Welcome to the Week 13 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 this week.
Thanksgiving weekend was full of excitement with a great slate of primetime games. Unfortunately some of our fantasy players enjoyed too much turkey and took a weekend-long nap. With numerous fantasy studs looking a little lethargic, it opened the door for a few secondary players to fill the top 10. Some of the usual suspects managed to shake the weariness and provided owners with their usual output. Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, and Mike Evans still handed in top-10 performances. But for the second straight week, a surprise leader emerged. Mark Ingram popped off big play after big play, turning in a stellar 28 fantasy points to pace the field. The top 10 also included names such as Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Thomas, and Jonathan Stewart.
Week 13 ends the NFL bye weeks. Owners who are unfortunate enough to be relying on Titans or Browns will need to search a thin waiver wire for replacements.
Another thing hindering fantasy owners is the inability of the top two fantasy tight ends to stay on the field. With a wide receiver group that thins out considerably after the top 10, owners are searching for ways to fill out their line ups. My advice: rely on the guys that have been balling, not the ones you drafted high. The likes of Davante Adams or Jamison Crowder have provided owners with better options than bigger names like Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, and DeAndre Hopkins. Come crunch time, don’t be afraid to sit a big name for someone who is producing.
Week 13 marks the end of the regular season for many fantasy leagues. Whether you are fighting for first or just trying to crush someone’s playoff dreams, I hope you have enjoyed your season and learned a thing or two along the way. For those season-long owners missing the playoffs, check out daily fantasy and start feeling better about your General Manager abilities.
Without further ado, I present my top-50 for Week 13.
Top 50 Flex Players Week 13
Byes: Cleveland, Tennessee
Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent
1. D. Johnson/ARI RB(1) WAS
2. L. Bell/PIT RB(2) GIA
3. E. Elliott/DAL RB(3) @MIN
4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) GIA
Any of these four fantasy studs could provide owners with a money-making week. Tier 1 belongs to the fantasy elite and, for 2016, these gentlemen are it. Sure others have popped in and out of Tier 1, but these four are the cream of the crop, providing owners with high usage and explosive weeks.
5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) @OAK
6. M. Gordon/SD RB(5) TB
7. J. Jones/ATL WR(2) KC
8. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @SD
9. O. Beckham/GIA WR(4) @PIT
Shady’s back, back again! After a month-long game of Is He Injured?, LeSean McCoy showed us just how healthy he is in Week 12, rattling off 19-103-2 against a mediocre Jaguars defense. Critics will say all his yardage came off one run. True, his magical 75-yarder accounted for most of his damage; however, I’m willing to bet on his immense talent. If Shady is healthy enough for 20 touches (which he is), I want him in my lineup, especially this week, facing a Raiders squad that ranks 26th in run defense.
Julio Jones was my no. 14 overall flex play in Week 12 thanks to a tough matchup with Arizona that saw top corner Patrick Peterson follow him around the field. This week, the matchup gets easier: Kansas City has given up the the fifth-most yards per game, and top corner Marcus Peters doesn’t tend to shadow, according to Mike Clay. The Chiefs defense is getting healthier but it may take a couple more weeks to start gelling; just last week, they gave up huge yardage to Trevor Siemian and a sputtering Broncos offense.
Odell Beckham drops from Tier 1 this week. The Giants drew the Browns in Week 12 and I felt OBJ may be in line for his first 100-yard game in weeks. He came up about four yards short. However, his two trips to the endzone more than made up for it. This week, in a potential shootout with the high-scoring Steelers, he provides owners with huge upside; yet, I’m a little hesitant since both of these defenses are figuring things out as the season progresses.
10. L. Miller/HOU RB(6) @GB
11. D. Martin/TB RB(7) @SD
12. S. Ware/KC RB(8) @ATL
13. M. Forte/JETS RB(9) IND
14. J. Nelson/GB WR(5) HOU
15. T. Hilton/IND WR(6) @JETS
16. D. Bryant/DAL WR(7) @MIN
17. A. Cooper/OAK WR(8) BUF
After three unspectacular games after returning from injury, Doug Martin is moving up. Everyone knows what the Bucs have done over the last two weeks (wins over KC and Seattle, in case you forgot) and Martin has been a huge part of it. He may not be racking up fantasy points yet, but his play says that should change. The Chargers have the sixth-ranked run defense, but they’re minus run stuffer Brandon Mebane. We could see Martin reassert himself as a back-end RB1.
I would like to take the opportunity to set out some numbers: 13, 22, 9, 6, 0, 15, 15, 18, 8, 9. Yes, I meant that literally. What are those numbers? They’re the weekly output of a certain top fantasy player. I would be okay with these from a WR2; however, they belong to my 14th-ranked player (and WR5), Jordy Nelson. Why is he still so high? Because his wanting output actually makes him the WR5 on the year with 122 points. That’s just the kind of year it’s been for receivers. As a comparison, the RB5, LeSean McCoy, has 155 points. (Nelson would be the RB12 for 2016.) Remember this next year when “experts” are telling you to go wide receivers early and often.
