The Flexpert: Your featured Flex plays for Week 10
Week 10 is a scary time to be fretting about your Flex play for those on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Flex is the easiest place to go for broke with a huge boom-or-bust player, but if that bust kills your playoff chances, it gets even harder to stomach than usual. A team on the playoff bubble probably needs to throw their weight behind a Flex to bolster their chances, and hoping for a strong performance from a lottery ticket is like… hoping to win the lottery. But unlike the lottery, you can do a little more to help your odds than choosing your lucky numbers: you can read this column.
Based on how often Dak Prescott forced the ball Cooper’s way—he had eight targets in his Cowboys debut—it is safe to assume Cooper will be the Cowboys WR1 going forward. However, Prescott’s struggles and the impotence of Jason Garrett’s offense is what holds him down to Flex territory. That said, the Eagles allow the fifth-most points to Fantasy receivers. Cooper is such a focal point of the offense that previous targets-leader Cole Beasley didn’t see a target until the fourth quarter last week. Will Cooper do anything with eight to 10 targets? As long as they aren’t all into double coverage, then he probably will.
Adam Gase gets a little too cute for his own good sometimes. After four straight weeks where Drake was successful with a high volume of touches (all were double-digits), he decided a Week Nine matchup with the Jets, of all teams, was a good time to give Frank Gore 20 carries and Drake just seven total touches. But don’t be dismayed, Drake owners. Gore still doesn’t play much of a factor in the passing game, which is where Drake has success this season. While the Packers are middle-of-the-road in terms of giving up Fantasy points to running backs, they just fell victim to a pass-catching back in James White. Gase should go back to getting Drake more involved; the potential that he doesn’t makes Drake a Flex. If he gets his touches, he will give you RB2 numbers in a PPR league.
And out of the darkness came a seemingly competent Jets running back. Isaiah Crowell, outside of two games, has been the slowest moving train wreck ever, averaging just 2.58 yards per carry in his seven other games. Bilal Powell is done for the season. Trenton Cannon has a cool name. But Elijah McGuire, in his first game of the season after dealing with a broken foot, clearly brought a spark to the lineup, amassing 67 yards on 10 touches. He was targeted five times out of the backfield. While he may spend some time behind Crowell for the time being, he’s going to be explosive on whatever touches he gets, and against an irreparably broken Bills team, he should get his fair share. The coaching staff compared him to LaDainian Tomlinson in the preseason. Although that is ridiculous, it at least suggests that he’ll always have some involvement.
It was a slow yet mildly productive week for Richard in Week Nine, who had four catches on four targets for 45 yards. In Week 10, he gets the Chargers, who are towards the bottom of the league in terms of DVOA against pass-catching backs, ranking 21st. They allow 63 yards and over seven targets per game to the position. Contrast that with last week’s opponent, the 49ers, who are allowing just 48.5 receiving yards per game to running backs. The last time the Raiders faced the Chargers, Richard has six catches for 53 yards, and that was with Marshawn Lynch still around. In this one, with only Doug Martin to compete with, Richard may see the majority of the snaps out of the backfield as Derek Carr tries to throw the Raiders into the game from behind (they lost 26-10 in their last matchup).
The secondary back on the other team in this matchup should have a good Fantasy day as well. Ekeler has mostly disappointed this season after averaging over 10 yards a reception last year and started the season with a 24-point (PPR) performance. But he has still turned in four other double-digit Fantasy performances, including 13 points against the Raiders in Week Five. The Raiders give up the fourth-most points to Fantasy running backs. While the majority of the work will go to Melvin Gordon, this game could get out of hand enough that Ekeler sees a significant amount of touches.
Let’s stay on the topic of “the Raiders are terrible and Jon Gruden should feel bad.” Tyrell Williams has been plenty hot lately, scoring a touchdown in each of his last three games. He doesn’t see a lot of targets, the danger of which is illustrated by his 10 points last week because beyond the score, he had a total of two catches for 23 yards on three targets. I’m not suggesting that he is going to get more targets than usual here—he’s had five just twice—but because I think he gets loose behind the Raiders’ secondary at least once for if not for a score, then a big game. The Chargers have been clicking lately, and Williams has been a big part of that.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
A Flexpert standard, Shepard has oscillated between solid and disappointing, with a couple of sprinklings of great. A matchup with the 49ers should at least fall into the solid-great range, making him a safer bet than other Flexes. While they aren’t giving up a particularly large amount of points to receivers, the Niners don’t have the depth to adequately cover both Odell Beckham Jr. and Shepard. By DVOA, they are 17th against the pass. Eli Manning looked a little better before the Giants headed into the bye, at least yardage-wise. Shepard is not an inspiring Flex decision, but he should be a low-floor option.
Back-to-back big games for Humphries, including 29 points last week, has reminded people of the kind of PPR asset he can be when he’s going well. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled to get on the same page with Mike Evans last week, completing just one pass out of 10 in his direction. Meanwhile, Humphries brought in all eight of his targets. While the Buccaneers aren’t going to abandon Evans, Humphries is Fitzpatrick’s security blanket of choice right now, and they are going to throw the ball a lot thanks to the ineptitude of their running game. With Josh Norman probably spending most of Week 10 concerned with Evans, another big game for Humphries could be in order.
Deep League Plays
This one is entirely speculation thanks to the long-awaited return of Leonard Fournette, but hear me out. Fournette missed four games in a row with his hamstring injury and six total. His last game was Week Four against the Jets, when he had to leave with the injury. And while he is going to practice in full this week, I’d feel safe thinking that the Jaguars don’t want to force the issue too much. I would not be surprised if Fournette saw similar in usage to Dalvin Cook last week. One way the Jaguars could do that is by having Yeldon still take over on passing downs, despite Fournette’s receiving skills. This would be a pure desperation play, but one that could pan out if you’re missing the likes of Alex Collins, Philip Lindsay, Lamar Miller and the aforementioned Cook to the bye.
Callaway is having a typical rookie wide receiver season, showing flashes of his potential while mostly existing in the background. But in Week 10 against the Falcons, I think he has another chance to make a lot of noise. Atlanta is giving up the third-most points to wide receivers, and should be up rather comfortably pretty early. The Browns are going to need to score fast, and there’s no better way to do that than with the deep ball, Callaway’s specialty.