When I first started playing daily fantasy football, I thought about where I might be able to have an immediate edge. I think that’s a good practice for anyone new to the game: think about an area you think you can beat others and focus on always winning that.
For me, it was the flex position. On DraftKings, a full PPR site, I thought most players were approaching the flex position in the wrong way. I think it’s natural to want to place a running back in the flex. Sometimes that’s okay, and sometimes maybe not. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
THE NUMBERS ON THE FLEX
The way we approach the flex needs to change based on the league type. If you remember from previous lessons, the goal in cash games should be to narrow the range of potential outcomes, which comes with increasing consistency. Meanwhile, the goal in GPPs should be to increase upside, embracing volatility.
Running back is a more consistent position than wide receiver or tight end because backs touch the ball more on a weekly basis, and thus their production has more of a chance to regress toward the mean. Here’s a look at the probability of winning a head-to-head on DraftKings with each position in the flex.
In cash games, running backs have led to the most success as flex plays, followed closely by wide receivers. Tight ends are way behind.
I think this is really interesting information, and I also think you could make an argument that certain types of players at each position could increase your win probability even more. Specifically, I like pass-catching running backs and high-volume wide receivers for use in cash games. Pass-catching backs aren’t dependent on a particular game script for their fantasy production, and thus possess less weekly volatility than backs who don’t catch many passes. High-volume receivers, specifically slot receivers, who see a bunch of short targets, are also consistent on a weekly basis because of the safety of their reception count.
Now, let’s take a look at the chances of winning a GPP with each position in the flex.
It’s the exact opposite. Tight ends have surprisingly led to the most tournament success while running backs have been the least successful.
I personally think this is where the majority of daily fantasy players go wrong. In tournaments, wide receivers and tight ends are probably the bests flex plays because they have more upside per dollar than running backs. Of course, this is subject to change if DraftKings alters their pricing, but the week-to-week volatility that pass-catchers offer is actually beneficial in tournaments.
No matter who I place into the flex in a GPP, I want the ability to score with consistency. Whereas I love players like Julian Edelman as flex plays in cash games, I’d much prefer a receiver with a higher probability of scoring multiple touchdowns in a GPP.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is bales) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.