What Does Flex Mean in Fantasy Football?

What is the Flex position in fantasy football, how does it work, which positions are eligible, and why is it important for fantasy rosters?

For those just getting into fantasy football, there’s a lot to learn. It can feel very overwhelming at times. The key is to learn one thing at a time. Today, you’re going to learn about the Flex position.

You’ve likely heard the term “Flex” thrown around a lot. If you don’t know what it is, that’s probably quite confusing. But fear not! Here is everything you need to know about the Flex position in fantasy football.

What Is the Flex Position For?

It’s easy for fantasy analysts to get caught up in assuming everyone who plays fantasy football already knows everything about it. I may not be able to remember when the concept of a Flex position was first explained to me (mostly because I’m old), but there was indeed a point at which I didn’t know what it was.

Every year, there are new fantasy managers entering the fray for the first time. For those of you, this is the place to be.

Even the most novice fantasy managers know that lineups consist of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. In your standard fantasy league, you’re starting one QB, one TE, and at least two each of RBs and WRs.

Starting rosters can be whatever your league wants, but the default on most fantasy platforms involves one QB, two RBs, 2-3 WRs, and 1-2 Flexes. Unless your league decides to remove them, fantasy lineups also contain kickers and defenses, but they are not the subject of anything we’re covering here.

The purpose of roster positions is for each NFL offensive position to be adequately represented in fantasy lineups. As you likely gathered on your own, at the RB spot, you can only start running backs. You can’t start a TE at the WR spot. Given that “Flex” isn’t an actual NFL position, it’s clearly something designed specifically for fantasy. What is “Flex” short for? Flexible! In a Flex position, you can start players at multiple positions.

The purpose of a Flex position is to allow more variance in how fantasy managers build their rosters. It increases the skill of roster construction and creates more diverse rosters.

Different Flex Types To Choose From

While all leagues can include Flex positions, there are different types of Flexes to choose from. In its purest form, the Flex allows fantasy managers to start a running back, wide receiver, or tight end.

This is what used to be known as a “Full Flex” but is now simply called the Flex. Absent a qualifier to the term “Flex,” you can assume any RB, WR, or TE is eligible.

With that said, there are limitations commissioners can place on what positions are eligible to be placed in the Flex spot. Some leagues will have a WR/RB Flex position. Others may have a WR/TE spot.

There is another type of Flex spot that has gained traction in fantasy leagues more recently. We’ll get to that in the final section.

Is It Better To Play an RB or WR in Flex?

Unsurprisingly, there is no objectively correct answer to this question. There is very little about fantasy football that is objective. The game is always changing, and there are numerous different ways you can succeed.

The objectively correct thing to do with your Flex spots is the same thing you should do with every other position: Start your best players. Whether those end up being running backs or wide receivers depends on how you constructed your roster. In very rare instances, that may even be a tight end.

Ironically, there was an objectively correct answer “back in the day.” When I started playing fantasy football in the early 2000s, the answer was almost always running backs. In fact, Flex spots were largely frowned upon because there would be a sizable advantage for those teams that were able to secure three high-volume running backs.

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In the modern NFL, there’s no inherent advantage to being able to start three or four running backs in your lineup. Thus, the theory on fantasy lineups has shifted in the opposite direction toward the inclusion of more Flexes, as there are more fantasy-relevant players than ever.

The more important question is whether you should plan to start an RB or WR in the Flex. Of course, as Mike Tyson so eloquently put it, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The good news is you can succeed with any type of team as long as your players are good. Perhaps you want to build around running backs. That’s great, but sometimes the fantasy gods have other plans.

You could go into your draft trying to build a WR-heavy roster, but so does everyone else. That might force you to pivot to going RB-heavy.

There’s also the matter of your league’s scoring settings. It is crucial to understand any scoring quirks your league may have, as those settings could make one position more valuable. Remember a few paragraphs ago when I mentioned the possibility of starting a tight end at the Flex? In certain leagues, due to unique scoring settings, it’s worth considering. Those are called TE premium leagues, and that’s an article for another time.

In non-PPR leagues, you probably want to start as many running backs as you can. In full-PPR leagues, you should look to focus on wide receivers. In half-PPR leagues, I lean toward running backs, but strong wide receivers are still very viable.

Ultimately, there is no objectively correct decision. Even in non-PPR leagues, if you have really good wide receivers and weak running backs, you won’t start players that average fewer fantasy points per game just because of the position they play. Start your best players. Always.

A fantasy football format gaining more popularity in recent years is known as Superflex. A Superflex league has one singular Superflex position. That Superflex position is “Super” because you can also start a quarterback.

Two-quarterback leagues have existed for as long as fantasy football has existed. The Superflex position was invented because of the finite nature of QB resources. There are exactly 32 starting quarterbacks at all times. No more. No less.

If you play in a 12-team league, it is literally impossible for every team to roster three starting quarterbacks. Therefore, if you’re one of the teams with two, you won’t be able to cover bye weeks, and it’s fundamentally unfair and anti-competitive to put any team in a situation where they literally cannot field a full lineup.

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Superflex leagues are still essentially two-QB leagues. But the Superflex position gives fantasy managers extra outs in case things go awry at quarterback. If you fall on hard times, at least you’re not taking a zero at the position because you can start a running back, wide receiver, or tight end, if necessary.

Given that quarterbacks score the most fantasy points, if your league has a Superflex spot, you need to be starting a QB in it as frequently as possible. The only instance in which you should be starting another position is if you’ve experienced some really bad luck and you quite literally don’t have a second QB to start.

Even the worst fantasy quarterbacks are likely going to be better on a weekly basis than whatever WR3/4 or RB3/4 you have available to start.

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