As of this moment, I have completed over 120 online mock drafts. Yes, I realize, that I need a life. But, I see those hours (and hours and hours) as an investment in my fantasy greatness in 2012. I have seen some guys make some very questionable drafting decisions in those nearly 19,000 picks, and I've learned quite a bit along the way. Below are some notes that should help you this week or next as you are "On the Clock"!
Don't draft with your heart
This seems obvious to me, but last week a guy in my mock took Ben Roethlisberger in the second round. When I asked his thoughts behind the pick he responded, "Big Ben is a STUD!" Then I glanced up and saw his team name "Steeler4Life." Well, Big Ben is a quality QB, but try not to make the same mistake with your NFL team's players. If anything, I'm more critical of my favorite team's players, as I see their "warts" and shortcomings.
Don't "Draft to Trade"
Two weeks ago, the guy with the No. 1 overall pick took Drew Brees at the turn (pick No. 24) in a 12-team PPR. Not a bad pick, right? But, it was a bad pick, because he had already taken Aaron Rodgers with the first overall pick. When I inquired about his strategy, he responded with "I can't pass up the value, I'll just trade him for a top WR." Think about the words of my father: "Something is only worth what someone else will give you for it." That is good advice, and considering those words, put yourself in the shoes of a fellow GM in this guy's league. You know that he wants to trade Brees and you know that he needs to trade Brees. Do you think that you're going to offer him fair value? No, of course not. This GM is experiencing the same thing that MJD is experiencing: lack of leverage. Don't draft to trade, especially high in your draft.
Don't go into your draft with a RIGID Plan
Trust me, I go into a draft with a plan, a shell, an outline, but you HAVE to be flexible. Do not get stuck with the "I'm going RB/RB" mantra, because you'll find yourself reaching on positions, not players, when something outside the "plan" happens. And to that point...
Be prepared for surprise picks
The writers on this site are in the middle of a Slow Draft (see analysis article coming in a few days), and it is a great example of being prepared for surprise picks. I am a "wait on a QB" kind of guy. I'm conditioned to believe that a quality signal-caller will be there in the mid-rounds. In fact, I have really had my eye on Michael Vick in the fifth round. Until, in this draft, he flies off the board at Pick No. 16. But, did I panic and say "Oh crap, QB-RUN!!!!!" and go QB early? No, I stayed the course and instead cashed in on a quality RB2 in the second round (Marshawn Lynch, thank you very much) and was STILL able to land Philip Rivers in the sixth and Carson Palmer in the ninth. Be prepared and don't freak out about surprise picks. In fact, draft value often comes by zigging, while the rest of the draft is zagging.
If you want a guy, you may have to reach this year
The above scenario is a great example of this point. The owner who took Vick at No. 16 obviously is a big believer in the Philly QB. And, in a 12-teamer, he didn't want to risk passing on him and missing him. This year more than ever, ADP values seem to be all over the place. So, if you really want a guy, it's OK to reach a round or two early. You'd rather have a team full of guys that you like and believe in at the end of the night, versus saying, "Well, Shonn Greene just fell to me." Blah.
Organize your Draft Board in tiers
One way to insulate yourself from stress concerning a positional run is by organizing your draft board into positional tiers. Instead of listing your QB's 1 to 30, consider breaking them into three or four tiers. This way you can estimate, "If I pass on Tony Romo HERE, will Philip Rivers (in the same tier) be there for me next round?" Note: it's much better to close out a tier, than to open up the next one.
Consider the concept of Ceiling & Floor
I could write an entire thesis paper on the concept of ceiling and floor, but consider the basic premise. A player's ceiling is the absolute best case scenario if all factors net out. This includes health, opportunity, production, player around him and any other pertinent factors that can impact performance. A player's floor is the worst case scenario. This includes injuries, bad offensive line, injuries to players around him, and maybe even a divorce (although some may decide that helps performance!).
This is a measure of risk. Risk can be dangerous but it can also bring reward. The key, like most things in life and fantasy football, is balance. It's OK to take Trent Richardson as your RB1 with his risk and upside, but just don't couple him with Ryan Mathews as your RB2. It could work out that you win your league, but it could work out that you're starting Mike Goodson and Javon Ringer at RB in Week 1. Just wait a couple rounds and take safe, if boring Steven Jackson as your RB2. Before you select a player or bid on him in auction, consider the risk as well as the reward.
Be aware of your positioning
This point will net you a better lineup if you happen to fall near the end or beginning of your serpentine draft. Picture that you are at slot No. 9 of a 12-team league, and it's your pick in the fifth round. You are in need of a Tight End, and you see the supply at the current tier (see above) is drying up. So, what do you do? Just grab Vernon Davis and starting prepping for your sixth round, right? No. First, glance at the draft board or roster grid and see if Team No. 10, 11 and 12 have a TE, already. If they do, then you can most likely safely hold off and steal a quality "wait on your" QB or WR2 from them and still get your TE in the sixth. Once again, this concept seems elementary, but I see mockers missing it over and over. This is especially important with QBs and TEs early in the draft. Be aware, you are not drafting in a vacuum.
There are a lot of defenses out there. Well, 32 to be exact. Well, 30, as you may choose not to count the Rams or Colts. The point is, do not take one in the single digit rounds, just don't. There are a TON a sleeper DST units: Seahawks, Bills, Packers, etc. I'm seeing the 49ers going in the sixth round. Are you kidding me? The value and upside just are not there. Look to the experts, what are they doing? Waiting until rounds 12 and beyond.
The fact that this is my last point was NOT by accident. Do not draft kickers until your last draft pick. Look at any expert draft, 100 percent of experts wait on kickers until their last or second-to-last pick. There is just no statistical difference between kicker No. 1 and kicker No. 12. And, that is assuming that you could even guess who the No. 1 kicker is going to be, which you can't. No one can. Last year's No. 1 ADP kicker was Nate Kaeding. How did that work out? Well, he tore his ACL on the Opening Day's first kickoff. So, let's just say the guy that drafted him in round eight was not pleased with his "investment." Guess who WAS available with that pick......Rob Gronkowski. Just don't try to be the smartest person in the room. Kickers. Last. Period.
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