The Apex Expert Writers League has been running for the last six years. Comprising many of the best writers in the industry, this is an Apex league that is played out. The draft is always interesting as there is no hiding players from these experts.
Last season, I finished first during the regular season – only to be taken down by the champ CD Carter.
Below are how the first 10 rounds of this year’s draft went, including my thought process when I was on the clock.
1.01. Rich Hribar – Giants RB Saquon Barkley (RB1)
1.02. Graham Barfield – Saints RB Alvin Kamara (RB2)
1.03. Evan Silva – Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (RB3)
1.04. Pat Daugherty – Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (RB4)
1.05. Matt Kelley – Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (WR1)
1.06. Sigmund Bloom – Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (TE1)
1.07. Matt Harmon – Cardinals RB David Johnson (RB5)
1.08. JJ Zachariason – Packers WR Davante Adams (WR2)
1.09. Shawn Siegele – Saints WR Michael Thomas (WR3)
1.10. Denny Carter – Falcons WR Julio Jones (WR4)
1.11. Mike Braude – Browns WR Odell Beckham (WR5)
1.12. Mike Clay – Jets RB Le’Veon Bell (RB6)
Having the 11th overall selection, I am hoping to draft a wide receiver in the top tier. With Michael Thomas and Julio Jones being selected in the two picks before me, my pick came down to Odell Beckham, Tyreek Hill, or JuJu Smith-Schuster. OBJ has been extremely productive whenever he’s on the field and going from Eli Manning to Baker Mayfield could catapult his value.
At this moment, I’m hoping that Mike Clay doesn’t take both Hill and JuJu.
2.01. Mike Clay – Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (WR6)
2.02. Mike Braude – Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR7)
2.03. Denny Carter – Bucs WR Mike Evans (WR8)
2.04. Shawn Siegele – 49ers TE George Kittle (TE2)
2.05. JJ Zachariason – Raiders WR Antonio Brown (WR9)
2.06. Matt Harmon – Chargers WR Keenan Allen (WR10)
2.07. Sigmund Bloom – Bengals RB Joe Mixon (RB7)
2.08. Matt Kelley – Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (RB8)
2.09. Pat Daugherty – Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (WR11)
2.10. Evan Silva – Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (WR12)
2.11. Graham Barfield – Steelers RB James Conner (RB9)
2.12. Rich Hribar – Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (RB10)
With Clay taking Hill, my decision was easy. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s age-adjusted production is incredible: compiling 2,343 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his age-21 and age-22 seasons. Antonio Brown’s departure gives JuJu the opportunity to potentially top last year’s 166 targets. The sky is the limit for the young stud.
3.01. Rich Hribar – Chiefs RB Damien Williams (RB11)
3.02. Graham Barfield – Browns RB Nick Chubb (RB12)
3.03. Evan Silva – Lions RB Kerryon Johnson (RB13)
3.04. Pat Daugherty – Vikings WR Stefon Diggs (WR13)
3.05. Matt Kelley – Rams RB Todd Gurley (RB14)
3.06. Sigmund Bloom – Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (RB15)
3.07. Matt Harmon – Eagles TE Zach Ertz (TE3)
3.08. JJ Zachariason – Patriots WR Julian Edelman (WR14)
3.09. Shawn Siegele – Rams WR Brandin Cooks (WR15)
3.10. Denny Carter – Vikings WR Adam Thielen (WR16)
3.11. Mike Braude – Packers RB Aaron Jones (RB16)
3.12. Mike Clay – Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette (RB17)
Generally, in this format, I want to draft wide receivers early so my flex (or 4th receiver) will give me a weekly advantage. However, sometimes players that you like fall and you have to change your strategy.
With wide receivers flying off the board, I am happy to take Adam Thielen or Aaron Jones. Thielen was the last receiver remaining in his tier – so when he was grabbed by Carter, Jones was an easy selection.
Why Jones? I believe he’s clearly the best running back remaining. On an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, Jones has the three-down back profile that I’m looking for. Rushing for 5.5 yards per carry in each of the past two years, Jones is the best runner and receiver out of his team’s running backs. If the Packers give him the job that he obviously deserves, he has top-five running back potential.
