Flex Appeal – Week 2
By Todd Colburn
Follow on Twitter @colburnfootball
We’re introducing a new article in week 2 to assist you in selecting your flex players. We’re calling it “Flex Appeal.” Get it? Flex appeal? You can thank our resident wordsmith, Dish Adams, for that nugget. Anyhow, in keeping with the theme, we’re going to look at four categories of flex starts for Week 2 based upon their flex appeal. Please note: To determine a flex play, I am using our own Crystal Ball Rankings for the given week. That means that we’re looking at least the 24th position rank or beyond (assuming a 12-team league). Our categories work like this:
Marriage Material: This could be a free agent pickup or a player already on your roster that we would deem worthy of taking home to mama. Introduce him to the folks, feel free to include him in the family portrait – he’s going to be around in your flex spot (or more) for a long time. You two might want to look at getting a dog. This player has value for you, not just this week, but likely beyond week 2. He’s a keeper!
Love Him and Leave Him: This player has some flex appeal, but you’re really just using him for his matchup in Week 2. There are some red flags that give you pause: maybe he’s an injury risk, maybe he wilts under superior competition, maybe his last fantasy owner was a club promoter (RED FLAG!). Hey kids, with relationships like this, there will always be risks involved. Either way, this guy ain’t marriage material; you just need him for what he can do for you this week.
Last Call: Look, the bar is closing, and you’re desperate. Jonathan Stewart was a late scratch; quick, who can I add to my roster?! Let’s be honest. There isn’t much flex appeal here, but you need the best possible flex option in a pinch. We’ll give you the best of a rough-looking lot.
Adrian Balboa: We all remember Adrian back in Rocky, right? She was rockin’ the horn-rimmed glasses, seven sweaters, and a knit beanie that wasn’t doing her any favors. This is someone that we think you should consider because, like Rocky Balboa, you have the vision to see the hidden flex appeal where others can’t get past the horn-rimmed glasses (which are, like, cool now, right?). Buy this player some contact lenses and get him on your roster. Down the road, after a makeover, you’ll be so glad you did.
Donald Brown (FI Rank: RB30, PP: 11.1) – Lots of fantasy hatemongering out there with respect to Donald Brown. He dropped two key passes last week, and there is a lot of Vick Ballard love developing out there. I don’t see it yet. Ballard did nothing with his carries last week, and Brown got the TD. Brown has the pedigree, the skill, and the opportunity to keep the job and put up points for your team. This is a guy who currently holds sole possession of the starting job – a rarity in fantasy football these days. I don’t see much behind him in the way of threats. Brown can be a strong contributor to your team each week. Keep trotting him out.
Andre Roberts (FI Rank: WR34, PP: 11.2) – Roberts was drafted from The Citadel in 2010 (where he put up tremendous numbers) and has languished in a junior role to Larry Fitzgerald. So far, the Cards have drafted Early Doucet and Michael Floyd to fill that #2 spot, but Roberts has hung onto the job. He made the game-winning TD grab in Week 1, as well as a key third-down catch from John Skelton. Playing New England this week, surely the Cardinals will be throwing most of the game in order to keep up. He had 9 targets in Week 1, and with those looks, he’ll do well in a flex spot for you – in Week 2 and beyond.
Aldrick Robinson (FI Rank: WR47, PP: 6.9) – Robinson’s fortunes for 2012 are tied to the health of Pierre Garçon. Robinson came in after Garçon was hurt in Week 1 and put up 52 yards and a TD on 4 catches (6 targets). With Garçon’s status in doubt for Week 2, Robinson could be a great flex play. Not only that, but he could be a great long-term holding in dynasty leagues. Leonard Hankerson has done little with his opportunities (though a totally different WR from Robinson) thus far, so Robinson may get more and more opportunities as the season progresses.
Michael Turner (FI Rank: RB29, PP: 11.3) – What, Colburn? Did you actually watch that Week 1 game?! Turner is D-U-N done (that’s what you just asked me). I did watch the game, and yes, Michael Turner did not look particularly dynamic. What’s that? You’re worried about Jacquizz Rodgers? I would encourage you to look at his game log from last season (I’ll wait). Now look at his stats for Week 1 (hurry up). What do you see? Any sign that this guy is a feature back waiting for an opportunity? No. What Rodgers will be is a guy who gets 5-10 touches per game and does little with it. Who is going to become the feature back in Atlanta? Exactly. Expect Turner to continue getting 10-15 carries per game, and all of the goal line work. He should be what you want out of a flex position: 50ish yards per game and a good shot at a TD. This is really for Michael Turner owners – you can’t drop him, and you won’t be able to trade him. You need to go ahead and concede what you have in him: a flex back that cost you a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. Don’t mope about it; just lock him into that flex spot. You’re married to him, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
Dennis Pitta (FI Rank: TE16, PP: 10.5) – Pitta is someone I’ve been a fan of for the past year or so; if you watched BYU play football at all (anyone?), you know that this guy is the all-time receptions leader in school history (over Austin Collie). He’s got great size, and he represents a great potential red zone target for the Ravens. Week 1 gave me a glimpse (sooner than I expected) of what he is capable of, but then again, we saw some of this in the 2011 season. Yes, Ed Dickson remains a hurdle for Pitta’s rise to prominence. But if Dickson is out of the way, we’re not talking about a flex play, we’re talking about a top 5 TE. Love this guy’s future – meanwhile, if he keeps leading the team in targets (9 in Week 1), he’ll be a bona fide flex play for leagues that use TE for flex.
