Football

Flex Wins Championships – Week 4 Standard Rankings

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Please also check out the PPR Rankings.

We’re three weeks into the season, and the biggest trend so far happens to be the relative efficiency of WRs and TEs versus the inefficiency of RBs. One of the great things about the RotoViz Sim Scores is the way they help make an end run around a variety of psychological biases. From 2009-2012 I played approximately 200 fantasy leagues and discovered something fairly shocking. WR-heavy lineups tend to outperform RB-heavy lineups even when the runners on those RB-heavy teams hit. That finding was behind my claim that starting RB-RB-RB was actually a contrarian recommendation, and it was also the reason I wrote an entirely separate column looking at which league formats you could realistically employ the strategy in.

But even more than that, the Sim Scores offered the proof I needed to demonstrate what I felt intuitively: the Flex Wins Championships. The Sim Scores show incontrovertibly that wide receivers make better flex starters when you’re looking at players with similar ADPs. Once you get into the season, the gap can sometimes become even more pronounced. Wide receivers will occasionally see sharp declines in value, but running backs frequently see their preseason values crater.

Many sites continue to use the terminology “low end flex option” for collapsed runners, despite the fact that your worst bench receiver probably has a better projection than a poor runner in a bad matchup.

A couple of notes on the Game Level Similarity Projections:

1) The GLSP uses pattern matching to create hypothetical players with similar profiles to the player in question. These profiles are based on age, weight, and touches. You might occasionally feel the comparison player isn’t really similar in talent – and he may not be. But it also probably doesn’t matter. Talent is an evaluation that can frequently be misleading. You want to see how a similar fantasy producer fares when matched up with a certain defense.

2) The defensive adjustments are now using 67% 2013 and 33% 2012.

3) The GLSP includes an adjustment for expected score. We’ve seen how much difference tempo makes in the early going. If you’re looking at a projection and trying to understand why a player has received a boost in what appears to be a neutral defensive matchup, it may be that the game profiles as a shootout.

Notes on my particular methodology:

1) I’m now adjusting the touch expectation for many of the players based on their current usage. If a backup running back is getting starting touches due to teammate injury, I’ve tried to force the algorithm to look at only similar games. If a tight end is losing targets to a young teammate, I’ve made that adjustment as well. But if you have a lineup decision that comes down to two players with similar projections, I encourage you to manipulate the apps yourself. You may prefer a different adjustment.

2) I’ve included a wide variety of players in these rankings. Many of the runners may be a clear cut RB2 – or even RB1 – on your particular team, but if you began RB-RB-RB, you might have options. I tried to include some of the Round 6 wide receivers for comparison purposes. If you began RB-RB-WR-WR-WR-WR, you would definitely be looking at players like Eric Decker and Torrey Smith for your Flex.

Player Notes:

 

The Rankings

 

Position Standard
Eric Decker WR 13.3
Darren McFadden RB 11.8
Stevan Ridley RB 11
Darren Sproles RB 9.5
Torrey Smith WR 8.6
Chris Johnson RB 8.6
Julius Thomas TE 7.8
Brandon Pettigrew TE 7.8
Julian Edelman WR 7.6
Bilal Powell RB 7.6
Knowshon Moreno RB 7.4
Lamar Miller RB 7.3
Andre Roberts WR 6.6
Davone Bess WR 6.6
Ryan Broyles WR 6.6
DeSean Jackson WR 6.6
Sidney Rice WR 6.6
Antonio Gates TE 6.4
Jason Snelling RB 6.3
Mike Wallace WR 6.2
Brian Hartline WR 6.2
Denarius Moore WR 6.2
Brandon Myers TE 6.2
Jacquizz Rodgers RB 6.2
Daniel Thomas RB 6.2
Hakeem Nicks WR 6.1
Jermaine Gresham TE 6.1
Pierre Thomas RB 6.1
Heath Miller TE 6
Cecil Shorts WR 5.9
Josh Gordon WR 5.9
Joique Bell RB 5.7
Brandon Gibson WR 5.6
Mike Williams WR 5.6
Bernard Pierce RB 5.6
Santana Moss WR 5.5
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 5.4
Nate Washington WR 5.3
Ryan Mathews RB 5.3
Eddie Royal WR 4.9
T.Y. Hilton WR 4.9
Maurice Jones-Drew RB 4.9
Fred Jackson RB 4.9
Kendall Wright WR 4.8
BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB 4.8
Emmanuel Sanders WR 4.7
Danny Woodhead RB 4.6
Santonio Holmes WR 4.6
Coby Fleener TE 4.5
Dallas Clark TE 4.5
Kyle Rudolph TE 4.2
Stephen Hill WR 4.2
Owen Daniels TE 4.1
Mohamed Sanu WR 4.1
Scott Chandler TE 4.1
David Wilson RB 4.1
Leonard Hankerson WR 4
Greg Jennings WR 3.7
Donnie Avery WR 3.7
Michael Floyd WR 3.7
Brandon Bolden RB 3.7
Alshon Jeffery WR 3.6
Kenny Britt WR 3.5
Rashard Mendenhall RB 3.4
Willis McGahee RB 3.4
Rod Streater WR 3.3
Brent Celek TE 3
Martellus Bennett TE 2.9
Charles Clay TE 2.9
Rueben Randle WR 2.8
Ben Tate RB 2.8
Garrett Graham TE 2.2
Bryce Brown RB 2.1

 

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy

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