18. L. Blount/NE RB(10) LA
19. J. Howard/CHI RB(11) SF
20. L. Murray/OAK RB(12) BUF
21. C. Hyde/SF RB(13) @CHI
22. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(14) @BALT
23. J. Hill/CIN RB(15) PHI
24. T. Riddick/DET RB(16) @NO
25. D. Freeman/ATL RB(17) KC
26. M. Ingram/NO RB(18) DET
27. T.Rawls/SEA RB(19) CAR
28. R. Kelley/WAS RB(20) @ARI
29. T. Gurley/LA RB(21) @NE
30. J. Stewart/CAR RB(22) @SEA
Tier 4 is nothing but running backs. I’m not a huge RB advocate, however, the way 2016 is working out, I’m more comfortable playing all of these runners over my WR9, Sammy Watkins.
With teammate Dion Lewis back, LeGarrette Blount’s usage will be something to monitor. The Patriots play to the weaknesses of their opponents; as more chess pieces become available for coach “Belitricks,” expect usage to become more unpredictable. This week, the Rams and their rookie QB should fall behind early, leading to a favorable situation for Blount. While predicting game flow is not the wisest course of action, you must take all things into account.
With injuries to both starting guards and Matt Barkley at QB, I was not overly confident about Chicago’s Jordan Howard last week. He managed 84 yards on 18 attempts to go along with 43 yards receiving. The bottom line is he just keeps producing. The physical Howard runs straight into the league’s worst run defense this week.
Jay Ajayi moves down from the RB9 spot. He should have exploded on San Fran’s league-worst rush defense last week. Instead, the only thing that saved his day was a short touchdown run. The Niners held Ajayi to 45 yards on the ground. With the health of 60-percent of the Dolphins’ o-line in question, Ajayi could be in for another long day as he visits Baltimore, i.e. the league’s second-best run defense.
Drew Brees and the Saints carved up the Rams in Week 12. The biggest benefactor was Mark Ingram, who went off for 146 yards on only 14 carries as the Rams defense looked blindfolded at times. The usage between Ingram and Tim Hightower still remains a split, but the upside Ingram has displayed in two out of his last four games is too high to sit him.
I really like Thomas Rawls when he is playing. What happened to the Seahawks’ offense in Tampa Bay, I have no explanation for. The Seahawks were cranking it up, like they seem to do every year around the mid-way point. Now I’m not sure what to think. For now, I will lower my expectations a little, but I’m not sitting Rawls.
31. S. Watkins/BUF WR(9) @OAK
32. J. Edelman/NE WR(10) LA
33. D. Adams/GB WR(11) HOU
34. J. Crowder/WAS WR(12) @ARI
35. B. Cooks/NO WR(13) DET
36. B. Marshall/JETS WR(14) IND
37. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(15) WAS
38. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(16) CAR
39. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(17) BUF
40. E. Sanders/DEN WR(18) @JAX
41. D. Thomas/DEN WR(19) @JAX
42. K. Benjamin/CAR WR(20) @SEA
43. D. Booker/DEN RB(23) @JAX
44. F. Gore/IND RB(24) @JETS
45. T. Eifert/CIN TE(1) PHI
46. T. Kelce/KC TE(2) @ATL
47. T. Hill/KC WR(21) @ATL
48. D. Parker/MIA WR(22) @BALT
49. M. Thomas/NO WR(23) DET
50. J. Starks/GB RB(25) HOU
After this week’s number eight receiver, the pickings are slim. With the volatility of the position at a season high, I’m willing to take a shot on a talent like Sammy Watkins. Watkins only played 23 snaps in his first action since September 15th. But he reminded us what he’s capable of with 80 yards on three receptions. If he’s feeling good, which he says he is, his snap count should increase. Against a Raiders team that ranks 28th against the pass, the opportunities should be plenty. Get him in your lineup!
Brandin Cooks headed into wWeek 12 primed for a big game as the Saints were playing host to L.A. In a game that saw the Saints put up 49 points, Cooks didn’t catch a single ball. He didn’t even garner a target! Of course, we heard all about how Cooks isn’t happy with his role in the offense afterwards. While Brees always spreads the ball around, I won’t be surprised if the squeaky wheel gets greased a little this week.
Last week, Larry Fitzgerald came in as the WR10 (26th overall). He is the safest of the Cardinal receivers. However, this year, that’s not saying much. With the Cards’ passing game on the fritz, Fitz and the rest of the receiving corps has struggled to find any type of consistency. (If you take out the two contests against the Niners, Fitz hasn’t been over 80 yards or scored a single touchdown since Week 1.) He is a WR2 only because of the high floor he shows on a weekly basis. Play him if you need six or seven points from his roster spot, but don’t expect much more.
Kelvin Benjamin was a target last week for me as I had him ranked as my ninth-ranked receiver. He didn’t quite finish as a WR1 but did put up a solid 11 points. I don’t have any gut feelings about him this week so he drops down to my WR20. Cam Newton continues to struggle behind a makeshift offensive line in a wasted year for the defending NFC champs. Benjamin is nothing more than a half-court prayer right now, along with the rest of the offensive offense.
Injuries to A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Rob Gronkowski, and Jordan Reed have done wonders to Tyler Eifert’s fantasy stock. Eifert is the only legit target for QB Andy Dalton and is one of the league’s best red zone targets. With over 300 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games, Eifert’s fantasy stock is on the rise.
The last player I will touch on this week is Tyreek Hill. Diminutive in stature but immense in explosive ability, Hill scored three different ways (rushing, receiving, return) against a tough Broncos defense last week. If teammate Jeremy Maclin continues to watch from the sideline, Hill should stay busy as his skill set fits right into the dink-and-dunk offense Andy Reid loves.
Goodluck as the fantasy season winds down, may the best teams win and may the injury bug miss us all!