Tip Drill: The case for Jumbo Flex

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 15: Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 15, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 15: Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 15, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

There's no right answer when it comes to fantasy football league setup. Whatever format works for you and your leaguemates, have a ball. I'm not here to talk you out of anything. 

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But maybe I can talk you into something. If you're a sharp fantasy player and you want to keep adding skill to your game, I'm here with a simple piece of advice: start more players. Keep adding those flexes. This is a recording. 

The case for more starters is a simple one, broken into three prongs:

- You want to iron out flukes; the more players you start, the less one outlier performance (good or bad) affects your results.

- Each week becomes more fun when you have more players to track and root for.

- The more dynamic your league structure is, the more dynamic your draft or auction becomes. 

The hometown league I run uses a Jumbo Flex format (some might call it Super Flex); we shifted to it several years ago and it's been overwhelmingly accepted and popular. We start multiple flex players every week (RB/WR/TE), and in one specific flex spot, we allow quarterbacks to enter the conversation (QB/RB/WR/TE). This essentially turns it into a two-quarterback format, though a team isn't completely screwed if it doesn't have two available on a given week. (Contrast this to straight 2-QB, where a team without two quarterback starters is in huge trouble.) 

We also use an auction format, which really should be the default as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, they take longer. Yeah, they're a little messier if someone gets disconnected or has to leave early. But I'm all about giving owners as many choices and paths as possible, and that's what an auction does. It also gives every team a chance at any player, and that's a good thing. 

Even if we're talking about the old standby of the draft, multiple flexes will add spice to that as well. No longer are the early rounds the boring cattle call of running backs and receivers. The common one-sentence strategies (such as "wait forever on quarterback") probably won't work in a Jumbo Flex format; it's more complicated than that. Streaming still has value week-to-week, but it's far less effective. And you certainly can't stream at the major positions. 

I understand why so many leagues stick with a basic, tried-and-true format. "That's the way we've always done it" has traction and momentum in some groups. Some leagues are more casual in nature, and they don't want to lose or intimidate the less-engaged owners. If that describes your leaguemates, fine. Do what the room enjoys.  

But if you have a collection of skilled and experienced owners and you want a truer test and a fairer challenge, consider some of the things I've outlined above. Give your league plenty of choices, and give your league enough depth for the talent to win out. Go deeper. Keep flexing. 

A common critique to this format centers around the waiver wire. "There won't be anyone worth picking up!" is a standard outcry. I don't find that to be the case. In my experience, the waiver wire always matters in any league, no matter the starting depth; unknown talent always comes into the game. If you're really worried about the waiver wire becoming obsolete, be modest with the size of your benches (that's another of my preferred structure tweaks). 

You might be hunting for a different type of player or a different level of contributor, but in a Jumbo Flex format you still have to figure out the fresh season before the other guy. Don't let the depth of Jumbo Flex scare you; it's stil a complicated game, and your opinion of the player pool will still get tilted on its ear during the year. The NFL is the ultimate reshuffle league. It's always going to be a game of adjustments and shifting perspectives. 

I've had my say - now tell me all about your perfect format. Have you given Jumbo Flex a try? What works for you?

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