4.01. Mike Clay – Raiders RB Josh Jacobs (RB18)
4.02. Mike Braude – Rams WR Robert Woods (WR17)
4.03. Denny Carter – Lions WR Kenny Golladay (WR18)
4.04. Shawn Siegele – Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (QB1)
4.05. JJ Zachariason – Bucs WR Chris Godwin (WR19)
4.06. Matt Harmon – Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (WR20)
4.07. Sigmund Bloom – Bears WR Allen Robinson (WR21)
4.08. Matt Kelley – Panthers WR D.J. Moore (WR22)
4.09. Pat Daugherty – Ravens RB Mark Ingram (RB19)
4.10. Evan Silva – Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (WR23)
4.11. Graham Barfield – Rams WR Cooper Kupp (WR24)
4.12. Rich Hribar – Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (WR25)
In the 4th round, Robert Woods was my highest remaining player. He isn’t the sexiest pick but averaged more fantasy points per game with Cooper Kupp on the field and will remain extremely productive in the Rams’ juggernaut offense.
5.01. Rich Hribar – Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (WR26)
5.02. Graham Barfield – Chargers WR Mike Williams (WR27)
5.03. Evan Silva – Colts RB Marlon Mack (RB20)
5.04. Pat Daugherty – 49ers WR Dante Pettis (WR28)
5.05. Matt Kelley – Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (WR29)
5.06. Sigmund Bloom – Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (WR30)
5.07. Matt Harmon – Titans RB Derrick Henry (RB21)
5.08. JJ Zachariason – Seahawks RB Chris Carson (RB22)
5.09. Shawn Siegele – Jets WR Robby Anderson (WR31)
5.10. Denny Carter – Bengals WR A.J. Green (WR32)
5.11. Mike Braude – Browns WR Jarvis Landry (WR33)
5.12. Mike Clay – Patriots RB James White (RB23)
Receivers continued to fly off the board in Round 5, with a total of 17 selected in the last two rounds. There is a big drop-off at wide receiver around WR35, but obviously, it depends on which players are selected.
With Robby Anderson and A.J. Green being selected with the two picks in front of me, Jarvis Landry and Will Fuller were the two WRs I have left before the drop-off.
Landry disappointed last year but I expect the addition of Beckham to drastically increase the value of his targets. Landry finished as WR19 last year and WR5 in 2017 – recency bias is currently hurting his value. I’m happy to grab him at WR33.
6.01. Mike Clay – Bucs TE O.J. Howard (TE4)
6.02. Mike Braude – Texans WR Will Fuller (WR34)
6.03. Denny Carter – Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (WR35)
6.04. Shawn Siegele – Titans WR Corey Davis (WR36)
6.05. JJ Zachariason – Chargers TE Hunter Henry (TE5)
6.06. Matt Harmon – Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (WR37)
6.07. Sigmund Bloom – Texans WR Keke Coutee (WR38)
6.08. Matt Kelley – Texans QB Deshaun Watson (QB2)
6.09. Pat Daugherty – Steelers TE Vance McDonald (TE6)
6.10. Evan Silva – Giants TE Evan Engram (TE7)
6.11. Graham Barfield – Lions WR Marvin Jones (WR39)
6.12. Rich Hribar – Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook (WR40)
This was my hardest selection of the draft: picking between Will Fuller and Evan Engram.
I do believe there is a big drop-off after the first six tight ends are selected and this is an excellent opportunity to select Engram. Engram dealt with injuries last year but has been a very productive pass-catcher in the NFL. Entering his age-25 season, Engram is set to lead the Giants in targets amidst Sterling Shepard breaking his thumb and Golden Tate’s suspension.
Regardless of my love for Engram, my admiration for Will Fuller is stronger. When healthy, Fuller has been unstoppable. I wrote at the end of last season about how I was excited to draft him this year.
From 2017 to 2018, Fuller averaged 13.61 adjusted yards per target from Deshaun Watson.
His 2018 fantasy points per game average was good for WR21 – behind Brandin Cooks and ahead of Amari Cooper.
Yes, structurally he’s now the 5th wide receiver on my roster – but during my receivers’ bye-weeks, I will be able to slide Fuller in. Additionally, if he’s not healthy early in the season, it won’t hurt my team. Fuller is likely to be fully healthy come playoff time and could force his way into my starting lineup.
7.01. Rich Hribar – Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR41)
7.02. Graham Barfield – Bears RB David Montgomery (RB24)
7.03. Evan Silva – Eagles RB Miles Sanders (RB25)
7.04. Pat Daugherty – Giants WR Sterling Shepard (WR42)
7.05. Matt Kelley – Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (WR43)
7.06. Sigmund Bloom – Rams RB Darrell Henderson (RB26)
7.07. Matt Harmon – Bears RB Tarik Cohen (RB27)
7.08. JJ Zachariason – Falcons RB Tevin Coleman (RB28)
7.09. Shawn Siegele – Patriots RB Sony Michel (RB29)
7.10. Denny Carter – Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay (RB30)
7.11. Mike Braude – Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake (RB31)
7.12. Mike Clay – Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (WR44)
My hope this round was that one of the running backs who were selected in the four picks before me would fall. That obviously didn’t take place, so the pick came down to Kenyan Drake or Derrius Guice.
