2QB or Not 2QB: Week 6 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, se1t 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 6 include Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Seattle.
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 6. 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 5
I had another decent week projections-wise in Week 5, but as always there were ups and downs. I had a mid-tier that consisted of Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, DeShone Kizer, and Cam Newton; the bookends far exceeded expectations with majorly disappointing performances from the AFC North guys.
- [half-PPR] I recommended starting Deshaun Watson (40.54 points) and Tyrod Taylor (9.94) over Carson Palmer (16.64), Jared Goff (7.72), and Josh McCown (15.46).
- Could’ve done better with the second QB, but I’m happy because I was adamant about starting Watson and shaky on the next selection.
- [half-PPR] I recommended starting DeShone Kizer (2.38) over Joe Flacco (8.48), Case Keenum (12.80), and Blake Bortles (2.70).
- This is a rough one as they all stunk, and I still picked the worst finisher. However, the only one who scored double-digit points didn’t even start the game, and the Browns did have a top-10 QB for the week in Kevin Hogan (18.76). So I still think this was the right decision, but it’s hard to take any credit when the QB I recommended got benched mid-game.
My highlighted QB to fade from last week’s article was Carson Palmer, who ended up with 16.64 points. He finished as the QB13, which was far above where I had him ranked, even though he only slightly outperformed my projection. I was skeptical about Palmer sustaining his volume and he had his second-lowest total of 2017, but that was still 44 throws. I am still worried about Palmer going forward as he is only the QB16 in PPG thus far, despite averaging at least five more attempts than any other quarterback. His crazy volume has given him a solid floor, but he still has yet to produce a top-12 week at his position. He’s a fine QB2, but any reduction in volume without an uptick in efficiency will see his bottom fall out.
Besides Palmer, all of the other QBs in the bottom six of my Week 5 rankings had less than 13 points. Fantasy football is insanely hard to predict for even true experts like Mike Clay, and my projections don’t clear up any unsolved mysteries in that regard. However, outside of a crazy Week 3, my projections have done a good at the bottom, i.e. the most important section for the purposes of this article. For some reason, four of the seven QBs I projected for under 15 points in Week 3 blew up for over 20. For the other four weeks, none of the QBs I projected as duds scored 18+ points, and 17 of them (or 80.9%) actually scored under a dozen.
When Greg and Sal pitched me the idea for this series, I was excited that it would give me a chance to publish my quarterback rankings/projections in a form I believe is truly unique. I did have some fear that even if my projections were doing well overall, maybe they wouldn’t be particularly good at finding duds which can be replaced in lineups with flex players. But I’m pleased with the early results, and I hope you all are, too!
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 6 is no different in that regard. There are no wide receivers or tight ends projected to outscore even the QB27 (Mitchell Trubisky) for the week. Three receivers (Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown) are ahead of our goat for Week 6 in Eli Manning.
The first tier of running backs features Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and Todd Gurley. That trio is followed by C.J. Anderson, Le’Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman. If you have enough of these backs, feel free to start them over any QB projected for under 15 points (Hogan and below). Lamar Miller, DeMarco Murray, and Rob Kelley (make sure to monitor practice reports, as it’s likely Kelly is out this week) are in that range as well, and can be considered above a weak QB2 as well.
Eli Manning without his top three WRs against the toughest matchup around is in the basement tier by himself this week. This will open up a lot of opportunities to bench him for a flex player once we start getting into the PPR sections. But you can still bench him in this format if you have a bunch of top-15 running back options for Week 6. In addition to those listed above, Mike Gillislee, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Christian McCaffrey, and Jordan Howard are projected ahead of Manning. Others within a point of his projection are Ty Montgomery, Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Jonathan Stewart, Tevin Coleman, and Doug Martin.
Most weeks thus far, things haven’t changed much when we transition from non-PPR to half-PPR. Usually we see several more running backs enter the mix, and maybe a few primary pass-catchers, but Week 6 is a little different. Eli’s brutal matchup/supporting cast open up couple actionable scenarios involving wide receivers and tight ends.
For running backs, the cutoff for the bottom tier (not including Eli) moves from DeMarco Murray to Christian McCaffrey, or from top-8 to top-12 at the position. For backs to consider above Manning, we add (to the RBs already mentioned) Javorius Allen, Alvin Kamara, Carlos Hyde, Chris Thompson, and Duke Johnson.
There are no tight ends and still just five wide receivers projected ahead of Trubisky, the three listed previously plus Jordy Nelson, and Mike Evans. With just five WRs who were all highly drafted, there’s nothing actionable there. But that changes again with Eli Manning, as there are 15 receivers ahead of him in this format. Nearly a dozen more are within a point of Manning, and that list is a healthy mix of early and mid-rounders. I won’t list them all, but Chris Hogan, Devin Funchess, Pierre Garcon, and DeSean Jackson are realistic WR4/WR5 options for teams stacked at the position, all of which can be played confidently over the best Manning* to ever play the quarterback position (*out of Mannings currently active in the NFL).
I’ve mentioned it before, but the tight end position is a mess this year when it comes to health. So while a quartet of TEs are projected above Eli, a couple of them may not end up playing come Sunday afternoon, but let’s assume they do. If you have a pair from the top tier (Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed) and don’t have a standard flex, you know what to do.
