FantasyDraft, of course, uses a two-flex (RB/WR/TE) lineup, creating a fun wrinkle in lineup-building. Common sense tends to dictate that we utilize both spots to add running backs – they offer the safest volume outlooks, after all – but of course, that doesn't always create an optimal lineup. Anyone who's refused to cross positions and shoehorned in LeSean McCoy and has paid dearly when Antonio Brown, who laughs at the notion of a "volume gap," has decided to catch 10 balls that week.
How do you utilize the double-flex model? Do you stubbornly force in four RBs, or are you more flex-ible? And does Week 14 even offer 4 RBs you'll insist on rostering?
Dan Hindery: While rostering three or four running backs via the double-flex model is often a strong play in cash games, there is a good game-theory case to be made for going heavy on wide receivers in tournaments. I’ve covered FantasyDraft for Footballguys in past seasons and tracked ownership percentages closely. In the weeks I specifically looked at cumulative ownership per position in the big GPPs, I found that on average 2.6 wide receivers were rostered and 3.3 running backs were rostered. That is nearly one full wide receiver less per roster than on DraftKings (when factoring in the start-three requirement and the flex spot), so all of the wide receivers are coming at a steep discount in ownership rate. It is also nearly one more running back per roster than on DraftKings, so all of the running backs (especially the most popular) come with extremely inflated ownership percentages. Thus, In GPPs it makes sense to break ties in favor of wide receivers when it comes to filling the flex spots.
In Week 14, Le'Veon Bell should be a cash-game staple. Samaje Perine, Alex Collins, and Melvin Gordon III are each priced attractively as well. If cleared from concussion protocol, Joe Mixon will also be one of my favorite plays on the slate.
Danny Tuccitto: Dan raises a valid game theoretical point in favor of rostering more wide receivers than running backs at the flex. I'll raise another: FantasyDraft is a full-PPR site. As would be the case on DraftKings or in season-long leagues, awarding one point per reception means erring on the side of flexing wide receivers. At a minimum, it means erring against flexing running backs that don't catch passes.
This week, the above means avoiding three running backs with H-Values that rank in the Top 10 according to our FantasyDraft interactive value chart:
Hyde – Houston allows the third-fewest receptions to running backs and ranks fourth in pass defense DVOA on running back targets.
Fournette – Seattle allows the fifth-fewest receptions to running backs and ranks second in pass defense DVOA on running back targets.
In addition to these three, Week 14 might also be a week to – gasp! – fade Le'Veon Bell, as the Ravens allow the second-fewest receptions to running backs and rank eighth in pass defense DVOA on running back targets.
On the flip side, there are four running backs who a) are involved as receivers, b) have good receiving matchups, and c) have an H-Value that ranks highly:
Kareem Hunt ($11,100) – Houston allows the fourth-most receptions to running backs and ranks dead last in pass defense DVOA on running back targets.
Lamar Miller ($10,900) – San Francisco allows the 6th-most receptions to running backs and ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA on running back targets.
An honorable mention goes to Todd Gurley ($14,400), as, although they're stout against the run, the Eagles pass defense ranks in the middle of the pack in both stats I've been citing here.
Putting all of this together, if I'm rostering one -- and only one -- running back at the flex this week, I'm going with Gurley, one of Ingram/Kamara/Hunt/Miller, and one of Perine, Gordon, and Kenyan Drake ($10,100).
Justin Howe: I don’t think Dan could’ve put it any better regarding tournament play. Sneaking in a wideout – even a sterling play, like A.J. Green or Michael Thomas in a cake matchup – brings automatic differentiation. On other sites, they’ll carry roughly 20% ownership in those matchups, but you’ll often see them slip into single digits on FantasyDraft.
But, yes, in hard-cash games like 50/50s and head-to-heads, I’m generally slipping in four running backs. In cash, dependable volume is king, and the volume that even most top wideouts tend to see is wildly variable in comparison. In almost all cases, I want a 15-touch floor much more than a 7-catch ceiling, once I consider the differences in the likelihoods of both. Thus far throughout the season, I’ve been consistently able to roster the likes of Carlos Hyde, Jordan Howard, and Joe Mixon in my seventh RB/WR/TE spot, rather than attempting a plug-and-pray for some midlevel receiver like T.Y. Hilton or Mohamed Sanu.
