I did thirty or more mock drafts last season. There is one event that sticks out in my mind. I had gone into a Yahoo! mock room and slotted myself eleven out of twelve.
If you’re like me and spend too much time on the twitter and various fantasy sports blogs, there is a tendency to be almost too cognizant of drafting trends like a player’s ADP. We aim to draft players that “should” be drafted in a certain slot. Or we draft only players that we perceive to be “good value”. Sometimes, this drafting strategy may be to our detriment; sometimes, it is good to be aggressive and reach.
In the first round I called Darren McFadden’s name which, as we now know, I would have regretted. At the time, McFadden was a high upside play. An injury risk, to be sure, but a guy with the potential to finish among the top few RBs in the game. When it came my turn to make the fourteenth overall pick, no one player jumped out at me. I wanted to take another running back but all of the players I viewed as “sure things” were off the board.
It would be twenty more turns before I picked again. With that in mind, I knew I had to look deep down the list. I settled on another player who was viewed as a risk, but again, an upside play. Based on fantasyfootballcalculator’s ADP data (August 18), this player was going anywhere from early second round to end of the third. So the choice was: take him now, in what might be considered a slight reach, or pass on him now in the slim hope that he’s available next time around.
Adrian Peterson was the player, and immediately after I picked him, another guy in the room absolutely erupted at me: “DON’T YOU KNOW HE’S COMING OFF MAJOR KNEE SURGERY?” “WASTED PICK, BRO.” “WISH I COULD JOIN YOUR LEAGUE.”
1) dude, it’s a mock draft.
2) it’s football. You don’t know anything, I don’t know anything, the experts don’t know anything. Collectively, we have NO IDEA what will happen. Your first-rounder might blow out his knee in Week 3.
Here’s the takeaway: ADP data, expert analysis, and mock draft experience should be used as a predictor for what might happen in your draft room. But it should not be the main determining factor in who you draft. You don’t know what your draft position will be until you enter the room. It might be first overall. It might be twelfth. That slot will go a long way toward determining which players that are available to you; sometimes, it’s necessary to forego what might be perceived as “value” in order to get who you want.
No one knows anything: not me, not you, not the experts, not the douche in the mock draft room, who I hope remembers this and has drawn the same lessons from it that I have.
(By the way, who did that genius draft with his second-rounder? Victor Cruz.)