Welcome to the Week 12 edition of FY’s top-50 flex plays. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. In these ranks, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play Sunday.
Week 11 saw workhorse running backs dominate the scoreboard once again. However, there was a surprise at the top with an emerging Robert Kelley pacing the field with a week-leading 31 points. The running back position seems to be getting deeper as we enter Week 12 with at least 20 teams sporting a back who should see a lot of usage.
The bye weeks are on bye for a week so talent is plentiful for the Thanksgiving schedule. Unfortunately, the late game has lost some pizzazz as the Indianapolis Colts sound like they will be Andrew Luck-less when they host Pittsburgh. The first two games on tap – Minnesota at Detroit and Washington at Dallas – should more than make up for it, though; they’re both crucial matchups between division rivals that have huge playoff implications.
Who should you be starting in the Turkey Day football feast and the Sunday slate that follows? I present to you my top 50 flex plays for Week 12.
Top 50 Flex Players Week 12
Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent
1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) @IND
2. D. Johnson/ARI RB(2) @ATL
3. E. Elliott/DAL RB(3) WAS
4. D. Murray/TEN RB(4) @CHI
5. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) @IND
6. O. Beckham/NYG WR(2) @CLE
This deep into the season, the top dogs are fairly well established. This week sees Odell Beckham move into Tier 1 as his matchup with the Cleveland Browns (31st-ranked defense) should lead to his first 100-yard performance since torching the Ravens for 222 yards way back in Week 6. The four games since have been fairly quiet for Beckham, but you can bet he’s been in Eli’s ear.
7. M. Gordon/SD RB(5) @HOU
8. L. Miller/HOU RB(6) SD
9. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(7) SF
10. T. Rawls/SEA RB(8) @TB
11. S. Ware/KC RB(9) @DEN
12. D. Bryant/DAL WR(3) WAS
13. A. Cooper/OAK WR(4) CAR
14. J. Jones/ATL WR(5) ARI
15. M. Evans/TB WR(6) SEA
16. J. Nelson/GB WR(7) @PHI
Melvin Gordon, fresh off a bye, heads into Houston against the Texans’ 21st-ranked run defense. Over the last five games, Gordon has touched the ball an average of 29.4 times, becoming a bigger factor in the passing game with 19 receptions over that span.
What a difference a week can make. Last week, Thomas Rawls was my 19th-ranked running back; this week, he moves all the way up to RB8. Rawls was considerably lower last week because he was returning from a long layoff and had a hot rookie (C.J. Prosise) to contend with. No more. Prosise suffered a fractured scapula and is out for the foreseeable future leaving the backfield duties to the battering ram Rawls. His physical style may lead to more injuries but, while he is in there, he should be treated as a low-end RB1.
Dez Bryant is once again making a move up the ranks. He’s had solid back to back performances and actually led all wide receivers in Week 11 with 20 points. He should be in line for another big day on Thanksgiving: with the league’s third-highest scoring offense coming to Dallas, rookie phenom Dak Prescott will once again be looking to his star wide receiver in order to keep pace with high-flying Washington. (Ya, I just used “high-flying” and “Washington” in the same sentence. That still feels wrong.)
Julio Jones normally resides higher in my ranks, however this week is a definite exception. With Patrick Peterson ready to follow Jones all over the field, Atlanta may turn to other options against Arizona. You can’t sit Julio, the WR2 on the year and the league leader in receiving yardage, but you can definitely temper expectations.
17. M. Forte/NYJ RB(10) NE
18. F. Gore/IND RB(11) PIT
19. R. Kelley/WAS RB(12) @DAL
20. T. Gurley/LA RB(13) @NO
21. L. Blount/NE RB(14) @JETS
22. D. Martin/TB RB(15) SEA
23. C. Hyde/SF RB(16) @MIA
24. B. Cooks/NO WR(8) LA
25. K. Benjamin/CAR WR(9) @OAK
26. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(10) @ATL
As previously mentioned, Robert Kelley surprised and finished the week as the number one flex option in standard scoring with 31 points on the strength of 24-137-3. He is the clear leader in Washington’s aforementioned “high-flying ” offense (barf) which should put him in position to score lots of fantasy points for the rest of the season.
LeGarrette Blount, my RB7 last week, hung 124 rushing yards on the Niners. This week, he comes in at number 14 as the Patriots are up against the stout front seven of the New York Jets. Look for the Pats to explore other avenues against New York’s fourth-ranked run defense.
After getting his feet wet with 17 touches in Week 10, Tampa Bay decided Doug Martin (who had been out since Week 2) was ready and handed him a full workload with 27 touches in Week 11. The “Muscle Hamster” responded, helping his team to an impressive road win over KC with a hard fought 105-yard effort. Though he draws another tough matchup this week up against the Seahawks and their NFL-best scoring defense (17.9 points per game), his usage should keep him a fairly safe play.
