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By: Russell Shaffer
Let me start by saying your draft is
not the end all, be all indicator of how your fantasy fortunes will
fall. A good draft doesn’t automatically predict that you will win a
championship any more than a lousy initial haul means you’ll be phoning
it in by mid-season. Trust me, after 12 years of playing fantasy I’ve
been on the plus and minus side of draft day results and I’ve both
driven a virtual juggernaut into the ground and rode a giant dog all the
way to a championship.
A lot of other things – including how well
you comb the free agent list, your choosiness when using your waiver
priority and the shrewdness of your trades – play just as big a part of
your overall roster management as the draft itself.
that said, your draft is extremely important and if you are serious
about your fantasy team, you need to be prepared when the countdown
clock hits: 00 and the pickin’ begins. It totally shapes the initial
persona of your team, and if you are ever going to swing a blockbuster
mid-season trade to get your team over the hump you at least need to
start with something worth swapping.
That’s why prior to your
draft you need to spend some time doing fantasy baseball mock drafts.
How many is up to you (personally I find them a commitment-free way of
having some fun experimenting with roster configurations) but I would
recommend at least two or three...
prepares you for the heat of battle quite like simulated battle. Why do
you think the military runs incessant rounds of training missions or
elite athletes spend countless hours on the practice field.
Yes, to quote Allen Iverson I’m "talkin’ ‘bout practice". Practice counts in fantasy baseball, too.
not enough to read rankings lists or even set your own pre-draft
rankings. While you think you’re good to go because you “have a plan”,
chances are every other player in the draft room has a plan, too. And if
your college roommate, the cool guy from the marketing department or
your brother-in-law have the same plan as you; don't count on your draft
going anywhere close to plan.
So you need to be ready when your
plans go up in flames, you’re on the clock and the entire sequence of
your remaining draft rests on how well (and how quickly) you can
recover. In other words, you need to learn how to think on your feet.
in mock drafts not only helps you hone your own draft day approach it
lets you see the effect of different draft room trends and learn how to
adjust. For example, are the other players taking the best available
player at the top of the draft or targeting position scarcity? Is there
an early run on top-of-the-rotation studs or are the other players
waiting on pitching? Are prospects being taken high or falling until the
late rounds? All of these variables can swing in multiple directions,
and each scenario can have a significant impact on a draft’s outcome.
lots of mock drafts also lets you see how draft order impacts your
options and ultimately your selections. Everyone thinks having the 1st
pick is great, but sometimes it doesn’t look so good when 22 elite
players come off the board before you get to pick next. A late round
position is usually met with groans, but being able to sandwich two
picks within close proximity is not without its advantages. If you’re in
a league that uses a randomly generated draft order it’s a big plus to
enter the draft comfortable with picking from any spot.
your preferred approach and how that might play out if things go your
way is important, and so is knowing how various contingencies based on
draft room curveballs will impact your roster choices.
if you’re reading this close to when it initially posted you’ve got
plenty of time to hit the mock draft lobby and brush up on your draft
day approach before the real thing rolls around. Because when you’re on
the clock for real remember those immortal words:
“This is not a drill”.
So better to let practice make perfect before it really counts. Good luck!
Follow Russell Shaffer on Twitter @RussellShaffer