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Editor’s Note: This is one of our many strategy-related articles from our team of writers to get you prepared for this season.

No, this article is not referring to the strength of an individual’s bicep muscle. Instead, it focuses in on the Flex position in fantasy football. In most scoring formats, this spot is best defined as an additional running back, wide receiver or tight end that can be inserted into a starting lineup. At first glance, the Flex position can appear rather arbitrary in comparison to other components of a weekly roster. However, it can actually represent or provide a competitive advantage over an opponent in a matchup. Below, I offer five tips that can help maximize the value of the Flex position in fantasy circles for 2017.

Utilize Offensive Stacks

In the event of a bye week pinch, a sound strategy to follow is stacking a pair of offensive skill position players together in a fantasy matchup. In its most common form, this can be achieved by submitting a starting lineup with a quarterback and wide receiver that are on the same NFL team. Based on the tandem’s output, this tactic can result in a victory or defeat on any given week in fantasy.

Even though a stack is far more common in DFS, it can also be applied to redraft leagues on a routine basis when faced with a difficult Flex decision. Therefore, the strategy should be considered during an actual draft if a situation presents itself. For instance, those that invested in Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson last season were clear beneficiaries of arguably the best offensive stack in all of football. While Rodgers’ output was predictable, Nelson rebounded to the tune of 97 receptions for 1,257 yards receiving and fourteen touchdowns after missing the entire 2015 campaign due to a torn ACL. Albeit a risky proposition due to volatile weeks, offensive stacks can provide owners a clear advantage from the Flex position in fantasy if utilized correctly.

Be Aware Of Game Times

When in doubt, utilize the Flex spot in a starting lineup for players with afternoon or primetime games on Sunday or Monday. This will maximize roster flexibility and lengthen decision making time in the process, as players can be taken out of a lineup if necessary prior to kickoff.

Due to the threat of injuries or unforeseen weather conditions, never occupy the Flex position with a player that is slated on a Thursday night matchup. Doing so will limit all future roster decisions in a week, including the ability to acquire and start a popular name off of the waiver wire or free agency pool.

Examine An Opponent’s Starting Lineup

Before a Flex decision is made, it is crucial to examine the starting lineup of an opponent. While it is impossible to predict exactly how players will perform during a given week, there are steps that can be taken to hedge the production of a foe’s lineup. This can be accomplished by using the Flex position to place a wide receiver in that happens to be on the same team as an opponent’s quarterback. In other words, if an individual is starting Andrew Luck in a fantasy matchup, then inserting Donte Moncrief into the Flex spot of a lineup could limit significant damage. Even if other options are more favorable on a roster at the running back or tight end positon, selecting Moncrief in this scenario could provide the best chance of victory for that particular week.

Identify Favorable Matchups

It is imperative to identify favorable matchups for skill position players that are projected to face suspect defenses in the NFL. Quite often, this can be a deciding factor when forced to make a Flex selection between multiple players. Remember, fantasy football is a weekly game. It is logical to consistently start studs, but those that can successfully pivot and alter a starting lineup without bias for a larger reward are often more successful.

Exploit Starting Lineup Parameters

Based on the structure and scoring format of a league, it is recommended to exploit starting lineup parameters. For example, consider placing an additional wide receiver in the Flex spot of a starting lineup in PPR formats. The same logic applies to quarterbacks in a superflex league or running backs in a premium league where points are awarded for rushing attempts.

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