- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2012

When I started playing fantasy football, yardage was not part of the scoring system, a 50-yard field goal was worth about 700 points and it would be years before “flex” started creeping its way into the lexicon. Nowadays, however, there are thirtysomethings who’ve been playing fantasy football their entire adult lives who have no idea leagues used to be yardage-free, scoring has evolved so that “getting Lohmillered” is no longer a common occurrence, and the Flex position is the subject of this column.

Now a staple, in some form, of every type of league, the Flex position was bound to evolve with the game. Traditionally, it has been a spot for an extra running back or receiver in the starting lineup. But this year, most standard leagues have added tight end to the mix.

On the surface, the timing seems right. The position is as deep as it has ever been, led by New England’s Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham. The former is coming off the greatest season ever for a TE, and the latter was the primary weapon last year for one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.

But the position is not that deep. It would be great to start Gronkowski or Graham at Flex, but standard leagues already require a starting TE, so the only way to have one of those as your Flex is to draft both of them.


The only way to do that without too much laughter from your fellow owners is if you have a late pick in the first round. You then could select both without reaching too much for either. But if you do that, you have to wait roughly two more rounds to select your first quarterback, running back or receiver. The receiver position is deep enough to get away with that, but if you wait until the late third or early fourth round to select your first running back, you’re in trouble. And while there are a few QBs I think are great values in the middle rounds of a draft, if things don’t fall your way, you’ll be starting Joe Flacco in Week 1.

If you really want to select a TE for your Flex position, your best bet is to draft either Gronkowski or Graham early (I happen to like the lower-rated Graham better this year despite New Orleans’ coaching uncertainty because there’s more competition for less passes in New England), then look for San Diego’s Antonio Gates or San Francisco’s Vernon Davis a few rounds later. That way, you can employ the two-TE strategy with a player who has been the top fantasy player at his position before without sacrificing value at other key positions.

Ultimately, it’s best not to get caught up in the rush to change just yet. Keep it old school. Walk to your draft and back uphill both ways in the snow and be sure to select the best available RBs and WRs in the middle and later rounds to give yourself the best options at the Flex position throughout the season.