Love Him and Leave Him
Jonathan Dwyer (FI Rank: RB25, PP: 11.6) – I, and pretty much EVERY other fantasy writer, believe that Dwyer is probably the best back in the Steelers’ backfield. In fact, pretty much the only person who doesn’t is Todd Haley. That being the case, Dwyer remains a flex play instead of an RB1. This week, the Steelers face the Jets, and though Dwyer is no C.J. Spiller, the Jets gave up the 3rd most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1. I don’t know that Dwyer will be a great flex start every week, but he is this week.
Ronnie Brown (FI Rank: RB41, PP: 4.4) – Nobody is going to confuse Ronnie Brown for an RB1 or RB2 anytime soon. If he is anything, it is a flex play. This week’s matchup with the Titans is a good one for Brown. Tennessee’s defensive tackles are better pass rushers than run stuffers, and their primary defensive weapon, Colin McCarthy, is out for week 2. The Titans will be starting Will Witherspoon in his place; which is, shall we say, a downgrade?
Toby Gerhart (FI Rank: RB48, PP: 3.4) – The Colts gave up the most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1. They too are without their main run-stopper, Pat Angerer. Yes, I saw Adrian Peterson’s performance, but Gerhart got 7 touches last week. Against a team for which there is no reason to pass, I could see the Vikings at some point limiting Peterson’s touches (after he hits, say 25). The Vikings could run the ball 40 times in this game. I could easily see Gerhart getting 15 touches in this game, and banging into the endzone.
Jon Baldwin (FI Rank: WR40, PP: 7.9) – I know Baldwin didn’t receive a single target in Week 1, but I believe that will change this week. Baldwin was a standout in training camp, and coaches are working hard to find a role for the former first-round draft pick. Dexter McCluster won’t get 10 targets the rest of the season. The Chiefs opponent, Buffalo, had a hard time stopping…wait for it…Mark Sanchez from throwing all over the place to his receivers. Baldwin will get looks this week, and he’ll reward the savvy owner who saw the opportunity to pounce on a brief opportunity.
Mike Williams (FI Rank: WR68, PP: 5.4) – The forgotten sleeper from 2010, Williams seems to be off the fantasy grid. That said, he got a red zone look and a TD last week, despite only three targets in the game. If it works once in the NFL, teams will try to make it work again. Williams and the Bucs face off against the Giants, who gave up the most fantasy points to wide receivers league-wide last week. The Giants may not trot out the same 5th CB, but teams will most definitely be able to throw on them. Look for Williams to be an acceptable flex play for Week 2 with this matchup in effect.
Kevin Smith (FI Rank: RB27, PP: 11.5) – Obviously I feel differently about Smith than the Crystal Ball. The Crystal Ball forgot that San Fran has the stingiest run defense in the league. That said, Kevin Smith will be the guy this week. You pray for a goal line carry and call it a day. Anything beyond that is dreaming. He’s a desperation flex start this week.
Kendall Hunter (FI Rank: RB53, PP: 2.8) – Sometimes, at Last Call, you just take the guy with the most upside and hope for the best. Hunter is going to get around 10 touches a game. If you have limited choices, maybe it makes sense to use the guy who could do the most with those 10 touches. Hunter is electric; he’ll be the guy in San Fran at some point, and I don’t mind him as a desperate flex play.
Nate Burleson (FI Rank: NR, PP: NR) – Our Crystal Ball Rankings didn’t think much of Burleson, and maybe you’re thinking about the fact that he faces the vaunted 49ers defense this week. True, but San Fran shuts the RUN down, not the pass. They gave up the 6th most fantasy points to WRs in Week 1. Burleson isn’t going to light it up, but if desperate, I don’t mind giving him a shot for one week.
Michael Jenkins (FI Rank: NR, PP: NR) – Now, I could see this call as practically a coin flip with Devin Aromashodu. But that’s what you get with Last Call, folks. Jenkins had more targets (5) than Aromashodu (3) in Week 1, but Aromashodu had more yards with the same number of catches. Bottom line, I’m going to err on the side of targets here, and go with Jenkins against a lousy Colts defense.
Donald Jones (FI Rank: WR69, PP: 5.1) – The Crystal Ball loves T.J. Graham, I love Donald Jones. Jones is superior physically in every way to Graham. Moveover, Jones has a track record for production with the Bills. Health was the only thing that held him back in 2011 – go back and look at his start to the season last year. He opened this season with a TD in Week 1 (again), even with David Nelson in the mix. No one else sees the flex appeal. They just see the new 3rd round pick that hasn’t done anything yet. But you see it, don’t you? Just take the glasses and the hat off. Grab Jones now and amaze your friends.
Roy Helu (FI Rank: RB51, PP: 3) – Helu is someone I’m seeing being dropped in a lot of leagues. If you are looking for a long-term flex option and want to take a flier, Helu is your guy. By far the most talented and agile of the three-headed monster in Washington, Helu holds the most potential for fantasy upside. And yes, I know Shanahan is a monster in and of himself…talent is going to win out though. Right now, he looks kind of ugly. But you see the potential, and you’ll be rewarded for stepping out in faith.