Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Flex Positions

How to build the ideal roster and depth with your FLEX positions

George Pickens

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Flex Positions

In the fantasy market, there are all kinds of formats. A fantasy manager needs to start two running backs, three wide receivers, and one, possibly, two flex players in the 12-team high-stakes market. The added length to the starting lineup in the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC) requires drafters to be creative when building their roster. In addition, it puts a premium on depth at the wide receiver position. 

As we worked through the final fantasy points for the top 24 wide receivers and top 48 wide receivers over the previous four seasons, it is pretty easy to see most teams will start wide receivers at the first flex position. Here’s a look at the RB3 and WR4 scores over the last four years just for comparison for the ideal Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Flex Positions.

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Recent Flex Success

Last year 36 wide receivers outscored the top RB3 option (Raheem Mostert – 170.40 fantasy points). And 54 wideouts had more points than the top TE2 option (Gerald Everett – 139.50). 

In most PPR leagues, the best team structure is to start two running backs and four wide receivers. You can also add the occasional running back or tight end delivering enough value over the course of the season to be starter worthy at a flex position. 

The first flex position comes from a mixture of running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Each fantasy manager can find short-term options at different times of the year due to injuries.

In 2022, there was an even split between running back and wide receiver as the top plays at the first flex position with a high of 170.40 fantasy points and a low of 160.50 fantasy points. The previous year, seven wide receivers, five running backs, and one tight end filled the FLEX1 bucket. 

Here’s a look at the drop-down if your league uses a second flex position:

Adding a Second Flex Spot

The goal for a drafter is to find a flex two option that will average over 10.00 fantasy points per week. Also, to attempt to have your top two running backs average close to 30 combined fantasy points per week. In 2022, the top options to start at the second flex position came from wide receivers (8) and running backs (4).

When reviewing the data in this series of articles, some fantasy managers may conclude that I’m making the case to be WR-heavy in the early rounds of the draft. However, the history in the high-stakes fantasy market shows winning an overall championship requires two strong running backs plus a third serviceable option. Draft position dictates each team-building opportunity. 

The change in draft flow from year to year forces drafters to make different decisions. The success, strength, and depth of the running back and wide receiver positions set the foundation for game-planning the following season.   

In 2023 in the high-stakes market, drafters have focused on wide receivers (10) over the first 14 picks. That is partly due to some cloudiness with multiple running backs and contract uneasiness. Last year, six wideouts scored more than 300 fantasy points in PPR formats compared to only four running backs.

The debate/challenge this draft season is when to build running back depth. With many wideouts coming off the board early, there will be buying opportunities in the second and third rounds.

If a fantasy manager builds a wide receiver strong roster early, he or she gains strength in two areas. If their players perform up to expectations.

First, the fantasy point edge at wideout creates a possibly early lead in the standings. Second, a wide receiver strong team should have fewer lineup decisions in many weeks. To finish this type of game plan, a fantasy manager then needs to hit on at least one RB2 later in the draft. By rostering multiple outs at running back, a drafter will need to negotiate the early weeks of the season until they find a secure starting option.

The ideal way to test your FLEX knowledge is in the Super Flex Bowl

Three-down backs with high-scoring abilities offer the most significant edge in value in the fantasy market. But there are limited options each season.

Unfortunately, drafters only see four viable options this season – Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Bijan Robinson, and Saquon Barkley. Jonathan Taylor and Josh Jacobs have drama issues, leading to them sliding in drafts until the fantasy market knows their status for 2023.

If a fantasy manager decides to draft three running backs early, they need to make sure they don’t end up with three players with league-average value at running back. Their lead running back has to deliver a separator score. And their second option has to beat the second group of WR2s. 

The team drafting an elite wide receiver in the middle of round one will need to decide the best path to land the highest upside RB/WR combinations over the next three or so rounds. The wide receiver options in 2023 will have a wide range of values and opinions by drafters. So a fantasy manager will need to be quick in his decision-making when on the clock.

The front of a draft typically has many outs on the 2/3 and 4/5 turns. Value plays a big part in team building in that area. I see a clear drop-off at running back in the middle of round four. And the wide receiver options on the 4/5 turn feel like coin tosses. This will lead to many drafters gravitating toward quarterbacks and some tight ends in the fifth round. 

Either way, a fantasy manager in a league with dual flex positions will be required to load up at WR. Even with receiver depth, a team can’t win a championship without building a solid base of RBs. The running back position will be full of ups and downs. That includes a minefield of risk due to the higher volume of injuries. But the overall talent at the running back position should improve in 2023.

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About Shawn Childs 970 Articles
Shawn Childs has been a high stakes Fantasy baseball and football player since 2004 where he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). In early years of the high stakes market in Fantasy baseball, he was ahead of the curve in player evaluation, draft value, and free agent bidding setting up four top-five finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has four AL-only Auction titles, one NL-only title, and five Main Event titles plus an overall title in 2012 at RTFBC (netted $10,000). This success led to an induction into the NFBC Baseball Hall of Fame. His success in the high stakes market led to a career in providing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football content. On the football side, he’s competed and won in all different formats – auctions, draft championship, main events, and high-dollar leagues. He won 2nd place overall in the 2014 Most Accurate Salary Cap Expert contest at FantasyPros. As a dual-sport player, it was natural to transition to the daily games where he is a “swing for the fences type of guy.” Childs has appeared in one FanDuel NFL Live Final and one DraftKings NFL Live Final, a season-ending tournament which led to a couple of chances to win over $1,000,000.