2QB or Not 2QB: Week 8 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 8 include Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, LA Rams, NY Giants, and Tennessee.
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 8. 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 7
It was a fairly standard week for my projections in Week 7. I missed Josh McCown and Derek Carr’s blow-up weeks, as well as Marcus Mariota the other way. My favorite call was nailing Alex Smith as a top-5 play. Besides McCown, the rest of the QBs I projected below 15 points all did exactly that.
With no start-sit inquiries last week, I’ll focus on my highlighted quarterbacks from my article.
- I pumped Mariota hard as my QB2 overall for the week, and he fell flat in a cake matchup. Greg and I talked about it on this week’s podcast, but we still expect the Browns defense to be exploitable going forward. That was a rough miss, though.
- I liked Jared Goff’s matchup against Arizona, who finished as the QB12 compared to my projection of QB11. It’s been fun watching him rebound from last year’s debacle.
- Despite a poor matchup with Jacksonville, I liked Jacoby Brissett’s floor as a low-end QB2 type. I was spot on as my projection and his finish lined up at QB23. Brissett has now shown a double-digit floor even in brutal matchups (at Seattle, vs. Jacksonville). You could do worse if he’s your QB2, but he’s a solid fill-in for bye weeks or streaming.
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. That applies here in Week 8. There are no tight ends projected to outscore any passers, but A.J. Green and Antonio Brown are just above the bottom pair of QBs (C.J. Beathard and DeShone Kizer).
The first tier of running backs includes LeSean McCoy, Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, and Mark Ingram. The second tier features Devonta Freeman, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, Joe Mixon, and Melvin Gordon. If you have enough of these backs, feel free to start them over Beathard and Kizer. I may consider benching Matt Moore or Jacoby Brissett as well, but I trust their floor over Mixon’s in particular.
Kizer is a special case this week where his 11.8 projected points does not encapsulate his full risk. Hue Jackson’s quick trigger finger when it comes to pulling his QBs has me scared of playing whoever starts at the position for the Browns. So, Kizer may be a must-sit no matter what. However, even if you have confidence that he plays the full game, I’d still consider the third tier of RBs over him — Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, Christian McCaffrey, and Lamar Miller.
Most weeks thus far, things haven’t changed much when we transition from non-PPR to half-PPR. We see several more running backs climb above quarterbacks, as well as a few primary pass-catchers. This week features a few more receivers near the bottom of the QB list. Wide receivers projected above our basement QBs include Green, Brown, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin, Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, and Tyreek Hill. 2017’s elite tier of tight ends (Zach Ertz, Rob Gronkowski, and Travis Kelce) also enter the mix, with Ertz passing the bottom-five QBs.
The top two tiers of RBs listed above can now be played above Moore and Brissett, while the third tier leapfrogs Beathard (with Alvin Kamara and Jerick McKinnon joining this tier as well). For backs to consider above Kizer (if you’re considering starting him at all), we add Wendell Smallwood, Latavius Murray, Javorius Allen, Jonathan Stewart, and Tevin Coleman.
After the 10 WRs listed above come Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Adam Thielen, Chris Hogan, Michael Crabtree, Demaryius Thomas, and Kelvin Benjamin. If you have enough of these receivers, start them over Kizer for sure, but I’d play Beathard unless you’re considering a WR from the first group.
If you have a pair of elite TEs and no standard flex spot to put them, I’d lock them in over the bottom tier of QBs, and consider them with the next tier above that.
As always, we see a lot more actionable scenarios once receptions are worth a full point. The number of flex players projected to out-score the lower-ranked QBs ranges from 27 to 45. Wide receivers and running backs make up nearly all of that, but tight ends are a small factor in this format as well.
The third-tier RBs now climb above Brissett and even in the range of Joe Flacco and Trevor Siemian. The fourth-tier falls in just below Brissett and Moore, but above the basement-level signal-callers. Chris Thompson, DeAndre Washington, Bilal Powell, and Jalen Richard are not far behind, so garner consideration above Beathard. Alex Collins, Carlos Hyde, Rob Kelley, Ameer Abdullah, C.J. Anderson, James White, and Matt Forte make up the remainder of RBs projected for double-digit points. If your expectation for Kizer is a but less than that, a high-floor play like Duke Johnson or ceiling play like Tarik Cohen makes sense, depending what you’re looking for.
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 17 WRs listed above are followed by Jarvis Landry, Pierre Garcon, Brandin Cooks, DeSean Jackson, Devin Funchess, Amari Cooper, T.Y. Hilton, and Nelson Agholor. All of these guys can be started over Kizer and considered above Beathard, Moore, and Brissett. Flacco and Siemian can be sat if you have enough WRs in the top 15.
