Flex Wins Championships – Week 4 Standard Rankings
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.
- Eric Decker should build on his Week 3 breakout. He makes an elite play in every type of format and should be a priority selection in weekly games as well.
- GLSP prefers Darren Sproles over Pierre Thomas even in standard scoring. (I might prefer Thomas if Mark Ingram is out again, but that might be wishful thinking by a Thomas owner.)
- After losing key touches to both Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman last week, Knowshon Moreno again looks like a middling flex play with only slightly more value than peripheral receivers like Andre Roberts and Davone Bess. With reports surfacing that Rob Gronkowski is unlikely to play on Sunday night, Moreno is even trumped by PPR maven Julian Edelman.
- Backup runners like Jason Snelling and Daniel Thomas loom as goal line vultures and profile as equal plays to Miami receivers Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace.
- Unappealing tight ends like Antonio Gates, Brandon Myers, and Jermaine Gresham have just as much value as trendy guys with tough matchups, specifically Joique Bell against Chicago – who will probably also lose 60% of the touches back to Reggie Bush – and Josh Gordon against the ferocious Bengals pass defense.