No Rankings, No Mocks: Before Photo

I’m trying something new this winter. For years, I’ve lamented the near worthlessness of rankings. Here’s me in 2014 saying some things about how much I hate rankings. Here I am again in 2016. Here’s me with a graph (that’s not me!). Apparently, this post is an even-year tradition. However, I’m doing things a little differently this time. That’s what we’re here to talk about today.

I see many problems with rankings. From my perspective, the worst is anchoring. When I build lists in November and December, I always have a few outliers who buck the consensus – often guys coming off a hot finish in the previous season. And I become very attached to those values. Awareness of the problem only goes so far towards combating it. The real solution to early-winter anchoring is to just avoid it altogether.

Rankings take a lot of time and energy to build, and they only make me worse as a fantasy player. Sounds like wasted effort to me.

Not building rankings or reading my colleague’s work is easy. I simply choose not to do it, and then it doesn’t happen. There are no negative externalities.

Skipping all of the mock drafts is so much more difficult. In my opinion, drafts are the best part of fantasy sports. Offseason industry mocks are a fantastic opportunity to hop on google hangout, drink a few beers*, and have a great time with my fellow baseball nerds.

*It helps that I’m on a no alcohol diet for another 16 days. Drafts without beer or whiskey are weird.

So what’s wrong with mock drafting? As I established, they aren’t a tedious chore like building rankings. They’re fun! They also leave the participant prone to anchoring effects. I can’t really justify dodging my work if I’m just going to let myself anchor to RTS and Couch Managers ADPs.

My 2017 mock season included a lot of Jonathan Villar and Trevor Story selections at the 2nd/3rd round turn. For some reason, I was picking first very often. Luckily, my real redrafts didn’t fall prey to that combination – I wasn’t picking first in those. I did keep the pair in several leagues, but those prices were so low that I still profited. The point being, I was so in on Villar and Story. They could have ruined my season.

Parting Thoughts

To be clear, this isn’t a plea to go into your drafts cold. At the end of the day, rankings and mock drafts are about preparation. Since this is literally my job, I need substantially less time than the average bear to get ready for my drafts. By all means, join me in my quest to avoid developing bad habits. Just make sure you’re still prepared on draft day.

Pretty soon, it will be time to test my experiment. In the next week or so, I’ll need to start prepping for drafts. I may even pop together some late rankings for your viewing pleasure. Let me know if you really, really want this to happen.

I’m feeling very confident about this new approach to preparing for the draft. This is the before photo. Let’s talk again in late-March after my drafts. And of course, we’ll revisit this approach next offseason too.

We hoped you liked reading No Rankings, No Mocks: Before Photo by Brad Johnson!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Liked this column? Consider becoming a patron via Patreon. You can also follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

newest oldest most voted

One thing to be aware of is you may be very cognizant of your misses as opposed to those players you were anchored into who were great. I always remember the good players I traded away as opposed to the star I received