Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week (standard scoring). 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. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.
Championship week is here! Congratulations to all the season-long finalists! After a chaotic Week 15 with some unbelievable finishes, Week 16 will again see games on four separate days. The majority will be played on Saturday (Dec. 24) so check those line ups Friday night well before the rum and eggnog starts to flow.
Week 15 deviated from the status quo to some extent; a wide receiver (Brandin Cooks) tied a running back (Devonta Freeman) for top honors with 30 points a piece.To put some perspective on the significance of a 30 burger, only seven non-quarterbacks had more than 20 points this week. If you had either in your line up, you are more then likely in your league’s finals.
There was also more of the same in Week 15, though, as running backs dominated the top 10, taking eight of the spots. Fantasy disappointment Tyler Lockett was the only other receiver besides Cooks to break into the top 10.
Week 16 could see a few other fantasy disappointments finish among the leaders. A soft match-up could help Todd Gurley remind owners why everyone was so high on him, while DeAndre Hopkins is breathing new life (17 targets in Week 15) thanks to the Texans finally benching Brock Osweiler. At the end of the day, the team with the best running backs will win the majority of the championships, but either of those former fantasy stars could pay big dividends in the finals.
Good luck with the chaotic mess ahead this weekend. Let’s get to the good stuff.
Top 50 Flex Players Week 16
Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent
1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) BAL
2. E. Elliott/DAL RB(2) DET
3. D. Johnson/ARI RB(3) @SEA
4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) BAL
Not much changes among the elite. Some may question Le’Veon Bell in the number one position in a terrible match-up with the vaunted Ravens defense. But the elite players in fantasy are match-up proof; Lev in-particular can dominate the game on the ground or catching balls out of the backfield … or lining up as a receiver. The Steelers offense is operating at a higher level right now than both the Cowboys and Cardinals (neither of whom have soft match-ups, themselves). The Pittsburgh/Baltimore game will likely decide the AFC North and, in such an important game, the Steelers will feed their “Bell-cow.” He may or may not finish with the most points this week, but I love the potential 30 touches brings.
5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) MIA
6. D. Murray/TEN RB(5) @JAX
7. J. Howard/CHI RB(6) WAS
8. O. Beckham/GIA WR(2) @PHI
9. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @NO
10. J. Jones/ATL WR(4) @CAR
11. T. Hilton/IND WR(5) @OAK
Jordan Howard’s consistent production has made him a solid RB1. In his last seven games, Howard has been held under 100 yards from scrimmage only once. He had 99. Given his consistency, touchdown upside (seven total TDs), and great match-up against the 23rd-rated Washington run defense, expect Howard to be a part of many championship teams.
Mike Evans has slowed down the last three weeks, averaging about 46 yards a game. With the Bucs clinging to the playoff ledge, it’s time to see what these kids in Tampa are made of. In a rematch from Week 14, which saw the Bucs squeak out a 16-11 win on a gutsy defensive effort, I’m expecting the offense to return the favor against the Saints in the Superdome. Evans should produce much better than the 4-46-0 line he put up in the teams’ first meeting.
T.Y. Hilton burned owners last week with his 3-45-0 performance against the Vikings, despite his Colts putting up 34 points. After minimal usage, Hilton will be ready to eat up the 30th-ranked Raiders defense.
12. L. Murray/OAK RB(7) IND
13. T. Gurley/LA RB(8) SF
14. S. Ware/KC RB(9) DEN
15. D. Martin/TB RB(10) @NO
16. J. Nelson/GB WR(6) MIN
17. D. Bryant/DAL WR(7) DET
18. A. Green/CIN WR(8) @HOU
19. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) IND
Todd Gurley is the first former fantasy star to appear on my list. Gurley has had a bum year. Back-end RB2 numbers are not acceptable from a player who was going as high as first-overall in fantasy drafts. If you’re a Gurley owner and you have made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back because the rest of your draft must have been amazing. And now you might get a little early Christmas present with the Rams facing the Niners. Gurley said last week that LA had a junior-high offense. The LA/SF match-up could be an intrasquad game, in that case, since the Niners boast a JV defense (last in the league in both yards and scoring). With the high-school sweethearts uniting, Gurley will be king of the prom.
After accumulating 105 total yards on 21 touches in Week 15, Spencer Ware has now posted 16-plus touches in five straight. He faces a Denver team that ranks 29th stopping the run. The last time they faced off (November 27th) Ware had 96 total yards from scrimmage. He provides a safe floor play this week with upside to finish as a top-five RB if he can find pay-dirt.
A.J. Green was not ready to go last week and I have to wonder if the Bengals would rather just sit their superstar for the remainder of a lost season. A.J. is just 36 yards shy of his sixth straight 1000-yard season, though, and wants to play. He would be just the second receiver to ever accomplish the feat (Randy Moss). His upside is undeniable, even in a tough match-up with Houston’s second-ranked pass defense. If you own him, you have to play him if he’s in the Cincy lineup.
