Every fantasy football league is different and every draft is the same, especially if you consider the scoring differences of a Points-Per-Reception (PPR) league. Understanding the subtle differences make or break your draft.
Before we present to you SI.com's first Mock Draft for 2012 (a PPR league, by the way), we give you a few final pointers of things to weigh before you get to pickin'.
This should be beyond obvious to everyone, but it tends to be where the least amount of time fantasy owners spend preparing for their draft. You can know the NFL and its players upside down and inside out -- like your TV talking head of choice -- but if you don't know fantasy and your scoring nuances, you are ostensibly picking blind. Player rankings and average draft position (ADP) differ greatly depending on your format and scoring system. For example, in some leagues that reward points for yardage-against and points-against for Defense/Special teams, it can make sense picking your D/ST before your starting quarterback even. Seriously. D/STs can score big points in some formats, hardly anything in others.
Like knowing your scoring system, if you play in a league that has generally had the same members, you can gleam a lot of knowledge from past years' drafts. Watch where the first defenses go off the board (on average); note where the second- and third-tier QBs start going off the board. Fantasy football drafters are creatures of habit. You can learn more about what will happen by looking back at what has.
We aren't talking about showing up at the right address here. If you pick online, know the rankings, projections and ADPs of the website you are drafting on. Where you draft tends to have a significant impact on how your draft goes. A draft on Yahoo.com or ESPN.com will vary from one on CBSSports.com. The wisdom of the crowd tends to get us closer to reality, so have multiple sources of rankings and ADPs. (MockDraftCentral.com has good, frequently updated and multi-format ADP rankings that generally are unaffected by the major commissioner host website's rankings.)
Now that you have those three tips in mind, the draft below is a standard, 12-team PPR league that doesn't value D/STs that greatly. The participants, like most fantasy analysts drafts, generally value running backs and receivers, waiting a bit on quarterbacks. The draft was hosted on CBSSports.com, so it might not follow SI.com's top 200 rankings as closely as some other drafts might.
A few key notes on the draft below:
This draft was held Wednesday, Aug. 22, so there could be significant changes if you are drafting after the pivotal third week of the preseason. That week tends to give us the best information on how offenses and players look, because it is generally the teams' dress rehearsal for opening day. Keep that in mind, as well.