2QB or Not 2QB: Week 10 Superflex Decisions
For the most part, 2QB and Superflex leagues are one and the same. There is more urgency to secure a solid QB3 in the former, accounting for bye weeks. In the latter, I still like having at least three starting quarterbacks so I can play matchups, have injury insurance, and leverage that depth in trades. However, you can still succeed if you end up with just a pair of starters. During your bye weeks at the position, you’ll see a small drop-off subbing a non-quarterback for a quarterback. That’s manageable though, unlike the goose eggs you’d lay in 2QB leagues.
The Superflex slot can seem like a built-in safety option for byes and injuries. That’s not all it needs to be, though. If your signal-callers are Drew Brees and Marcus Mariota, then sure, set it and forget it until their bye weeks (or injuries) come around. However, many of us end up with weaker quarterbacks, whether by design or because of injuries. If your QB2 is outside the top 25 at the position, the Superflex slot takes its true form, no longer a de-facto QB2 slot. It depends on the roster settings and scoring setup, as well as your depth at other positions. But starting just one quarterback is viable in certain situations. Hell, I barely missed out on a championship last year, where Alex Smith was my only starting quarterback in a 14-team Superflex league.
Note: Teams on bye in Week 10 are Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, and Philadelphia.
Impact of PPR Scoring
The scoring rules of a Superflex league significantly impact whether you should consider starting a flex player over a quarterback. The tables below show how many flex players are projected to outscore each starting signal-caller in Week 10. These are my personal projections, which assume 5 points for a passing TD, and -2 points for interceptions. They are broken down into non-PPR, half-PPR, and full-PPR; all other scoring rules are typical of standard leagues.
The bottom portions of these tables show how stark the influence PPR scoring has, when it comes to the positional advantage that (non-elite) quarterbacks have over the flex positions.
Fresh Off the Bye Week with a Revamped Scheme
First of all, I want to apologize for not getting this article out week. I was super busy between work and school, so Sal generously offered me a week off. I was able to get my projection charts out on Saturday night, so hopefully that helped a few people with last-minute Superflex decisions. Anyway, I’m rested up and ready to go for Week 10. Just like DeShone Kizer… Uh, I mean, Tom Brady.
Earlier in the year, I went into detail on my process for projecting players, specifically the quarterbacks (see the “What Is He Doing There?” section of my Week 2 article). I had baseline projections for each player and adjusted those based on Implied PF, using Vegas spread & over/under data. I mentioned how, early in the season, this method is more predictive than using a matchup-based approach like blending a QB’s scoring average with the opposing defense’s points allowed to the position. My Vegas-based approach starts out strong and holds steady throughout the year. Meanwhile, matchups-based approaches start slow and see a steady improvement in predictiveness as more data accumulates.
Around the time the fantasy playoffs begin, matchups finally edge out Vegas data. Starting now and until that time, these approaches have similar success, so I switched my process from a pure Vegas-based approach to blend in matchups data. Vegas gets a 50% share of the weight, while 30% goes to the quarterback’s schedule-adjusted points scored, and 20% goes to the opposing team’s schedule-adjusted QB points against. While I worked with the data for this week, I created this visualization to add more context to my projections list.
The Jaguars pass defense has been a nightmare matchup for quarterbacks, but it’s jarring to see the on a plot like this. Philip Rivers (26) sticks out like a sore thumb on that graph. Even a near-average passer gets dragged to the bottom tier when playing in Jacksonville. Look at the bottom 11 QBs in that list. Of that group, only Rivers came into 2017 with a secure job. I thought this was a cool way to visualize the data, and I hope you guys and gals find it useful as well.
In general, the Superflex position should almost always be filled by your QB2 in a non-PPR format. The exception is if you have a monster set of running backs and can’t start all of them without dipping into the Superflex slot. In Week 10, no tight end projects to outscore the starting passers. Antonio Brown is in a tier by himself as the only primary pass-catcher slotting above QB3 types for the week.
