Flex Appeal – Week 3
By Todd Colburn
Follow on Twitter @colburnfootball
Flex Appeal is our weekly look at the sometimes painful process of deciding who to start in your flex position. We’re going to look at four categories of flex starts each week based upon their “flex appeal.” Please note: To determine a flex play, I am using our own Crystal Ball Rankings for the given week, and I’m looking at least the 24th position rank or beyond (assuming a 12-team league). Our categories work like this (see if you can spot the very clever tie-in with the title of the article!):
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 this week. 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 this week. 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.
Mikel LeShoure (FI Rank: RB25, PP: 12) – This was almost too easy. You’re not going to run the risk of starting him as an RB2, right? But the Lions play the lowly Tennessee Titans this week, and he could be a solid flex play. With teams concentrating their collective will to stop Megatron, Detroit RBs should thrive versus the 6-7 guys in the box. Think back to August 2011. That really wasn’t that long ago, was it? There was a not-so-silent contingent in the fantasy community that thought LeShoure was the best back in the draft. Time has a way of erasing hype. It’s been 13 months, and LeShoure is coming off injuries and stupidity suspension. Easy to forget that this was one of the hottest prospects going just a year ago. Flex him this week and watch him become an RB2 before season’s end.
Dez Bryant (FI Rank: WR25, PP: 12.1) – Okay, this is not particularly mind-blowing; I know you are very patient and probably not all that worried about his slow start. What’s that? You’re panicking? Okay, well I really just wanted to make this point: The Buccaneers have given up the most yards to wide receivers to this point (324 yards/game – next on the list is Cleveland at 230 yards/game!). Bryant is a must-start this week…and yes, he’ll be fine.
Donald Brown (FI Rank: RB31, PP: 11.1) – Sorry for the repeat from last week, but I’m going to keep listing Donald Brown here until Dish believes in Brown enough to make him an RB2. This week, of all weeks, Brown faces the defense that has shown itself to be most susceptible to the run – Jacksonville. This is a no-brainer flex start if you have that luxury.
Andrew Hawkins (FI Rank: WR39, PP: 10.8) – I’ve watched both of Hawkins’ games, and I think this guy could be special. He has bounced around (spent some time in the CFL, coached some at his alma mater, Toledo), but that just gives him a certain Lance Moore, Kurt Warner, “come-out-of-nowhere” quality about him. He was timed in the high 4.3s in his pro day, and by now you’ve all seen the 50-yard TD from week 2 where he made the Cleveland Browns look like Keystone Cops. He’s also catching 83% of the balls thrown his way. The Redskins have been very generous to WRs so far this season; I think he’s flexy; both this week and long term.
Ben Tate (FI Rank: RB35, PP: 10.8) – If Tate continues to get 10-15 touches per game, I would consider Tate a flex start every week. The Texans are happy to run the ball 50 times per game; it’s an offense that is built to skew run-first. Tate almost rushed for 1,000 yards last season as Arian Foster’s caddy; it’s something that he can do again this year (as he proved last week).
Love Him and Leave Him
Laurent Robinson (FI Rank: WR59, PP: 5.9) – Though I would never presume to bet heavily on the arm of Blaine Gabbert, he’s showing himself to be fairly useful for fantasy – if in no other way than his bias to talented-but-underrated Laurent Robinson. 15 targets through two weeks is pretty solid – but Robinson was definitely slowed down by the Texans defense in Week 2. However, the Colts (week 3 matchup) are certainly not the Texans; I could see Robinson ending up with 60-70 yards and a TD this week.
Daryl Richardson (FI Rank: RB36, PP: 10.6) – Richardson had a nice day in Week 2 in relief of Stephen Jackson, but those expecting an Andre Brown-type of follow up in Week 3 are likely to be disappointed. Richardson is not a feature back (small frame, not particularly productive at Abilene Christian). On the other hand, Jackson has missed some practice, and it appears that Richardson may get another week to do his thing. Though it’s against the Bears, I think Richardson will have a couple of productive series. This is not a long-term option, however.