In Week 14, I’m expecting to cram Bell and Perine into my one and only cash lineup, and I’ll probably supplement them with Howard and another value RB play. Howard keeps letting me down, but I love his (occasional) domination of an offense that’s loath to throw the ball. He’ll likely be the bell cow for as long as possible against the Bengals, who are whiffing badly against the run. They’ve allowed season-high rushing totals to the likes of Frank Gore, Chris Ivory, and Isaiah Crowell. Beyond Howard, it might actually be Gore I plug into the final spot. The Colts are likely to face a lot of neutral/positive game script against the reeling Bills, and Gore looks destined for a floor of 17 touches. Even Marlon Mack looks GPP-sexy from this game: over the last 5 weeks, the Bills have allowed 120+ yards and 2 touchdowns to 4 (yes, four) opposing RB duos.
John Mamula: I consider a few different factors for a double-flex model. Each NFL slate is different and thus in some instances, there is more value at WR as compared to RB. When evaluating, the three major factors that I am considering are:
3. Opportunity (Targets and Touches)
During some weeks a backup RB emerges and is a lock for one of the RB positions. When looking at touches, Le'Veon Bell is king with an average of 28 per game. Thus, I try to squeeze Bell into my cash lineup most weeks. For running backs, I prefer players who have a strong matchup AND are expected to see a minimum of 16-18 touches. For wide receivers, I prefer players who have a strong matchup AND are expected to see a minimum of 10 targets.
For Week 14, Bell ($17,500) and LeSean McCoy ($14,800) are my top two running backs. It's difficult to fit them both on FantasyDraft, so I would lean Bell in cash. Some other running backs that are attractively priced are Carlos Hyde ($11,000), Perine ($9,800), Alex Collins ($8,800), and Alfred Morris ($9,800).
Jason Wood: Let's be clear, I'm an old fantasy geezer at this point. I'm also a portfolio manager by trade. Both those things have taught me that you want to fade consensus views, particularly when they've become near-universal consensus. The idea of forcing 4 running backs into a FantasyDraft lineup may not be a universally held a truth as Chris Rock being the best stand-up comedian in the world, but it's close.
Jokes aside, this notion of forcing RBs as a rule reminds me of prior "must-dos," like the idea we had to draft running backs in the early rounds when fantasy was first becoming a thing, or more recently that you had to use a zero-RB theory, or that you always should draft quarterbacks late. All three ideas had merit, particularly at given points in the fantasy cycle, but none were ever universal truths.
So to the question at hand, I'm more like John in that I look at each slate of games as its own. If I have a flex spot (or two), I'm taking all players eligible for those spots into one analysis. In that case, WR = RB. So every WR and RB is pooled together and rated for overall production and, of course, projected value/$ of salary.
I want no part of McCoy this week because -- matchup aside -- no Tyrod Taylor means a potentially inept offense. McCoy can't do much if he doesn't have the ball. My top three running back choices are Todd Gurley ($14,400), Leonard Fournette ($12,900) and Melvin Gordon III ($12,900). I'm with John that Hyde and Perine are also viable given the salaries. At receiver, beyond Antonio Brown ($17,000) and DeAndre Hopkins ($13,900) – my top two choices – I'm intrigued by Keenan Allen ($16,100), Devin Funchess ($10,900), A.J. Green ($14,100), Tyreek Hill ($13,300), and Sterling Shepard ($10,000).
When I roll it all up, I'm probably going four running backs THIS week, but that's week-specific, not because of any universal rule. The last two weeks I wouldn't have opted for four running backs, for instance.
James Brimacombe: Early in the season I was all about forcing in four running backs on FantasyDraft. Most times I would look for the top-two value RB plays and also the top 2 overall RB plays on the week and go with that. So, basically, paying up for 2 guys and inserting 2 guys that are in line for a heavy workload at a discounted price. The past few weeks I have been going with three running backs and finding a decent wide receiver value to put in as my second flex position. This week I think I will go back to playing four running backs, with the same rule of paying up for two and looking for value for the other two.
Paying up this week, I want to start my build with Bell, even at his $17,500 price which almost equals the cost of two players. I will pair him with either Gordon or Fournette, each of whom cost $12,900. For value I will be looking at Collins and Perine. Collins has 5 straight games of 14+ touches, and in the previous game against the Steelers this year, played just 17 snaps but ran the ball 9 times for 82 yards. Perine has played the last three games as Washington's starting running back and has averaged 22 touches over that span; I will be taking a shot at his volume at a discounted price to allow me to fit in the big-dollar guys.