2QB or Not 2QB: Week 1 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, as you’ll need to cover bye weeks. In Superflex, I still like to have at least three starting quarterbacks so I can play the 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 bit of a drop-off subbing in a regular flex player for a quarterback. That’s manageable though, unlike the goose eggs you’d get in 2QB leagues.
The Superflex slot can seem like it’s just 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 come around. However, many of us end up with a weaker set of quarterbacks, whether it be by design or because of injuries. If your QB2 is outside the top 25 at the position, the Superflex slot takes its true form rather than being a de-facto QB2 slot. It depends on the roster settings/scoring setup as well as your depth at other positions. But starting just one quarterback will be viable in certain situations.
Impact of PPR Scoring
The scoring rules of a Superflex league have a big impact on whether you’ll be faced with 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 1. These are my personal projections, which assume 5 points for a passing TD, and -2 points for interceptions. They are broken 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.
In a traditional non-PPR league (a.k.a. the artist formerly known as standard leagues), the Superflex position should almost always be filled by your QB2, assuming you have a pair of currently starting signal-callers. Even the QB28 for the week– Joe Flacco — has only four running backs ahead of him in my projections, and no players at wide receiver or tight end. There are likely no typical redraft teams with three of David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, and Todd Gurley, especially in non-PPR. If your league requires at least two running backs to be started, there’s almost no chance you’ll be benching your QB2 in Week 1 if he’s sitting in the top 30 at the position.
Now, maybe you have Bell and Gurley, and were able to snag Ezekiel Elliott in the third round thanks to his pending suspension. Elliott is right below Flacco in my projections, along with Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, and DeMarco Murray (all likely first or second round picks). So, if you were able to end up with a monster trio of RBs, starting them all over a weak QB2 option is viable, though far from a given. But that’s assuming you don’t have a separate flex position reserved for RB/WR/TE. If so, Elliott should be in the Flex slot, and you are still starting two quarterbacks.
The bottom-two signal-callers are projected below that second tier of running backs, and are just above Lamar Miller and Melvin Gordon. Hopefully Josh McCown isn’t your QB2, but it’s entirely possible in a 16-team Superflex, or if one of your top quarterbacks is injured/not playing this week. Things really get interesting with Blake Bortles, though. I would venture to guess he’s the QB2 on a lot of teams this year, especially if you drafted earlier in the offseason. If your team fits that bill, and you don’t have a QB3 like Trevor Siemian or Brian Hoyer to sub in, this article is for you (especially in the other scoring formats). In non-PPR, you would still need to have three of the running backs mentioned above to consider benching Bortles. But again, this is only if you can start just two running backs outside of the Superflex slot.
Bortles having the lowest Week 1 projection of all non-Jets QBs may seem extreme, but playing at Houston is truly a nightmare matchup. Via the RotoViz Game Splits app, here are Bortles’ career splits for both (against HOU vs. all other opponents) and (@ HOU vs. all other games).
It’s a concerning split, especially with J.J. Watt now healthy on a defense that was able to carry an awful offense to the divisional round of the playoffs without him. It is a small sample for Bortles, especially when you filter it down to away games vs. the Texans. However, quarterbacks playing at Houston over the same stretch see a scoring drop-off of more than 20 percent of their average points. Anyone starting Bortles is often relying on garbage-time production for him to sneak up to 20 points. But that is a bad bet against a team with a top defense that likely won’t score enough points to let Bortles work his magic.
If you compare the tables above, there is not a major difference between non-PPR and half-PPR. There are still no tight ends projected to outscore even the bottom tier of quarterbacks. Six wide receviers (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, Odell Beckham, and Demaryius Thomas) fall somewhere between QB20 to QB30, and Thomas is probably the only one of those you drafted outside of the early second round. So, there’s virtually no shot you have enough of those wide receivers to have the luxury of starting one in the Superflex slot. The second tier of running backs jumps up in this format to above all quarterbacks outside the top 25. Everything mentioned about McCown and Bortles in the non-PPR section applies to that set of quarterbacks here.
The third tier of running backs (Miller and Gordon) have also leapfrogged McCown, and are now virtually even with Bortles. Christian McCaffrey comes close behind those signal-callers now, but the rest of that next tier of running backs is still far enough behind to exclude. So McCown and Bortles are still in a similar boat as they were in non-PPR for the most part. However, McCaffrey entering the equation means it’s slightly more possible to have an RB3 you’d consider starting over one of these quarterbacks.
Also, a quartet of McCoy, Gurley, Elliott, and McCaffrey is possible for anyone that went super RB-heavy early on. For teams that must start two running backs and can start a third in a regular flex slot, this is the first scenario where I’d consider benching my QB2 for a running back. The summary here is that in non-PPR and half-PPR Superflex leagues, your running back depth, quarterback situation, and roster settings essentially need to form a perfect storm to start just one passer.
Here’s where things finally get interesting. The number of flex players projected to outscore the bottom tier of quarterbacks explodes to above 30, mainly on the backs of wide receivers boosting heavily in value. On top of the sheer volume of flex players now in consideration over quarterbacks, there will now be decisions that include players at each of those positions, not just RB1s vs. QB3s.
If you can start just two running backs outside the Superflex slot, the McCoy/Gurley/Elliott situation now applies to all quarterbacks outside the top 19. If you also have a traditional flex slot, adding McCaffrey to that trio means I’d now start the rookie running back over Joe Flacco. The next tier of running backs, including Carlos Hyde, Dalvin Cook, and Leonard Fournette, leapfrog McCown and enter the Bortles discussion. Isaiah Crowell, Marshawn Lynch, and Ty Montgomery are not far behind McCown either.
