2QB Versus Superflex. What Gives?
The essential element of a 2QB fantasy football league—as the all-too-literal name explains—is the requirement that each starting lineup in the league include two quarterbacks. While traditional leagues start rosters with only one passer, 2QB leagues require every team to start two on a weekly basis. That’s it. That is the only essential element of a 2QB league.
2QB leagues have a tremendous amount of variety outside that setting: PPR, 4- or 6-point passing TDs, multiple flex spots, and the list goes on. So when we list what we consider “standard” settings for 2QB leagues, it is because we need a default, not because we expect every league to use those settings. If you see us—or anyone else—refer generally to a 2QB league, it means only that the league requires teams to start two quarterbacks.
While the term “2QB” bashes the reader over the head in bluntly literal fashion, the meaning of the term “Superflex” is less obvious.
Superflex splits the difference between 1- and 2QB leagues. In a Superflex league, each team’s starting lineup includes a flex roster spot in which the owner may start a quarterback, but she is not required to. The spot can also fit a running back or wide receiver, and in some leagues a tight end.
Many view Superflex as an easier transition than jumping boldly into 2QB right out of the gates. As a commissioner, it may be easier for you to convince owners to add a “superflex” roster spot, where they can choose their own approach, than to persuade them to accept a format that will require them to start two quarterbacks every week.
Superflex leagues allow more strategic diversity than do 2QB leagues, because owners are free to strategize around that superflex roster spot. A quarterback may fill that flex spot every week for one team, while another team cycles running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks in and out depending on the week.
The Effect on Your Draft
Having touched briefly on the strategic impact of choosing between a 2QB or Superflex league, I want to turn to the biggest difference: your draft.
Late-round quarterback is now nearly the default draft strategy in many corners of the fantasy football world, because it works. While some players cling to their early-round QB picks, the majority of the fantasy world now suggests waiting far longer to draft your team’s quarterback.
Thanks to the work of J.J. Zachariason and others, the community now understands how replaceable the quarterback position is in typical fantasy leagues, and we all know it is more valuable to load up on skill positions early in your drafts. No matter how you parse the data—Value-Based Drafting (VBD), Value Over Replacement Position (VORP), or Value Over Stream (VOS)—results show that the strongest teams are built by waiting on the quarterback position.
While that movement is a good thing, it has also reduced the number of viable strategies in traditional leagues. There are fewer options available to smart owners, and everyone’s drafts have begun looking very similar.
In 2QB and Superflex leagues, however, the opposite is true: owners do not feel compelled to wait on quarterback, and many choose to draft the position early and often. Although reliable average draft position (ADP) data is hard to find for 2QB and Superflex leagues, I have been able to put together findings for the last two years of drafts. The chart below shows just how differently the quarterback position is approached in each format.
(Overall ADP is on the Y-axis, and QB ADP is on the X-axis. The higher the line goes, the longer owners waited to draft QBs in that format.)
From those results, I found that the majority of owners treat Superflex leagues like 2QB leagues, drafting QB early to ensure strength at the position. Only at the tail end of drafts do the two tend to diverge, largely because of owners who choose not to emphasize their QB3 position in Superflex formats.
If we zoom in on the first 12 quarterbacks, the similarity between 2QB and Superflex leagues becomes more apparent. Although quarterbacks in the top tier last a few picks later in Superflex, the difference is quite small. Although there is an enormous disparity between one- and two-quarterback formats, there is not a similar gap between Superflex and 2QB.
As with all fantasy football analysis, this piece merits a reminder that every league is different. ADP data is, by definition, an average. It does not mean that your league will necessarily track this data. Instead, tailor these numbers to your own league.
It is safe to assume quarterbacks, particularly those in the QB3 range, will fall slightly farther in Superflex formats. Beyond that, you will need to take the temperature of your league. If the league has been around for a while, go back to old drafts and look for patterns in QB drafting. If the league is new, use this and other ADP data to estimate what your own draft will look like. Good luck!