Flex Appeal – Week 6
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 25th 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.
Alex Green (FI Rank: RB28, PP: 10.4) – Not only is Green getting the first crack at carries this week with Ced Benson out of commission, but I’ve maintained that this is possibly the most talented back on the roster. Green could seize this job and never turn back. Then again, it could be a three-way split with Green, James Starks, and John Kuhn – but I don’t think so. Big caveat – it’s unfortunate that the first opponent is Houston. This could cloud things because it’s a bad matchup for all running backs. Don’t mistake a rough first game for a lack of potential. Take the long view here.
Shonn Greene (FI Rank: RB33, PP: 4.9) – I listed Greene as an Adrian Balboa flex play last week – hidden beauty. This is the week we find out if I was right. If he stinks against the Colts’ defense (Top 10 defense for allowing fantasy points to RBs), then maybe he’s just not flexy. I think there’s still talent there – it’s not like Bilal Powell has taken the job and run with it; Greene’s value jumps if Tim Tebow takes over at QB. This week, I like him for a decent amount of yards and a score.
Andre Roberts (FI Rank: WR29, PP: 11.6) – If you felt let down after Roberts’ line for Week 5 (5 catches for 39 yards), don’t lose heart. He’s had 19 targets in the last two weeks. In every marriage, you will go through a rough patch or three. This week, Roberts will make your patience pay off. The Bills have given up an average of 2 TDs per week to WRs (tied for NFL lead) – Roberts should be an excellent start this week and very worthy of your flex spot. Stay committed.
Andrew Hawkins (FI Rank: WR35, PP: 10.8) – Hawkins’ owners saw something in Week 5 that perhaps provided some encouragement after yet another week without a TD – 13 targets from QB Andy Dalton. Hawkins is another great flex play this week (superb matchup against Cleveland – 2nd worst defense vs. WRs) with the potential to become a WR2 with some more consistency. Take note: Hawkins has gotten 3 looks in the red zone in the last two weeks.
Love Him and Leave Him
Vick Ballard (FI Rank: RB27, PP: 10.7) – As regular readers of Flex Appeal know, I’m a big fan of Donald Brown, and continue to trust that the points will eventually follow the talent. I am not a big fan of Vick Ballard. He has shown no threat of overtaking Brown – Ballard is averaging a whopping 2.0 yards per carry. So why is he on this list? Well, he’s going to be getting the majority of the carries versus a great matchup in the New York Jets this week. With a similar opportunity and a great matchup, there are few running backs I wouldn’t start in a flex position. This is no endorsement of Ballard – just use him for what he gives you this week. More on the future below…
Mario Manningham (FI Rank: WR38, PP: 10.7) – We predicted a great night for Robert Meachem last week – something about facing that former team gets players all fired up and playing their absolute best football. Why can’t it be that way every week? I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to that. Not only does Manningham have the “former team” matchup going on, but that former team stinks when it comes to stopping wide receivers. Manningham should not be counted on for more than 5 catches and 50 yards, but look for the score this week.
LeGarrette Blount (FI Rank: RB30, PP: 8.7) – It looks like Blount and Doug Martin are in a full-fledged timeshare, which I thought would be an issue early and go away in time – it looks like the opposite is true. Martin owners have to be concerned about Martin’s touches going down while Blount’s go up; not to mention that it is Blount who got the carry from the 2 yard line in Week 5. If you are in need of a flex play, and Blount is available, you’ve got a running back with an excellent matchup this week (with the potential for flex appeal going forward).
Jeremy Kerley (FI Rank: WR42, PP: 7.8) – Kerley was one of our picks for “Last Call” last week, and he delivered to the tune of 5 catches for 94 yards. Now that it’s been established that he’s the go to guy (9 targets last week), he gets an upgrade to “Love Him and Leave Him.” The Colts are giving up almost 2 TDs per game to WRs, and Kerley has shown that he can get yards when given a chance. Give him another chance and enjoy the results.
Alfonso Smith (FI Rank: RB29, PP: 9.9) – Smith has been adopted by Fantasy Insights as our dark horse candidate to win the battle of Cardinals’ RBs. Sure, if you have William Powell, you’ll want to start him this week, as he is going to get the first crack at carries. LaRod Stephens-Howling has been down this road before (and has done nothing with it), and is also dealing with a hip injury. Smith is the largest and fastest of the remaining backs, and the one that (in our estimation) is most likely to emerge as “the man.” He got an opportunity in week 3 of 2011 when Beanie Wells was injured and he put up 75 total yards against a tough Seattle defense on the road. Give him a chance if you’re desperate this week (speculative add if you’re not).
Jerome Simpson (FI Rank: WR52, PP: 5.7) – Simpson is questionable for Week 6, so I’m going to include Michael Jenkins in this Last Call (who filled in ably when Simpson left the Week 5 game early). The key here is the matchup: the Redskins are giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the league. And though you know Percy Harvin is going to go nuts in this matchup, the Vikings have proven that they can’t go his direction for every play. As the Redskins look to bottle up Harvin, Simpson and Jenkins should be running relatively unmolested. If Simpson plays, we like him to have a nice performance – if he doesn’t, Jenkins will fill in the gaps. Not a bad desperation play if you need to plug in a late injury-scratch for the late games on Sunday.
Joique Bell (FI Rank: RB45, PP: 3.6) – Bell is doing a Marcel Reece impression over in Detroit (is that a good thing?), by getting RB touches in the passing game. He is not getting many carries in relief of Mikel LeShoure, but he is getting lots of targets from QB Matt Stafford. In Week 5, he got targeted 8 times, with 6 catches and 72 yards. Going forward, he can be a guy who sees around 5 carries and 5 receptions each week, which gives him some desperation flex appeal.
Delone Carter (FI Rank: NR, PP: NR) – My not-a-fan-ness of Vick Ballard is well-documented (see above). Last
season, Delone Carter was the en vogue running back who was going to take over Donald Brown’s job. Carter did a half-decent job, culminating with a 10-carry, 89-yard performance against the Saints in Week 7 of 2011. Why he ended up in the coaches’ doghouse, I’m not sure; maybe they just think he’s not as good as Ballard. I disagree. Fair to say Carter is on NO ONE’s radar; but he was active last week ahead of Mewelde Moore, and I think there’s more to this guy than meets the eye. See through the surface ugliness, and add Carter with the hopes that he’s the guy that shines over Ballard.