Flexible Flex Spots? Stack Up on QBs
Today, we'll check out oddities revolving around the "flex" position in fantasy football. You could also call the position a wild card. It's an extra player in the starting lineup who can come from different positions. Most leagues allow you to use either a running back or wide receiver. Some let you involve tight ends, but my favorite leagues are the ones where it's all in your hands.
I play in two different leagues where there are two flex spots, and you can use anyone in them, meaning you could conceivably play three kickers if you wanted. Most teams obviously end up using extra running backs, wide receivers or quarterbacks, but we've had a good amount of teams using multiple D/ST units.
Obviously, once the season starts, you should always just play your best players, whoever they turn out to be. When prepping for your draft or auction in leagues like this, though, you need to plan on going quarterback heavy.
There is a two-fold reason for this. Heading into each game, the quarterback is guaranteed to touch the football the most, thus, he's easily the most consistent fantasy position. Remember -- as R.J. told us earlier this week -- you make the fantasy football playoffs with consistency.
Sure, everyone has bad games, but when a quarterback has an off-week, he generally deviates just a few points off his average. Wide receivers, for example, can drastically fall short of averages when they have an off week. Let's grab the fifth-highest player from each position last season and check out the numbers -- using fleaflicker standard scoring.
Quarterback: Kurt Warner -- He only scored less than 15 points twice all season. Once, he was close (13.45) and another time was a ridiculous outlier due to inclement weather (1.5 points in a New England blizzard where he didn't even play the whole game). As for the rest -- rounded to the closest whole number: 33, 18, 22, 24, 16, 27, 28, 31, 22, 20, 18, 16, 19, 25.
Running Back: Thomas Jones -- He led the AFC in rushing and set a career high in touchdowns with 16 (13 rushing, 3 receiving). Yet, Jones still managed to score in single digits five times while going for 25-plus points three times.
Wide Receiver: Steve Smith -- His range went from 3.9 to 26.4. He also had bad weeks of 6.8 and 5.5. On the season, he only scored more than 15 points in a game six times. And he was the fifth-highest point-scorer at the position.
Tight End: Visanthe Shiancoe -- A 25.6 game, only two other times in double-digits, and eight games with less than 5 points.
Kicker: Rob Bironas -- He's actually the most consistent kicker, so it was by sheer misfortune I randomly selected the fifth-best per position to illustrate. Still, he went for 7 points or less seven times. He also put up more than 12 six times -- including a 21-pointer. So, are you going to get the 21 or 4 out of him when you are the idiot who decided to use an extra kicker?
D/ST: Ravens -- They were pretty solid all year, finishing with more than 12 points 11 times. Of course, they only topped 20 twice, and dipped all the way down to 4 twice and 6 once.
The results make sense. After the signal-caller, the running back is the person you can most count on to touch the ball -- followed by your stud receivers, good tight ends, and other wide receivers. Kicker and D/ST are too fickle to count on for consistency.
Thus, if I'm looking at a league with one required starting quarterback, two required starters at running back and wide receiver, one tight end, one D/ST and two flex spots; I'm starting three quarterbacks every week that I can. I would end up filling my roster with four quarterback and four or five running backs. Consistency wins, and these are easily the routes to take in order to properly ensure consistency.
In one league, we actually tweaked the rules to ensure the field was more balanced and people didn't just take all quarterbacks early. We made it so both flex players could not be the same position. In this case, I would do everything I could to make sure I was using a quarterback and running back at flex each week. In fact, I recently drafted for this league and came away with a starting lineup (skill guys only) of: Philip Rivers, Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson, John Carlson, Donovan McNabb (flex) and either Felix Jones or Knowshon Moreno (second flex). I also have Jason Campbell on the bench. Thus, I should have plenty of consistency every single week, and I fully anticipate making the playoffs.
Without restrictions, though, and I'm all quarterback-heavy. In fact, I have a draft in the upcoming weeks where I'm slated to pick second. Including the two flex spots, I can play three quarterbacks compared to only two running backs each week. Thus, assuming the guy picking first doesn't take him (I'm drafting second), I will be selecting Drew Brees second overall and probably taking three quarterbacks in the first six rounds (along with two running backs and a stud receiver ... and if the owner drafting first passes on Adrian Peterson, I'll just grab him and start with the QBs in Round 2). I actually think I'll be able to land three of the top 12 quarterbacks, because so many guys these days cling to the running back love, even when it's unnecessary.
Remember, your strategy in every draft should be based upon consistency and value. In this format, quarterbacks give you the best of both worlds. Load up on 'em.
Got an oddball league on which you'd like to see a strategy piece? Let us know in the comments section, and we'll recruit our writer with the most expertise on the particular subject.