Welcome back to my top-50 flex rankings, Week 7 edition! As usual, ranks are based on standard scoring. The list indicates the order I would be most comfortable inserting players into my lineup. Just like last time, I’ve broken our fantasy assets into tiers to better differentiate their probability of success in the upcoming week.
Before getting to this week’s ranking, let’s take a trip down (very recent) memory lane.
Week 6 was certainly an entertaining one: we had Side Show Bob start in Buffalo (ugly but fun); we witnessed David walking all over Goliath (Dolphins vs Steelers); we watched an unlikely candidate put up a career day, only to blow it with a pick in the closing moments (Case Keenum); and, to top it off, Mr. Beckham proposed to the kicking net of his dreams.
Er, wait, that wasn’t entertaining. That was just weird.
But after the Thursday matchup, which saw a team that had lost 11 division games in a row (Chargers) break that streak against a team with an NFL-record 15 straight divisional road wins (Broncos), we should have known it was going to be a weird one.
That trend continued when the NFLs no. 1 offense (Falcons) squared off with the no. 1 defense (Seahawks). Seattle shut down the Atlanta offense for the first half, only to watch Matt Ryan strut out after halftime and spark his team with three passing TDs in the 3rd quarter. Blown coverages or not, 200-plus yards and three TDs in one quarter is impressive against any team, let alone the NFLs perennial best. After a temper tantrum by Richard Sherman, which ended with teammate Earl Thomas grabbing Sherman by the hair to calm him down, the Seahawks got it together, allowing Russell Wilson to work his usual late-game magic.
The Falcons still had a chance to win, but Julio Jones picked the wrong time for his first drop of the day, letting a ball slip through his hands for a pick late in the 4th, sealing the fate of the Falcons.
I bring this game up as a prelude to a mea culpa. Last week, I caved by listing both Falcon RBs in my top 50 (D. Freeman RB14, T. Coleman RB17). Prior, I’d been reluctant to move them up, believing no team could sustain two legit RB1 candidates on a week-to-week basis.
Against the tough Seahawk D, that was the wrong decision. But I still think it’s the right move, generally, especially this week against a much less stout Chargers defense that ranks 18th overall. Both RBs should get back to form.
The last two weeks, I have discussed over and under-reacting. No lectures this week. Before we get into the rankings, I will just say that, every week, there are lessons to be learned. And with the parity in the NFL, the saying “any given Sunday” truly applies.
Top 50 Flex Players for Week 7
Byes: Carolina, Dallas.
Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent
1. D. Murray/TEN RB(1) INDY
2. J. Jones/ATL WR(1) SD
3. R. Gronkowski/NE TE(1) @PIT
4. L. McCoy/BUF RB(2) @MIA
5. A. Green/CIN WR(2) CLE
6. L. Bell/PIT RB(3) NE
7. D. Johnson/ARI RB(4) SEA
DeMarco Murray takes over top spot for Week 7 with his cake matchup against a Colts team giving up 117 yards on the ground per game at a clip of 4.8 YPC. Coming of a mere 65 yards on 21 carries against a lowly Browns team, Murray will want to keep rookie Derrick Henry in the rearview mirror with a strong performance.
Like Jones and his late flub, I also made a mistake last week, dropping Julio to Tier 2 against the Seahawks. No mistakes this week; Julio will dominate a Chargers team missing their top two corners.
With Tom Brady back for the last two games, Gronk has a stat line of: 12 rec., 271 yds, one TD. Enough said.
A.J. Green has a handful of dominane games every year and this week we should see one. With the Bengals reeling at 2-4 but not out of the division race, look for Andy Dalton to target A.J. early and often against the Browns, who rank 26th against the pass. Top cover man Joe Haden is questionable with a groin injury, so the Browns secondary should be ripe for the pick’ens.
Le’Veon Bell slides down from the top spot last week with the injury to Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben’s absence will let the Patriots focus more on stopping the dual-threat back. But Bell will still get his in this game; he is a beast and, with Landry Jones starting, expect the Steelers to lean heavily on their All-Pro back.
8. M. Gordon/SD RB(5) @ATL
9. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @SF
10. A. Brown/PIT WR(4) NE
11. O. Beckham/GIA WR(5) @LA
12. C. Hyde/SF RB(6) TB (IF HE PLAYS)
13. A. Robinson/JAX WR(6) OAK
14. A. Cooper/OAK WR(7) @JAX
15. D. Freeman/ATL RB(7) SD
16. T. Gurley/LA RB(8) GIA
17. D. Martin/TB RB(9) @SF (IF HE PLAYS)
Mike Evans sits ninth among WRs in fantasy scoring with his bye week behind him; with 62 targets through five games, he may be a top-five receiver by year end.
With Big Ben out, Antonio Brown sees a bigger hit to his value than teammate Le’Veon Bell. Against a middle-of-the-pack Pats pass defense (18th), Landry Jones should be able to muster something through the air. (He did average 9.3 yards per attempt last year, albeit on only 55 attempts.)