I have both nearly identically. I like Guice’s talent a lot but his health and offense are concerns. Drake comes with a similar terrible offense concern and his coaching staff doesn’t seem willing set him free despite two consecutive productive seasons.
Kalen Ballage appears to be Drake’s primary (and maybe, only) competition and he’s an appealing selection where he’s being drafted – but remains a mediocre prospect at best. Ballage is a good athlete but wasn’t a good player at Arizona State.
I’m betting on Drake being the superior player as he’s compiled almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage over the past two years on limited touches. With a full workload, Drake would be a must-start running back.
8.01. Mike Clay – Redskins RB Derrius Guice (RB32)
8.02. Mike Braude – Texans RB Lamar Miller (RB33)
8.03. Denny Carter – Chargers RB Austin Ekeler (RB34)
8.04. Shawn Siegele – Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (RB35)
8.05. JJ Zachariason – Saints RB Latavius Murray (RB36)
8.06. Matt Harmon – Bills WR John Brown (WR45)
8.07. Sigmund Bloom – Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (WR46)
8.08. Matt Kelley – Browns TE David Njoku (TE8)
8.09. Pat Daugherty – Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (QB3)
8.10. Evan Silva – Steelers WR Donte Moncrief (WR47)
8.11. Graham Barfield – Packers WR Geronimo Allison (WR48)
8.12. Rich Hribar – Saints TE Jared Cook (TE9)
After Clay took Guice, Lamar Miller was the top player on my board. I’m not a big Miller fan – I believe he’s very average. But with the Texans surprisingly waiving D’Onta Foreman, they’re clearly committed to Miller. On one of the league’s top offenses, you can lock him in for 250+ touches if he can stay healthy.
9.01. Rich Hribar – Raiders WR Tyrell Williams (WR49)
9.02. Graham Barfield – Colts QB Andrew Luck (QB4)
9.03. Evan Silva – Patriots WR Josh Gordon (WR50)
9.04. Pat Daugherty – Bucs RB Ronald Jones (RB37)
9.05. Matt Kelley – Broncos RB Royce Freeman (RB38)
9.06. Sigmund Bloom – Bears WR Anthony Miller (WR51)
9.07. Matt Harmon – Dolphins WR Kenny Stills (WR52)
9.08. JJ Zachariason – Colts WR Devin Funchess (WR53)
9.09. Shawn Siegele – Patriots WR N’Keal Harry (WR54)
9.10. Denny Carter – Titans RB Dion Lewis (RB39)
9.11. Mike Braude – Colts TE Eric Ebron (TE10)
9.12. Mike Clay – Steelers WR James Washington (WR55)
You won’t find me reaching for a tight end outside of the top six but I do believe this is a good value for Eric Ebron. Tight ends usually begin producing around age-25 – which is the age that Ebron broke out at last year.
Andrew Luck clearly has an affinity for the tight end position – throwing 21 touchdowns to tight ends. Ebron caught 13 of those last year and remains their best pass-catching tight end.
10.01. Mike Clay – D.K. Metcalf (WR56)
10.02. Mike Braude – Aaron Rodgers (QB5)
10.03. Denny Carter – Carlos Hyde (RB40)
10.04. Shawn Siegele – Justice Hill (RB41)
10.05. JJ Zachariason – Jordan Howard (RB42)
10.06. Matt Harmon – Marquise Goodwin (WR57)
10.07. Sigmund Bloom – Damien Harris (RB43)
10.08. Matt Kelley – Tre’Quan Smith (WR58)
10.09. Patrick Daugherty – Kalen Ballage (RB44)
10.10. Evan Silva – Parris Campbell (WR59)
10.11. Graham Barfield – DaeSean Hamilton (WR60)
10.12. Rich Hribar – Golden Tate (WR61)
The deepest position in fantasy football is QB. For that reason, I generally wait to select one. With Aaron Rodgers available in the 10th round, I’m happy to select one now. Last year was one of the worst statistical seasons of his career and he still finished as QB7. If Matt LaFleur can help the Packers return to the typical effectiveness, I’ll be very happy with this selection.
The draft is ongoing – you can follow along here!