Apex Experts Recap – Finalists Overcome 1st Round Picks

Todd Gurley carried Mike Braude to a 151-148 victory over Evan Silva in the 2017 Apex Experts league championship. This month I’ll be recapping a few of the leagues I previewed last fall.

The past four years I’ve had the privilege of playing in the Apex Experts League with many of my favorite writers and analysts. This year the competition again included heavyweights like Evan Silva, J.J. Zachariason, Rich Hribar, Denny Carter, Matt Kelley, Matt Harmon, Graham Barfield, Mike Clay, Sigmund Bloom, and Chris Harris. The Apex format has plenty to recommend it, but a weekly double-header is among the best features.1

I detailed my reverse draft approach this fall. Despite the second-round selection of Amari Cooper and the injuries to my third-round pick Greg Olsen and fifth-rounder Dalvin Cook, I rallied for 10 consecutive victories behind Alvin Kamara and Adam Thielen. Unfortunately, Kamara’s Week 14 injury led to a quarterfinal departure, leaving the field clear for a battle between top seeds Mike Braude and Evan Silva.2

Braude is someone to get to know in the fantasy community. The co-owner of Apex Fantasy Football, Braude occasionally contributes to RotoViz, and his recommendations have been worth the price of admission. He argued in favor of rookie playoff-winner David Johnson in 2015 and told readers to make Johnson the top RB pick in 2016. If you followed his advice in money leagues, you paid for your subscription many times over. Braude also combines an uncanny player-picking ability with a strong understanding of structural drafting and the flexibility to react to in-draft values.

If that all sounds like overstatement, let me assure you it isn’t. Braude used a Zero RB approach to win the regular season points title during the first two years of Apex Experts, and this year he deviated to select Todd Gurley in Round 3, a selection that led to the Best Record despite the early loss of first-round pick Odell Beckham.

Title Game Rosters – Major Contributors

Mike Braude Evan Silva
QB Newton, Cam CAR QB Bortles, Blake JAC QB
Goff, Jared LAR QB
RB Gurley, Todd LAR RB Ingram, Mark NOS RB
Williams, Jamaal GBP RB Drake, Kenyan MIA RB
Johnson, Duke CLE RB Hyde, Carlos SFO RB
Abdullah, Ameer DET RB Coleman, Tevin ATL RB
Davis, Mike SEA RB Collins, Alex BAL RB
Riddick, Theo DET RB
Bernard, Giovani CIN RB
WR Landry, Jarvis MIA WR Baldwin, Doug SEA WR
Anderson, Robby NYJ WR Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR
Hilton, T.Y. IND WR Smith-Schuster, JuJu PIT WR
Wallace, Mike BAL WR Tate, Golden DET WR
Cole, Keelan JAC WR Nelson, Jordy GBP WR
TE Ertz, Zach PHI TE Davis, Vernon WAS TE
Witten, Jason DAL TE

It’s always valuable in these settings to take a quick look at what actually happened and perhaps calibrate our expectations for the future.

  • Injury luck is often cited as an excuse for poor performance, but the two first-round picks – Beckham and Jordy Nelson – did not play in the championship game and did not contribute much of the season.
  • Not counting kicker and defense, nine of the 16 starters were drafted. The other seven were free agent pickups like Jamaal Williams, Keelan Cole, Blake Bortles, Kenyan Drake, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Vernon Davis.
  • Braude only started three players drafted in the first 10 rounds – Gurley, Jarvis Landry, and Zach Ertz – and only Duke Johnson contributed much to the rest of the campaign. Keep in mind, this team wasn’t a fluke champion. It led from first kickoff to final snap.
  • By contrast, Silva started four of his first five picks and also got contributions from sixth-rounder Carlos Hyde, but he still only started four of his first 10 picks.
  • Of the remaining 12 selections3 – again not counting kicker and defense – only two started, Cam Newton and Robby Anderson.4

I find performing this kind of post-mortem is helpful for maintaining humility. When we understand the travails of even the top teams,5 it can help us understand the difficulty in predicting the future, the value in league-winning players, and the importance of creating exposure to as many upside scenarios as possible.

Or at least those are some of my takeaways. It may lead to different conclusions for you based on your strengths and weaknesses as a player. But it helps to go back and look at drafts at a time when what actually happened has taken on an air of inevitability.6

Congrats to Mike Braude and Evan Silva, and check out Apex if you’re looking for a playoff league or great 2018 format.

  1. You play an opponent and against the average each week.  (back)
  2. Not really. They still had to get by the tough squads of Clay and Harris.  (back)
  3. Rounds 11-18  (back)
  4. Silva started my 16-round selection in Smith-Schuster.  (back)
  5. My Apex team finished in the top four in record and points, despite the busts and injuries mentioned. Monty Phan’s team finished No. 1 in the regular season and No. 9 overall in the massive FFPC field despite the absence of Ezekiel Elliott.  (back)
  6. Todd Gurley was the 31st player drafted, and you’d be hard-pressed to blame the lack of experience or awareness of the drafters.  (back)
By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive