While fantasy football championships aren’t won by scoring the most points during the regular season, it is the best predictor of who will win during the postseason. For this reason we went through the teams with the most points scored during the regular season in Apex Fantasy Leagues and examined the strategies they employed.
Note: If you are not familiar with Apex, all fantasy football leagues employ 12-team, PPR scoring with 4 points per passing touchdown. For more information, visit our Rules.
The following players were on 20% or more of the highest-scoring Apex rosters:
- Jimmy Graham tops the list by appearing on 40% of the winning teams. Does this mean if you draft Jimmy Graham, you’re going to win 40% of the time? No. But all the owners who scored the most points in their league with Jimmy Graham drafted him the 2nd round and paired him with a running back like LeSean McCoy or a receiver like Calvin Johnson. What we do learn from this is that getting Jimmy Graham in the 2nd round is a very effective strategy, especially if you can pair him with a top-notch wide receiver or running back.
- Knowshon Moreno is a classic example of a player who out-performed his average draft position (ADP). The owners who drafted Moreno, on average, selected him in the 12th round. That’s excellent value for a player who finished 4th in running back scoring. With Moreno’s free agency looming this offseason, there’s every reason to keep an eye on Montee Ball as a player to target in 2014.
- With Wes Welker coming to town, many were sleeping on Eric Decker. Those who took a chance on Decker, on average, drafted him halfway through the 5th round and were rewarded handsomely when he finished as the 10th best fantasy wide receiver. While the unforeseeable Welker injury certainly helped, this is reminder that taking wide receivers with superstar quarterbacks is usually a good idea.
- Harry Douglas and Zac Stacy are examples of free agent pickups that helped owners throughout the season despite being undrafted in most leagues. This is a reminder that it’s extremely important to stay active in your league’s free agent pickups.
- The one true surprise on this list is Trent Richardson and probably has something to do with our relatively small sample size. Surprisingly, owners were able to survive his massive disappointment. While it’s easy to believe now that he either lacks talent, confidence, or both – this can help remind players that his volume on the Browns made him a viable pick for savvy owners.
- You don’t need me to tell you about Josh Gordon and Peyton Manning’s magnificent seasons but the point here isn’t about the players – it’s about where they’re taken. Don’t think that because of this you can grab Gordon and Peyton with your first two picks and win for sure next year, it’s all about where you get them. Last year Peyton Manning and Josh Gordon, on average, were being drafted at the end of the 3rd and 7th, respectively.
- Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are two of my favorite targets to look for next year. They’re near locks to improve their stats for next year while owners may be sleeping on them because of Aaron Rodgers’ injury last season.
- The highest scoring team had an average draft position of 7.5. This is odd as most owners place a priority on having a high draft pick.
- The highest scoring team in each league scored an average of 1,863.57 points throughout the season, an average of 116.47 points per week. That number seems low, but remember it is deflated by bye weeks.
Draft Structure and Results
Let’s dissect the drafts of the highest scoring teams to see how they structured their drafts.
- Broken down into their first 10 picks: 77.3% of the picks were wide receivers or running backs. Only one of the highest scoring teams took a kicker or a defense within the first ten rounds.
- The highest scoring owners were three times more likely to spend a top three pick on a tight end than a quarterback. This is certainly something that owners should take note of.
- Out of these teams, only one drafted a quarterback in the first two picks. Six drafted a tight end with their first two picks.
- This breakdown certainly shows the scarcity of these two positions. While drafting a great tight end like Jimmy Graham early, gives you a large Points Above Average (PAA), drafting an early quarterback like Drew Brees only gives you a mediocre return. The same cannot be said for Peyton Manning last season but that’s more of a statistical anomaly than a trend.
- All of the teams who scored the most points in their league drafted a running back or a wide receiver with their first pick. While two thirds took running backs, one third selected a wide receiver. This is substantial because on average, only two wide receivers were selected in the first round of Apex drafts. Since 33% of Apex’s highest scoring teams drafted wide receivers in the first round, we can conclude that it is an effective strategy.