Flex Receiver or Running Back?

eric-decker-36One of the biggest questions I often get from week to week is what to do with the flex position. In most formats, you can play either a wide receiver or a running back in the flex spot. Historically most people simply used a running back because they had the possibility of scoring more points. However, in the past year those opinions have shifted, and I have changed my mind when it comes to the flex spot. That’s because the league has become a passing league more and more, and unless you have a running back in that flex spot that also catches a lot of balls, you need to go with a wide receiver. But not just any wide receiver.

It also depends on the level of wide receiver you can get to put in that flex spot, though. Because if you’re going to put someone like Mohammed Sanu in the spot, nice work, but if you’re going with a Riley Cooper you’d be better off with Brandon Jacobs or Michael Bush. I have a formula for when you need to put a wide receiver in the flex spot and when you would be best served to play a running back instead.

It’s simple. Use a wide receiver if your wide receiver is higher up the depth chart than your running back, or if the offense your receiver is in has a fantasy quarterback that will throw the ball a lot. For example:

Jerrico Cotchery or Kendall Hunter. Cotchery is your guy, even though he’s third on the depth chart in Pittsburgh, because with the way Roethlisberger has had to throw the ball to play catchup in the games so far, he will get the ball to Cotchery. While Hunter is second on the depth chart in San Francisco, Gore is still going to get the majority of the work, including at the goal line. You can’t count on Hunter scoring, so that lowers his fantasy value.

Steve Johnson or Bilal Powell. You want to go with Powell on this one because Johnson’s quarterback is young and inexperienced. He is more likely to lean on his running backs to keep the defensive line honest. That’s what works in Powell’s favor, as his quarterback is also young and inexperienced. The running game is important to the young quarterback and Powell is number one on the depth chart. Could Johnson get more points than Powell on a given week? Yes. But we’re talking about the long run here.

Eric Decker or Joique Bell. This one is trickier because a lot of fantasy players don’t have the lineups where these guys are possible in the flex spot. Instead, they are starting as either wide receiver #2 or running back #2. If you have both guys you don’t want to see either one of them sitting on your bench because more often than not you’ll play the wrong one and leave quite a few points sitting down there with the one you didn’t pick. I would much rather suggest going with Decker at your flex spot and seeing what you can get as a trade for Bell. You would be surprised at what he could fetch for you, as many people are looking for a player with his caliber. There is just too much upside to Decker, though, in that juggernaut offense in Denver. You don’t want to miss out on weeks like he had in week #3.

The worst thing you can do with the flex spot is to play a different player there every week. Get a solid flex player and keep him in that spot from week to week, regardless of results, unless he gets hurt. The odds are more likely you’ll get his best weeks when you need them instead of playing around and missing out. And on his bye week you can play the guy who lost out to him, or you can trade him for someone you believe in from another team in the league. I just did that with Denarius Moore, trading him after his solid week for Eddie Royal, who I think will have a great time this week against Oakland’s porous defense. Sometimes it’s about opportunity.

When in doubt, or if they seem like equal competitors, go with the receiver at the flex.



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