Week 12 fantasy football flex plays
The bye weeks are gone and the fantasy playoffs are around the corner. In the first full slate of games since Week 3, there is fortunately a wide array of flex options to help get us those must wins or help others spoil a fellow owner's playoff push. Unfortunately, however, the injuries continue to pile up and with every fallen starter, there is a less certain player entering many a fantasy lineup. Does Ronnie Hillman have explosive ability and high-end upside? Sure. Is he as safe a bet as Willis McGahee (knee)? Not a chance.
There are also those who have found themselves in greatly expanded roles due to the ineffectiveness of a starter. In Green Bay and Jacksonville we saw Alex Green and Rashad Jennings meet the bench while James Starks and Jalen Parmele respectively met 20-plus carries apiece and stole jobs. This is the time of year when young, relatively unknown or previously unproven players often emerge for a few weeks because of an expanded opportunity. It behooves all owners to keep a close eye on the fantasy landscape to see which teams may have cause to give some young talent a closer look, or in the case of a Hillman, which teams HAVE to give an unproven player the ball. With the Eagles all but out of it and their star offensive weapon dealing with a concussion, an expanded role may exist for Bryce Brown - and not just for this week - to let Philly see what it has in their backup while simultaneously protecting their future. That's just one instance.
1. Bryce Brown vs. Carolina - Brown is a 6-foot, 223, back with sub-4.5 speed who would have been a first-round pick if he'd stayed on the right path during his three years of college football. He's seen 12 carries the last three games and turned them into 85 yards. When LeSean McCoy (concussion) sits on Monday Night Football, don't be surprised if Brown delivers more yards on more carries against a Panthers defense that finally relented 100 yards to a back last week for the first time since Week 4.
2. Golden Tate at Miami - Tate the Touchdown Machine has six receiving scores on just 26 catches and has added one throwing for good measure. He doesn't seem likely to get you big yards any week and certainly isn't as attractive an option in PPR, but the acrobatic wideout is a big play waiting to happen. With strong hands he's able to make catches in tight coverage, and with a running back's instincts Tate is terrific after the catch. Miami's weak pass defense will learn these things first hand when Tate gets back in the end zone.
3. Jalen Parmele vs. Tennessee - Parmele surprisingly received a huge workload versus the second-ranked Texans rush defense last week and posted 80 yards on his 24 attempts. Having been named the starter over Rashad Jennings already, it will be interesting to see what he can do against a Tennessee defense sitting 28th versus the run. Chances are he'll be better than 3.3 yards per carry, which could translate to an even more productive day for the third-year back.
4. Mohamed Sanu vs. Oakland - The league is about to find out that the joke was really on every NFL team when a pranker called Sanu during the first round of the NFL Draft to say the Bengals had selected him. When Cincinnati finally did take Sanu in the third round, they found a major steal. Sanu has the physical gifts, competitiveness and natural football smarts to develop into one of the best possession receivers in football. A Raiders defense that's been lit up in recent week through the air is about to find that out the hard way.
5. Donald Jones at Indianapolis - Jones was a bust last week after posting at least 65 yards or a score in three straight games, but that can be chalked up to game circumstances. Buffalo held a two-score lead most of the game against a Dolphins offense that was not moving the ball and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw just 27 passes. The Bills won't get away with that against an Indy offense on the road that is fourth in the league in third-down conversion rate, so expect a much more competitive contest that requires Jones' full services.
6. Kenny Britt or Kendall Wright at Jacksonville - Think the Titans took notes on how the Texans burned Jacksonville consistently with play action? Yeah, that same model will work every bit as well with Chris Johnson, who's actually running much more effectively than Arian Foster lately. With the Titans looking to re-evaluate Britt's role in the offense over the bye week, that figures to translate into a more concerted effort to get him the ball. Wright and even Nate Washington also have the speed to burn the Jacksonville corners off play action, and Wright in particular has the playmaking skills to go off if Jacksonville's offense comes to play again and keeps this one competitive.
7. Brandon Stokley at Kansas City - It's never a bad thing to be Peyton Manning's slot receiver. Stokley has quietly put up five touchdowns in his past eight games. With more than 50 yards and a score in each of the last two, he's worth a gamble in deeper leagues. The absence of Willis McGahee to a torn MCL may lead to more passing - at least before the blowout - and perhaps a third straight score for Stokley who will face a thin secondary whose third corner, Jalil Brown, has one career pass breakup and zero interceptions.
WEEK 12 FLEX-PLAY RANKINGS
* Check injury status.
1. Adrian Peterson MIN at Chi
2. Arian Foster HOU at Det
3. Marshawn Lynch SEA at Mia
4. Doug Martin TB vs. Atl
5. Frank Gore SF at NO
6. A.J. Green CIN vs. Oak
7. Calvin Johnson DET vs. Hou
8. Reggie Wayne IND vs. Buf
9. Roddy White ATL at TB
10. Jimmy Graham NO vs. SF
11. Chris Johnson TEN at Jac - Jacksonville sold out to stop the run against Arian Foster last week - will they do the same with Chris Johnson?
12. Ray Rice BAL at SD
13. Jamaal Charles KC vs. Den
14. Trent Richardson CLE vs. Pit
15. Victor Cruz NYG vs. GB
16. Demaryius Thomas DEN at KC
17. Andre Johnson HOU at Det
18. *Dez Bryant DAL vs. Was - I'm pretty impressed with how he looked against the Browns - could be huge Thursday.