20. C. Hyde/SF RB(11) @LA
21. L. Miller/HOU RB(12) CIN
22. R. Kelley/WAS RB(13) @CHI
23. D. Freeman/ATL RB(14) @CAR
24. L. Blount/NE RB(15) NYJ
25. F. Gore/IND RB(16) @OAK
26. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(17) @BUF
27. T. Rawls/SEA RB(18) @ARI
28. J. Hill/CIN RB(19) @HOU
29. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(10) CIN
30. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(11) WAS
31. B. Cooks/NO WR(12) TB
32. D. Inman/SD WR(13) @CLE
33. M. Thomas/NO WR(14) TB
34. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(15) IND
Robert Kelley is a no-nonsense, straight ahead running back set to face a Chicago defense which let the NFL’s 29th and 30th-ranked rushing attacks hit the century mark in recent weeks. To top it, Chicago gave up a huge day to Packer “running back” Ty Montgomery (a converted receiver) last week (16-162-2). Kelley’s rank is more an indictment of the Bears’ run defense than his talent. Feel comfortable with him in your line up, nonetheless.
After a hot three-game stretch, Jay Ajayi has now gone six weeks without cracking the century mark on the ground. Fortunately for owners, the Dolphins happen to be facing one of the teams Ajayi ate up earlier in the year. The Buffalo Bills got embarrassed by Ajayi the first time around, surrendering 214 yards. I’m sure they will not take him lightly this time around, but will that matter? The Bills rank 27th against the run. In the end, Ajayi’s floor is pretty safe, despite his recent lack of production.
The Texans finally got smart and put Brock Osweilier on the bench last week after his second interception of the day (which briefly gave him the league-lead over Blake Bortles). All backup Tom Savage did was rally the team from 13 points down to a huge victory over Jacksonville, making the Texan offense look like a legitimate NFL unit for the first time all year. As mentioned, Savage went back to Houston’s tried-and-true game plan from last season: throw it to D-Hop (8-87-0 on 17 targets).
Alshon Jeffery is in a somewhat similar situation to Hopkins, now working with third-string quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley is keeping the Bears competitive and, although he’s turnover prone, he has shown he’s not afraid to air it out with two 300-yard games in his four starts. In his first game with Barkley (after serving a four-game suspension), Jeffrey went for 89 yards and a touch. Given the volatility of the wide receiver position, I feel comfortable betting on him and Hopkins, despite their miserable seasons to-date.
Dontrelle Inman has been held under five catches just once in the last five weeks. Travis Benjamin has only had more than five catches once this year, and Tyrell Williams hasn’t had five catches since he hurt his shoulder four games ago. With the San Diego Chargers heading to Cleveland to face the win-less Browns, I want Philip Rivers’ busiest receiver in my lineup.
35. J. Stewart/CAR RB(20) ATL
36. T. Montgomery/GB RB(21) MIN
37. K. Farrow/SD RB(22) @CLE
38. M. Ingram/NO RB(23) TB
39. A. Peterson/MIN RB(24) @GB
40. D. Lewis/NE RB(25) NYJ
41. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) DEN
42. G. Olsen/CAR TE(2) ATL
43. J. Landry/MIA WR(16) @BUF
44. M. Mitchell/NE WR(17) NYJ
45. T. Hill/KC WR(18) DEN
46. E. Sanders/DEN WR(20) @KC
47. D. Thomas/DEN WR(21) @KC
48. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(22) ARI
49. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(23) @SEA
50. T. Williams/SD WR(24) @CLE
After his massive breakout performance last week, is Ty Montgomery suddenly a legit running back? I’m not buying it. This week should prove a little tougher as the Packers play host to division rival Minnesota, which boasts the third-ranked defense. Montgomery is ranked this high only because of his potential upside and the fact that I don’t trust any of the players below him very much.
Kenneth Farrow bombed in his first crack as a starting running back. With teammate Melvin Gordon likely missing another week, Farrow should get a second shot. Facing the second-worst run defense in the league (Cleveland), he is worth a shot if you’re in need of potentially a huge fantasy day. Keep in mind, Farrow also represents the lowest floor of any player making the top 50. Squeeze the ball, kid!
Farrow is joined in the low-floor chamber by another former fantasy star, Adrian Peterson. AP has an enormous ceiling but a very slim chance of reaching it. The Vikings have the worst rushing attack in the NFL; it was awful even when Peterson was healthy. (He hasn’t cleared 31 yards from scrimmage all year.) Even in a tough match-up in Green Bay, Peterson possesses championship-winning upside. It’s just really unlikely he will reach it. Depending on what other options you have, put him in a flex spot and pray.
Yet another season-long disappointment, Jarvis Landry is coming off his highest scoring game of the year (3-108-1). That gives him back to back 100 yard games. With injury replacement Matt Moore playing efficient football last week, hopes are up that Landry can provide owners with a third straight 100-yard performance in the not-so-friendly confines of Orchard Park in December.
I’m going out this year by slamming on a player I love in real-life football. Many “expert” lists have Larry Fitzgerald well inside their top 20 wide receivers. I have some numbers in reply: five, one, seven, five, six. That’s Fitz’s fantasy output his last five games. With Carson Palmer struggling, Fitzgerald’s upside is limited in a tough match-up with Seattle, and I’m not even sure how safe I feel with his floor.
Merry Christmas to all! Now go win yourself a championship!