After a Week 2 that unfortunately featured what seemed like an endless barrage of injuries, the fantasy landscape has been rocked to its core. Players who weren’t relevant two weeks ago are now high-volume starters and fantasy managers are scrambling to fill in their flex spots after losing key players. 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.
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The Steelers’ second-year wide receiver is having a breakout season and is emerging as arguably the top receiving weapon in the Steelers’ offense. Through the first two games of the season, Johnson has 23 targets to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 14. Johnson has 14 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown through two games and he also had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown called back against the Broncos. He’s seeing a valuable target share as the team’s top outside receiver and should be an every-week starter at this point, especially this week against a weak Texans’ secondary. The Texans haven’t been the best fantasy matchup for wide receivers so far, but that doesn’t reflect their actual quality of defending against the pass which is not good. Deshaun Watson should be able to keep this game close enough to force the Steelers to remain unpredictable offensively and Johnson is the type of player who can break a long touchdown at any point. I’m trusting him as a WR2/3 this week.
Fantasy managers who drafted Joshua Kelley late or scooped him up off the waiver wire have to be thrilled about his 23 carries and 2 catches last week. Justin Jackson still isn’t practicing as he’s dealing with a quad injury and it’s clear that the Chargers don’t want Austin Ekeler to be an every-down back. Ekeler has seen under 50% of snaps in each of the team’s two games this season and Kelley saw 43% of snaps last week. This week, the Chargers face an easily-exploitable Panthers’ run defense that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Both Ekeler and Kelley should have strong weeks, and I’m locking Kelley into a lot of my lineups as a flex option.
If you drafted Devin Singletary in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft, you likely are not thrilled to this point. However, rookie running back Zack Moss who has 17 carries and 3 catches through two games will not play this week. That leaves Devin Singletary with essentially the backfield to himself and he should be in for a big workload. The Rams have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to running backs so far so this is not the most ideal matchup, but I do expect Singletary to be heavily utilized in the passing game with tight end Dawson Knox out. Josh Allen will also likely need a quick outlet receiver with how often the pocket will break down against Aaron Donald. Start Singletary with confidence this week.
In his first healthy season on the field since signing with the 49ers a few years ago, McKinnon has impressed. He had 3 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown last week. Now, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman will be out for the foreseeable future with injuries. That leaves the backfield to McKinnon and Jeff Wilson, and while Wilson may earn more of the early-down work, McKinnon is explosive and can turn any play into a long gain. He’s also an adept pass-catcher and should get more involved in that regard. The 49ers’ offensive line is still stout and Kyle Shanahan’s unique running scheme can make any player look great. McKinnon is well worth putting in your flex spot this week.
The Titans are going to be without A.J. Brown again this week, so Davis is going to be the team’s top receiver. Davis draws a phenomenal matchup against a Minnesota secondary that has looked lost all year on its way to allowing the third-most fantasy points in the NFL to opposing wide receivers. Davis has been impressive this season as he has either had 100 yards or a touchdown in his first two games. Ryan Tannehill looked awesome against the Jaguars last week and should keep up his strong play against an entirely beatable Vikings’ pass defense. Davis is a locked-and-loaded flex option for me this week.
If you lost a top-tier running back to injury last week and drafted Swift in the middle rounds of your draft, you’re likely thinking about starting him this week. Swift’s snap share has been disappointing so far and he only got on the field for 20% of snaps last week. Still, I expect him to continue to put his mark on this backfield and earn a higher snap share over time. The best part about Swift for fantasy is he’s clearly the Lions’ best pass-catching running back He has caught 8 of 10 targets through the first two weeks for 75 yards and a touchdown. I’m expecting the Lions to be trailing against a tough Cardinals team this week and Swift should see plenty of usage, especially in the passing game, in the second half. The three-headed nature of this backfield makes Swift a bit risky, but he’s the most talented running back on the roster and should provide great value with his pass-catching alone.
This is my deep-league flier of the league. I hate the matchup for Samuel this week – he plays a Chargers’ defense that has allowed the 8th-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season. However, I see Samuel as more than just a typical receiver and I expect him to get involved on the ground with Christian McCaffrey out for the foreseeable future. Mike Davis is entirely unexciting as the team’s new starting running back and I can see Samuel getting as many as 7-8 carries after rushing the ball four times last week. If Samuel picks up a couple of the vacated targets left behind by CMC, he could easily be a 12+ touch player this week and that gives him enticing deep-league flex value, even in a tough matchup.
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