The Flexpert: Your featured Flex plays for Week 17
If you’re used to playing for something in Week 17, then you know that while trying to fill the Flex spot, you’re keeping an eye on your regular starters that might be resting. As you peruse through my selections for this week, keep in mind that these are also options to replace those regular starters.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers
We’ve seen what Wilson can do as the lead back in San Francisco, and he’ll get one more opportunity to do so with Matt Breida once again missing this game due to injury. He struggled after Breida left last week, but that was against the Bears. Now he faces the Rams, who are allowing five yards per rush and over five yards per reception to running backs. Plus, with Dante Pettis out as well, the already-thin offensive weapons cupboard in San Francisco is even barer. If you’re potentially losing Leonard Fournette this week, Wilson could provide you with RB2 numbers.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
Hamilton failed to break 50 yards for the third straight week as the primary slot receiver for the Broncos, but for the third straight week he still broke double-digits in PPR points, this time on six catches for 40 yards and a score. Hamilton’s target share—he had another nine this week—keeps me comfortable with him even though he matches up with the Chargers in Week 17. Hamilton has been productive since taking over the slot role, and that shouldn’t change too much here, even in a tough matchup.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
With the likes of Ezekiel Elliot, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley possibly all out or playing limited roles, you may need to call on an old friend to help out this week. Darren Sproles could be your man. Sproles saw 38 snaps on Sunday, picking up 108 total yards from scrimmage for 20 PPR points. He didn’t do much against Washington in Week 13, but that was also his first game of the season. While Philly’s backfield is always hard to predict, taking a gamble on him could work in your favor. Though they are without D.J. Swearinger, Washington is pretty good against the pass, so Sproles should at least see some good volume out of the backfield. He’s boom-or-bust, but that’s what you get in Week 17.
Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions
Zenner’s mini breakout came to a mini halt last week when LeGarrette Blount took over the touch lead again—he had 13 to Zenner’s 10. However, it’s not like Blount did anything with those touches; he had 29 yards rushing on 11 attempts (2.64 YPC) and -5 yards on his two receptions. That made Zenner’s modest day—45 yards on eight carries (5.62 YPC), another 22 on two receptions—look like one from a healthy Todd Gurley. The matchup eases up from a tough one against the Vikings to a softer one in the Packers, who have given up at least 25 points to running backs in three of the past four weeks. Like a sadder version of Philadelphia’s backfield, it’s hard to predict who will get more touches in Week 17. But no matter what, Zenner should do more with them and serve as a capable fill-in for you. Blount does have a knee injury, so monitor his status.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders
Nelson’s late-season resurgence has continued to a point where if you are concerned about losing Michael Thomas or ironically, Amari Cooper this week, he could be your man. He’s recorded at least six catches in each of his last four games, breaking double-digit PPR points in all four despite not finding the end zone, a good sign of dependability that is hard to find at this point in the season. The last time he faced Kansas City was at the start of this run and it was the best of the bunch, as he put up 10 catches on 11 targets for 97 yards. Look for more of the same in Week 17, and maybe even a trip to the end zone.
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
Sticking with the Oakland Raiders facing the Kansas City Sieves, Richard makes for an intriguing option at running back this week. Like Nelson, he also had a good game in Week 13, but surprisingly did so on the ground, picking up a season-high 95 yards rushing on just six carries (he had another 31 yards on three catches). While the Raiders may have burned themselves out in their potential last game in Oakland on Monday Night Football, I think Jon Gruden can pump up his team’s pettiness for Week 17 to try and spoil the Chiefs and contribute to a potential bump down to the Wild Card. If they hope to keep pace—their defense certainly won’t slow down Mahomes and company—the Raiders will need to throw, and Richard should see at least five to seven targets.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
Week 17 is giving me one last chance to roll the dice on Drake, and I’m taking it. While he’s maybe too unreliable to confidently activate in replacement of your top running back, if you had Elijah McGuire in your Flex last week that you’re moving up to replace someone like Elliott, then why not take one last stab on the electric Miami back? With a report from the Miami Herald saying that owner Stephen Ross is mulling changes to the front office, the Dolphins may pour it all out on Week 17 in hopes of impressing potential new bosses. The Bills give up the eighth-most points to running backs, including over 40 points last week to Patriots running backs. Plus, Kalen Ballage struggled in his follow-up to his Week 15 breakout, so Drake could get one last shot to impress.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons
It wouldn’t make much sense for the Falcons to trot out Julio Jones, who has been dealing with rib and hip injuries, for a meaningless Week 17 matchup with the Panthers. The only thing Jones has to play for is the receiving yardage lead, which he holds over DeAndre Hopkins by more than 100 yards. The hope of personal accolades is not worth potentially throwing away what will need to be a bounce-back 2019 in Atlanta. Enter Mohamed Sanu, who is coming off his best game of the season, Fantasy-wise, after scoring 22 PPR points against the Panthers flimsy secondary. He gets another juicy matchup in the Buccaneers, who are allowing 38 points to wide receivers per game; he had 13 against them in Week Six. Even if Jones plays, Sanu has merit as a Flex thanks to the matchup. If Jones is out, Sanu should at the very least be a WR2, especially with the Falcons potentially being down to just Brian Hill in the backfield.
Deep League Plays
Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks
While Pete Carroll has said that he will not rest any starters in a Week 17 game that they are playing purely for seeding, he also didn’t rule out throttling back as the game went on. With Chris Carson dealing with various injuries throughout the season, including missing two games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis get extra work in this one. There is a chance Rashaad Penny is available for this game as well, but again, I wouldn’t think they would want to risk it with him either. If you’re in a deep league that plays in Week 17, you’re probably already pretty desperate, so you might as well go with the guy has proven he can contribute if given the touches.
T.J. Yeldon/Carlos Hyde, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Another desperation dart throw comes if the Jaguars do decide to sit Fournette for their finale against Houston. While he played a full complement of snaps last week, there’s still a chance he doesn’t do so in Week 17. The Jaguars have taken to deactivating one of their backs every week, so whichever one is on the game day roster could be started. Of that trio, however, the one I trust most is Yeldon, as Houston is strong against the run, but pass-catching backs can have some success, like Sproles did last week.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints
If the Saints decide to rest most of their starters, it could be a great opportunity for the rookie from UCF. He’s had a wildly boom-or-bust season, topping 100 yards twice while recording two or less targets in eight other games. He’s wildly risky, but if Michael Thomas and even Ted Ginn Jr. rest in Week 17, he could be Teddy Bridgewater’s (assuming Brees also rests) top target. With a few milestones in reach, both Thomas and Brees will probably start the game, so Smith still carries a lot of risk. But he always does. Like I mentioned with Davis, this far down you are looking for a lottery ticket. Even if they sit their starters, the Saints will be looking to go 14-2 for the first time in history; they’ll push the pedal down against Carolina’s weak secondary, which gives up the fifth-most points to receivers.