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How to Maximize the Flex Spot on DraftKings in Daily Fantasy Football

Throwing together a daily fantasy football lineup is not difficult. Even the most casual NFL observer can take one quick look at the player salaries at DraftKings or FanDuel and piece together a random lineup.

The trick is putting together a lineup that can actually compete.

To do that, you may need to devote a good amount of time, energy and research in order to come away with a quality lineup. This means knowing which positions to take advantage of (how and when), how to target value, when to follow trends, when to be contrarian, which matchups to target and really, the list can go on endlessly.

One aspect – at least for DraftKings – that people tend to brush over is the use of the Flex spot in your daily fantasy football lineup.

Some DFS players just see it as an extra roster spot to fill, but the reality is DraftKings is doing two things at once: forcing you to make a tough call with three positions wide open to use, while also giving you one more chance to accrue a ton of fantasy points.

To best utilize the Flex position in daily fantasy football games, let’s break down all of it’s components:

What is the Flex Position?

If you don’t already know, the Flex position promotes serious versatility and since FanDuel doesn’t offer the position, we’ll focus on this versatility at DraftKings, exclusively.

DK puts the power in your hands to chase the position or player you hold in the highest regard for a given week, allowing you to add one Running Back (RB), Wide Receiver (WR) or Tight End (TE) of your choosing – provided the player’s salary fits into the slot.

Regardless of how you build out your roster, the Flex position is going to be seen just like it is for season-long fantasy football leagues: you can choose one of three positions and the door is wide open to which position and which player you’ll ultimately want to choose. The trick, naturally, is figuring out which position or player suits your lineup the best.

Formulate Strategy

It’s going to be tough to know which Flex player to target right away, especially since before you do, you first need to add three WRs, two RBs and one TE at the absolute minimum for your roster. No matter who you’re putting at Flex, it’s probably a good practice to first decide which running backs, wide receivers and tight end you for sure want in your DFS lineup.

From there, you can start to decide, based on how much remaining DK salary you have, which position and player you prefer to target.

Always consider that you may want to switch things up as your build out your daily fantasy football roster, though. Should you choose three expensive wide receivers and come out with very little money to spend on your Flex spot, perhaps consider spending down at the WR3 spot so you can get two solid options at WR3 and Flex, rather than one poor option at the Flex spot.

Balance, in general, is always good for DFS rosters, so you’re not just trying to create a roster and then squeeze in a random player at the Flex spot. You should conduct your research ahead of time, know which players you like and then try to map out which player is going to end up sliding into that Flex spot.

PPR is King

One great way to formulate your strategy is to start with the basic concept at DraftKings – receptions are boss. Players get 1 whole point per reception at DK, making anyone who regularly catches passes in the NFL a legit threat to earn a spot on your DFS roster.

This does not have to specifically be a certain position, and that’s the beauty of the Flex spot at DK. Most will assume that a wide receiver is the most logical player to toss into the Flex spot, but every week we see even the most elite receivers have awful games or the most pass-happy tight ends have a rough outing.

This is where research, matchups, and pricing come into play.

With that being said, it all needs to start with the basic knowledge that PPR (points per reception) is the thing to target in general at DraftKings, and that certainly doesn’t stop with the Flex position.

You obviously can get by if the Flex option you use catches one ball for 70 yards and a touchdown (that’s an insane 14 fantasy points on one play!), but that’s not a very reliable method for success. Try to look at quality talent that either often catches a good amount of passes or may have the opportunity to do so in the week at hand.

This plays into the obvious:

  • Know the Roles
  • Cheap Upside = Value

Injuries and role changes can be very fluid in a contact sport like the NFL, so a guy subbing for an injured star could be priced extremely low, yet have amazing upside due to his role, talent, matchup, and price.

Your research should help you discover which value plays have the most upside, which guys are the safest and which options possess the most upside. Your DFS roster should (depending on the league type you’re in) have a nice balance of upside and reliability. You will also want to balance value plays with elite plays.

WR, RB or TE?

