The Flexpert: Your Ideal Week Four Fantasy Football Flex Plays
Choosing your Flex is a lot like choosing your second-favorite child. Picking your favorite isn’t actually that hard; they’re reliable, well-behaved and at least three (if not all) of the funny/smart/talented/athletic/kind/humble/generous matrix. Your second-favorite though, well, that gets shaky. They’ll have one of those traits, like maybe they’re easily your funniest child, but they also often make mean jokes at the expense of the favorite child. Can’t be having that. Anyway, the Flex is much the same. Your RB1 and WR1 are (or should be) steady and reliable. Your Flex? He might have a great day, but you’re always going to be a little wary about playing him. He might just push over that favorite child this week instead of making everyone laugh together.
But enough about my family (I’ll let you guess which I am).
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Favorite child trait: An absolutely monstrous 7/146/3 line last week. Second-favorite child trait: A combined seven targets in the first two games. Is Ridley going to vault over Julio Jones on the strength of one week? No. Are the Falcons going to play in shootouts in perpetuity thanks to a ragged defense, necessitating a high volume of passes from Matt Ryan? Yes, and Ridley has shown himself to be a reliable option for Ryan. Another big game could easily elevate Ridley out of Flex and into WR3/low-end WR2 territory.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
Favorite child trait: Six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown last week. Second-favorite child trait: Eli Manning is his quarterback. Still, with the injury to Evan Engram and a matchup against the turned-back-into-a-pumpkin Saints’ secondary, Shepard will be in line for a lot of targets. With the Saints’ last bastion of decency in Marshon Lattimore probably spending all game on Odell Beckham, Shepard could have a big day, despite catching passes from Noodle Arm Manning from behind his bowling pin line.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Favorite child trait: In Weeks One and Three, Stills had a combined seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Second-favorite child trait: He had two catches for 17 yards in Week Two. Stills is in the mold of vintage DeSean Jackson, a game-breaking deep threat who could just as easily score no points as 20. But if this Patriots’ defense made Blake Bortles look like Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill is going to look like Aaron Rodgers, much to Stills’ benefit.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Favorite child trait: 12 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Second-favorite child trait: There’s already a favorite child, and his name is A.J. Green. But Green is currently dealing with a groin injury suffered in the third quarter last week. If Green is not 100 percent, Boyd against a porous Falcons secondary might warrant a WR3 or even WR2 spot. But even if Green is fine, Boyd is looking like a solid option every week by volume alone; those 12 catches came on 17 targets.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Favorite child trait: Lockett has scored a touchdown all three weeks so far. Second-favorite child trait: He has only 17 targets so far this season. There’s a chance that Lockett gets matched up rather frequently with Patrick Peterson, which hurts him, but the Seahawks should rotate him into the slot enough to get him some cleaner looks. While there’s a chance Doug Baldwin plays this week, Lockett could still be Wilson’s top target even if he plays.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Favorite child trait: Jones averaged seven yards a carry in his first game back from suspension. Second-favorite child trait: He had only six carries. Aaron Rodgers is clearly struggling with his knee, but the Packers haven’t been able to keep the pressure off him by using the run game because of the ineffectiveness of Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. After one game to shake off the rust, and against a Bills team that is definitely not as good as they looked last week, Jones could be in line for a big day.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
Favorite child trait: He’s had over 70 yards from scrimmage each of the past two weeks. Second-favorite child trait: He wasn’t even targeted out of the backfield last week and had just one catch in Week One (he had five catches for 74 yards in Week Two). Powell was kind of quietly not used too often in the passing game last year, recording just 23 catches for 170 yards, though he did set a career-high in rushing attempts (178) and rushing yards (772). The Jets have brought in Isaiah Crowell in to be the lead back, so Powell has seen less and less burn. However, against a stout Jacksonville defense, the only way to get by them might be passing to the running back, and Powell is the best pass-catching back on the roster.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Favorite child trait: Williams is already just one yard away from doubling his receiving yardage from last season, and has as many receptions as he did last year. Second-favorite child trait: He’s behind a true favorite child, Keenan Allen. Still, there is certainly room for two receivers when Philip Rivers is slinging the ball around. Antonio Gates has been in the NFL longer than he played basketball at this point, and Williams has benefitted, slowly replacing him as the Chargers’ go-to man in the red zone.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Favorite child trait: Ekeler is averaging over 9.5 yards per touch. Second-favorite child trait: Favorite child Melvin Gordon is averaging over 18 touches per game. Ekeler is doing his best Alvin Kamara impression this year, though he’s still the dollar store brand because he hasn’t yet gotten the volume. Ekeler is the prototypical electric Flex back, and against a weak San Francisco unit he should get the chance to rip off some more big gains and remain efficient.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Favorite child trait: He’s the Jaguars number one receiver. Second-favorite child trait: His quarterback is Blake Bortles, so outside of that game against the Patriots in Week Two, Cole hasn’t topped 54 yards. But he saw nine targets in an ugly game last week, which led the team. The next closest wide receiver was Dede Westbrook with four. He might be the land owner of a desert, but he’s still a land owner.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
Favorite child trait: “We’ll have some fun with him.” – New Bears head coach Matt Nagy, on Tarik Cohen. Second-favorite child trait: Is “fun” seven catches for 48 yards and another 86 on the ground? Either Nagy is one of those people who find cleaning their apartment fun or the offense is just struggling to adapt to his scheme. I’m going to say the latter, and go on further to say that Cohen is going to get going at some point. Against a bad defense in Tampa Bay, this would be the perfect time. If he can’t do it this week, he might not the entire season.
Deep League Flex Plays
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Favorite child trait: Allen has four touchdowns this year, and has a strong hold on goal-line touches. Second-favorite child trait: He’s averaging just about five rushes a game. But he is still seeing targets in the passing game, averaging close to six targets a game, though he hasn’t turned those into many yards. While he definitely has some value in PPR leagues, the majority of it comes from his nose for the end zone, which could pick up the wrong scent at any time.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Favorite child trait: Crabtree has seen 10 targets in back-to-back games. Second-favorite child trait: His 61 yards last week were a season high. Crabtree has certainly had the volume this season, it just hasn’t really translated to points yet, especially since he has only one touchdown. However, facing a weak Steelers’ defense, the Ravens could be in for a big day, with enough love to go around to make Crabtree a usable option in deeper leagues.
Alfred Morris, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Favorite child trait: The actual favorite child, Matt Breida, is hurting. Second-favorite child trait: Morris hasn’t actually looked that good, and Breida is still in the mix. Morris is coming off his best game of the season, which sounds good, until you realize that 67 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries is what that means. They’re certainly not bad numbers, but they’re also not the kind of numbers that win a starting role. But Breida is pretty banged up, so Morris should have some opportunities here.