How to Win the Flex in 2017

Perhaps the most complicated position in fantasy football is not an actual position at all, but rather a confluence of multiple skill positions more commonly known as “the flex.” It’s something we’ve written a lot about at RotoViz, because the key to success is to win the flex position. Solving the flex problem usually comes down to solving positional value. Those of you that went Robust RB last year are probably nodding in agreement. Yet others are reminiscing about the success of Zero RB during the 2015 RB-pocalypse. But those are all backwards-looking examples. The real question is, how do we win the flex in 2017?

REFLECTIONS

One of the key tenets of RotoViz over the years has been our addiction to Zero RB. When Shawn Siegele penned “Zero RB, Antifragility, and the Myth of Value-Based Drafting” in November of 2013, he indirectly brought along with it a new way of looking at the flex position. Back then he looked at the what is the flex position in fantasy football as an extension of a fantasy team’s WR corps, which fit hand-in-glove with the Zero RB draft strategy. Back in 2013, early-round RBs were being drafted earlier than ever. Nine of the top 10 picks by ADP were RBs, despite the evolution of the NFL toward a more passing league. That year, only four RBs finished among the top-15 flex-eligible players in PPR scoring. A clear positional imbalance between RBs and the other flex-eligible positions existed. This allowed Zero RB to be the dominant strategy in redraft leagues for multiple years. Shawn and his brother Ty Siegele took advantage of this imbalance in 2013 to the tune of over $200,000 and a NFFC world championship. But that was just the start. Zero RB and positional value came to a head in 2015 with what became known1 as the RB-pocalypse. Amazingly, 21 of the top-32 flex-eligible players that year were WRs. Only six were RBs, and five were TEs. Think about that. In 2013, RBs made up nine of the top 10 fantasy selections by ADP, and only two years later only six finished within the top-32 flex scorers in PPR. Then came 2016. Positional ADP shifted like it never had before. Running backs were drafted later than ever, while early WR was suddenly en vogue (including the Zero RB strategy, thanks in no small part to RotoViz itself). What occurred was the fantasy equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane. A whole population of Zero RB enthusiasts (including yours truly) faced total annihilation at the hands of the greatest trio of RBs since Barry Sanders, Emmett Smith, and Thurman Thomas shredded opposing defenses in the early 1990s. And a host of other RBs carried your teams to victory as well. Yes, 2016 really was the year of the RB…