2QB or Not 2QB: Week 5 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 (or injuries) 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. Hell, I barely missed out on a championship last year, where Alex Smith was my only starting QB in a 14-team Superflex league.
Note: teams on a bye in Week include Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and Washington.
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 5. 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.
A Look Back at Week 4
My projections in Week 4 were fairly strong, which was needed after a shaky week beforehand. I was low on Cam Newton and Jared Goff, high on Trevor Siemian and Jay Cutler, but overall it was my best week for overall QB projections. I didn’t receive any start/sit questions, but my highlighted quarterback was a bullseye.
I liked Alex Smith’s matchup, even though the numbers didn’t look great for QBs against Washington prior to Monday night. He responded with a very Smith-ian performance as the only QB above 20 points without multiple scores through the air. The Alex Smith of yesteryear popped up again, as a 32-yard scramble and a rushing TD on a read option boosted his total. The result was 28.32 points and a QB6, QB7, or QB8 finish (depending on your scoring settings). Considering only one out of 73 rankers on FantasyPros ranked Smith higher than my QB6 projection, I’ll pat myself on the back here (and boy I needed it after Week 3).
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, unless you dip into the Superflex slot. Week 5 is no different in that regard. There are no wide receivers or tight ends projected to outscore any of the passers this week.
The first tier of running backs is head and shoulders above the rest — Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. The next tier includes Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, and LeSean McCoy. All these backs are getting loads of opportunity, but the first pair have significantly better matchups in Week 5.
The bottom tier of quarterbacks features Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, and Blake Bortles. These guys can safely be sat if you have enough RBs from the top five to sub one in at the Superflex slot. But, ultimately, you’re starting two QBs in non-PPR unless bye weeks have a say in the matter.
For the most part, things haven’t changed much when we transition from non-PPR to half-PPR. Week 5 is no different, and sees the least change in this area so far. Antonio Brown enters the mix, but that’s it for primary pass-catchers. Carlos Hyde barely passes Bortles, and Leonard Fournette is close behind.
Repeat the analysis from the non-PPR section here, but with “top seven” replacing “top five”. Our first time dealing with a full set of byes has led to less flex players in the mix. However, the real reason for so little actionability so far (besides start your QB2) is that there are no bad quarterbacks with terrible matchups. Blake Bortles is the lowest-projected QB for the week at 13.9 points, which is nearly two full points above the typical bottom-end quarterback.
Things get interesting once receptions are worth a full point, but not like the prior weeks. The number of flex players projected to outscore Bortles is 25, where Jacoby Brissett’s number was 64 in Week 4. Wide receivers and running backs make up most of the 25. However, we see a mix of all the flex positions involved in our full-PPR Superflex decisions.
The seven RBs mentioned above all slot in above the Palmer/Flacco/Bortles tier of signal-callers. Jordan Howard leapfrogs Bortles, who is followed closely by Frank Gore, Melvin Gordon, and Lamar Miller. There are only 11 running backs who can even be considered to start in place of a QB this week, and many of them were early-round picks. If Gore is your RB4 for the week, his floor may be appealing compared to the basement-level QBs. However, I’d rather have the ceiling that comes with the passers, especially Palmer.
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 5 wideouts that is realistic in redraft leagues is A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Stefon Diggs, and Tyreek Hill. I have this quartet of receivers in my top nine, but in Week 5 that only locks them in above the bottom tier of QBs. They also slot right above the next tier of Jay Cutler, E.J. Manuel, and Mitchell Trubisky, and right behind Philip Rivers, Josh McCown, and Brian Hoyer.
That group of wide receivers (or something similar) is certainly possible, but there likely aren’t many teams that loaded at wide receiver in full-PPR leagues. Aside from that, Pierre Garcon as your WR4 or WR5 (depending on roster settings) over Bortles is the only other scenario I’d recommend starting a WR in the Superflex slot.
Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, and Travis Kelce make up my top-three TEs for Week 5. If you have Gronk and Ertz, I’d start both over any QB in the bottom third. If you have one of those plus Kelce, start him above the bottom tier of QBs, and possibly Manuel or Trubisky.
What is He Doing There?
Carson Palmer has been an enigma this year. He’s had a strong performance versus Dallas, a dud in Detroit, plus a pair of mediocre showings against weak defenses. He’s the QB17 so far in PPG with no top-12 performances despite a great schedule so far. Philadelphia is an above-average matchup by fantasy points given up to quarterbacks — an average of 19.1 points for an average slate of passers.
The Eagles have been strong against the run, where Arizona has struggled since David Johnson went down. The Eagles have been a bit below average against the pass, and Palmer is averaging over 45 attempts per game. All signs point up, but I have Palmer in the bottom tier. It looked weird when I saw it, too. The Vegas lines, which I use to adjust my QB projections up/down, is the culprit here.
As 6.5-point underdogs in a game with an over/under of 45, the Cardinals have the fourth-lowest implied team total of the week at 19.25. It seems low, but Arizona is averaging less than that against a somewhat weak slate of opposing defenses. Also, Philadelphia will likely return two starters in the secondary, Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. Here are the (small-sample) splits of opposing QBs against the Eagles in 2017, when…
- Graham and Watkins both played in Weeks 1 and 2:
- Kirk Cousins was held to 11.60 points.
- Alex Smith put up 17.14 points.
- Graham and Watkins both missed Weeks 3 and 4:
- Eli Manning scored 25.64 points.
- Philip Rivers put up 21.88 points.
These players returning for Philly won’t quite elevate their pass defense to top-10 status, but their strong pass rush against a battered Arizona line doesn’t bode well for Palmer. He hasn’t been able to do much with upwards of 50 attempts, and I’m not comfortable betting on him reaching that mark just to provide a decent floor.
In a non-PPR league, there’s little possibility you can have a better option at Superflex than your QB2. Here is the only scenario I’d consider starting a flex player there:
- You have three RBs in the top-5 for Week 5, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, your QB2 is in the bottom tier.
In a half-PPR league, the situation is virtually identical to the one above. WRs and TEs do not enter the equation yet, and just a few more RBs are Superflex-worthy:
- You have three RBs in the top-7, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, your QB2 is in the bottom tier.
In a full-PPR league, we see a more 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 three tiers, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, you have a weak QB2.
- Your RB4 for the week is Frank Gore and you are lower on one of the bottom QBs than my projections are.
- Your WR4 is a top-10 option at the position and your QB2 is in the bottom third.
- Your WR4 for Week 5 is Pierre Garcon and Blake Bortles is your QB2.
- You have two top-tier TEs (Gronk, Ertz, Kelce) and your QB2 is projected for 15.5 points or less.
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 are 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 unlikelier 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.
Because I submit this article by Wednesday night each week, I have to make some guesses as to which questionable QBs will play or sit out. In general, you can adjust the projections slightly (down in most circumstances) if a quarterback I list is ruled out. For instance, Case Keenum can be subbed in near where I have Sam Bradford currently. Feel free to use your judgment on exactly where he can be slotted in, or ask me and I’ll run his projection. This week also features Marcus Mariota as someone who may not play. I would recommend starting most QBs over Matt Cassel if Mariota is indeed ruled out. However, if Cassel is your primary backup plan, my instinct is he’ll fall between Jay Cutler and EJ Manuel at QB23.
Hopefully, I was still able to shed light on any decision you might face in setting your lineup. If not, drop me a line on twitter (@Slavin22), and good luck in Week 5!