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The Flexpert: Bears Taylor Gabriel, Ravens Willie Snead Have Paths to Week Seven Success

The Flexpert: Bears Taylor Gabriel, Ravens Willie Snead Have Paths to Week Seven Success premium
Jack McLoone October 19, 2018 7:13PM EDT

Your featured Flex plays for Week Seven

Flexpert Week Seven

Week Seven is the first when more than two teams are on a bye, and it has removed some top options from play due to the Packers, Steelers, Seahawks and Raiders being off. Well, maybe not the Raiders, but the byes for the other three could severely impact your starting lineup. A secondary consequence of this is a thinning out of Flex players, as some of your backups may be pressed into RB2 or WR2 positions to fill in for the likes of Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, James Conner, Chris Carson or Doug Baldwin, just to name a few. But you’ve got to start somebody in the Flex, so let’s take a look at some good options for this week.

Josh Gordon, WR, New England Patriots

Gordon may give you closer to WR2 production this week, but he’s yet to really perform as such, which plants him atop Flex territory. The second Gordon landed in Foxboro, his hype train once again got a-chugging, and each week’s improvement has only accelerated it. Last week, he played 63 of the Patriots 78 snaps—after seeing just 18 snaps in each of the first two games—and drew nine targets. It looks like he is finally ingrained into the offense and has earned the notoriously finicky trust of Tom Brady. The other reason he is a Flex is the matchup with the Bears, who despite their poor performance last week, have the top-ranked pass defense by DVOA, though they are giving up the eighth-most points to WRs this season. In other words, playing Gordon this week is a lot like Gordon in general: a tossup with huge, but unclear, potential.

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

In his first game since Week Two and against a tough defense, Marlon Mack looked great, picking up 89 yards on 12 carries. Now he gets the Bills, who are giving up 18.8 points per game to running backs. Plus Buffalo is turning to the recently-acquired Derek Anderson at quarterback, so the Colts should get up early in this game. They should be able to finally get a chance to stop throwing Andrew Luck’s arm off and give Mack some nice volume.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears

While most people are focused on how Matt Nagy finally unleashing his weapons has benefitted Tarik Cohen (who is more like an RB2 this week), Taylor Gabrielalso had a huge bump in productivity in the Bears’ last two games. Against the Buccaneers in Week Four, he hauled in all seven of his targets for 104 yards and a score. And then last week in Miami, he once again caught all of his targets, this time five, for 110 yards and another touchdown. While he is still second in targets on the team, he now leads them in receptions (28) and yards (310). Now he gets the Patriots, who are giving up 25 points per game to wideouts. He could be in for another big day.

Willie Snead, WR, Baltimore Ravens

While Snead may be third on the team in targets, the Ravens throw the ball a lot. Joe Flacco is second in pass attempts to only Andrew Luck. Snead also makes do with his targets, catching about 70 percent of them. He doesn’t have a big game yet this season, but has been consistent, logging double digit PPR points in all but one week (against Denver Week Three). He saw a season-high 10 targets last week, and now gets a #RevengeGame against the Saints’ porous pass defense. We could see him having a game similar to Mohamed Sanu’s #RevengeGame against the Bengals.

 Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins

Okay, fine, let’s get weird. If you’re going to take advantage of Frank Gore’s hot, immortal hand, there’s no better time. He seems to have fully usurped Kenyan Drake on rushing attempts, and just rumbled his way through the Bears for over 100 yards, a first on the season both for him and that defense. And now he gets a Lions defense that is giving up 25.9 points per game to running backs? Sign up. His stash of Michael’s Secret Stuff may run out soon, but it shouldn’t be in Week Seven.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

A super-exciting Monday Night game seems like a good arena to remind people just how good a player is when healthy, don’t you think? Marquise Goodwin certainly did, bringing in four of five targets for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns account for the majority of the yards, as they were 67 and 30 yards apiece. He faces a Rams pass defense that has struggled at times, including giving up 322 yards to Broncos receivers last week. Kyle Shanahan is hitting his groove, even with C.J. Beathard at quarterback, and should be able to keep scheming Goodwin to get open. His reliance on big plays relegates him to the Flex for now, but he has the tools to elevate himself soon.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets

Following Quincy Enunwa’s injury at the start of last week’s game, Kearse had his biggest outing of the season, catching nine of his 10 targets for 94 yards, all of which were easily season highs. While he’s been getting better at it slowly, Sam Darnold still doesn’t throw the ball deep downfield too much, which works well for Kearse. Also in Kearse’s favor is that he will most likely spend a lot of time in the slot. The Vikings have a solid pass defense, but their DVOA against “other” receivers (usually the slot) is just 20th-best.

Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is not an endorsement for the rest of the season. But Barber showed he could at least perform well against a bad defense last week, amassing over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Falcons. He gets another struggling unit in the Browns, who are currently giving up the seventh-most points to running backs. The Buccaneers love to throw, and this game could be a shootout. Ronald Jones is currently no threat to Barber, so whatever rushing attempts are in this game should go to him.

Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Yes, there are two Colts running backs on this list. Mack is on here as a testament to the Colts just needing a competent back to slow down their pass-only offense just a little bit. Hines is on the list because they are still going to throw a ton. Hines was in the doghouse for dropping a sure touchdown last week, he is still a lethal pass-catching threat. The Bills have the 22nd-ranked DVOA against passes to running backs, giving up 46.7 yards per game on them. He may be behind Mack on their depth chart, but he’ll still get some work.

Deep League Plays

 Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons

While I may not be as high on Smith as others, there is no denying his goal line presence: he has double the red zone carries of Tevin Coleman. It helps that Coleman has struggled inside the five, where he has two rushes for negative four yards. Smith is incredibly touchdown reliant, but his entrenched role gives him a solid chance to continue his streak of touchdowns, which is currently at three weeks in a row. If you’re in a situation where, say, you’re already replacing James Conner and Marshawn Lynch, you could do worse at your Flex.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Basically any skill position starter for the Rams has dominated this year. With Cooper Kupp out for at least this Sunday’s game, Reynolds will get a chance to start alongside Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. The ability for the Rams to go heavy with Todd Gurley, like they did last week, plus his lack of an impact thus far make him hard to recommend, but if your’e scraping the bottom of the barrel, a player in a high-octane offense is worth the gamble.

Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Beasley’s situation is just about the exact opposite of Reynolds’. He’s basically the lone consistent target on a team that struggles with any kind of offense, but is coming off a game where they were uncharacteristically good through the air. There’s nothing sexy about starting Beasley, or even particularly intriguing. His strong showing against the Jaguars’ defense was encouraging, but the Cowboys are going to need to pull that trick off a second time against a Washington secondary that features the likes of Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar. There’s a chance he’ll do some PPR damage, however, so he’s a decent desperation option.

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