If you are starting to learn fantasy football, some of the unique vernacular used in fantasy may throw you off. One very common roster term that is used is “flex” or “flex position”. If you don’t fully understand what this position is, it can negatively affect your results. What is flex in fantasy football?
Flex is a fantasy roster spot used to create flexibility for fantasy managers. The flex spot can be filled by several different positions. For example, many standard flex leagues allow the flex roster spot to be filled by either a running back, wide receiver, or tight end.
The purpose of a flex roster spot is to add flexibility to your fantasy roster. It’s existence makes it easier for you to get your best fantasy matchups into your starting lineup. For example, if you have three running backs with great matchups, the flex spot allows you a third spot to start a running back (2 RB + 1 Flex spot).
In the more traditional version of fantasy football, without a flex position, you would typically have to roster 2 running backs and 3 wide receivers, so if you had 3 running backs with great matchups, you’d be left sticking one on the bench.
The inclusion of the flex spot has made it easier for fantasy football managers to manipulate their roster week to week. The versatility of the flex position makes it easier to go to the weekly waiver wire and find streaming options that improve the point projection of your team.
In this article we will discuss the rules and strategy surrounding the flex position, and also discuss some of the variations of how this spot is included in fantasy leagues.
What is Flex in Fantasy Football?
As we discussed above, the flex position in fantasy football is fantasy roster spot used to create flexibility for fantasy managers. It is widely viewed as a positive addition to fantasy football because of the flexibility it gives owners, which improves the level of competitiveness throughout leagues.
Flex Scoring in Fantasy
So now you know what the flex position is, but you also may be wondering about scoring. Does the flex position score differently?
No, the flex position will be scored in the same way the running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions are scored in your league. Typically, these positions receive 1 point for every 10 rushing or receiving yards accumulated, and 6 points for a touchdown scored.
Some leagues receive points per reception, so you will need to know whether your league is PPR, 1/2 PPR, or Non-PPR. If you are unfamiliar with PPR vs 1/2 PPR vs Non-PPR, you can read our article by clicking the link.
As a general rule to follow, remember this: fill your flex spot almost always with either a running back or a wide receiver.
Very rarely will it ever make good sense to use a tight end. Tight ends score less points on average than the other two positions.
There are some occasions in daily fantasy GPP tournaments (DraftKings and FanDuel etc), where it potentially makes some sense to roster two tight ends to position yourself as contrarian to the field.
But for season-long fantasy football leagues, unless you have two elite tight ends, it will never make much sense to consider using two tight ends in the same week.
RB vs WR Flex
So if we rule out using a tight end in your flex position, that boils the main question down to this: should you use a rb or wr for flex?
Deciding between a running back or a wide receiver for your flex position is going to come down to a combination of matchups and league formatting.
Every matchup and fantasy roster is unique. It is impossible to say with 100% certainty (without knowing the specific circumstance) which choice will be right for your team. But let’s look at the different league formats and try to draw some conclusions to help you make your decision.
We will discuss examples below for Non-PPR, 1/2 PPR, and PPR. To read more about how these scoring types differ, view our article PPR vs Half PPR vs Standard Non PPR.
RB or WR Flex PPR
In a PPR league, the value of pass catchers is increased.
Filling the flex position in PPR leagues is much easier because the PPR format deepens the pool of viable options.
Pass-catching backs become legitimate flex options as do receivers who don’t get redzone targets, but receive a lot of targets in between the 20’s.
If you do choose to go with a running back/receiver who does not pose a legitimate touchdown threat, you will want to consider these three things:
- Game Script: Is the team of your player likely to be behind? If so, that means his team may pass more, which increases his chances to get targets, and points.
- Quarterback: Is your flex player’s quarterback reliable? Not all targets are made equal. If your flex player has a bad quarterback who is wildly inconsistent, even if that team does trail, you can’t trust that your player will get quality targets.
- Matchup: How does the opposing defense defend running backs and receivers? If your flex player is a slot receiver, who is the primary slot corner for the opposing team? Research the matchup and avoid dominant defenders.
RB or WR Flex Standard
In standard non-PPR leagues, the value on touchdown-scorers is increased.
You need players in your lineup that get in the endzone. There is very little value in non-PPR leagues for low-yardage pass catchers who don’t pose a redzone threat.
This rules out many pass-catching backs and slot receivers who receive several targets throughout a game, but will only score 1-3 touchdowns over the course of a season.
You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are relying on an outlier scenario like a guy who doesn’t score touchdowns getting a lucky score.
So in a non-PPR league, you will want to focus your flex decision on redzone carries and redzone targets. For example, a goal line running back who maybe only gets 5-10 carries a game, but gets all the goal line work has increased value in non-PPR leagues.
But if you have two legitimate options (like a starting RB vs a #1 receiver) you will want to focus on which one has the greater chance of scoring touchdown(s). Here are three things to focus on in non-PPR leagues:
- Vegas Total: Which team is projected by Vegas to score more points?
- Matchup: This one is related to the Vegas total, but which player is up against a more difficult defensive matchup? If you have a running back going up against a team that has a strong secondary, likelihood is that the team will focus on the run to stay away from that defensive secondary, etc. Focus on matchups and positional defensive strengths.
- Game Script: Again, game script is ALWAYS important when making fantasy decisions. If your running back’s team is projected by Vegas to win, then there is a greater chance that he will get end-of-game carries due to his team being ahead. And likewise, if your receiver is projected to lose by Vegas, there is a greater chance that his team will be throwing late in the game playing from behind. Consider these things.
RB or WR Flex Half PPR
In half-PPR leagues, you will need to consider both targets and touchdowns.
Half-PPR leagues are considered to be the most balanced approach to fantasy football, and that is why most experts prefer half-PPR.
For half-PPR RB vs WR flex decisions, it is going to come down to a collection of all the things to consider that we covered in the previous two sections. You’re going to have to strap on your strategy hat and do a deep dive into possible scenarios, considering things such as:
- Game Script
- Defensive Matchups
- Vegas Totals
- Player Ceilings
- Quarterbacks for both players
- Coaching Tendencies
- Home/Road Venue
And also, rely on an expert. There are a plethora of available flex rankings every week, which you can access by clicking here. Let the experts give you a better idea of where you stand regarding the flex position.
Also, if you are interested in getting further fantasy football advice, click here.
Quarterback Flex Position
Maybe you’ve heard of a friend of a friend who plays in a quarterback flex league. Are these real?
Yes, there are some leagues out there who use quarterbacks in a flex position. These leagues are often referred to as “2 quarterback leagues” because you can start two quarterbacks each week.
Do Other Fantasy Sports Have Flex Positions?
Fantasy football has made the flex position famous, but is fantasy football the only fantasy sport to have a flex position?
Yes and no. Both MLB and NBA fantasy offer versatile roster positions. In fantasy baseball, the roster spot is not referred to as a “flex position” but instead it is referred to as a “Utility Spot”. In a utility spot you can roster any type of batter.
In most fantasy basketball leagues, they are versatile spots such as “Guard” or “Forward”, where you can roster any type of guard in the guard spot and any type of forward in the forward spot. Some fantasy basketball leagues will also have a utility type spot where you can roster any position.
In general, these “flex” type utility position are very popular among fantasy owners because it increases flexibility and makes it easier to manage your team.