There is not always going to be an easy answer when trying to figure out which position to target at the Flex spot. The big reason why is fluidity in the NFL, as really anyone can pan out or go bust at any time.

There will also always be players who appear to have superior matchups or roles and things may just break the opposite way you expect them to.

It’s also tough because there is a strong argument for both wide receivers and running backs.

FootballWhy Wide Receivers:

  • Score easily
  • More upside
  • Comeback stats
  • PPR
  • Not TD dependent

Usually the bigger and faster talents on NFL squads, wide receivers are more often the biggest threats to take a catch the distance. This gives them more overall upside in general, while they are also more dangerous PPR threats based on their talent, roles and natural position.

Wide receivers also aren’t in as much danger of bottoming out during a losing effort. They will be needed for the entire game, while teams often abandon the run and leave your running back helpless.

FootballWhy Running Backs:

  • Featured role
  • More TD safety/potential
  • Feel safer
  • Used more in wins

Running backs often feel safer than wide receivers, just because on paper they have a more guaranteed role. The top rushers can touch the ball 20+ times in any given game, and obviously the more a guy has the ball in his hands, the more potential he has to gain yardage and find a way to score.

This produces the feel of a more reliable option who can rack up yardage, also catch passes and potentially score more often. The running back position also tends to get easier touchdowns, as offenses often run the ball inside of five yards, rather than risk turning the ball over with a pass.

The feeling of safety also can come from the fact that running backs are usually the main “go to” option when the team runs near the goal-line, whereas if the offenses passes, the potential touchdown could go to a number of passing weapons on the team. The running back, meanwhile, is individually more likely to score the touchdown if it comes on the ground.

On the flip side, if your running back is grinding out yardage late in a potential win, he is more likely to see his role enhanced as the game winds down. The wide receiver on that same team, meanwhile, would likely see his involvement decrease dramatically.

FootballVerdict

Again, there is no safe way to analyze and pick which position, but if you’re looking for PPR potential and overall upside, the wide receiver does appear to win out at DraftKings specifically.

The game changer for receivers, of course, is that PPR value makes them far less touchdown dependent. A running back can save a weak game with a score, but a wide receiver can go without a touchdown and still crush a running back’s stat line.

A Rough Example:

A wide receiver doesn’t score but catches 8 balls for 80 yards = 16 fantasy points.

A running back does score but catches 2 balls for 10 yards and runs 15 times for 50 yards = 14 fantasy points.

The running back seemed to be way more involved and even scored, yet they remain the inferior play. Tight ends, depending on their role, can obviously also be thrown in with the wide receiver position.

Roster Construction

Using some DraftKings pricing, let’s just look at a mock run of what you could do with your Flex spot in daily fantasy football.


Note:

There is a huge difference between planning lineups for GPPs (Guaranteed prize pool tournaments) and cash games (head to head and 50/50 leagues). The former is going to require more risk and upside to help separate you from the rest of the field, while the latter needs safer, more reliable options, as you only need to beat one person or 50% of the field in your league.


For the sake of this example, let’s assume you have already figured out your entire team, save for the Flex spot:

  • QB: Carson Palmer ($7.1k)
  • RB: DeMarco Murray ($5.3k)
  • RB: Latavius Murray ($5.6k)
  • WR: Larry Fitzgerald ($6.3k)
  • WR: John Brown ($5.2k)
  • WR: Willie Snead ($4.8k)
  • TE: Coby Fleener ($4.9k)
  • FLEX: ____
  • DEF: Seahawks ($3.9k)

Again, how you get to this point (or even if you wait to pick your Flex last) is totally up to you. This is just to illustrate the line of thinking that can go into picking the Flex spot.

In this scenario, I have my entire daily fantasy football lineup picked out. I really like Carson Palmer, so I’m stacking two of his wide receivers with him, which makes great sense (especially for GPPs). I also have two starting running backs with solid roles, my tight end is a starter with high upside and comes at a good price and Seattle is an expensive (albeit arguably very safe) team defense.

At the moment, my Flex player can cost up to $6.9k with this current roster.