For wide receivers, I’m going to assume you’ll have to start at least three (including regular flexes) before considering a wide receiver in the Superflex slot. The best set of Week 1 wideouts that is realistic in redraft leagues is A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas, and Michael Crabtree. If you have this quartet of receivers, it’s certainly viable to start Crabtree in the Superflex over one of the bottom-five quarterbacks (McCown, Bortles, Flacco, Philip Rivers, and DeShone Kizer). It might even be a discussion if your QB2 is in the next tier above that as well.
That group of wide receivers (or something similar) is certainly possible, but there may not be a team that loaded at the position in every league. The more achievable WR4 options include Pierre Garçon, Sammy Watkins, Stefon Diggs, and Larry Fitzgerald. These wide receivers are sandwiched around Flacco, and should be started over Bortles and McCown for sure (assuming you share the top-18 wide receiver expectation).
It would be very tough to get more than four of the top 25 wide receivers for Week 1, so the above scenarios may be moot if your league requires starting three wide receivers and contains a flex slot. Potential WR5s on fantasy teams include Adam Thielen, Randall Cobb, Corey Davis, Kenny Britt, Jeremy Maclin, Marvin Jones, …, (insert your favorite mid-round wide receiver here). They all fall below McCown in my projections, but a few are close. If you are aiming for safety and are truly afraid of your QB2’s matchup, starting a wide receiver from this range instead is at least understandable.
If you follow Nick Giffen (@RotoDoc), this part is for you. Nick has pumped a strategy of grabbing two elite tight ends, which I like in certain formats and situations. PPR teams employing this strategy may feature two of Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, and Kyle Rudolph (who only appears in this tier for Week 1 since he plays the Saints). If so, you’re likely starting that duo in your tight and flex slots. But maybe you just have a Superflex with no flex, or somehow grabbed two elite tight ends while also being stacked at RB/WR. If so, I would consider starting two of these tight ends over any of the bottom-tier quarterbacks. However, outside of McCown, it’s not a lock unless you believe your tight ends are the clear top pair for the week.
Putting it into Action
I saw the following scenario on Twitter: In a half-PPR, I have to start 2 WRs, 2 flexes, and a Superflex. My options at QB are Kirk Cousins, Jay Cutler, and Jared Goff. My WRs include Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Stefon Diggs, Larry Fitzgerald, and I’m not considering any RB or TE for the flex slots. Who should I start?
[Note: Cutler is now off for the week, but I’ll include him in the decision-making, as it’s a good application of what we went over above.]
I would order the quarterbacks Cousins/Goff/Cutler, and the wide receivers Brown/D. Thomas/Diggs/Fitzgerald/M. Thomas. The last three wide receivers are very close for Week 1, but Mike Thomas potentially being shadowed by Xavier Rhodes puts him at behind the others for me. This essentially boils down to considering Goff vs. Mike Thomas in the Superflex, after benching Cutler and starting the rest. I have Goff projected for 15.1 points, and Thomas at 10.7 in half-PPR. So, this is not a close decision for me. The Colts are somewhat of a dream matchup, and Goff’s prospects are much better than last year with the additions of Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Andrew Whitworth, and head coach Sean McVay.
If you’re unconvinced, I understand waiting until Goff proves it before starting him over a talented wide receiver such as M. Thomas. Still, I have Cutler projected at 13.9 points, which is greater than all the wide receivers above besides Antonio. If this were a full-PPR league, the decision becomes close. Demaryius would shoot past Goff/Cutler, Diggs and Fitzgerald would be right behind Cutler, and Mike Thomas would be within a point of him as well. I would still start whichever QB2 option you prefer, but it’s no longer an obvious choice. Take away one of the flex slots, and it becomes even more muddled.
In a non-PPR league, there’s little possibility you can have a better option at Superflex than your QB2. Here are are scenarios I’d consider starting a flex player there:
- You have three RBs in the top two tiers for Week 1, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, your QB2 is McCown or Blake Bortles.
- You only have one starting QB for the week due to a loss of Luck, Tannehill, Winston, Cutler, or Watson not winning the Texans starting QB job.
In a half-PPR league, it’s a bit more likely you have the RB options to sit your QB2. However, not enough players at the other flex position catch even the worst QBs to change the outlook much from non-PPR leagues:
- You have three RBs in the top two tiers, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, your QB2 is in the bottom eight.
- The third tier of RBs climbs above McCown and Bortles, but it’s still nearly impossible to have four RBs in this tier or above.
- McCaffrey enters the discussion as the first potential RB4 to start over a bottom-tiered QB.
In a full-PPR league, we see an explosion of players at flex positions projected to outscore QBs. However, many of those are still early round draft picks. While there will be more scenarios to bench your QB2 in this format, it’s still restrained to some unique situations where you loaded up heavily at one of the flex positions early:
- You have three RBs in the top two tiers, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, your QB2 is in the bottom third.
- You can start a third RB in the flex, McCaffrey is your RB4, your QB2 is Flacco at best.
- Your RB4 is in the tier below McCaffrey and your QB2 is McCown or Bortles.
- Your QB2 is in the bottom five, Crabtree or Sanders is your WR4, can only start three WRs outside the Superflex slot.
- Your WR5 is in the 25-30 range at the position and your QB2 is McCown or Bortles.
- You have two elite TE options, can only start one outside of the Superlfex slot, and have a weak QB2.
My projections used here included 5 points for a passing touchdown. If your league differs from that, adjust the signal-callers up or down accordingly. Also, my assumptions on which sets of RBs/WRs were viable were 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 that I didn’t lay out above, but you should be able to glean what you need from the unlikely scenarios I did touch on. I had a 12-team league in my mind for this as well. However, even if 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 still able to shed light on any decision you might face in setting your Week 1 lineup. If not, drop me a line on twitter (@Slavin22), and I’ll be happy to help.