The top tier of running backs includes Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and LeSean McCoy, followed by a second tier of Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard, and Carlos Hyde. The third tier features Christian McCaffrey, Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram, and Melvin Gordon. These RBs should start over Rivers, Tom Savage, and Brett Hundley, my red-flag QBs for the week. I am also fine playing the top RBs over the six QBs in the 13-15 range of projected points. That includes Brock Osweiler, Jacoby Brissett, Mitchell Trubisky, Jay Cutler, DeShone Kizer, and Drew Stanton, a.k.a the yellow-flag QBs (they’ll show up as orange in the tables above, but orange-flag has absolutely no ring to it).
The fourth tier of running backs is DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller, Aaron Jones, Ameer Abdullah, and Adrian Peterson. They’re close enough to the red-flag QBs to merit consideration, but their roles aren’t safe enough to recommend them outright.
Most weeks thus far, things haven’t changed much when we transition from non-PPR to half-PPR. That trend continues. Each tier of running backs jumps to the next QB tier. Rob Gronkowski is in a tier of his own in Week 10 with his legitimate peers on bye or injured. Jimmy Graham and Evan Engram make up the second tier, but are still behind all the signal-callers. Wide receivers projected above the red-flag QBs include Brown, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, and DeAndre Hopkins.
The top three tiers of RBs listed above can now be played above the yellow-flags, and possibly above Case Keenum or Blake Bortles if the rusher you’re considering is especially strong. The fourth tier of RBs above gets jumbled a bit and branches into two. Alvin Kamara, Murray, and Miller can be played over red-flag QBs and considered with yellow-flags. Abdullah, Jerick McKinnon, Jones, and Peterson are possible plays over red-flag QBs, though McKinnon is the only one I have much confidence in.
After the seven WRs listed above come Stefon Diggs, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Brandin Cooks, and Adam Thielen. This group of receivers are all within a point or two of Hundley, Savage, and Rivers. If you can’t fit those receivers into your standard flex spot, put them in at Superflex over red-flag QB2s.
As always, we see many more actionable scenarios when receptions are worth a full point. The number of flex players projected to out-score the lower-ranked QBs ranges from 23 to 39. Wide receivers and running backs make up nearly all those spots, but tight ends play a small role as well.
Third-tier RBs now climb above Keenum and Bortles, while the fourth tier slots in among yellow-flag QBs. The fifth tier falls in with the red-flag signal-callers. Digging deeper into RBs, the following group can be considered at Superflex over Hundley, Savage, and Rivers: Matt Forte, Chris Thompson, Tarik Cohen, Joe Mixon, Theo Riddick, James White, Bilal Powell, Doug Martin, Frank Gore, and Jonathan Stewart.
For wide receivers, I’m going to assume you must start at least three (including regular flexes) before considering a wide receiver in the Superflex slot. The 12 WRs listed above are joined by Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, and Demaryius Thomas as yellow-flag considerations. Other strong starts over the red-flag guys are Jarvis Landry, Sterling Shepard, Mohamed Sanu, Marqise Lee, and Devin Funchess. About a dozen more can be considered, as the number of wideouts projected for double-digit scoring is 33.
Behind Gronk, Graham and Engram can safely start above red-flag QBs, and considered with Cutler, Kizer, and Stanton as well. Jack Doyle and Jordan Reed (if he suits up) make up the third tier of TEs, and all are fine plays over the red flags. If you’re just hoping for a touchdown plus a few catches, other tight end considerations include Charles Clay, Kyle Rudolph, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jason Witten, and Cameron Brate.
What is He Doing There?
Ryan Fitzpatrick may seem risky with Mike Evans suspended, but a receiving corps of DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, and Charles Sims is still solid. I like him as a mid-tier play against the Jets, who are the best matchup for QBs when you adjust for schedule.
