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Superflex League Roster Construction

Roster construction for Superflex leagues and the thought process to maximize value

The great thing about fantasy football is the variety of league types.  There are redraft and dynasty, as well as keeper leagues which bridge redraft and dynasty.  The breadth of league forms allows owners to pick leagues with differing scoring and starting lineup choices.  One unique type of league is called superflex.  The superflex leagues allow an owner to start a quarterback in a flex spot in the starting lineup.  This one, seemingly slight, change to average league settings alters the positional value of the quarterback position.  The larger the league, the more the quarterback position is valued.

When we think of roster construction in any league, there are two simple rules we must follow in order to maximize our roster:

  1. Value positions in sync with the league rules for scoring and starting lineups.  Simply, if the league scoring and lineup rules value the quarterback position highest, so should we.  If it values the running back position, for example, the least, so should we.  Way too many fantasy owners overthink this and get too cute.
  2. Only roster players who, if given the opportunity, would be starters in our fantasy lineup.  For example, there is no reason to roster a player whom you would never consider inserting into your starting lineup, under any condition.  This seems simple but if you look across most leagues, there are low-ceiling backups rostered by many teams. 

So, the first thing you should do is look at your league’s rules for scoring and lineups.  Even if you have played in the league for a decade, check the rules.  Seemingly subtle changes in the rules can have a big impact on the positional and player values.  Once you know and understand the rules completely, map out how many players you want at each position.  Do this before your draft and feel free to adjust as the offseason and preseason progresses. 

Now, let’s talk strategy.  First, in superflex leagues, you should consider it a two-quarterback league.  If you are wondering why, the answer is straightforward: the teams with a quarterback in the flex will easily outscore a team with an ordinary receiver at the position.  For example, if you have Andrew Luck and Kirk Cousins at the position, it is easy to assume that Cousins will outscore receivers or ball carriers if placed in the flex.  If your league starts 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 1 kicker, 1 defense, 1 superflex spot, and 2 flex spots, like many leagues, we can see why the quarterback position is worth so much.  Even if you have Joe Flacco as your QB2, he will outscore many WR4s placed in the flex.  Flacco finished outside of the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks a year ago and still scored 19.2 points per game.  Only one receiver, Antonio Brown, finished with a higher per-game average.  One thing of note: the bigger the league (in terms of number of teams), the more valuable the quarterback position in Superflex leagues.  If the league has ten teams, this means that twenty quarterbacks will be starting in a given week so there are options available on the waiver wire, even to cover the bye weeks.  Also, most 10-team leagues have shorter benches than larger leagues.  In 12-team leagues, the quarterback position gets valued very highly due to scarcity.  There are not enough solid quarterback situations for each team to have two solid options.  If we have the same starting lineup as mentioned above, the WR4 will likely be a player ranked outside of the top-40 receivers.  A very average starting quarterback, e.g., Alex Smith, would be a better fantasy option every week. 

So, we know quarterbacks are highly valued in Superflex leagues, so what?  This fact should dictate how early we select quarterbacks in the draft and how many quarterbacks we roster.  Our draft and roster distribution should reflect the position(s) that the league rules value most.  In superflex leagues, it is the quarterback position. 

One notable thing about superflex leagues is that – since quarterbacks are drafted early – quality players at other positions are available later than normal.  This means you can afford to take a quarterback in the first round knowing that there will be quality running back and wide receiver choices available in the second round.  It is advisable not to wait on the quarterback position like you might be inclined to do in one-quarterback leagues.  Ideally, you should target one of the top five or six quarterbacks as your QB1 and a top-12 passer as your QB2.  This serves two purposes: giving a points-per-game advantage at both spots in your starting lineup and creating a shortage for other owners.  In addition, since quality players are pushed down the draft, you are not punished for selecting two players at the position in the first 75 picks. 

Roster construction and position distribution should follow the same thought process.  If quarterbacks are valued highly, and we only want reserve roster spots used on upside players, it would make sense to roster a few reserve quarterbacks if rosters are deep enough to allow.  Since we know that quarterbacks outscore most other flex options, then we should prioritize drafting a QB3 to cover the bye weeks and possibly fill in for injured players.  In addition, high upside backups like Jimmy Garoppolo, A.J. McCarron, and Brett Hundley might be better fantasy reserves than a fifth running back or sixth wide receiver.  Those positions usually have options available on the waiver wire much more than at quarterback.  If Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, or Aaron Rodgers were to miss action, you would have a viable starting quarterback, something valuable in superflex leagues.

Winning at fantasy football is all about identifying ways to outscore your leaguemates on a points-per-game basis at as many positions as possible.  Valuing the position your league rules allows you to accomplish this goal. 

Feel free to (email me) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.