I want to start kicking off this weekly column with a breakdown of how my flex picks went from the previous week for a bit of accountability in my projections. Last week, Robby Anderson finished as the WR36 on the week in PPR scoring and Justin Jackson finished as the RB25, so while they weren’t exceptional, they still provided a solid baseline. Tee Higgins and Christian Kirk both finished inside the top-16 wide receivers on the week, so they were smash plays. D’Andre Swift finished with 14.8 PPR points and was the RB16. Then, there’s Chase Claypool, who finished as the WR102 (2nd-lowest among all players with a catch, only higher than CeeDee Lamb). Not only does that hurt my heart, it also hurt my fantasy lineup as Claypool’s lack of productivity left me vulnerable to a late Tyler Lockett-boosted 95-point comeback in one league. Here’s to hoping this week I pick more guys like Tee Higgins and Christian Kirk and less like Chase Claypool.
I’m starting off this article with a player who I believe finishes as a top-12 running back this week. Miles Sanders missed practice again on Thursday and is trending in the wrong direction in terms of being available to play against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Boston Scott saw 15 touches against the Giants (12 carries, 3 catches) and finished with 18.2 PPR points. He’s been pretty inefficient this season with an average YPC of 3.4, but he’ll easily be in line for 15+ touches again if Sanders is out. The Cowboys have allowed the 6th-most fantasy points to running backs this season so Scott is a must-start as the lead guy for Philly. He’s not the traditional flex play, but I’m putting him here as an indication that he’s an absolute must-start even if you weren’t planning on playing him this week.
Bernard’s situation is very similar to that of Boston Scott. Joe Mixon still ranks 3rd in the NFL in rushing attempts despite playing one fewer game than most guys and would be the team’s workhorse, if he can play this week. He’s still listed as questionable leading up to the Bengals-Titans game, and if Mixon doesn’t play, Bernard is immediately a must-start flex option. The Titans have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to RBs this year and Bernard picked up 18 touches (13 carries, 5 catches) last week. He’s not a very efficient runner, like Scott, and it doesn’t always look pretty for him, but he finished with 20.6 PPR points last week. His role in the passing game is especially relevant for fantasy and he will likely finish as a top-15 guy this week if Mixon is out.
Melvin Gordon III
Gordon’s DUI issue and non-COVID-19 illness kept him off the field for a bit, but he came back strong last week with 19 touches and his 4th rushing touchdown of the season. Gordon has caught 2+ passes in every game he’s played and only has fewer than 18 touches once all year in games he’s played. The Broncos face a beatable Chargers’ defense this week that has been below-average against the run in a handful of metrics. You can also be sure that Gordon is going to be fired up for this game with the way that his contract fallout with the Chargers previously went down. Gordon previously said he’s looking forward to playing the Chargers twice a year with the Broncos and we know Denver wants to establish the run game to unlock easier passing opportunities for Drew Lock. Gordon should be in for a solid workload and with that extra chip on his shoulder, he could get into the top-15 RBs this week.
Don’t you dare sleep on Travis Fulgham. Everyone else did, as he was drafted in the 6th round before bouncing around on the Lions and Packers’ practice squads. The Eagles took a chance on him, and it’s paid off in a massive way as he’s become Carson Wentz’s favorite target. Fulgham has had 10+ targets in the past three weeks and has scored three touchdowns in the four games he’s been active. He’s also been remarkably consistent with three finishes of between 12 and 19 PPR points with once outburst of 31.2 points against the Steelers in Week 5. This week presents what is likely Fulgham’s easiest matchup of the season against a Cowboys defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs. Wentz should be in for a big week against his division rival and Fulgham is going to be a huge part of it.
Far from the sexiest fantasy option, Jarvis Landry has had a very consistent and yet very unspectacular season. He’s a PPR machine with 4+ catches in all but two games and should be in line for additional opportunity now that Odell Beckham Jr. is out for the year. The Raiders present an excellent matchup for Landry as they’re allowing the 9th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Keep a close eye on the injury reports for Landry this week as he’s continuing to deal with broken ribs, but he’s never missed a game in his career and I’m expecting him to play and succeed this week. With Kareem Hunt also injured and Austin Hooper likely missing this week, Baker’s healthiest starting skill player from the beginning of the season might somehow be Landry and he should be in line for a strong fantasy day.
Davis is still available on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues and he’s a clear break-the-glass option this week against a Bengals defense that allowed a career-high 5 passing touchdowns from Baker Mayfield last week. A.J. Brown was a surprising add to the injury report on Thursday with what appears to be a new knee injury, and it appears he may miss this week. Davis had 10 targets and a touchdown against the Steelers last week, so even if Brown plays, he may be involved enough to provide decent fantasy value. However, if Brown misses this matchup and Bengals’ cornerback William Jackson is out again, Davis would have a chance to deliver top-20 fantasy production.
Eagles fans have to be less than thrilled about the sudden emergence of former castoff Nelson Agholor who seems to have left his drop issues behind in Philadelphia. He has scored a touchdown in each of the past three games and had his best game of the season last week with 5 catches on 9 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown despite facing a tough Tampa secondary that is allowing the 8th-fewest fantasy points to WRs. This week, Agholor will have more of an opportunity against the Browns who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Nelson Agholor may not give you warm and fuzzy feelings, but he’s a strong play given his red-zone usage, target share, and exceptional matchup.