As part of his preparation for the coming 2019 Fantasy Football season, Michael Florio extolls the virtues of the SuperFlex format.
Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.
That does not just pertain to the less important stuff like real life, but it can be implemented into your favorite hobby: fantasy football. Many of you have been playing this game for years. Some have been playing it for decades. We have seen a number of changes in fantasy football over the years. We have seen leagues go from standard to PPR to even half-point PPR. We have seen leagues implement FAAB, instead of just waiver priorities based on record. We have seen leagues add flex spots and some leagues have removed kickers or fantasy defenses.
The actual game of football has gone through great change as well; from rule changes to the ever-increasing reliance on the pass. There are even debates if running backs matter. But there is one thing that has not changed and in fact, has more emphasis than ever: quarterback is the most important position in sports.
If QB is so important, why does fantasy devalue it?
So why is it that the most important position in sports is merely an afterthought in fantasy football? Read any strategy article or turn on any podcast and you will likely hear the same sentiment: wait on quarterback.
If a strategy is so universal, can it even be called a strategy? At that point it is just a process. Think about the amount of strategy you put into the other positions. Are you a zero-RB drafter? Do you believe in balance early on, targeting an RB and WR in the first two rounds? When do you decide to take a tight end? Do you grab one of the elite, take an upside shot, or risk getting nothing from the position all season? But when it comes to quarterback there is usually just one question: do you want to pay up for the elite talent? If the answer is no, you simply wait.
There have been home league drafts I am in where I have waited until the third to last round – after I loaded my bench with RBs and WRs – the round before the last two when I take a defense and kicker. I have seen participants in industry leagues literally wait until their last pick to draft a starting QB. Guess why? Because the position is absurdly deep! A scarier thought is that the position is only getting deeper.
The QB Explosion
Let’s take a look at the number of QBs to score over 300 fantasy points, over 250 and over 200, year-by-year in the last 10 seasons:
As you can see, there has been a shift in scoring among QBs, even over the last decade. Between 2009 and 2010, there was a case to be made that you needed to emphasize the position. You got a legitimate advantage if you would reach and grab Aaron Rodgers, the lone QB breaking the 300-point threshhold those years.
You also had to be one of the first nine or 10 people to grab a QB, otherwise you would be playing with scraps. Sure, there were still a lot of QBs topping the 200-point mark, but missing out on one of the top-10 QBs was truly a disadvantage back then. That has simply changed in recent years. Dating back to 2012, there have been at least 12 QB’s in every season that scored at least 250 fantasy points. Meaning that if you play in a 12-team league, every team has a QB that will score 250 fantasy points. Again, where is the strategy?
In the last five years, there has been just one season with fewer than 15 QBs scoring 250+ fantasy points. Not only does that mean that every owner in your league can have a QB scoring that amount, but it means that there are likely some QBs on the waiver that you can pick up and simply plug in your lineup. If this is the most important position in professional sports, why do we treat it as an afterthought in fantasy? This is why there should be a change and leagues should start to transition into SuperFlex.
What is a SuperFlex?
For those unfamiliar with SuperFlex, it is a format that allows owners to use two quarterbacks, but gives them more lineup flexibility than a two-QB league. In a standard two-QB league, you have no choice but to start two quarterbacks. However, in SuperFlex you have one spot that is solely designated for a quarterback and then you have a SuperFlex position- which can be used for a second QB or a RB/WR/TE like a traditional flex spot.
Typically, teams will use that spot for a second QB, but the benefit is in case your second QB gets hurt or is on bye one week and you do not have a great backup option. Instead of being forced to play a scrub QB or leave the spot empty, you can simply slide in a bench RB/WR/TE in that spot. This not only gives you more control over your lineup, but it forces you to come up with a QB strategy. You want to simply wait in a SuperFlex league? Well, you can but you may end up with Derek Carr and Eli Manning as your QBs.
If you make the switch to SuperFlex, you will see more than just Patrick Mahomes slide into the early rounds. I participated in a SuperFlex mock draft with many Fantrax writers just this week and three quarterbacks went in the first round alone. Seven of them went if the first two rounds, while the first 12 went off the board in the first three rounds. But not every team was built the same way. One team did not have a QB through three rounds – in fact that owner waited until round 8 to take Marcus Mariota as their QB1. They took Dwayne Haskins in round 11 as their QB2. See, waiting on QB can be detrimental in this format, unless you are comfortable with that core.
There is simply so much added strategy to this format. Do you take one of the elite QBs in the first two rounds? When do you select your second QB? Should you continue to wait on the position given the depth? Since you will now likely be selecting at least one QB early, which position do you sacrifice selecting early in its place? The more strategy in fantasy the better.
In total, there were 33 quarterbacks drafted in this mock. That means that every starting QB was drafted, as well as a backup. Just like with running backs and wide receivers, you need to stay up to date on positional battles, draft backups and simply know more about the position. It may make the league more challenging for owners initially, but since when do we want fantasy football to be easy? We should seek out a game that gives owners a variety of strategies. There is a lot of luck involved in fantasy football, but we should be looking to minimize luck and allow skill to reign supreme. Incorporating a SuperFlex and turning the quarterback position from an afterthought to a premium is a great way of doing so!
One of my home leagues made the change to SuperFlex last year and while the idea was not met with open arms, everyone in the league ended up loving it. We are never going back to the old style. I highly suggest your league try and incorporate this change. If the majority of owners dislikes it, you can always change back!
If you have further questions on SuperFlex leagues, or really anything Fantasy Football related, hit me up on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!
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