Allen Robinson and Amari Cooper faceoff in what should be a high-scoring affair when the Raiders visit the Jags. The Jags surprisingly sport the eighth-ranked defense heading into Week 7. On the flip side, the Raiders are eighth-overall on offense. Last week, Raiders QB Derek Carr struggled (225 yds, one TD, one INT) against an improving Chiefs defense. I think he takes his frustrations out on San Diego this week with Cooper being the biggest beneficiary.
Devonta Freeman out touched his backfield-mate Tevin Coleman 15-6 against Seattle and is the lead dog in what is still the league’s number one offense (even after trips to Denver and Seattle the last two weeks).
If Doug Martin is in, play him. The Niners rank dead-last against the run, giving up an embarrassing 174 yards per contest.
18. T. Hilton/INDY WR(8) @TEN
19. J. Nelson/GB WR(9) CHI
20. L. Miller/HOU RB(10) @DEN
21. M. Jones/DET WR(10) WAS
22. B. Cooks/NO WR(11) @KC
23. J. Howard/CHI RB(11) @GB
24. M. Forte/JETS RB(12) BALT
25. C. Michael/SEA RB(13) @ARI
26. M. Ingram/NO RB(14) @KC
27. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(12) @JAX
28. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(13) @GB
29. T. West/BAL RB(15) @JETS
30. J. Charles/KC RB(16) NO
The Green Bay Packers rank 25th in passing and are averaging 22.8 points a game. Don’t tell me this Packer offense is the same as the well-oiled machine we saw two years ago. Aaron Rodgers is struggling and his inefficient numbers (6.5 yards per pass, 88.4 passer rating) prove it. It will be hard to rank Jordy Nelson higher until Rodgers gets the Packers back in a offensive rhythm.
Lamar Miller’s production finally caught up with his workload as he ran all over the Colts (27 touches, 178 total yards, two TDs). Expect him to be heavily involved this week against a Broncos team that ranks 22nd against the run.
The Jets offense is in shambles. Look for them to feed Matt Forte no matter who they start at QB. Forte’s usage has decreased recently. He had a year-low ten touches last week against the Cardinals. If the Jets want any hope of winning, he needs the ball at least 15 times a game. Whoever plays quarterback is not good enough to throw 40-plus times a game.
Terrance West’s has accumulated 49 fantasy points over his last three games. That’s RB1 territory. I don’t personally believe the hype, but I’d be willing to ride the train as the Ravens do not offer much else on offense.
31. G. Bernard/CIN RB(17) CLE
32. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(14) @ARI
33. R. Cobb/GB WR(15) CHI
34. M. Jones/WAS RB(18) @DET
35. I. Crowell/CLE RB(19) @CIN
36. C. Anderson/DEN RB(20) HOU
37. E. Sanders/DEN WR(16) HOU
38. B. Marshall/JETS WR(17) BALT
39. J. Maclin/KC WR(18) NO
40. J. Matthews/PHIL WR(19) MIN
41. D. Thomas/DEN WR(20) HOU
42. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(21) @DEN
43. T. Benjamin/SD WR(22) @ATL
44. J. Edelman/NE WR(23) @PIT
45. L. Blount/NE RB(21) @PIT
46. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(24) SEA
47. S. Ware/KC RB(22) NO
48. K. Britt/LA WR(25) GIA
49. F. Gore/IND RB(24) @TEN
50. T. Pryor/CLE WR(26) @CIN
Uncertainty starts to creep in as we get into the low-end RB2s and WR2s. Gio Bernard has led the Bengals backfield for the last two weeks with 34 touches for 190 yards. But both were Bengal losses and he may just be keeping the seat warm until teammate Jeremy Hill (chest) is fully healthy.
Matt Jones quieted the critics, for a week at least, by putting up 135 yards and a TD against a tough Eagles squad. The Detroit Lions give up ten more points a game than the Eagles. I expect Jones will visit the end zone again against the 21st-ranked defense.
C.J. Anderson’s rank has not changed from last week. I’m not afraid to point out my odd miss, so it’s only fair that I get to pat myself on the back, too. I have been lower than most on C.J this year; with 164 rush yards over his past four games, rookie Devontae Booker has started to become a threat. C.J. needs a big week as badly as the Broncos need him to have one.
Alex Smith should be throwing a ton this week to keep up with Drew Brees. If the saints get out to an early lead, look for Maclin to be a big part of the K.C. attack; the Saints rank 31st against the pass, giving up over 300 yards per game.
DeAndre Hopkins moves down to WR(21) from WR(3) last week as he draws a much tougher assignment this week against the Broncos top-ranked pass defense. Brock Osweiler was barely functional against a bad Colts team. He may completely kill Hopkins’ value against a Bronco defense that’s been waiting to get at him since he signed with (make that ripped off) the Texans.
LeGarrette Blount should be a garbage-time hero in Pittsburgh this week. We know how bad that steel curtain needs repairs after Jay Ajayi exposed them for 204 yards and two TDs.
Kenny Britt and his first-round pedigree make the top-50 for the first time this year based on the strength of his 492 yards over his first six games. Thanks to a career day from QB Case Keenum, Britt piled up seven receptions for 136 yards and two majors. He could keep it going this week against a 22nd-ranked Giants pass defense.
Good luck and enjoy the show! As always, may the injury bug miss us all.