There are 34 receivers projected for double-digit points, which is my cutoff for Kizer if you have any confidence of him playing a full game. If not, I’d consider upwards of 56 WRs above him, including the likes of Marquise Goodwin, Ricardo Louis, Donte Moncrief, and Zay Jones.
The top-tier tight ends climb above the bottom-six quarterbacks. If you have a pair from Ertz, Gronk, and Kelce, I’d start both over any QB in that range, and probably Mitchell Trubisky as well. Jimmy Graham leapfrogs Kizer and Beathard, while Hunter Henry, Jordan Reed, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are close behind. After that come Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph, Cameron Brate, Zach Miller, Jared Cook, and Tyler Kroft. If Kizer’s you’re only QB2 option and you don’t have a strong set of RBs or WRs, look for one of these guys on the waiver wire and hope for a TD.
What is He Doing There?
After last week’s explosive connection with Cooper, Derek Carr seems low as my QB19 in a week where a half-dozen teams are resting. However, passers against Buffalo have seen a 24 percent decrease in fantasy production, even after Jameis Winston torched them last week. If you believe last week was more indicative of the Raiders offense and Bills defense than the first six weeks, then fire up Carr with no issue. Otherwise, he’s a fine play but you may have better options.
Case Keenum and Philip Rivers in the middle of the pack of my projections stand out for opposite reasons, but there’s another QB that surprises me more. Deshaun Watson comes in at QB14 despite a showdown with the esteemed Seahawks defense, in Seattle no less. Usually I try to highlight QBs who differ from consensus the most in this section. However, the reason that Watson surprises me so much is that this ranking falls in line with the consensus.
FantasyPros consensus rankings have him as the QB13 overall, while none of the 76 rankers have him below QB18. Watson has done more than enough to garner respect in his early career, but this is a huge test for him. He did well against Cincinnati, but Jacksonville was the only elite defense he’s faced so far, and Watson didn’t come into that game as the starter, so it’s hard to take anything away from that. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with the consensus (and my own) rankings. Instead, I’m highlighting that we are all banking on his high floor, though I believe he still has to prove that this week.
Getting back to Rivers for a second, this is the least confident I’ve been in one of my projections so far this year. I explained in a previous article that Implied Team Totals (based on Vegas spread + over/under) are a huge factor in my process. The Chargers have a below average Implied Total (20.75) this week, which is dragging down his projection. However, a borderline QB1/QB2 so far playing a defense that’s giving up the most points to QBs by far should seem like a no-brainer top-10 QB at worst.
I’ve looked into how purely matchup-based projections do compared to my current Vegas-based approach. [By matchups-based projections, I mean a simple system of averaging a QBs fantasy output with the opposing defense’s points allowed]. The matchup-based approach is weaker early in the season, and gets better as we get more data (which is intuitive enough, but it’s always nice to see the data back it up). On the other hand, Vegas-based projections are solid throughout the year, without much change.
It isn’t until the fantasy playoffs that matchups do better, but they get pretty close starting with Week 11 or so. This Rivers example is a reminder that while the Vegas approach is still better at this point in the season, I should start weighting matchups more than I currently am to avoid complete misses like this. I like to be as transparent as possible, so I’ll always tell you if I find something like this. In what may be a bold move, I’ll advise you to ignore my Rivers projection this week and play him with confidence against the Pats.
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 and a weak QB option can bear that out:
- Running backs in the second tier can be considered above Brissett and Moore, and should be played above Beathard.
- Third-tier RBs can be played instead of Kizer, even if you have confidence he’ll play all 60 minutes.
- If you have any significant doubts Kizer will be pulled, I would bench him unless you truly have no decent options elsewhere. This applies even more so in the other formats.
In a half-PPR league, the situation is similar to above. A few more RBs are Superflex-worthy, and some wide receivers and tight ends enter the mix:
- Second-tier RBs can now be played in favor of Brissett and Moore.
- Beathard can be sat for a back in the third tier.
- Kizer, even with confidence he’ll play the full game, can be benched for the following…
- a top-20 RB
- a top-18 WR
- an elite TE
In a full-PPR league, we see a lot more players at flex positions projected 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 and often:
- RBs in the second tier and top-10 WRs can be considered above Trubisky, and should be played above Flacco and Siemian.
- Third-tier RBs and top-18 WRs should be played above Moore and considered in favor of the QBs above him.
- Beathard can be sat for top-20 RBs, as well as top-24 WRs.
- Kizer can be sat for top-30 RBs and top-36 WRs, and even players several tiers below that if you’re worried about a benching.
- Elite TEs should be played above the bottom-six QBs, and maybe over Trubisky if you’re especially low on him.
- Beathard can be sat for Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed.
- Kizer can be sat for a top-10 TE, or someone like Tyler Kroft if you think Kizer is a must-sit.
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.
Hopefully, I was 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 8!