Probably my favorite RotoViz article in terms of actionable info looked at the Flex Position. It’s my belief that the Flex Position Wins Championships and that having a calculated approach to the position is the single most important thing you can do with your roster.
So here are my Flex Rankings for Week 2. In order to create them, I used the Game Level Similarity Projection tools. For a few of the players I adjusted the expected touches or targets. Because leagues have many formats and drafters employ very diverse strategies, I included a very wide variety of players. (These are PPR rankings, and I may look at Standard formats as well in subsequent weeks.)
A few notes:
- You can see from this list that when someone refers to a player as a “RB2 or Flex” that means he should be your RB2 or on your bench. Weak RB2 candidates are not good enough to play in the Flex.
- Cecil Shorts and Lance Moore were both featured on a variety of RotoViz preseason sleeper lists. They each got off to slow starts in Week 1 but are expected to bounce back in a big way. With Blaine Gabbert banished, Shorts should be in all lineups this week.
- Brandon Pettigrew has the worst hands of any player in NFL history, but he’s got a great matchup with the Cardinals.
- When you’re perusing fantasy title rosters after the season, expect Andre Roberts to be one of the most frequent names. In examining Chris Givens and T.Y. Hilton before the season, I suggested Roberts as a cheaper guy with identical talents. Aaron Messing followed up with a great piece detailing exactly why that would occur. Roberts makes an excellent WR2 this week, but most drafted him as a bench player so you’re probably looking at him for your Flex.
- Darren McFadden is the first RB on the list, and he checks in at No. 5. Many probably drafted McFadden as a RB2, but he was falling into the fourth and fifth rounds by early September. He might be your third runner and a realistic Flex this week.
- There are five tight ends ahead of Frank Gore. This helps illustrate a very crucial point. Even if you started RB-RB-RB, you must at least consider benching one of your “name” runners. You will need that third RB during the bye weeks and to fill in for inevitable injuries. If you started RB-WR-RB-RB, you probably own someone like Frank Gore who isn’t a strong weekly starter. You are not required to start your fourth round pick just because you picked him in the fourth round.
- The Flex rankings help illustrate one of the reasons I’m not panicking this week about spending a lot of draft ammo on Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski despite the Great Tight End Explosion of 2013. I like to draft a lot of tight ends to my teams. Tight end scoring has been on the rise, and this trend was never more prominently on display than in Week 1. If I use an early pick on Graham or Gronk, it doesn’t preclude the selection of a TE2 and even a TE3. (In my 25 NFFC leagues, I have two teams with four tight ends and one with five.) The GLSP projections show very conclusively that playing even a mid-level tight end is the percentage play over many RB3 candidates.
Will these projections perfectly resemble what happens this weekend? Obviously not. Is there a chance Frank Gore blows up for three touchdowns and makes you feel like an idiot for starting Brandon Myers instead? Clearly.
It’s also important that you take ownership of your own teams and start the guys you want to start, regardless of projections. Just as an example, the computer is much higher on Davone Bess and Jermaine Gresham this week than I am (although they’re both criminally undervalued in general).
With that said, if you don’t understand where fantasy points really come from, you’ll cost yourself a huge chunk of points out of the Flex position this season.
One final note: Just because the season has started doesn’t mean you can’t craft your team to be more efficient on a positional basis. Making astute trades and picking players up off the waiver wire isn’t just about acquiring the most talent, it’s about creating a roster where you can get the most points in the starting lineup every week. If your leaguemates are undervaluing the Flex position, you ought to be able to take advantage with shrewd in-season moves.
Also be sure to read Jacob Myers’ Flex Suspects: Week 2.