this league.

Final Roster:

QB Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford

RB Darren McFadden, Jahvid Best, Rashad Jennings, Michael Bush, Stevan Ridley

WR Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Maclin, Lance Moore, Jordy Nelson, Jacoby Ford

TE Jermichel Finley, Rob Gronkowski

DEF Texans

K Sebastian Janikowski

Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from my draft and use value and pre-draft data to adapt to your league's drafting methods.  Do mock drafts help you or do they hurt you? I feel like they gave me a sense of false hope this season.  At least I was aware of ADP (Sarcasm)!

Let me know how much my team sucks in the comments.  I hate my team.