The Flexpert: Your featured Flex plays for Week 13
While a lot of the Fantasy strategy focus at the end of the bye weeks is focused around picking up handcuffs, there is one other important change: the quality of your Flex could drastically improve. Several the players on the list this week have certainly been started as RB2s or WR2s at points this season due to necessity, but with whatever healthy players you have left now being eligible to play, your options should be the best they have been all season.
Of course, having more options can also be scary. That’s what I’m here for.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Those of you that held onto Yeldon in the case of a Leonard Fournette injury have an excuse to use him now because of an injury to Fournette’s pride, not body, which is the less morally-corrupt kind of injury to wish for. Fournette’s one-week suspension opens the door for either Yeldon or Carlos Hyde, but I think Yeldon’s pass catching ability will have him utilized more, especially with Cody Kessler taking over at quarterback this week. The Jaguars also fired their offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett. Mix that together and the Jags could use a blander playbook this week against the Colts. Yeldon had five receptions for 51 yards against Indianapolis back in Week 10, a game Fournette played in. The Colts are also giving up the second-most receiving yards per game this season to opposing running backs (63.4 YPG), which should mean big things for Yeldon.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks’ brief foray back into throwing against the Panthers surprisingly resulted in a lackluster game for Baldwin, as he racked up just 39 yards with his five catches on seven targets (Russell Wilson also missed him while he was wide open in the end zone). Those seven targets did lead the team for the second week in a row. Tyler Lockett and David Moore both had better days last week, logging over 100 yards and a score apiece. But volume is (usually) king, and against the eighth-worst defense in terms of points allowed to receivers in the 49ers, Baldwin could do damage.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
It’s risky, but I’m staying positive on Drake this week. The King of the Undead (Frank Gore) continues to eat into Drake’s floor by out-carrying him week-to-week, but, as evidenced last week, Drake doesn’t need many touches to make an impact. Not to mention, he was heavily involved in the passing game again, picking up 64 yards and one of his two touchdowns on his five catches (six targets). The Bills are vulnerable on the ground, as they are giving up the ninth-most points to running backs. Drake could have yet another big day, especially if this game is as weird as the Bills’ game against a Florida team last week.
Adam Humphries, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston loves Humphries. The receiver had his second solid performance in a row in Week 12, pulling in all six of his targets (second only to Mike Evans) for 54 yards and a score. He’s had at least 50 yards receiving each of the last five weeks, and had less than 15 points just once (the 16-3 loss to Washington that got Ryan Fitzpatrick re-benched). Week 13 brings a matchup with the Panthers, who are allowing 38.6 points per game to receivers. Against slot receivers (78 percent of Humphries’ routes are run out of the slot), the Panthers have allowed 6.5 pass attempts and 56.6 yards per game. The yards are sixth-most in the NFL. Humphries should continue to produce for the (almost) always-throwing Buccaneers.
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
I understand I’m suggesting Richard coming off a three-point game last week, but Week 13 will be different. For one, swap out the stifling Baltimore defense for the barely-there Kansas City D. Second of all… no, actually, that’s it. There are two prevailing theories for how the Raiders will try and beat the Chiefs. One is using Doug Martin a lot to pound the ball and hopefully keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands as much as possible. The second is, well, that the Raiders are just going to be behind by multiple scores from the outset and need to throw to keep up. Playing Richard is just banking on garbage time, but with a team as bad as Oakland against a team as good as Kansas City, that’s not a bad bet. Oh, and the Chiefs are giving up the most receiving yards to running backs (70) per game by almost seven yards over the next-worst.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Houston Texans
Thomas has to figure it out at some point, right? Or Deshaun Watson will? Or Bill O’Brien? Or offensive coordinator George Godsey? Regardless of who it is, someone is going to get Thomas more involved in the offense at some point, and this isn’t a bad week to do it. Just looking at his final score, Thomas had a great Week 12, putting up 20 PPR points. However, he actually had only 38 yards on just four catches; he just happened to also have two scores. Being a red zone threat is certainly in his wheelhouse, but Thomas is capable of doing damage all over the field, not just within 20 yards. The Browns are currently giving up the ninth-most yards per game to #2 receivers and are allowing the seventh-most points to receivers overall. Plus, Hue Jackson getting fired has gotten the offense clicking, so this could turn into a surprising shootout where Thomas finally reminds us why he was drafted as a WR2, not a Flex.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams
This is less about Reynolds—who I’m not a huge believer in when it comes to filling in for Cooper Kupp—but Darius Slay. The Lions’ top corner has been pretty dominant all season, but particularly at shutting down the deep ball. Per PlayerProfiler.com , Slay has a zero percent burn rate; in other words, a receiver Slay has covered has never gained more than five yards of downfield separation. And his average separation when a pass is throwing is just .84 yards, 17th-best in the league. With Slay probably spending a lot of time shutting down Brandin Cooks’ deep ball abilities, there’s a chance for Reynolds to shine, especially against undrafted rookie and slot corner Mike Ford. Ford, in limited time, is allowing an over 82 percent catch rate. Look for Sean McVay to scheme the ball towards Ford and exploit the overmatched rookie.
Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Duke’s stock has been rising and falling faster than Bob Wylie’s gut. After struggling most of the season, he had a resurgence once Hue Jackson was ousted. He had two big games in Weeks Nine and 10, picking up 109 total receiving yards and three touchdowns while catching all 13 of his targets. But in Week 12, Johnson barely saw the ball, recording just three touches for 39 total yards. Johnson owners were probably especially peeved at Nick Chubb’s acrobatic receiving touchdown. But in Week 13, the Browns should be in a much tighter contest, leading the offense to need more out of their pass-catching back. While Houston has the best DVOA against passes to running backs, they still allow 47 yards per game to backs. And while he didn’t do much with them, Dion Lewis was able to reel in seven receptions against the Texans last week. It’s not a perfect matchup, but if anyone can break through a tough matchup, it’s Johnson, as long as the offense gets him involved.
Deep League Plays
Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens
It’s the Falcons turn to try and figure out the Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards tandem, and I don’t think it will go too well. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if, after two weeks of it, a defense committed wholesale to preventing the run and daring Jackson to throw the ball more. While the Falcons aren’t well-equipped for that (they have the second-worst pass defense by DVOA), I could still see them trying. And if they do, it would be Crabtree that benefits the most. You would usually say John Brown, especially after he saw seven targets last week, but he and Jackson only connected once, while Crabtree reeled in a score. The rookie QB may feel more comfortable with Crabtree than Brown at this point.
Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins
He’s had double-digit carries in every game since Week Four. The Bills give up the ninth-most points to running backs. He’s boring, his floor is low, and so is his ceiling. He’s steady and horribly unsexy, the antithesis of a fun Flex. But you could also do worse if you’re scrambling post-Melvin Gordon and/or Marlon Mack injury.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Though if you are dealing with a Gordon injury, Jackson isn’t a bad find. Filling in for Gordon midway through last week’s game, the rookie picked up 57 yards on just seven carries. While the Steelers’ rush defense is stouter than the Cardinals, Jackson could handle the primary rushing duties, as Austin Ekeler struggled in Week Seven, the last time he was a workhorse back with Gordon out. Jackson is incredibly risky, but (whatever the running back equivalent of) a Hail Mary could pay off big here.