As always, things really get interesting once receptions are worth a full point. The number of flex players projected to out-score the lower-ranked QBs ranges from 21 to 66. Wide receivers and running backs make up nearly all of that.
The second & third tier RBs now slot in anywhere from the mid-to-late QB tiers. The backs compared to Eli in the last section can now be considered instead of QBs in the tier above him. The count of RBs projected within a point of Manning or better is now 34. Some of those at the back-end may be low confidence plays, but feel free to fire up the likes of Andre Ellington or Ameer Abdullah over my lowest-projected QB play.
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 6 wideouts that is realistic in redraft leagues is Jordy Nelson, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Hogan. I have this quartet of receivers in my top-nine, locks them in above the bottom five QBs, and are in consideration with Hogan.
That group of wide receivers (or something similar) is certainly possible, but maybe you need to start at least four wideouts before using one as your Superflex. The WRs mentioned with Manning in the previous section are viable plays over the bottom QBs, but not locks over anyone but Eli.
Receivers in the range of Will Fuller, Marqise Lee, John Brown, and Taylor Gabriel should be played over Manning. Even top-40-ish WRs like Jamison Crowder, Cooper Kupp, or Danny Amendola might make more sense.
The top-tier tight ends climb above the bottom-five or bottom-six quarterbacks. I’d start both over any QB in the bottom third. Delanie Walker also leapfrogs Eli, but no other tight ends are close behind. If you think Manning is truly a must-sit, Jared Cook, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Kyle Rudolph make up my next tier at the position. However, you’d need to be especially confident in their matchups to make up the difference for me.
What is He Doing There?
There are a few candidates for the Week 6 edition. Roethlisberger is very low despite a solid matchup. I still have hope that he’ll rebound, especially with the weapons he has, but he currently sits at QB28 in PPG, squarely between Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown. Blake Bortles comes in higher than previous weeks. Deshaun Watson has been universally ranked highly the past two weeks, but comes in atop my list for the week with nearly a point to spare. Trevor Siemian is the QB I’m highlighting, though. My QB14 projection may not seem crazy since he’s only slightly lower at QB18 in FantasyPros’ consensus rankings. However, there’s a sharp tier break after him, so ranking him as a clear top-half QB warrants some explanation.
The matchup with the Giants defense may not sound great considering how strong that unit was last year. But they’ve taken a strong step backwards already, and will be without a key piece in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (team suspension). Janoris Jenkins is still a top corner, but Eli Apple has been bad in 2017, and their elite depth at the position in 2016 has vanished since, especially with DRC inactive.
On top of a regressing defense which has allowed a 96.5 QB rating so far with just one interception, the Giants offense will likely give Siemian short fields all afternoon. Manning is the only offensive Giants player with a PFF grade of average or above, while the Broncos defense has just one player graded (barely) below average. Slow-paced, grind-it-out, defensive battles don’t lead to positive game scripts for quarterbacks, but this should be much closer to a blowout than that.
Siemian still carries the reputation of a low-end QB2, but he is the QB14 so far in 2017 on a PPG basis. That is on the heels of two great outings to start the year, which were followed by a dud and a middling performance. Still, he’s on a short list of QBs with multiple top-5 finishes in 2017, and he had a solid ceiling last year despite a limited profile elsewhere. The Giants matchup gives Siemian a great chance to realize that ceiling in Week 6.
In a non-PPR league, there’s typically little possibility you can have a better option at Superflex than your QB2. A monster group of running backs can bear that out:
- You have three RBs in the top-8 for Week 6, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, and your QB2 is projected below 14 points.
- You have four top 15-20 RBs, and Manning is your QB2.
In a half-PPR league, the situation is similar to above. A few more RBs are Superflex-worthy, and some WRs and TEs climb above our goat for the week:
- You have three RBs in the top-8, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, and your QB2 is projected below 15 points.
- You have three RBs in the top-12 for the week, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, and your QB2 is projected below 13 points.
- Manning is your QB2, and you have…
- Four top-25 backs
- Four top-20 wideouts
- Two top-tier tight ends
In a full-PPR league, we see a lot more players at flex positions projected to outscore QBs. However, many of those are still early-round draft picks until we get to the bottom-ranked quarterback:
- You have three RBs in the top-12, can only start two outside the Superflex slot, and you have a bottom-6 QB2.
- Your RB4 for the week is in the top-20, and Trubisky is your QB2.
- Your WR4 is a top 15-20 option at the position, and your QB2 is in the bottom tier.
- You have two top-tier TEs (Kelce, Ertz, Reed, Gronk), and your QB2 is projected for less than 15 points.
- Your WR4 for Week 5 is Pierre Garcon and Blake Bortles is your QB2.
- Manning is your QB2, and you have…
- Four top 30-ish running backs
- Four top-40 wide receivers
- Two top-5 tight ends
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, in past weeks Case Keenum could be subbed in near where I had Sam Bradford. This week features Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr as signal-callers who may not play. If they sit, E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel would likely both slot in below Roethlisberger, and maybe below Hogan.
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 6!