TOP 50 FLEX RANKINGS: WEEK 11
Welcome to the Week 11 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 10 saw its share of surprises. My friend Ty Worer had some hits and misses once again in his interestingly risky approach to fantasy football in his week 10 tips. But I’ll keep my latest assault in our ongoing war of words short and sweet: I won our Week 10 head-to-head fantasy match-up. BOOYAH! So as I stated last week, “check you in the playoffs.”
Week 10 was the most entertaining slate of games so far this year with some insane closing moments in more than a few contests. With the NFL as unpredictable as ever, Week 11 brings ample questions for owners entering the stretch drive. Most trade deadlines have passed and waiver wire pick’ens are pretty thin. Workhorse running backs are ruling the roost so far this year as the position is responsible for occupying the top-five scoring spots and seven out of the top ten. A handful of receivers are worthy of centering a lineup around, but if you want higher floors and explosive ceilings, the top running backs are your go-to guys.
Without further ado, I present the top-50 flex plays for Week 11.
Top 50 Flex Players Week 11
Byes: Atlanta, Denver, NY Jets, San Diego
Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent
1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) @CLE
2. D. Murray/TEN RB(2) @INDY
3. E. Elliott/DAL RB(3) BALT
4. D. Johnson/ARI RB(4) @MIN
5. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) @CLE
Tier 1 is a little light this week with a punctured lung likely slowing Gronk and two other Tier 1 candidates on bye (Julio Jones and Melvin Gordon). Last week, David Johnson put up 21 points as my no. 1-ranked player. That was eighth among flex options. Not horrible but room for improvement. Last week’s third-ranked player, Ezekiel Elliott, paced the non-QBs with 38 points thanks to a game-winning 32-yard touchdown run in the dying seconds in Steeltown. Whether it’s Johnson’s 21 points, Elliot’s 38, DeMarco Murray’s 25, or Le’Veon Bell’s 24, the top backs are dominating on a weekly basis.
Antonio Brown is the lone non-RB to make the top tier this week. He had 14 catches, 154 yards, and a TD on 18 targets against Dallas and now has a plus matchup against the Browns. His upside is sky high. He could easily finish as the top player this week. Pittsburgh is seeing their season slowly slip away; with a defense that can’t compete, the Steeler offense will find itself in shootouts aplenty.
6. R. Gronkowski/NE TE(1) @SF
7. O. Beckham/GIA WR(2) CHI
8. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @KC
9. A. Green/CIN WR(4) BUF
10. L. McCoy/BUF WR(5) @CIN
11. S. Ware/KC RB(5) TB
12. L. Miller/HOU RB(6) @OAK
13. L. Blount/NE RB(7) @SF
14. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(8) @LA
If Gronk is healthy enough to suit up, play him. In a matchup with the one-win Niners, the Patriots should be able to impose their will with or without their dominate tight end. I don’t expect Bill Belichick to risk Gronk’s health in such a soft game, so if he’s in the lineup, it means he’s healthy enough to dominate. (Don’t be surprised if he sits this one out.)
Coming off a bye, LeSean McCoy should be fresh. The Bills sport the league’s second-ranked rush attack and march into Cincinnati to face the Bengals’ 24th-ranked run defense, which made the paltry New York Giant run game look serviceable on Monday night.
Spencer Ware didn’t see the usage most expected in Carolina. He ran the ball 13 times for 61 yards as the Panthers got out to a quick start and put the Chiefs in catch-up mode. This week, KC is home against the 27th-ranked Tampa Bay defense. Ware averages 111 scrimmage yards per game and will show off his all-purpose abilities this week.
Am I forced to start believing in LeGarrette Blount at this point? Blount has racked up 678 rushing yards and a league-leading 12 rushing touchdowns through the first nine games. He is doing his best to convince us he is a legit weekly RB1. I will buy it this week, at least, in a dream matchup with the 49ers that will keep his career year rolling.
15. T.Y. Hilton/INDY WR(6) TEN
16. J. Nelson/GB WR(7) @WAS
17. D. Bryant/DAL WR(8) BALT
18. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) HOU
19. F. Gore/INDY RB(9) TEN
20. T. Riddick/DET RB(10) JAX
21. J. Stewart/CAR RB(11) NO
22. L. Murray/OAK RB(12) HOU
23. J. Howard/CHI RB(13) @GIA
24. D. Martin/TB RB(14) @KC
25. T. Gurley/LA RB(15) MIA
T.Y. Hilton and the battered Colts had a much needed rest in Week 10. Week 11 see’s them in a Week 7 rematch against Tennessee. Hilton earned a 7-133-1 stat line in the first matchup. Expect much of the same in Week 11 as Andrew Luck and the offense try to out-duel a Titan offense that has been unstoppable of late.
I stuck with Dez as my WR6 last week, even after a one-point performance in Week 9. He rewarded me, finishing with 17 points and ending exactly where I slotted him among wideouts. The takeaway is that, after the first handful of players, game flow and matchups have a tremendous effect on individual performances. When a talented player has a quiet week, it doesn’t mean he has no chemistry with the quarterback or he won’t bounce back next week. It may have just been a bad week. Keep a level head so you can play the players who give your fantasy squad the best chance to win.
Last week, I stuck my neck out a bit for Terrance West. That didn’t go so good. This week, there’s another back I like who sits a little under the radar: Theo Riddick. Up against a Jaguars defense that ranks 29th against the run, Riddick has a chance to have a big rushing game. Add that to his receiving prowess (four touchdowns through the air already this year) and it may be a recipe for a big day. If not, his all-purpose skills provide a safe floor. Riddick’s a great play for the risk-averse.
