<
>

Fantasy Football 101: mock drafts

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafts are simply practice drafts that don't count for anything. It's a terrific way to get used to our draft software, make sure you know how everything works, test out your strategies -- and maybe most importantly, make mistakes now, so you won't make them when they count in your real draft. Practice makes perfect.

So after you've done some thinking about which strategies you may use in your draft, take your rankings cheat sheet and head to the ESPN Mock Draft Lobby. If you're on the ESPN Fantasy App, go to the football section and click "Mock Draft."

Look through the League Format column to find a league that matches your league's settings, then click the Room Name, then click the blue "Join This League" button. Once the clock hits zero, the draft room will launch.

Take a look around the draft app, testing each button to see what it does and get used to the layout of the draft app.

  • Draft order: At the top, you'll see the draft order; the team on the left will draft first. The teams will cycle through as each pick is made, so whoever is drafting next will be shown on the top left, and the team on deck will be to the right of that team. Take a look to see where you are drafting -- you are highlighted with a yellow square -- and begin preparing for who you think will be there for your first-round pick.

  • Players: You can sort them by position, NFL team, our projected stats and bye weeks. More importantly, you can use the search box to quickly find a specific player you want to draft.

  • Pick Queue: Drag and drop players you might want with your next pick into the Pick Queue in the order you rank them. If your clock runs out -- be it because you took too much time thinking or had a computer glitch -- the system will pick the top player in your queue for you. It also helps you avoid forgetting about a player you want during the draft.

  • Making your pick: When it's your turn, the clock at the top left will start ticking down toward zero, at which point it will take the top player in your queue or (if there is no one in your queue) the top-ranked player available. To make your pick, click on the player and make sure his image and stats appear in the Selected Player section. Then click the bright red Draft Player button to finalize your pick.

  • Draft Summary: As each pick is made by your league, they will show up above your queue. Afterward, you can click Draft Summary to see the full draft and which team took which player.

  • Draft Results: On the right, you'll see your roster, so you can see which positions you still need to fill (you'll need to fill each of those positions by the end of the draft). You can also use the Select Team dropdown to view other teams and see which positions they have filled.

  • League Chat: Use this area to talk smack, ask questions or beg your league manager to pause the draft if an emergency comes up.

  • League Manager: This section allows your LM (if you are in a league that uses that system) to pause the draft and roll back picks, in case someone made a mistake.

Do as many of these mock drafts as possible before your draft, so you feel comfortable and prepared for the real deal.