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). For those of you reading this for the first time, 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.
Jerome Simpson (FI Rank: 44, PP: 8.1) – Second week in a row that our first flexy player is coming off of suspension. Okay fine – we like bad boys, whatever. Simpson has the potential to be your WR2 and his acquisition cost was very low. Simpson is a wild card right now because of the new team and the untested role, but we think he is a great compliment to Percy Harvin and will be a great weapon for Christian Ponder. Get him now, because he won’t come so cheap soon.
Mike Williams (FI Rank: WR31, PP: 11.6) – Many will point to Week 3 as a case in point why Williams may not be marriage material. Just keep in mind that Dallas is currently giving up the least fantasy points to WRs in the league. Guess who is number 1? That’s right, the Washington Redskins. Williams scored a TD in each of his first two weeks, got stymied versus one of the best pass defenses in the league, and will go off this week. Washington has given up 6 TDs to WRs in three weeks.
Andre Brown (FI Rank: RB31, PP: 11.5) – You have already seen what this guy is capable of. The return of Ahmad Bradshaw makes this backfield a bit of a mess, but talent is talent. We think Brown is a legitimate flex play even if Bradshaw gets 15+ touches. I’d actually be trying to trade for Brown in hopes of his owner being discouraged over the time share. Not many see Bradshaw as a bastion of health, and I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Brown in the role of sole Giants’ RB.
Brandon Myers (FI Rank: TE18, PP: 5.9) – Here is an amazing stat for Myers: his catches in each of the last three weeks (5, 6, 4) exactly match his targets over those three weeks. There is no one in the top 85 pass catchers (in terms of # of targets) who have caught 100% of their targets. At some point, you’d think he’d be earning even more trust from Carson Palmer. He hasn’t found the endzone yet, but he is averaging almost 70 yards receiving per game. In addition, Denver is giving up the 4th most fantasy points to tight ends in the league. Get in on Myers while you can – he makes a great flex start this week, and will likely be useful again for you soon.
Ben Tate (FI Rank: RB33, PP: 10.8) – Tate disappointed last week for anyone that played him as a flex option…all I can say is, “this week will be better, I promise!” You see that? I promised. But seriously folks, the Tennessee defense has always been kind to Tate. Houston should romp in this one, and they could run the ball 50 times in this one. Tennessee won’t be able to stop their run with eight in the box. Tate is a good bet for a top flex performance this week (and beyond, we think).
Love Him and Leave Him
Laurent Robinson (FI Rank: WR44, PP: 8) – Robinson was in this exact spot last week and got you a goose egg. On behalf of Laurent Robinson, we are very sorry about that. He got a concussion – you didn’t want him to push it did you (don’t answer that)? Robinson is gifted with another sweet matchup this week – should he stay healthy throughout the game, you’ll benefit from starting him.
Tashard Choice (FI Rank: RB36, PP: 5.6) – This is a tough week for a lot of potential flex plays, because of RBs that are questionable going into week 4. When you first put in a waiver claim for Choice, you thought he was going to be the only back healthy. Though that’s probably true, there is a chance that either Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller could play this week, dampening the Choice enthusiasm somewhat. Jackson is said to be closer, but that only means he’s got a 50-70% chance of playing. It’s not a great matchup, but Choice should get plenty of touches this week.
James Jones (FI Rank: WR63, PP: 5.4) – Most folks would think that with Greg Jennings back and healthy, Jones goes back to obscurity. Not so fast – keep him around for at least one more week. He’s got a great matchup and may be useful for you, if only this one last time. We like the Saints matchup to yield an insane amount of yards and points. Look for Jones to get in on the action.
Kendall Hunter (FI Rank: RB41, PP: 4.4) – What you might have circled on the schedule as a definite “SIT” week early in the preseason, now looks a little better a month into the season. The Jets just haven’t been that stout in run defense as usual, and Hunter looks to have an opportunity this week to get you more than his typical output (certainly more than last week against an underrated Minnesota run D). Start him this week with the expectation of a good 6-7 points with TD upside.
Lamar Miller (FI Rank: RB47, PP: 3.9) – I was tempted to label Miller marriage material, but it’s looking more and more likely that Reggie Bush will play this week. Either way, I am not a fan of Daniel Thomas who has proven to be little more than a lumbering, big back with no special skill set (as evidenced by his career yards per carry of 3.5 – Week 3 was his first TD). Miller, meanwhile, is speedy and agile – certainly better suited for production against Arizona this week. If Bush goes, then you’re counting on Miller getting touches ahead of Thomas (which we think will happen); if Bush doesn’t go, then you’ve got RB2 upside.
Jackie Battle (FI Rank: RB53, PP: 3.1) – Battle occupied this space last week, and with a favorable matchup against his former team (Chiefs), Battle is flexy this week…if you squint. Mathews had some fumbling issues last week, so Battle’s opportunity has expanded just a tad. If something does go wrong with Mathews, Battle is the guy.
Owen Daniels (FI Rank: TE13, PP: 11.4) – This is probably unfair to Daniels, who is probably a little bit flexier than a “Last Call” start at your flex spot. That said, I like Daniels against the worst team versus tight ends in the league. Good bet he gets a TD this week. If injuries have hit you, Daniels might possibly be available in shallow leagues – pick him up if TE is eligible for your flex spot.
Armon Binns (FI Rank: WR61, PP: 5.6) – Binns is in a crowded “upside receiver” position. We love Andrew Hawkins, and there are only so many balls to go around. That said, the Bengals defense is weak, and that offense will be often playing from behind. Binns has been getting better each week, but I don’t necessarily look for the same production from him as in Week 3 (63 yds 1 TD). However, he seems like a good bet for 3-5 targets this week, and he should get you 50-60 yards. Not super flexy, but it’s Last Call.
Andre Roberts (FI Rank: WR62, PP: 5.6) – Roberts is not getting much love in the fantasy world, mostly because of his lousy QB situation. Roberts is super talented, and is poised to break out. His is much flexier than he appears. It just so happens that Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are his bad haircut and horn-rimmed glasses, respectively. Obviously, the QBs won’t change – but we’re still believers (barely) in Kolb. Kolb can improve and be what Roberts (and Fitzgerald for that matter) need to be in a QB. He’s shown signs of life (great performance against a solid Philly D), so the savvy fantasy owner needs to see past the ugly to get a great WR.