A quick word of caution for Jordan Howard owners: even if he didn’t suffer the rumored injury in Week 10, Alshon Jeffery’s suspension could hurt Howard’s value. Without the talented deep threat keeping defenses honest, Howard could be in for a lot more heavy boxes. With the team’s best lineman, Kyle Long, hitting the I.R., Howard may find a lot less running room, healthy or otherwise.
Doug Martin returned last Sunday after going down in Week 2. Martin has yet to find much running room this year but his second week back from injury should prove more bountiful than his first. He is the clear starter in a offense with one of the most dangerous QB/WR combos in the league; he should find some room this week against the 27th-ranked run defense of the Kansas City Chiefs as they focus on stopping the second-best receiver in fantasy, Mike Evans.
26. B. Cooks/NO WR(10) @CAR
27. T. Pryor/CLE WR(11) PIT
28. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(12) HOU
29. D. Adams/GB WR(13) @WAS
30. J. Edelman/NE WR(14) @SF
31. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(15) @MIN
32. I. Crowell/CLE RB(16) PIT
33. C. Hyde/SF RB(17) NE
34. R. Kelley/WAS RB(18) GB
35. T. Rawls/SEA RB(19) PHIL
36. J. Starks/GB RB(20) @WAS
37. J. Reed/WAS TE(2) GB
38. G. Olsen/CAR TE(3) NO
The Oakland Raiders come into Week 11 averaging the fifth-most yards per game in the league. Derek Carr looks like the real deal and top target Amari Cooper draws a lot of attention. Michael Crabtree has turned into a solid weekly option ranking as the WR11 on the year. Even against a solid Houston D, the Raiders offense will roll and the veteran of the group, Crabtree, will benefit.
Davante Adams and Julian Edelman get bumps in value this week. Adams is proving that even a mistake-prone, duck handed wide receiver can succeed in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense when it’s forced to throw the ball 40-plus times a game. Edelman is coming off his biggest yardage output of the season as he went for 99 yards against the Seahawks. Edelman will see a lot of balls this week against the Niners, especially if Gronk misses the game.
Robert Kelley is giving Washington what the were hoping to get out of Matt Jones: a tough, grind it out between the tackles runner who doesn’t put the ball on the turf. Kelley has a stranglehold on the starting job for a productive Washington offense. With 43 carries over the last two weeks, he’s a solid RB2 play with room to rise during the fantasy stretch run.
Thomas Rawls hasn’t played since Week 2, but if you had any doubts as to his health, Seattle helped quiet them by releasing Christine Michael. Sure C.J. Prosise looked good last week, but Rawls is the back that Pete Carroll has been itching to deploy. Rawls brings the physical, pound-you-into-submission style the Seahawks look for. With Russell Wilson getting healthy and Rawls back, the Seahawks are primed for their annual late-season run.
Common sense would make me assume the Green Bay Packers will attempt to even out their offensive attack now that they have a legit running back. After a pass-to-run ratio of 98-to-32 over the last two games – both Packer losses – look for the offense to have a more balanced split. James Starks is not a star by any means, however, he’s a solid veteran who knows the offense. Starks is at least a low end RB2 as long as he stays healthy.
39. A. Robinson/JAX WR(16) @DET
40. J. Crowder/WAS WR(17) GB
41. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(18) PHIL
42. G. Tate/DET WR(19) JAX
43. J. Matthews/PHIL WR(20) @SEA
44. K. Benjamin/CAR WR(21) NO
45. S. Diggs/MIN WR(22) ARI
46. C. Meredith/CHI WR(23) @GIA
47. S. Smith/BALT WR(24) @DAL
48. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(25) @OAK
49. R. Mathews/PHIL RB(21) @SEA
50. J. Graham/SEA TE(4) PHIL
It was about this time last year when Doug Baldwin started an insane four-game stretch that saw him score ten touchdowns. If he’s going to do anything similar this year, I want him in my line up. Oh, what’s that? He scored three touchdowns last week? That’s enough for me to take a shot on Baldwin even against a solid Philadelphia defense that just made the Falcons’ attack look average.
Hey, awesome, Kelvin Benjamin has not had a game under 70 yards receiving since Week 4! Oh crap, Kelvin Benjamin has not had a game over 86 yards since Week 2 and hasn’t scored since Week 4. The entire Carolina team is struggling, including reigning MVP Cam Newton. With just 10 TD passes in eight games, Newton’s struggles are affecting everyone around him.
The Minnesota Vikings cannot run the football. They rank dead-last in the league in rushing. Stefon Diggs has been the beneficiary, catching 13 balls in each of the last two games. He has found something with quarterback Sam Bradford and if the two can continue to hook up at that rate, it may be enough for the Vikes and their stingy D to make a push for the weak NFC North title.
Cameron Meredith should benefit from teammate Alshon Jeffery’s four-game suspension. Meredith had productive games in Weeks 5 and 6 and now becomes the top downfield threat in an offense led by Jay Cutler, who has been known to test even triple coverage down the field. Meredith will get his looks.
Last week’s overall RB2, Ryan Mathews, comes in at no. 49 overall. Mathews reminded us all of his talent last week, dropping a 19-109-2 statline on the Falcons. The Seattle Seahawks present a tougher test this week for Mathews and the Eagles. Seattle earned an emotional goal-line stand victory over the Patriots, but their usually stout run defense gave up three TDs on the ground to LeGarrette Blount. Mathews has the talent to take advantage of a workload increase but his ceiling is seriously capped against a Seahawk defense that will feel like it has something to prove.
That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for reading. Good luck in your match ups and may the injury bug miss us all!