That puts a ton of very interesting options in play.

At running back I can use Devonta Freeman, Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram, Matt Forte or LeSean McCoy quite easily, and working down the list, I could actually save some money and choose to upgrade over John Brown, Fleener or Snead if I so choose. If I decided on one of these rushers and liked a value wide receiver more than either of the Murray’s, I could also slot the new RB in their place and slide the other WR I’m high on in at this Flex spot.

One scenario, given the prices at hand, could have the roster then quickly looking like this:

  • QB: Carson Palmer ($7.1k)
  • RB: DeMarco Murray ($5.3k)
  • RB: Devonta Freeman ($6.9k)
  • WR: Larry Fitzgerald ($6.3k)
  • WR: John Brown ($5.2k)
  • WR: Willie Snead ($4.8k)
  • TE: Coby Fleener ($4.9k)
  • FLEX: Michael Crabtree ($5.5k)
  • DEF: Seahawks ($3.9k)

There is a lot to like about this team, but the options remain wide open.

At wide receiver, there are also high-end options like Sammy Watkins, Eric Decker, Doug Baldwin and Jeremy Maclin available. There really isn’t anyone in that price range I’d consider at tight end, but I could always pay up for Rob Gronkowski ($7.5k) and go cheaper elsewhere (maybe drop down from Seattle, etc).

FootballOther Roster Options

Another way to build your roster with the Flex position in mind is to really chase value in order to spend big money on the elite positions. There are three great ways to do this:

  • Stack two cheap tight ends
  • Use 1-3 scat-backs

These roster building strategies can really open things up and also shows you how you can maximize the Flex spot.

Here are examples of daily fantasy football rosters created with these specific strategies:

2 TE Stack

  • QB: Carson Palmer ($7.1k)
  • RB: DeMarco Murray ($5.3k)
  • RB: Devonta Freeman ($6.9k)
  • WR: Larry Fitzgerald ($6.3k)
  • WR: Brandon Marshall ($7.8k)
  • WR: Alshon Jeffery ($7.9k)
  • TE: Jordan Cameron ($3k)
  • FLEX: Kyle Rudolph ($3k)
  • DEF: Seahawks ($3.9k)

Just to show the upside change, we’re sticking with the same core for this one. In this example, you’re going even cheaper than Coby Fleener at TE and then pairing a second cheap tight end that may have some upside to him. You can actually go even cheaper at one or both TE slots, but the point is obvious.

With this, you still get all the main guys you like, you take a mild risk on two starting tight ends that are very low priced and then you upgrade over John Brown and Willie Snead via Marshall and Jeffery.

Scat-back Stack

  • QB: Carson Palmer ($7.1k)
  • RB: Darren Sproles ($4.2k)
  • RB: Shane Vereen ($3.9k)
  • WR: Larry Fitzgerald ($6.3k)
  • WR: Brandon Marshall ($7.8k)
  • WR: Alshon Jeffery ($7.9k)
  • TE: Coby Fleener ($4.9k)
  • FLEX: Theo Riddick ($4k)
  • DEF: Seahawks ($3.9k)

Here we dove “all in” with the scat-back approach, assuming we didn’t love the high-priced running backs or merely didn’t want to pay up for them. You could do this at both RB slots and the Flex spot, or one or two of the roster spots. It doesn’t matter, but this shows you that you could grab three very cheap running backs who potentially can catch a good amount of passes and score, and then go get the rest of the roster you like.

Summary

We can’t go over every possible scenario or build rosters from every starting point, as that would take forever and we’d still potentially be leaving a possible route out.

The point is to really consider what makes the Flex spot valuable, and depending on the week, the matchups and the player salaries, try to play around with your DraftKings rosters until you find that optimal lineup that you feel great about.

The main takeaways, of course, should be focusing on PPR and making sure your Flex play has a decent role.

The best players can stink and the worst ones can randomly go nuts, but if you put the time and effort into building your roster and valuing the Flex spot, you can come away with a lot of high-level daily fantasy football success.

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