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How Many of Each Position for Fantasy Football?

Feb 28

When the fantasy football season starts, you have plenty to think about — what players are trending, analyzing the average draft position (ADP), and sizing up your opponents. However, if you’re new to a specific fantasy football format or new to the game altogether, you may have another issue on your plate: How many of each position for fantasy football are there?

The answer can vary depending on your fantasy football league, but one thing’s for sure. Knowing the number of positions can significantly impact your draft strategy, roster construction, waiver wire, and bye-week considerations. Learn more about fantasy football positions and how to stiff-arm the competition.

How Many of Each Position for Fantasy Football Do I Need?

QB throwing a football

How many of each position for fantasy football isn’t easy to answer because of your commissioner’s customizable league setting choices, how you score fantasy football points, your league format, whether you have an IDP (individual defensive player), and how many human players in the league can alter this amount.

Furthermore, many factors influence how many players you get in a fantasy football league. Generally speaking, you have 16 roster spots in a regular fantasy football league — nine players in the starting lineup and seven on the bench. However, this also depends on how you look at it. For example, Yahoo Fantasy Football states that it only has 15 roster spots, yet it allows you to hold an additional D/ST (defense/special teams) position. Although a D/ST isn’t a player, you could reasonably call it a roster spot, pushing the total amount to 16 positions. Other platforms, including ESPN and CBS both have 16 roster spots.

League format also alters how many of each position for fantasy football, but the number of roster spots remains unchanged — you still have to fill 16 spots. That said, a standard fantasy football league typically has the following positional breakdown:

Different Positions for Various League Formats

Filling 16 roster spots is easy if you research ADP, have a draft chart, and test your theories with a mock draft. But how your commish structures each position will affect your fantasy football team overall.

Make sure that you know the exact format of your NFL fantasy football league before your fantasy football draft. Otherwise, you could make some drastic errors. Let’s look at various league formats and how many of each position for fantasy football you’ll need.

Flex League

Recently, flex leagues have become the most popular format in the fantasy football ranks. The flex position. This roster spot allows you to place a wide receiver, running back, or tight end in the starting lineup.

Superflex League

Some leagues may add a flex spot for more versatility and the ability to score more fantasy points, giving you 10 starting lineup slots and six on the bench. This is known as a superflex league.

A superflex league is a modern spin on the traditional flex league. Some formats allow 2 QBs, while others confine the additional flex spot to wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs only. (Just imagine having Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes on the same team!)

3WR League

As the name would suggest, 3WR leagues have three wide receivers in the starting lineup. Many PPR (points per reception) leagues prefer this format, as a wide receiver is often the deepest position on the field. In 3WR leagues, every wide receiver is infinitely more coveted, resulting in more strategy in the later rounds of the draft and potential sleeper picks.

No Kicker League

Again, the name of this league is somewhat obvious. No kickers are drafted, freeing you up to select a different position. This format allows fantasy players in your league to concentrate on higher-scoring offensive positions, take a fresh strategic approach to the team roster, and ignore the unpredictability that often comes with the kicker position.

Short Bench League

Short bench leagues require more roster shuffling, waiver wire acquisitions, and free agent pickups than any other, as the bench shrinks to only four or five players. In this league, the commissioner decides how many of each position for fantasy football, but with fewer options sitting in wait.

The Optimal Number for Each Position in Fantasy Football

RB in a red uniform shedding a tackler

The perfectly balanced NFL team rarely exists, so you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s the same story for fantasy football. However, a growing consensus appears that this is the best way for fantasy owners to draft a team that scores touchdowns, has better matchups, and, ultimately, ends up playoff-bound:

  • 2 QBs
  • 4-6 RBs
  • 6-9 WRs
  • 1 TE
  • 1 D/ST
  • 1 K

This breakdown is certainly up for debate, but with the number of injuries each year, the scarcity of talent in the running back position, and the deep, wide receiver position, this breakdown should give you at least a starting point. Because as you know, the fantasy football draft can be somewhat of a crapshoot, just like the real NFL Draft.

Draft Considerations for Each Position

Unless you’re playing custom league settings to switch things up or have an auction/salary cap draft, these draft considerations should hold true for just about any league. Remember that knowing your league’s scoring system is tantamount to success. Don’t ignore the point tallies for yardage, TDs, PPR, or other aspects; you may end up wasting picks early in the draft.

Early On

In the first round and second round, RBs are at a premium. If someone like Christian McCaffrey is on the board, take them immediately, followed by another RB if possible. Elite WRs are also key in this round, but superb tight ends like Travis Kelce also deserve consideration. If you’re in a PPR league, you want to load up on WRs — especially if you’re in a 3WR league — as well as receiving running backs.

QB Options

The QB field is pretty deep in the NFL, so you should seldom waste a first- or second-round pick on a QB. The only exception is a superflex league, which allows a second quarterback. This means that QBs will fall off the board earlier. Even if you’ve selected a top-tier QB like Josh Allen, adding depth with young talent like Justin Fields or C.J. Stroud could drastically affect your season’s outcome.

WR Thoughts

When drafting WRs, take as many solid picks as possible early on, but look how often they’re targeted. Selecting the fourth WR on a team isn’t a great drafting policy, as they aren’t likely to gain many receiving yards or touchdowns. Grab 1WR and 2WR positions early if you play 3WR, flex, or short-bench leagues. Any 3WR or 4WR selections that give you points are an added bonus.

Remember that WRs are prone to injuries, so plan around this possibility in later rounds or through the waiver wire.

RB Drafting

Unlike WRs, dominant running backs are scarce. No matter what league format you play, strongly emphasize drafting them as early as possible. After the first 10 are off the board, the rest are a total question mark. Plan accordingly.

The Best of the Rest

Elite tight ends are also scarce, but they’ll rarely rack up the numbers that an elite wide receiver will. Call it a win if you can snag a George Kittle or Travis Kelce in the mid-rounds.

Kickers are unpredictable, but look to draft ones that play for high-octane offenses, giving them more opportunities to boot field goals and PATs.

Finally, the IDP or D/ST positions are further down the draft board. They rarely produce as many points as offensive positions. However, a top-notch team defense, defensive end, or cornerback can definitely tally enough points to help you win a league.

Choosing a Waiver Wire Position After an Injury

Football player holding his knee after an injury

How many of each position for fantasy football also impacts your waiver wire decisions after an injury. Since you have the option to choose any position from the waiver wire and not merely the same position as the injured player, this makes the choice more difficult.

The foremost strategy is to select the best possible player on the board, but you should also add depth or fill holes regardless of the player’s position. Remember that the team with the worst record gets first dibs on waiver transactions, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Decide How Many of Each Position for Fantasy Football By Comparing Your Options

Injuries, uneven matchups, underperformers, and breakout stars are all part of the inevitabilities of fantasy football — and pretty much all fantasy sports for that matter. But that’s what makes the season so exciting.

Rather than go blindly throughout the season, you can decide how many of each position for fantasy football by consistently comparing players at Wise Guys Edge. With the ability to compare up to five players based on the latest numbers and Vegas sportsbook odds, you always have a fighting chance to post a W on Sunday.