Top 7 Flex Fantasy Options for Week 4: Brandin Cooks to Excel Against the Vikings

Through three weeks of the NFL season, the fantasy landscape has been shifted massively. Players who weren’t relevant a month ago are now high-volume starters and fantasy managers are scrambling to fill in their flex spots after losing starters. I’m going to look at some under-the-radar flex options in this article, including players who have been thrust into starting roles and others who are being completely slept on for fantasy value.

Jeff Wilson Jr.

The 49ers are likely going to be without Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman this week, and while Jerick McKinnon has practiced in full since sustaining his rib injury last week. Still, it would be wise to understand the quick-shifting nature of Kyle Shanahan’s backfield. Last season, we saw a number of players come into the lead role for this rushing offense and after Wilson’s 2 touchdowns last week, Shanahan will look to ride the hot hand. Wilson only had 15 rushing yards on 12 carries but he also caught 3 balls for 54 yards. Wilson had 18 touches to 17 for McKinnon last week, but if McKinnon is dealing with more injury issues than the team is letting on, it would not be shocking to see Wilson surpass 20 touches. With Deebo Samuel and George Kittle potentially returning this week, the Eagles’ defense will have to respect the pass and Shanahan’s running backs are always elite for fantasy production. The Eagles have only allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to RBs this year but I’m still firing up Wilson as a RB3/flex guy with upside, especially if McKinnon is out.

Hunter Renfrow

Despite a difficult matchup agaisnt the Patriots defense last week, Hunter Renfrow finished with 6 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller played through injuries last week that could continue to hamper them while Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs have not practiced this week and will miss the game against the Bills. That makes Renfrow the team’s healthiest and most reliable skill player by far for this week, and while the Bills’ secondary is one of the league’s best, I expect Renfrow to match or surpass his 9 targets from last week. The Bills have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are coming off a combined 14 catches for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns against Buffalo, 37.1 1/2-PPR points. Renfrow gets a sizable boost in PPR formats this week and is a solid option to consider if you’re dealing with injuries to your starting receivers. He’s a strong WR3 with WR2 upside this week.

DeVante Parker

It’s been a slow start to the year for DeVante Parker as he hasn’t surpassed 5 catches or 70 yards in a game so far and only has one touchdown all year. However, I think this is the week he has his first big breakout game. The Dolphins are facing the Seahawks’ defense which has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL, and it’s not even close. Russell Wilson is going to move the ball at will on Miami, especially with their defensive injuries, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to air it out to stay in the game. I have Fitzpatrick as a borderline top-10 QB this week, and by extension, I also think DeVante Parker is an easy WR2 this week with potential WR1 upside. There are very few situations where I would consider benching Parker this week.

Tyler Boyd

Boyd is coming off a game with 10 catches for 125 yards and has quickly emerged as rookie Joe Burrow’s favorite target. With a team-leading 21 catches on 26 targets, Boyd is a very cosnsistent WR2/3 on a weekly basis, but he could finish in the top-12 range this week. He’ll be matched up against the Jaguars’ slot cornerback D.J. Hayden who has been one of the worst players at his position this season. I’m expecting this game to be higher-scoring with Boyd averaging 7 catches per game this season, I would not be shocked to see him surpass that mark this week. I currently have Boyd ranked as my WR19 in 1/2-PPR leagues this week and it would take some great options for me to cosnider not starting him.

Brandin Cooks

Every season, there are a handful of pass defenses who are worth targeting every week in fantasy no matter who they’re matched up against. The Vikings are one of those squads this season as they’ve generated one of the lowest pressure rates on the defensive line and have one of the worst groups of cornerbacks in football. Minnesota is allowing the 4th-most fantasy points to WRs this year. This week, the Vikings will face Deshaun Watson and the Texans, making Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks well worth starting. Fuller has been the better player so far this season and Cooks’s 11 catches actually place him fourth on the team, but this game should provide him with the opportunity for his best performance of the season. Cooks is a massive talent and with Watson passing him the ball against one of the league’s worst defenses, I’m riding Cooks this week.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

I was prepared to write about Allen Lazard in this column after his massive 6-catch, 146-yard performance last week, but Lazard will miss at least a month after undergoing core muscle surgery. With Davante Adams potentially out again this week with a hamstring injury, that could leave MVS as the only proven, healthy receiver on the squad. MVS has just 8 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown through three games this season, but this week could easily end up being his best game of the year. The Falcons have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers and Aaron Rodgers has been on an absolute tear this season. Even if Adams plays this week, I’m looking to start MVS as a solid WR3 with immense upside.

Chris Carson/Carlos Hyde/Travis Homer

This is a bizarre three-for-one special where I’m basically hitching myself to the entire Seahawks’ backfield. While the #LetRussCook experiment has been spectacular, I still expect this team to run the ball more as the season goes on and I don’t expect Russ to keep on this torrid pace of 75 passing touchdowns. The Dolphins’ run defense has struggled all year and they’ve allowed the 12th-most fantasy to RBs this year. Chris Carson is dealing with a knee issue after a dirty injury at the hands of a Cowboys’ defensive tackle, but he seems prepared to play this week after a full week of practice. If he misses, Carlos Hyde would immediately be a must-start at your flex spot, if not for a shoulder injury of his own. It’s unlikely, but if Carson and Hyde are out this week, Travis Homer would be worthy of flex consideration as the likely starting running back for Seattle.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. I've been playing fantasy football for as long as I can remember and am now in far more leagues than any person should take part in. There are few things that give me as much joy and excitement as fantasy football, and I'm excited to share my input with you in your journey towards a championship.

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