What was once seen as an outlier in the fantasy community now continues to gain popularity every year. For me, I’m glad it has, and I think that Superflex leagues will become the “new” PPR. At one point, that was a whole new format that took a while to catch on, but eventually became the standard format for most every startup league. It came because of the desire to balance out the importance of each position. PPR scoring brought a new level of thinking and understanding of what was desirable in a player. No longer was it just how many yards would a running back get, but how much total volume would a player see.
The same type of industry-wide reprogramming is happening right now, thanks to Superflex formats. More and more leagues are switching because to put it simply, it makes the quarterback matter finally. Whether you are new to the topic or your home league is making the switch, a sound draft strategy is needed. Here I want to take you through some of the philosophies that I employ when selecting QBs in Superflex Dynasty drafts.
What does Superflex even mean?
To even get started, we need to all get on the same page as to what it means. In a Superflex league, owners start the traditional QB position, but they can also start a second QB in the Superflex position. Where a conventional flex position is limited to RB, WR, or TE, the Superflex position gives the option to start a second QB if you want. Trust me; you want to do that. While it is called a Superflex position, this really is a 2QB format, as the benefit of starting a QB far outweighs the potential of an RB3 or slot WR. We will get into that later though.
When it comes to dynasty, due to the larger roster size vs. redraft, hoarding backup QBs in the hope of them taking over a starting job is a massive part of the game. Take 2019, for example. According to Pro Football Reference’s database, 59 different quarterbacks started a game last year in the regular season. That is an unfathomable amount almost.
The most notable instance of a backup QB becoming fantasy relevant was what happened with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Never before had I, or anyone, seen a case where the face of a franchise retires a week before the season began. Fantasy owners went from having one of the best QBs in football to nothing in a matter of minutes from when the story broke. If you were in redraft, you made your waiver claim for Jacoby Brissett, licked your wounds, and moved on. In dynasty, it’s not that simple. Someone had been stashing Brissett just waiting for the chance he becomes relevant and can be played or flipped for a profit.
Once you get past your startup draft, it’s a good idea to stash a few incoming rookies who might have a shot at some playing time. Gardner Minshew and Mason Rudolph are other prime examples of when stashing a guy pays off. You want to make sure you draft your vets when you can, but always add some youth when space is available on your roster. The Taxi Squad is an excellent place for developmental talents to sit.
So do I draft my quarterbacks first then?
I have always been a staunch defender of waiting to draft a quarterback late in almost every draft. I’ll let other members in the league reach and take a QB5, for example, while I will load up on more WR2 talent. It’s not uncommon at all for me to be one of, if not the last person, to draft a QB in “standard” formats where we only start one quarterback. However, in Superflex, we need to look at a couple of factors that change with the format. Those being Supply and Demand, Opportunity Cost, and Predictability.
Supply and Demand
Let’s start with this first topic, supply and demand. I am sure this is not a new concept as it applies to things we see in everyday life outside of fantasy football. When there is a low demand but a high supply, the value or cost of that item is low. The price, in this case, is the ADP in which it takes to acquire the player you want to draft. In the NFL, there are 32 teams, and on average, only 12 of those will be started any given week in fantasy. Due to the surplus of excess talent available, the perceived scarcity is very low, and so is the value. This is why you see guys in redraft using a streaming philosophy for their quarterback position and playing weekly matchups.
When we look at dynasty and especially Superflex dynasty leagues, things change drastically. You won’t be able to go on the waiver wire and grab a replacement because they all are sitting on rosters. Anytime I go into a draft, I want to make it a priority that I walk away with three startable quarterbacks on my roster. Barring injury or replacement, this will be the cheapest they ever are to acquire. Doing this ensures that I have some breathing room for both the inevitable bye weeks and, at worst, an injury.
When drafting your quarterbacks, pay attention to their bye weeks as you want to make sure you are covered. I don’t usually pay too much attention to this for my other positions, but it is essential for quarterbacks as the replacement you might have to use could be a massive disadvantage the week it hits.
Make sure that you do several mocks before your draft because if it is your first time, the ADPs you’re accustomed to will catch you off guard. I went back and gathered some data, courtesy of FantasyData, to take a closer look at historical ADP of a few positions in different league types. Below you will see the ADPs of the QB12 (lowest starter in 1QB leagues) vs. their ADP in 2QB leagues and compared that to both the RB2 and WR2. Doing this gives us a quick look at the difference between the lowest starter at each position for their respective formats.
See the significant difference the format makes? In 2019, the 12th quarterback off the board came at pick 100 in standard formats. Change it Superflex, and that ADP shoots up all the way to 51.5. QB24 (the last starting QB in a 12-team league) was gone by pick 94. This means that instead of waiting for a quarterback, fantasy owners are deciding between their second QB or who will be their RB2. The demand is through the roof, and the supply is low, an inverse of before.