Philip Rivers qualifies here, as only one of the 54 rankers at FantasyPros has Rivers as low as me as I write this. A poor offensive line fighting a great set of pass rushers in front of an elite secondary is a recipe for disaster. I’m not willing to bet on Rivers becoming only the second quarterback to throw for 225+ passing yards against the Jags, especially when the first guy literally threw a handful of picks (Ben Roethlisberger).
Not many people are high on Brett Hundley in a tough matchup after a few lackluster passing performances. The two FantasyPros rankers ranking him above QB #18 may be betting on rushing touchdowns. Rushing scores elevated what would have been awful & poor starts into poor & solid performances. Chicago may not be the place to bank on that. Besides a 50-yard rushing output from Cam Newton and a 22-yard scramble from Case Keenum, the Bears have given up just 1.7 points from quarterback rushing in their other 6 games (17 yards, 0 TDs). I usually don’t like to remove outliers, for reasons explained in the first tweet from @RotoDoc below.
But for Cam, I think the qualifier in Nick’s second tweet, “If conditions change,” applies here. If a quarterback is built like a middle linebacker and runs like a halfback, I believe the conditions have changed. Adding back in Keenum’s game, the Bears are still giving up just 0.55 QB rushing points per game. Unless you expect Hundley to pack on 30-35 pounds of lean muscle overnight and pull a Cam Newton, I would bet on Chicago spying/containing Hundley just like they did with Rodgers in September. But this time around, the Green Bay quarterback likely won’t throw for 4 TDs on just 179 passing yards.
In a non-PPR league, there’s typically little possibility you will have a better option at Superflex than your QB2. A monster group of running backs and a weak QB option can bear that out:
- Running backs in the third tier can be played above the red-flag QBs and considered if you have a yellow-flag quarterback as your QB2 this week.
- Fourth-tier RBs can be played at the Superflex spot if you feel confident in their role or just want to avoid a nightmare matchup at QB.
In a half-PPR league, the situation is similar to non-PPR. A few more RBs are Superflex-worthy, while some wide receivers and tight ends enter the mix:
- Third-tier RBs can now be played in favor of yellow-flag QBs and possibly even Keenum or Bortles.
- Fourth-tier backs should start over red-flag quarterbacks and be considered above yellow-flags.
- If you’re really trying to avoid a bad QB matchup, you’ll need a fifth-tier RB, a top-12 wideout, or one of Graham/Engram behind Gronk.
In a full-PPR league, a lot more players at flex positions project to outscore QBs. However, many of those were early-round draft picks, so actionable scenarios are still mostly contained to teams that loaded up at a flex position early:
- Top-12 running backs can be considered over QBs projected below 16 points.
- Top-15 RBs and top-10 WRs should start over yellow-flag QBs.
- RBs and WRs in the top 20 of their respective positions should start in favor of red-flag QBs, and be considered among the yellow-flags projected below 14 points.
- 30 RBs and 33 WRs are projected for double-digit points, which is the cutoff for red-flag consideration.
- For TEs, Graham and Henry (if you have Gronk) are plays over red-flags and maybe a few QBs above that. Otherwise, top-10 TEs are red-flag considerations with Doyle the only play outside of the top-3 with some confidence.
My projections used here award 5 points per passing touchdown. If your league differs, adjust the signal-callers up or down accordingly. Also, my assumptions for which sets of RBs/WRs are viable are based on a redraft league with a standard snake draft. If you’re in a dynasty league or have an auction instead of a draft, it is more likely that you can build a monster group at RB/WR. If so, you may have a situation not laid out above, but you should be able to glean what you need from the unlikelier scenarios I did touch on. I had a 12-team league in my mind for this as well. While a shallower league means you’ll have better options at the flex positions, you’ll also be less likely to have a weak QB2.
Hopefully, I was able to shed light on any lineup decision you might face. If not, drop me a line on twitter (@Slavin22). Good luck in Week 10!