In Part One of this series, I went over the first three draft slots in the Apex Expert Writers’ Draft. In case you missed it, Apex invited respected fantasy voices from across the web to participate in an Apex league. Here is my analyses, in a four-part series, of everyone’s teams. Remember: all of these opinions are my own, and the writers had zero input into these analyses. Here is Part Two:
4. John Sarmento (@RumfordJohnny)
How I’d Describe His Strategy: Winning matchups with a “robust” feel. I’m not sure if the board simply fell this way, but it looks like Rumford tried to tread water at running back and wide receiver while winning quarterback and tight end. AP should be a top-6 RB at worst, and if Jennings stays healthy he’ll probably catch at least 50 balls. Gore is a solid RB3/bye-week/matchup guy. He shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping pace at running back. His wideouts are quite thin which makes it a bit more robust style, but with top-3 options (at worst) at quarterback and tight end, all his wide receivers need to do is be slightly below average for this team to be competitive.
Biggest Value: Drew Brees in 5th. Like most writers, I am a late-round quarterback kind of guy. When you only start one slot of the most replaceable stats in fantasy, why reach? But there is something to be said for owning maybe the number 1 player at a position in the 5th round. He’s thrown for half of the 5,000+ yard seasons in NFL history, has a healthy Jimmy Graham and Colston, Kenny Stills running clearouts and a shiny new toy in Brandin Cooks. As Jonathan Bales points out, there is something to be said for knowing what production you are getting – that factor has inherent value.
Biggest Risk: Taking Sammy Watkins over Reggie Wayne, Emmanuel Sanders and Justin Hunter. Watching Watkins in college, I believe he’s going to be a fantastic player. He’s already got Vines of making defenders look silly in practice. But taking him ahead of Andrew Luck’s number 1 or 2 target, the 3rd wideout on a Peyton Manning offense and this year’s breakout sophomore? That is a big plunge considering the history of rookie wideouts.
He’s In Trouble If: Michael Floyd doesn’t produce a top-16 season. Rumford put a lot of pressure on Floyd by taking him as his WR1 in the middle of the 3rd round. But there have been gleaming reports of him coming out of camp, and it’s looking like he’s even better than Fitz this year for fantasy purposes. However, with Shorts and Watkins as his WRs 2 and 3, Floyd needs to stay healthy for Rumford to avoid a collapse.
He Succeeds If: Cecil finishes as a top-30 wideout. Shorts has flashed in the past, but his hamstrings are made of the same fragile material as Miles Austin’s. But I believe that Rumford is strong enough everywhere else that if Shorts can be a high-end WR3 in his WR2 slot, he’s headed for a top-4 finish in the standings.
5. Chet Gresham (@Chet_G)
How I’d Describe His Strategy: BPA emphasizing the “Old Reliables.” Here are 6 of Chet’s first 8 picks: Calvin, Lynch, Welker, Stafford, Olsen, Sproles. Save for Olsen (who has had solid, consistent production), all of these guys have been top-5 at their position at least once in their careers. Gio Bernard and Maclin are a bit unproven, but Chet knows what he is getting into with these players, and was able to get solid depth in the late rounds as well.
Biggest Value: Marshawn Lynch in the 3rd. In PPR, Marshawn Lynch probably shouldn’t be a 1st round pick. He becomes a good option in the 2nd. But with the 5th pick of the 3rd? Chet should be indicted for petty larceny. This is a guy who even in PPR formats hasn’t finished outside the top-6 in running backs the past three seasons. His age, workload and talented backups are reasons for concern, but you could argue this was the best value of the entire draft.
Biggest Risk: Gio Bernard in the 2nd. I like Gio Bernard, but I don’t love him. For how small and supposedly elusive he is, he averaged a paltry 4.08 yards per carry his rookie year and has not performed well in the preseason. The Bengals told us themselves they see him as a committee back when they took Jeremy Hill in the 2nd round this year. Although Bernard will catch passes and probably will see some goal-line work again, he simply isn’t a screaming value in the 2nd round when players like Vereen and Spiller are available in round 4 oftentimes. He has a lot to do to live up to his draft position.
He’s In Trouble If: Welker gets a nice smack to the head. I want to begin by saying I have no issue with where Chet took Welker. It’s a risk, but one that you need to make to win these kinds of leagues. If Welker stays healthy, I don’t see how he isn’t at least a PPR WR2. But one concussion, and it’s possible that surgically-repaired Jeremy Maclin is forced into Chet’s WR2 spot. With byes to deal with, there could be weeks where Markus Wheaton is Chet’s best wide receiver if things don’t go well. In my opinion, Chet should try and get Cody Latimer to hedge his bets a little.
He Succeeds If: Darren Sproles sees 90 targets. Last season, Sproles finished as RB23 on 89 targets and 71 catches. If he can just repeat as a low-end RB2 in Chet’s flex spot and as a bye-week filler at RB, then Chet could potentially have 3 top-20 RBs to go with Calvin, Welker, and Maclin, Stafford AND Romo at QB, and two mid-tier TEs with upside in Olsen and Rudolph. You could argue Chet has the deepest team in this league. I really, really like his squad.
6. Mike Braude (@BraudeM)
How I’d Describe His Strategy: Zero RB. Out of the 6 hole, doing zero running back is a very good option. You’ll likely get Demaryius while landing Alshon/Allen/Jordy in the 2nd, Cobb/Andre/White in the 3rd and maybe Crabtree/Torrey/Vincent Jackson/Floyd in the 4th. Mike did exactly this, leading to some pretty nice praise from the one and only Evan Silva.
Biggest Value: Randall Cobb in the 3rd. Could we blame RotoViz for the crusade against small receivers? Cobb apologists would thank them for it, as it’s pushed his ADP down maybe further than it should. This is a guy who, before breaking his leg in Week 5, was on pace for a 100-1,300-8 season with over 300 rushing yards. I’ve already explained the value of 100+ catch receivers, and the Packers downgraded at WR3 from James Jones and have major question marks at tight end. I still think Cobb is undervalued as the clear number 2 (some would argue 1B) on an Aaron Rodgers offense.
Biggest Risk: Steven Jackson as his RB3. When doing zero running back, you need to make concessions so this may be a little bit of nit-picking on my part. But counting on a 31-year old back with multiple soft-tissue problems as your top RB backup is a risky proposition. He’s already hurt in preseason, and is a poor bet to last all 16 games. He is the starter on an offense that is going to have to score a bunch to be competitive, but Braude may want to consider selling high for someone a bit less volatile if he starts hot.
He’s In Trouble If: Ridley fumbles his way back into Belichick’s doghouse. For what it’s worth, I’m a big Stevan Ridley guy. If he holds onto the ball, what’s stopping him from repeating his 1,200+yard, 12 TD season from two years ago? I’ll take that all day as my RB2 in the 6th round after starting with 4 elite WRs. But if Ridley starts fumbling again, it forces Steven Jackson (see above) into his starting lineup every week. Mike did well to handcuff him with James White, but he’s really underwhelmed in the preseason thus far.
He Succeeds If: Crabtree catches 85 passes. There are some questions regarding Crabtree’s volume while sharing with Boldin, Davis and Stevie Johnson, but if Crabtree can continue being the lead dog on that offense and produce like he did two years ago, Braude may run away with this league. Getting low-end WR1/high-end WR2 production out of the flex position with Demaryius, Jeffrey and Cobb leading the pack would be simply unfair.