Many people have begun participating in mock fantasy draft in anticipation of their upcoming real drafts. Let me be the first to say… I do not understand this mentality. Mock drafts are different almost every time you do them and they don’t really give you much of a feel for how your real draft is going to go. Maybe the top 10 or 20 picks will be pretty consistent throughout the mock drafts but after that, it’s as random as an A.J. Burnett pitch sequence. Some guys (or girls) in your draft will only pick established players, some will only pick young talent, some will over value prospects and take them too high, and some will value pitchers and take them way too high. As a rule of thumb, pitchers are probably the most plentiful category and you can get some real value deep in the draft. Pitchers can be picked up off the waiver wire week to week and can be used for spot starts against terrible offenses (i.e. last years San Diego Padres). Some positions are very thin on premium talent and should be taken early in the draft even if it seems like the player is average at best. Now I will give you a little example of how you should draft your players by position and not just take the best players on the board.
Round 1 – 3B/SS
In the first round you should take a premium player at a thin position. The super thin positions this year are probably third base, shortstop, and second base. I would probably not draft a second baseman in the first round but a premium shortstop or third baseman would be perfect. Try to grab Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, or Jose Bautista for a premium bat at the hot corner. Short stops that should be considered are Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Elvis Andrus, or even Starlin Castro. I would not take Derek Jeter here because I think his production won’t be elite status this year.
Round 2 – SS/3B/2B
Assuming you took a third baseman in round 1, I would attempt to get one of the shortstops mentioned above or start thinking about second basemen. Second basemen to consider are Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and possibly even Dustin Ackley if you are feeling lucky. Ackley will probably be there later in the draft so you could always go with Chase Utley in a pinch. If you took a shortstop in round 1, I would look for Evan Longoria in this round as Wright, Cabrera, and Rodriguez will probably be gone already.
Round 3 – 2B/SP
Time to get that second baseman. It’s a good chance that Kinsler may be available here and probably Utley or Ackley. Take a premium 2B and don’t look back. If you are itching to get pitchers this might be the round to start shopping. There is a good chance that Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay are already gone but you should be able to find guys like C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, or even Tim Lincecum here.
Round 4 – Catcher
I like looking for a premium catcher in this spot. If Miguel Montero is still on board pick him and laugh all the way to your league championship. Other catchers that might be here are Jesus Montero, Wilson Ramos, Mike Napoli (if he’s healthy) or even Buster Posey if you are lucky. I will not be drafting Joe Mauer in any of my leagues this year. I don’t think he can stay healthy and I need someone consistent in my catcher spot.
Round 5 – SP
Grab the highest ranked starting pitcher here. Look for guys that I mentioned in round 3 as well as aces like Yu Darvish, C.J. Wilson, Matt Cain, Tommy Hanson, and almost any of the Tampa Bay Rays pitchers. Find the highest ranked starting pitcher that you like and draft him immediately.
Rounds 7-10 - OF/SP/1B
Time to get outfielders, another SP, and finally your first baseman. Why did I wait this long to get a first baseman you ask? Because first base is very, very deep this year. The premium guys like Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder will clearly be gone by now, but that’s ok. You should be able to get close to the same production from the younger guys this year. Look for Eric Hosmer, Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis, Paul Goldschmidt, and if you are feeling risky Carlos Pena. Any of these young guys should be able to get production close to some of the top tiered first basemen. Start getting outfielders here that have been overlooked like Colby Rasmus, Brennan Boesch, Nick Swisher, and Logan Morrison. A good outfield can be easy to put together late in a draft, especially if your league offers points for steals.
Round 11-end of draft
Now you are basically on your own. Round out your starting rotation and grab a couple closers. Also don’t forget to grab a couple guys who can play multiple postions like Ryan Roberts, Michael Young, Brandon Belt, or Ty Wigginton. These will help fill holes as some of your starters go down during the season. My last little piece of advice is to use a couple late rounds to grab some prospects that have a very high upside and might break the majors this year. Guys like Trevor Bauer, Bryce Harper, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, James Paxton, Julio Teheren, and Shelby Miller could all break into the majors and have great production.