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Stuck In The Mock

If you have been a fantasy footballer since its early days, you certainly realize that preparation for your draft has evolved more quickly than William "The Refrigerator" Perry could eat a triple cheeseburger.

In 1987, my first year in fantasy football, preparation for the draft consisted of three hours on a beach in August reading Street & Smith's annual pro football pre-season issue. At that time, the draft was pure gut feeling -- no statistics -- just asking yourself "who was good last year and who is likely to be good this year?"

By the early 1990's, I had graduated to a more academic preparation, including several weekends of study and charting based on any number of magazines. By the mid to late 1990's, the study and charting continued, but my source had been narrowed to just one -- the annual pro football statistical compilation prepared and published by STATS, Inc. Charting touchdowns, yardage, completions, receptions, tackles, assists, sacks, interceptions and field goals became an obsession in the late summer weekends. I relied on pure statistics and on nobody's opinion but my own.

By Y2K, draft preparation had entered the computer age. Suddenly (and sadly for our friends who publish STATS), all of the information that I had used in prior years was available to me by internet, and I could cut and paste as I wished -- what a wonderful world indeed!

Then, 2002 arrived. I had already done all of my statistical compilation by the end of May and was looking for more information on the internet when I discovered that the diabolical minds who control cyberspace had yet another weapon to prevent me from concentrating on my real work and drag me down in to the mire of geekdom. I am, of course, talking about the computer mock draft.

I discovered computerized mock drafting in June. Suddenly, life was different. On the first day of addiction, my wife asked, "How was work today, honey?" In a half-daze, sparked by staring at a computer screen all day, the usual response of "Fine, dear," was replaced by "Hey, I mocked with some guys from Canada, and I duped them into letting Donovan McNabb slip into the fifth round." This was followed by a sinister laugh, of course. My wife looked at me with the puzzled gaze of a cat watching television.

Since that fateful day in late June, addiction has set in. I have participated in almost 20 computerized mock drafts already. I have drafted from the first position (1.01 for those in the know) all the way up to the 12th position (you guessed it -- 12.01). I have been afforded the opportunity to draft everyone from Marshall Faulk to D'Wayne Bates. I have tested theories, tried drafting approaches, and have even let the computer pick an entire team for me just to see what would happen. I have been, for lack of a better term, "Stuck in the Mock" (play eerie music from "The Twilight Zone" now for full effect).

For those of you who have been there, you know it is a complicated world to fully comprehend. For those of you who have not, here are 10 things that the site administrators don't tell you that you should know about computer mock drafts:

  1. Most of the guys who participate seem normal. However, every mock tends to include at least 1 person who firmly believes that they are king of some cyberspace country. Do not to allow this person to get your e-mail address.

  2. There is a hierarchy seemingly based upon the number of posts that you have historically placed at the site -- it's clearly quantity over quality.

  3. Note the term "guys" in point #1. For those of you searching for the perfect companion on-line, don't look here -- women do not participate in mock drafting. (For any women reading this article -- tremendous ratio -- give it a shot if you're desperate!)

  4. Running backs are tremendously overvalued in mocks. I saw Thomas Jones drafted before Rod Smith in one mock -- when this happens in a real draft, we will see dogs and cats living together in peace.

  5. Your work production will be affected. Repeat that to yourself before you sign up for another draft.

  6. Never, never (I repeat, never) let the computer make your picks for you unless you are just experimenting. I don't know how the computer is programmed, but the time that I allowed this to happen, I think my starters included Barry Sanders, Elvis Grbac and Rae Carruth.

  7. Don't put too much stock in the final result of your mock. Just because you were able to get Edgerrin James in the third round of a mock, don't wait for him to be around at that time in your real draft.

  8. Make sure that you are not mocking with guys from your real league, unless you want to try to throw them off by using odd strategies. I was concerned because one of the guys in a mock had a similar name to one of my real league members -- paranoia set in, so I drafted 2 quarterbacks, a kicker and a defense in the first 4 rounds.

  9. Prepare to be held up more than you would have expected. No matter how much guys promise that they will pick in 2 minutes or less, it seems that somebody has a work emergency or just doesn't care and ends up taking 12 hours to pick. You must learn the art of pre-drafting and use it wisely. It will make your mocking world so much easier, and it will prevent any nasty episodes where co-mockers verbally flog you for holding up the drafting. It's silly, but if you hold up the draft, the others make you feel guilty.

  10. If you are any good at this game, when it gets to the time of your real draft, you are going to ignore what happened in your mocks and ask yourself, "Who was good last year and who is likely to be good this year?" It all comes down to your gut.
These are just some of my thoughts. Now, back to, I mean, back to work!