It’s always important to reflect on competitive fantasy leagues to refine your strategy. Few leagues are as competitive as the Apex Expert Writers League, where some of the biggest names in fantasy football battle it out. With starting lineups of three wide receivers and a flex and PPR scoring, the draft was extremely wide receiver heavy. Let’s examine how the regular season was won.
The top seed was clinched by CD Carter, who started his draft with four wide receivers. While not all of them panned out (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Maclin), Mike Evans proved to be one of the best picks of the draft. Despite inconsistency in his second season, Evans has become one of the league’s most consistent receivers in year three.
Although Carter avoided running backs early, he found running back value in the middle and late rounds of the draft, selecting Latavius Murray, DeMarco Murray, and Spencer Ware. Selecting DeMarco Murray in eighth round feels comical after his impressive first season as a Titan. The savvy pickup of Kirk Cousins before his hot stretch run helped Carter receive consistent production out of his quarterback position.
The second seed was clinched by Shawn Siegele, who started the draft with Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Greg Olsen, and Travis Kelce. True to his Zero RB roots, Siegele didn’t take running back until the seventh round. Siegele drafted Stefon Diggs as the 45th wide receiver off the board – he is currently WR9 in fantasy points per game.
With Sammy Watkins injured, Siegele was able to replace his production by securing game breaker Jamison Crowder in the 14th round. Selected as the 75th WR, Crowder is currently WR15. In the 7th and 9th rounds, Siegele was able to find productive running backs in Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the success of Mike Clay – the only owner who did not select a wide receiver with one of his first two picks (Note: he didn’t take a WR until round seven). While Clay didn’t receive a bye week in the first round of the playoffs, he did lead the regular season in points scored. Clay started the draft with four running backs: David Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, and Eddie Lacy. While two didn’t pan out, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell lead all players in fantasy points per game and are likely the top two picks of 2017 drafts.
With Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham, Clay built his team from the outside in – leaving wide receiver as a position to stream players. Clay let the draft come to him and selected the players that he believed brought the most value to his team, regardless of position. As the leading point scorer during the regular season, clearly the strategy worked for him.
There are a couple of takeaways from this league: Firstly, there are clearly many different drafting strategies that can win a fantasy league: regardless of whether you draft running backs, wide receivers or tight ends early. Secondly, selecting players who out-produce their draft position is a method that consistently delivers league winning results.