When we started Apex, we thought it would be a fun idea to ask some experts to participate in one of our leagues. I asked my favorite writers – ranging from Evan Silva to Mike Clay, including unique strategists like Shawn Siegele – and the Expert Writers League was formed as the ultimate fantasy football expert draft.
It has now become an annual event that we all look forward to. No draft makes me reconsider my strategies quite like this one. I’ve won this league before, but every year presents new challenges.
This year, I decided to explain my thought process behind each pick in this article. I had the 9th selection.
1.09 – Davante Adams
Prior to my selection, seven running backs and Michael Thomas had been selected. I very much like Miles Sanders but by starting with the 9th selection I’m beginning the draft at a deficit. By drafting a running back, I’m starting with a watered-down version of what the seven other teams who drafted before me have.
I’ll explain what I mean by “watered-down” below. While we all have our preferences on players, we’re really not that good at predicting how players will finish. Let’s look at positional averages for running back and wide receiver finishes over the past five years.
When I am on the clock, I can take the RB8 or the WR2. Over the past five years, the RB8 has averaged 263.2 PPR fantasy points – while the WR2 has averaged 318. I’ll take the extra 73.5 points and select Davante Adams.
2.04 – Tyreek Hill
For my second pick, I selected Tyreek Hill. At the time of the selection, 11 RBs and 4 WRs have been selected. Using the chart above, the WR5 outscores RB12 by an average of 78.9 fantasy points. You win fantasy points by scoring the most points, right?
In addition, I have Hill as my WR3. He’s arguably the top option on the league’s best offense. I love Julio Jones, but I’m slightly concerned about drafting a 31-year-old wide receiver with my second pick and his drop in efficiency last season. I also have DeAndre Hopkins behind Hill due to changing teams this offseason. With those receivers, it’s nitpicking but I’m very happy to select Hill here.
3.09 – Amari Cooper
Truthfully, I was hoping one of my darlings, DJ Moore or JuJu Smith-Schuster, would make it to me here. These drafters are too sharp however, so I settled on Amari Cooper. Prior to my pick, 14 RBs and 13 WRs had gone. Over the last five years, WR14 has outscored the RB15 by an average of 34 fantasy points.
Cooper enters this season with one primary concern: the addition of CeeDee Lamb. The addition should be offset by a number of factors. First and foremost, the Cowboys have 166 vacated targets from Jason Witten and Randall Cobb. In addition, Cobb’s departure could allow Cooper to move to the slot more frequently – which could be a source of easy fantasy points. I’m happy to add the top pass-catcher on an offense that finished 6th in scoring and 1st in yards per play last season.
4.04 – Cooper Kupp
After I selected Amari Cooper, five of the next six picks were receivers. Two of my favorites, AJ Brown and Calvin Ridley, were selected there. At WR20, Cooper Kupp is an excellent value. As a rookie, he finished as the WR25. In his second season, he only played eight games due to a torn ACL but was the WR15 per game. Last season, Kupp was the WR4.
In addition, Kupp has been one of the league’s most efficient receivers. Among the top receivers, only Tyreek Hill and Chris Godwin have averaged more fantasy points over expectation during the past two seasons.
5.09 – Jonathan Taylor
At this point in the draft, 30 WRs have been selected compared to 20 RBs. While Leonard Fournette is on the board, I’m concerned about him being cut or traded. Although he’s a screaming value at this point in the draft, the Jaguars clearly don’t envision Fournette as part of their team in the future.
I’ve spilled a lot of ink about Jonathan Taylor and I do believe he can have a huge first season. Taylor isn’t getting the respect that he deserves as an Ezekiel Elliott-level prospect. I expect Taylor to be selected in the first round of 2021 fantasy drafts.
6.04 – Tyler Boyd
This was my most difficult selection of the draft. I was torn between Cam Akers and Tyler Boyd.
Akers is the assumed rookie running back starter for the Rams. Obviously, I’m a Darrell Henderson apologist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like Akers. The tea leaves suggest Akers will start after the Rams invested a second-round pick to select him.
An excellent athlete, Akers was productive in the run and pass game. While the backfield is ambiguous, I want to use picks to select Rams’ running backs. During Sean McVay’s tenure, Rams’ running backs have averaged 21.3 touchdowns per season. It’s an offense that I want to be a part of.
I’m still torn on the selection, but Boyd was my pick. With 33 WRs selected, I didn’t think Boyd should still be available – he ended a wide receiver tier for me. With the exception of Julian Edelman, every receiver who has averaged more receptions than Boyd over the past two seasons was already selected ahead of him. Edelman was selected the pick after I took Boyd.
The last time AJ Green was healthy Boyd finished as the WR15 in 14 games on 108 targets. Boyd saw 148 targets last year and gets Green back with Joe Burrow at quarterback.
7.09 – Mark Ingram
For those readers that don’t follow me frequently, this is not my type of pick. I like selecting ascending players rather than descending players. However, at this price, I cannot avoid drafting Ingram. In Apex leagues, Ingram is being drafted as RB23 – I selected him as RB30.
He will have JK Dobbins nipping at his heels but Ingram is still the assumed starter in the league’s best rushing offense. In 15 games, Ingram scored 15 touchdowns last season. Only Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, and Todd Gurley rushed for more touchdowns last season.
8.04 – Hunter Henry
Having a good tight end is important and Henry finishes off a tier for me. We’ve written a lot about Henry but it’s important to note that he finished as the TE9 last season in 12 games. The season after tearing his ACL, Henry was the 9th best TE while playing through a tibia fracture. He has averaged 8.9 yards per target for his career. In the middle of his prime from an age standpoint, he’s the type of talent we want to bet on.
9.09 – Matt Breida
Targeting ambiguous backfields is a great way to find value. Breida has been very effective when given opportunities. Now he has just Jordan Howard and Patrick Laird to compete with. I’ve written about why the Ekeler-like Breida is a player to target this season.
10.04 – Russell Wilson
I’m never a proponent of taking a quarterback early – unless it’s a screaming value. With just five QBs selected before I drafted Wilson, I’m grabbing his upside at a cheap price. Not only does Wilson come with some rushing upside, but if the Seahawks actually choose to give him the keys to the car, he can set the league on fire:
Russell Wilson asked about the Let Russ Cook debate, says he'd like to be involved more in games earlier on. "Let's treat every quarter like the fourth quarter.''
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 13, 2020
11.09 – Boston Scott
It seems unlikely that the Eagles add another running back this offseason – meaning it’ll be the Miles Sanders/Boston Scott duo that we saw down the stretch last season. Sanders is the lead dog, but Scott was impressive down the stretch, averaging 20.5 PPR points and 6.25 targets over the last four weeks of the season.
Obviously, that’s unsustainable but Scott is a good young player and could steal some passing game work for Sanders. If Sanders were to get injured, Scott would become extremely valuable.
12.04 – Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Due to his price, I haven’t been drafting much of Ke’Shawn Vaughn. In one-year Apex leagues, he’s being selected, on average, at pick 107.8. I snagged him at pick 136. He’s another opportunity at an ambiguous backfield that could end up being valuable for a cheap price tag.
13.09 – Chris Herndon
Chris Herndon was a very impressive rookie. Here is a list of all rookie TEs, since 2000, to average over 8.5 yards per target and 50 or more targets.
Players with this production as a rookie are the types of players that we like to target. Due to recency bias, Herndon is drastically undervalued. Dalton has written more about why he’s an excellent player to draft this season.
The draft is still ongoing – you can check out the draft board here. This is a great place to look at when examining how you value a player.