Today’s fantasy football leagues are growing beyond the basic One Quarterback leauges, with kickers and Defense/Special Teams, too. Standard is literally no longer Standard scoring. Tight End Premium is becoming Tight End Regular and Superflex is practically NormalFlex in many fantasy circles. So I think the fantasy football community is finally ready to embrace the concepts behind the FusionFlex format and this article is my attempt to lay out the reasons, arguments and basics of the format. Feel free to jump down to the Summary TL;DR if you want to skip the origin story.
Fantasy Football’s QB Dilemma
Quarterbacks have always been an issue for fantasy leagues. The problem is there are only 32 known starting quarterbacks any given week. Single starting quarterback leagues solve this problem by making the ratio of QB:RB:WR:TE in your fantasy team’s starting lineup roughly similar to that of a NFL team’s players consistently involved in plays. 1QB, 2RBs, 3WRs, 1TE. The problem becomes that while every starting running back and wide receiver on 32 NFL and sometimes even a 2nd or 3rd on each team becomes relevant to 12 fantasy teams, but leaves 20 starting quarterbacks out of fantasy team starting lineups.
The Incomplete Superflex Solution
Superflex has been the best solution so far, allowing fantasy teams to start up to two quarterbacks, but only requiring the one still. This compensates for injury and bye week issues where requiring two starting quarterbacks leaves a couple teams out in the cold for their second starter. It’s a great solution that allows twice as many players at the NFL’s most important position to be relevant on a weekly basis and is quickly becoming the standard format for new startup leagues.
Unfortunately there’s a problem still remaining for Superflex leagues, and like most problems in an evolving design, it’s a holdover from the old one quarterback leagues that is causing it. Quarterback scoring in 1QB leagues emphasized the importance of quarterbacks. This felt natural in parallel to quarterback importance in the NFL, but it elevated all quarterbacks without significance weekly differences between the top 12 and the remaining 20. In the world of Superflex, this has resulted in quarterbacks reigning supreme. It is nearly always less than optimal to start a non-quarterback in your Superflex slot simply due to the consistently higher scoring of quarterbacks.
Much of Superflex success for fantasy players has become simply managing your stable of quarterbacks. Getting the right one early, trading them away before they fall off the performance cliff, these moves are the differences between continually contending or needing to blow up your team in a rebuild trying to get multiple young quarterbacks.
Many solutions to this problem have been invented. Some more successful than others. Even in 1QB there were attempts to fix the lack of weekly differentiation in quarterbacks. A 2017 article by James Koh1 tried to fix this scoring issue. The late round quarterback faithful, a very successful approach in 1QB leagues due to that very same lack of difference in weekly results, have tried applying the same strategy in Superflex with very unpredictable results. Hit on the right late quarterbacks and you’re alright for a season, miss and you are rebuilding before Year 1 is even finished. Others, like John Hogue’s “QBX”2 (QuarterBack Extreme), have embraced the quarterback’s importance, particularly in dynasty leagues, and doubled down on collecting quarterbacks even at the opportunity cost of other positions. This makes sense given the value of quarterbacks becomes paramount, replacing running backs of the old standard scoring leagues as the primary pieces of currency.
And there lies the problem. How do we involve quarterbacks, as many as possible, while not giving them so much power that they devalue other positions and limit the number of winning strategies? So I came up with a list of objectives and then set about constructing a format that meets each.
- Make QBs more equal to other positions.
- Keep as many QBs relevant as possible.
- Make winning the league less reliant on following the right strategy and more about picking and playing the right players, at any position.
The FusionFlex format is my solution to all these goals.
The first solution is actually simple, but the way to do it has taken a lot of experimentation and ingenuity. The primary scoring mechanism solution is to reward passing completions and penalize incompletions in a ratio that is 2:1, making a 66% completion rate the zero point. Finish the game below 66% and you’ll see points deducted.
To my knowledge, one of the first to use this method was Addison Hayes (@amazehayes_) when he was tackling the “QB problem”3 This was picked up and used in the Scott Fish Bowl 10 (SFBX)4 in 2020.
There are other details as well, many also used by Addison and SFBX, which focus on penalizing interceptions and sacks more, and not giving QBs more points for rushing yards than their passing yards.
The result of these changes is that one can no longer blindly start a quarterback and be confident of an average points result that is greater than other flex positions. The top quarterbacks are still a big deal and still score a lot of points, roughly equivalent to top running backs and wide receivers, but unlike traditional quarterback scoring, the results drop off much quicker at a rate more similar to running backs. Also, the weekly results, even for a good quarterback that may even finish top 12, may include a week or two with negative points!
The solution to the second and third goals are connected. Initially my idea was, with the confidence in weekly high quarterback scoring now shaken, to expand the number of superflex slots in the starting lineups beyond the one typically seen in Superflex leagues. Now we can start to think of quarterback like we would think of other players we would be debating between starting in a regular flex slot. The distinction between regular flex and superflex becomes unnecessary when any position is able to average similar results.
However, the initial idea still had a single requiring quarterback slot. It became clear when pointed out by John Hogue in a visit on my podcast that requiring any quarterbacks quickly became requiring multiple quarterbacks. After all, your one quarterback will have a Bye week at the least, if not injuries or bad matchups you’d like to avoid. But now we are back to the Superflex problem of quarterbacks being a priority, it may no longer be because of scoring but it still is because of scarcity. Requiring a quarterback to be started now puts every team in the league into a box, under the tyranny of the necessary quarterback. The solution became clear: No required quarterback.
FusionFlex has four (4) superflex slots, but no QB slot. Teams may pursue strategies utilizing a large number of quarterbacks, or they may simply….not. And that is why I said the solution to the second and third goals are connected. Managers can choose if they want to pursue the high upside (and very low downside) of quarterbacks, or even pay up for the top quarterbacks. Or a manager may decide to scoop up as many top running backs and wide receivers as possible while others are following their quarterback strategy.
There are other details about FusionFlex that I’ve still not touched on while I’ve been focusing on quarterbacks. Points for 1st Downs have been utilized. Points Per Reception have been tiered between running back, wide receiver, and tight end. See below for the details for each position and a comparison to typical PPR average results (4 year average).
Along with the four superflex slots there are 2 running back slots, 2 wide receiver slots, 1 tight end slot and 1 receiver flex (WR/TE).
The FusionFlex format is a new form of superflex fantasy football league that penalizes poor QB play to the point it cannot be blindly relied on over other positions in your superflex slot. In addition, there is no dedicated QB slot requiring teams to start a QB.
1 WR/TE Flex
It is my belief that the FusionFlex format offers a lot of flexibility in strategy and is an improvement on the typical Superflex leagues of today. I’m sure there will be more tweeks made in the future and things always evolve, but I hope many of you out there will be interested in trying this out.
As of this writing, I am starting the second season of FusionFlex Charity leagues on the Fleaflicker platform (a free service capable of handling the scoring). We are expanding it to more leagues this year. It is a $25 charity league, via donation to BFTGCharities benefiting Toys For Tots, If you are interested please email FusionFFB@gmail.com or contact me on Twitter @FusionFFB.
Big thanks to those who came before and inspired many of the ideas that went into FusionFlex:
1. James Koh Reviving the true value of the fantasy football QB
4. Scott Fish Bowl – https://scottfishbowl.com/2020/rules