Sometimes fantasy is about gut instinct. Players and teams go hot and cold. Right now Kelvin Benjamin is cold, oh so very cold. With no signs pointing to improvement, I’m making a gut call ranking Benjamin as my WR9. Ok, there’s one sign pointing to improvement; he’s facing Oakland’s 29th-ranked pass defense. I see him scoring at least one touchdown, breaking a six-game drought.
27. D. Freeman/ATL RB(17) ARI
28. L. Murray/OAK RB(18) CAR
29. J. Stewart/CAR RB(19) @OAK
30. J. Hill/CIN RB(20) @BALT
31. R. Jennings/NYG RB(21) @CLE
32. D. Booker/DEN RB(22) KC
33. J. Reed/WAS TE(1) @DAL
34. A. Robinson/JAC WR(11) @BUF
35. T. Pryor/CLE WR(12) GIA
36. J. Crowder/WAS WR(13) @DAL
Devonta Freeman sees backfield mate Tevin Coleman return this week. If Coleman is back to full strength as reports lead us to believe, this backfield turns into a coin flip. When Coleman went down, both running backs where in the top 10 for standard scoring. It will be interesting to see how the touches will be distributed going forward. I remain sceptical of the Falcons’ two-headed monster.
Jeremy Hill owners must have been elated to hear of Gio Bernard’s trip to the IR. With A.J. Green also ailing, expect Hill to see a ton of touches going forward. He is a possible rest-of-season RB1, however I will pump the brakes this week as he is up against the NFL’s best run defense, the Baltimore Ravens.
Rashad Jennings is hot for the Giants right now. With workhorse expectations coming into the year, Jennings sputtered out of the gate. But now here we are in Week 12 and Jennings has accumulated 236 total yards in his last two games. He is finally providing owners what they had hoped for and it should continue for at least one more week as the Giants are up against the paper bag Browns.
Allen Robinson is one of the hardest players to rank for me. When I watch Jaguar games, Blake Bortles makes me wish it was still baseball season. Yet Robinson is immensely talented and benefits from garbage time – which can be as long as an entire half thanks to Bortles – as much as any receiver in the league. Start him at your own risk. For your sanity, remember not to panic until the clock actually strikes zero.
37. T. Riddick/DET RB(23) MIN
38. S. Smith/BAL WR(14) CIN
39. D. Thomas/DEN WR(15) KC
40. E. Sanders/DEN WR(16) KC
41. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(17) @TB
42. J.Matthews/PHI WR(18) GB
43. J. Edelman/NE WR(19) @JETS
44. G. Olsen/CAR TE(2) @OAK
45. D. Parker/MIA WR(20) SF
46. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(21) SD
47. B. Marshall/NYJ WR(22) NE
48. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(23) CAR
49. T. Hilton/IND WR(24) PIT
50. R. Matthews/TEN WR(25) @CHI
It’s funny to me that a 37-year-old receiver can be a team’s best offensive weapon, but that is exactly what Steve Smith is for the Baltimore Ravens. In three out of his eight games this year, Smith has registered eight receptions. With the Ravens in a dogfight with the Steelers for the division, Week 12 sees Baltimore up against a struggling division foe. If the Ravens want to take advantage of the Bengals’ woes, Smith needs the ball in his hands.
So his three-TD game in Week 10 wasn’t the start of another epic touchdown run for Doug Baldwin. However, he did follow it up with four catches for 104 yards against a solid Eagles defense in Week 11. (He also threw for a major on a trick play, but that’s not too relevant going forward.) The Seahawks have shaken off their slow start and Baldwin should be a viable option the rest of the way. Against the Bucs’ 26th-ranked defense, start him with confidence.
DeVante Parker has also been hot the last two weeks. The ultra-talented youngster, who hadn’t been able to even stay on the field for Miami, has reeled in 13 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins last two games. With defenses forced to focus on Jay Ajayi and the ground game, Parker has been flashing his ability a little more frequently and should continue to do so this week against the Niners’ 32nd-ranked defense … well, until he gets hit at least.
T.Y. Hilton takes a huge hit in the ranks this week for obvious reasons. Going from Andrew Luck to Scott Tolzien at starting quarterback, who knows what the Colts offense will look like. Tolzien hasn’t received any significant playing time since 2013 and I think we will see why on Thursday, even against the poor Steeler secondary.
That’s a wrap for this week. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the turkey and the games; tolerate the family time. Wink wink. Until next week, may the injury bug miss us all!