Greg Little (FI Rank: RB48, PP: 3.4) – I’d have to say that I prefer Little to Mohamed Massaquoi, though I don’t feel that strongly about it. Little has gotten more red zone looks, so that’s something. Buffalo has shown themselves to be forgiving in pass defense – just what I like to see across the line from my flex play.
Donald Jones (FI Rank: WR:68, PP: 5.1) – So I had Jones in my Adrian Balboa section last week. Boy was Week 2 good and ugly! If 1 catch for -1 yard threw you off Jones’ scent…well, I’m forcing you to consider him one more time. I like Jones long term, but the matchup this week is especially good. Cleveland is underwater on pass defense without Joe Haden, and this is Jones’ week to capitalize. Jones is still just behind Stevie Johnson in terms of WR targets. Fitzpatrick will keep looking his way, and this week, the very savvy fantasy owners will be rewarded.
Jackie Battle (FI Rank: RB52, PP: 3.1) – Jackie Battle and I go way back – way back to last year when he helped me in my dynasty league as a serviceable flex player on the Chiefs for 4-6 weeks. This week, Ryan Matthews is reportedly returning from his broken collarbone. I’m guessing that after sitting for six weeks, you don’t just get 30 carries. The Chargers are going to be sprinkling in other backs, and Battle could be productive with 10+ touches. It’s a gamble, but isn’t it always at Last Call?
Kevin Ogletree (FI Rank: WR42, PP: 10.4) – Believe me, I’m not the guy promoting your running out and grabbing the latest flash-in-the-pan. By the way, stay away from Ramses Barden. Anyway, Ogletree may not be able to duplicate his Week 1 performance, but to be flexy enough for this spot, we just require the bare minimum. And this week, that means a Tampa Bay pass defense that is giving up the most fantasy points to WRs of any team in the league.
Evan Royster (FI Rank: NR, PP: NR) – Is Alfred Morris for real? In real life, sure, maybe. In Shanny’s world? Who knows. Uncertainty is common thread here at Last Call. But I do know that the Bengals are a bit of a mess on defense with all their injuries. With Shanahan’s chicanery, you don’t think we could see Royster pick up 20 carries all of the sudden?
Randy Moss (FI Rank: WR41, PP: 10.6) – Okay, this is a not-so-subtle message to all of you who are living in the past. Week 1 flexy results notwithstanding, there is nothing here to get excited about. Our fearless leader, Dish Adams, has a standing man-crush on all formerly great WRs ages 35 and older. My message is simple – Randy Moss is one of the few left hanging around here in the bar. You’d have to be pretty desperate to pick him up and take him to your roster. Now I love the matchup this week – it’s not just the Vikings and all their secondary woefulness – IT’S THE VIKINGS. I think Randy can reach back and get charged up for this one – just like he did in that season opener versus his nemesis, the Packers. Understand however: all you can hope for is the occasional outburst that is marginally satisfying. Remember folks…it’s Last Call.
Brian Hartline (FI Rank: WR31, PP: 11.6) – Okay, not as obvious. Some hidden flexiness if you look close enough. Here are a couple of interesting points though: 1) 20 targets for Hartline to date – he is clearly someone that Tannehill is looking for; 2) The Jets gave up 275 yards passing last week, and Darrelle Revis may still be sidelined with a concussion in Week 3. If Hartline continues to be Tannehill’s #1 target, he could be in line for an 80-90 catch season. Hartline works for this week and beyond, especially in PPR.
Leonard Hankerson (FI Rank: WR76, PP: 3.2) – Leonard Hankerson has had a rough go of it, these first two years in the league. He was injured in his first season, fought the reputation of having butterfingers, and was just not able to live up to the potential of such a productive college player with such fine measurables. He has flashed at times, and given those of us who see through the imperfections the glimpse of future greatness. I’m very interested to see how he handles his opportunity in these weeks with Pierre Garçon out of commission. Hankerson has the size and speed to be a star in the league – he just needs to take off all those sweaters and hats, and let the league see what we see. This week versus the Bengals could be that chance.