We've gotten to the point where we participate in countless fake fantasy football drafts to prepare for real fantasy football drafts. I don't know about you, but it's pretty awesome.
Mock fantasy football drafting has become a culture of its own. This writer will never admit how many hours he spend in mock drafts each offseason, but it's essentially the reason behind the cancellation of his television-on-demand service. Admit it, you know all of the audible cues: the evil sound effect when a coveted player in your queue has been "stolen" or "sniped" by a fellow drafter, the glorious orchestral of Johnny Pearson's "Heavy Action," the Monday Night Football fanfare that sounds when a draft is starting (or produced by that dude who leaves and enters the draft room 11 times).
Throughout a series of mock drafts, a fantasy manager can learn how to navigate a specific draft spot, or how to spot values and avoid pitfalls. In mock drafts, fantasy managers can also find a fun social space to discuss the market as it develops over the course of the summer. Rumor has it, some managers even talk trash in mock drafts (this remains unconfirmed).
During recent #MockDraftMonday events we've been asking fellow drafters and ESPN Fantasy staffers about how mock drafts help as a preparation tool for their real fantasy drafts.
In polling 50 fantasy managers who participated in #MockDraftMonday about how many mocks they join each summer, the average number of drafts per user was awesomely shocking: 28. It's hard to believe the Surgeon General would suggest this level of mockage per person, but at the same time, these users likely know what running backs they like in what round.
Fantasy editor (and Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer) James Quintong uses the mocks as a strategic laboratory, "test out a few ideas with regards to draft strategy. 'Do I go with a QB early? How long do you wait for running back?' It's also interesting to get a read on player draft values over a handful of drafts to see if there are players rising or falling -- even if it's with a small sample size."
Longtime fantasy sage Eric Karabell finds a testing ground for his player values on #MockDraftMonday: "I enjoy meeting new people that play our games and appreciate what we do, how we're trying to help, so I think that's cool. But I also like adjusting my draft pick slot and trying out new strategies. It's how I've become satisfied with my overall strategy. I also see that some of our sleepers can get moved up a few rounds simply because we discuss them. Time to find new sleepers!"
When you've earned the title of "The Football Scientist," it's safe to assume you know your way around a mock draft. Our resident football PHD, KC Joyner, shared his experiences from our #MockDraftMonday series; "Sometimes getting an idea of what fantasy managers are thinking and seeing can lead to a story idea. And there is the occasional humor, like the owner who asked me if I could tweet out that he had just drafted the best team in fantasy football history. So after the draft, he tweeted me a link to his team and I tweeted out "This owner wanted me to send out a tweet saying this is the best team in fantasy football history." If it was tweeted, it must be true.
Fantasy editor Keith Lipscomb finds value in his participation in #MockDraftMonday as a tool for market appraisal, "It's nice to get a pulse of what others think of certain players and how they approach the draft process, since there are many ways to construct a quality team."
NFL Insider Field Yates uses the #MockDraftMonday series as a helpful preparation tool, "The mock drafts are terrific reps for me as I prepare for drafts in other leagues. While I have grown to understand the tendencies of some of our fantasy staff cohorts, it's informative to draft with unfamiliar league mates to see how people are sizing up various players and positions."
I firmly agree with resident flag-planter and all-around smart dude Christopher Harris in noting just how informed and articulate fantasy managers have proven in these mocks, "I'm almost always impressed by the questions I get in drafts: they're usually player-specific, quite detailed, and show that the users in these drafts are trying to filter through the daily "noise" about players and get at something resembling a definitive opinion."
This author can confirm that instead of generalizations about positions or vague player questions, we're often fielding questions like, "How does Joe Lombardi affect the running back usage in the passing game in Detroit?"
Resident trend-watcher Ken Daube, is often asked to come clean with his sleepers: "On the undervalued side, Tom Brady leads the way. When Rob Gronkowski was healthy, Brady was a top-four QB. As Gronkowski's two season-ending injuries were flukish, I don't see a real reason to expect Gronkowski to miss significant time this year, which is great news for Brady's fantasy prospects. I also like Jonathan Taliaferro and Travis Kelce as late round lottery picks as both could wind up as viable starters sooner than later."
Continuing on this hot topic, Tristan Cockcroft counters with his take on No. 87, "I get more questions about Rob Gronkowski than any other specific player in these mock drafts. Part of that might just be that I'm open in my stance that I'm not taking Gronk even close to his ADP. He just seems to be a particular point of contention with the mock drafters this year. My favorite, question, of course, was "Favorite MLB ballpark?" Yeah, they even ask me baseball. And the other drafters don't even boo!"
While it's hard to believe they don't boo Cockcroft for talking baseball, it's' easy to believe that #MockDraftMonday has become a celebrated event that allows a wide array of ESPN Fantasy and NFL analysts to interact with the ever-passionate and increasingly-informed fantasy mangers we find playing our games. Even a Monday can be fun if you are talking football.