The Flexpert: Your featured Flex plays for Week 14
It’s crunch time, folks. And I’ll be honest, I’m scared. And you should be too! It’s the most stressful time of the Fantasy Football season (for most of us), and each decision feels magnified. Should I stick with what got me to the playoffs? Should I mix it up? Should I cry?
DeSean Jackson’s thumb injury opened the door for Chris Godwin last week, and he sprinted through it to the tune of five catches for 101 yards and a score on six targets. It was Godwin’s most Fantasy points of the season and just his second time over 100 yards. So why should you trust what may be an outlier for a second week? Well, Jackson’s thumb injury doesn’t seem to be getting better, as he still isn’t catching passes at practice. And the Buccaneers are playing the Saints and their league-worst Fantasy pass defense. Jameis Winston is going to be slinging in Week 14, and Godwin should benefit.
Moore has seen a huge uptick in targets over the past three weeks, staring with a huge 7/157/1 game in Week 11. While he had his “worst” game of that stretch in Week 13, pulling in four catches for 44 yards and another 21 yards on two carries, he still had eight targets. Curtis Samuel had the bigger day against the Buccaneers last week, but never sees that large of a target share and can’t be expected to again. Devin Funchess is basically only a red zone option now, so you should feel comfortable plugging in Moore, who is establishing himself as one of Cam Newton’s top targets.
Austin Ekeler, for all his talent, apparently just isn’t built for full-time work. Head coach Anthony Lynn said he is “wearing down,” which could have something to do with his special teams use as well; playing football is very tiring! Enter Jackson, who has looked good in limited snaps in relief of Melvin Gordon. With the starter still not practicing, it should be Jackson who gets a chance to exploit a Bengals defense that is allowing the most Fantasy Points to running backs this season.
Poor Emmanuel Sanders, who tore his Achilles during practice on Wednesday. Sanders had been having a solid WR2-type season before going down with the injury. He had one of the more oversized target shares in the NFL, seeing 25 percent of Case Keenum’s pass attempts. Thinking is currently split on just where those targets will go. Rookie DaeSean Hamilton will step into Sanders’ slot role, but he’s never had more than three targets in a game, so you can’t trust him in the playoffs. No, the receiver most likely to pick up some of the slack is Courtland Sutton, who just happened to be trending upwards at the right time. He’s coming off his best game, four catches for 85 yards and a score on seven targets. He should at the very least see a similar number of targets. The Broncos face the 49ers, who are giving up the 11th-most Fantasy points to receivers. Sutton is admittedly risky, but could pay off big time.
I understand the concern here: he’s dealing with a shoulder injury, which has limited his practice time for three weeks. But he has three scores over the past two weeks, making him productive despite just 63 total rushing yards. The Patriots allow the most pass attempts per game to running backs (9.2, tied with the Falcons) and 53.4 receiving yards per game. This matchup could be more competitive than expected because of Tom Brady’s well-documented struggles in Miami. According to the New York Times’ Playoff Simulator, a win over the Patriots gives Miami a little over 20 percent chance to make the playoffs. Their 2018 season hinges on this game, and that could be the spark for Adam Gase to lean on Drake.
This is mostly contingent on Mitchell Trubisky being able to return, which appears likely. The two linked up for a huge game in Week 10, with Robinson pulling in six receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns on eight targets. Robinson managed to have a decent game with Chase Daniel at quarterback last week thanks to the Giants’ poor defense, catching five passes for 79 yards. This week, the Bears get the Rams, so they will need to throw in order to keep pace. The Rams give up an average of 80.4 yards per game to #1 receivers, the fifth-most in the league. If Robinson and Trubisky can get on the same page, he can have a huge game.
Jeffrey Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers
The newest running back sensation would be higher and I’d be more confident if he wasn’t playing the Broncos. Over the last six weeks, opposing running backs average just 3.55 yards per carry against the Denver defense. The most yards they gave up over that span was just 69 to Melvin Gordon. Saving Wilson as an option is his eight catches and 73 yards on nine targets last week. Denver allows 51.8 receiving yards to running backs per game. Over that stretch of six games where there is no rushing to be done, running backs have averaged 9.64 yards per reception on 5.5 catches per game. He’s a risky unknown at this point in the season, but if you’re thin at running back he may be an option.
Hines had a big game last week, but not in the sense of a huge performance. No, the “big” is in reference to Hines out-touching a mostly ineffective Marlon Mack 13 to nine. Hines caught all nine of his targets for 50 yards in a slog of a game against the Jaguars. Week 14 should open up the scoring a little bit more, though the Texans are no slouches either. While Houston has the top DVOA on passes to running backs, they still allow 49.2 yards and 7.3 pass attempts per game to running backs. If Hines again sees more carries than Mack, he could be in line for another good-not-great performance.
Deep League Plays
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington
Thompson finally played for the first time since Week Eight and did basically nothing, catching three passes for 18 yards. However, the fact that he was on the field was intriguing. And that was just his first game back. Now he gets to play another rival, the Giants, who are giving up the fifth-most points to running backs this season. Oh, and there’s the fact that the injury he suffered that kept him out this long occurred against the Giants, so there could be a little #RevengeGame factor as well. He’s a huge gamble, but we know the talent is there with Thompson.
Jones has been a popular name since the Bills dropped Kelvin Benjamin, but he’s not more than a deep league play for me because he’s still a Bill. He had a rather pedestrian game last week besides his two scores, logging just 67 yards on four catches. He’s had over 70 yards receiving just once. But he is the default top receiving in Buffalo, plus he’s facing the Jets, who have given up the fourth-most points to receivers this season. There is value here, he just has to contend with Josh Allen being his quarterback.
I’m more hesitant to jump in on Pettis than others, but that might just be me. It’s hard to turn your nose up at a five-catch, 129-yard, two-score day. I touched on the inability of teams to rush against the Broncos defense, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another almost-50 pass attempt day from Nick Mullens. That being said, Marquise Goodwin should be back and Pierre Garcon might be as well, so another even seven-target day may be tough for Perris. Chris Harris is done for the season, weakening the Broncos’ secondary. Pettis could easily hit another jackpot, but trusting a mostly-unproven asset this late in the season makes me worried. I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you have a stronger stomach than I do.