In dynasty, the number of quarterbacks that you would be comfortable rostering is even less. Due to age or potential replacement, the pool shrinks due to the uncertainty they carry. Players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Andy Dalton come to mind for different reasons. Brees and Brady are question marks due to age, and it’s hard to tell when they will choose to retire. Can they get you through a season? Yes, but counting on them for much more is hard to do.
As with Dalton, his risk is due to replacement. The Cincinnati Bengals benched him for three games in 2019, and it is clear they need a quarterback of the future. Having secured the #1 draft pick, all signs point to them selecting LSU standout and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow to be the new face of the franchise. Dalton’s current situation makes him undesirable unless he gets traded as the job will no longer be his in 2020 and beyond. You need to take factors like this into account when making your selections and stash the “next man up” if the starter’s job seems shaky.
The next thing we need to look at when drafting a quarterback in Superflex dynasty leagues is Opportunity Cost. Basically, if you buy Player A, you can no longer buy Player B because that was spent elsewhere. For our purposes, it means what you are sacrificing on your roster when you select a quarterback, especially in the early rounds. I touched on this earlier when it came to ADPs, but we can look at this in season-long stats as well. I put together another quick breakdown of this to show what the average fantasy point total of the QB1/RB1/WR1 since 2015 and compared that to their corresponding replacement value player. For our case, the QB1 compared to QB12 and QB24. The same was done to the RB1 and WR1 of their year against the RB2/WR2 for a comparison.
While this can be a bit confusing at first glance, some of the data is fascinating. Let us look at 2019, for example. Lamar Jackson had an unreal year, finishing with 415.68 fantasy points in 4pt per touchdown leagues. QB12 last year was Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles. He ended the year with 275.86 points, a difference of 139.14 points behind Jackson. Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Garnder Minshew was QB24 on the year. However, the separation between QB12 and QB24 was much smaller. Minshew scored 229.24 points in 2019, only 49.62 behind Wentz. On a per week basis, Wentz was 7.4 points behind Jackson, and Minshew was 4.55 behind him. On average, the gap between QB1 to QB12 is roughly 120 points, and QB12 to QB24 is 73 points.
What you are giving up to get these players, however, is massive. In 2019, Christian McCaffrey scored a staggering 471.02 fantasy points. David Montgomery, the RB24 on the year, was just over 300 points behind him at 170.4 fantasy points. When we look at the wide receivers, it is a similar story with a 162-point separation between them.
So is it worth drafting several quarterbacks early in drafts due to the format?
I don’t think so when you look at the cost. I believe it is best to draft in tiers rather than just being the first to get a quarterback or two. There is no doubt that you want a top tier starting quarterback on your dynasty rosters. Once you get that player, grab your crucial starting players at running back and wide receiver and select a few middle-tier quarterbacks to compliment them.
You will find more success having a strong core at two positions vs. only the quarterback spot. They will more than make up any drop off in weekly scoring. It goes without saying, but you need to be flexible. Read the draft room and make sure you don’t get caught on the wrong side of a positional run. When you see a run on quarterbacks happening, don’t be afraid to pivot and take advantage of the value that has fallen to you. Just remember to make sure you walk away with three quarterbacks when you leave the draft.
The final factor I want to touch on is predictability. When filling in your Superflex, like any other position, you want security. We know with relative certainty who the starting quarterback will be. The same can’t be said for an RB3 who maybe will see 15 snaps or a slot receiver who you hope has upside in a given week. The quarterback dictates the game. They will see anywhere between 30-40 dropbacks a game and will provide a safer floor than an upside play in a decent matchup. Can that WR3 all of a sudden have a huge game out of nowhere? Yes, it happens every week, but predicting when that will occur with any degree of certainty is a tough thing to rely on. A quarterback in your Superflex spot is the safest choice you can make.
What is the best strategy for drafting your QB?
When I go into a Superflex dynasty draft, I tend to use the same strategy, and it has been very successful for me in the past:
- Draft a quarterback in your top tier group and then load up with at least two more during the draft who you can rely on to be safe starting options. You don’t need to get both Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson on your roster to win. A combo of Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, and a top tier RB will serve you just as well if not better more times than not.
- Read the room, and don’t be afraid to pivot so you can capitalize on falling value.
- Find value in later round quarterbacks with rushing upside. A mobile quarterback has a safer floor, especially against good defenses. Look at guys like Kyler Murray or Josh Allen for example.
- Get a top running back when possible along with a wide receiver instead of reaching for a quarterback who isn’t head and shoulders above other available players still on the board.
- Draft some of those late-round rookie quarterbacks as stashes. These aren’t guys who you need to start now but have the potential to fall into a starting role eventually.
- Mock draft as many times as you can before the real thing and try out as many strategies as you can. You will eventually find the one that works for you.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 and @PFNDynasty to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2019 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our Fantasy Football section for more coverage.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.