19. Randall Cobb GB at NYG
20. Matt Forte CHI vs. Min
21. *C.J. Spiller BUF at Ind - Could be back to a timeshare this week if reports that Fred Jackson will play are true.
22. Marcel Reece OAK at Cin
23. Jason Witten DAL vs. Was
24. *Aaron Hernandez NE at NYJ - (Ankle) Should play this week, barring a setback. Could get a metric ton of targets.
25. Marques Colston NO vs. SF
26. *Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. GB - (Foot/Knee) Said he's pretty close to 100 percent after the bye week.
27. Vincent Jackson TB vs. Atl
28. Denarius Moore OAK at Cin - Awful day against the Saints, but there's no injury here. Good bounceback candidate.
29. Jordy Nelson GB at NYG
30. Wes Welker NE at NYJ
31. Steve Johnson BUF at Ind
32. *Ryan Mathews SD vs. Bal - (Neck) Technically didn't start, but had 15 carries compared to four for Jackie Battle.
33. Reggie Bush MIA vs. Sea
34. BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. Oak
35. Stevan Ridley NE at NYJ
36. Vick Ballard IND vs. Buf
37. Alfred Morris WAS at Dal
38. Michael Crabtree SF at NO
39. Golden Tate SEA at Mia
40. Miles Austin DAL vs. Was
41. Lance Moore NO vs. SF
42. Brandon Marshall CHI vs. Min - Will get a bump up if Cutler plays.
43. Cecil Shorts JAC vs. Ten
44. Steve Smith CAR at Phi
45. Torrey Smith BAL at SD
46. T.Y. Hilton IND vs. Buf
47. Danario Alexander SD vs. Bal
48. Steven Jackson STL at Ari
49. *Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. GB - Had neck x-rays last week in addition to rehabbing his foot injury. Should have a mixed bag in practice this week.
50. *Ronnie Hillman DEN at KC - Big oppportunity with McGahee out, though he'll have to share it with Lance Ball and maybe even Knowshon Moreno.
51. Mikel Leshoure DET vs. Hou
52. *Danny Amendola STL at Ari - May be limited in practice this week with a heel and/or foot injury.
53. *Jalen Parmele JAC vs. Ten - Has taken over the starting job from Rashad Jennings and gets a better matchup at home this week.
54. Jonathan Stewart CAR at Phi - Briefly left last week's game against the Bucs, but returned and had 15 carries overall.
55. *Felix Jones DAL vs. Was - (Knee) Limited in practice Tuesday. That might be a precaution, though, with the news that DeMarco Murray is unlikely to play.
56. LaRod Stephens-Howling ARZ vs. StL - LSH ran for 127 yards against the Falcons and has two big games in the Cardinals' last four (which is amazing given their OL), yet still will have to fend off a flat tire, er, Beanie Wells, for carries this week.
57. Tony Gonzalez ATL at TB
58. Vernon Davis SF at NO - I think we have a good idea who Davis wants at quarterback.
59. Brandon Myers OAK at Cin
60. Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. Oak
61. Sidney Rice SEA at Mia
62. *Ryan Broyles DET vs. Hou - Should get a big bump in targets with Titus Young suspended, though he'll still be the slot receiver and not the starter.
63. Eric Decker DEN at KC
64. Kendall Wright TEN at Jac
65. Mike Wallace PIT at Cle
66. Malcom Floyd SD vs. Bal
67. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ vs. StL - Another horrible game - that's three huge stinkers this year. The QB/OL situation is just brutal this year.
68. Brian Hartline MIA vs. Sea
69. Anquan Boldin BAL at SD
70. Brandon Gibson STL at Ari
71. Justin Blackmon JAC vs. Ten
72. James Starks GB at NYG
73. Jonathan Dwyer PIT at Cle - Mendenhall had 11 carries last week, Dwyer had 12 carries. That nearly even split could be the norm the rest of the year.
74. *Michael Turner ATL at TB - (Groin) Was on the field for only 33 snaps last week.
75. Rashard Mendenhall PIT at Cle - Mendenhall had 11 carries last week, Dwyer had 12 carries. That nearly even split could be the norm the rest of the year.
76. *LeSean McCoy PHI vs. Car - Suffered a concussion late in the game, with the Eagles trailing 31-6. Currently has 'a little headache' and is day-to-day. The Eagles' track record with concussions is, well, not-so-good.
77. *Bryce Brown PHI vs. Car - Would start if LeSean McCoy's concussion keeps him out.
78. *Darren Sproles NO vs. SF - (Hand) A Jay Glazer scoop 15 minutes before the 1:00 kickoff saved attentive owners a lot of pain last week. Unless he gets a full run of practice this week, it's hard to trust him.
79. Kendall Hunter SF at NO
80. Andre Brown NYG vs. GB
81. Santana Moss WAS at Dal
82. *Brandon Lloyd NE at NYJ - Maybe this knee injury is more of an issue than we first thought. Lloyd was on the field for only 34 snaps last week.
83. Donald Jones BUF at Ind
84. Emmanuel Sanders PIT at Cle
85. Nate Washington TEN at Jac
86. DeSean Jackson PHI vs. Car
87. James Jones GB at NYG
88. *Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK at Cin - Played despite a hamstring injury that had him listed as questionable heading into Week 11.
89. Jeremy Maclin PHI vs. Car
90. Dwayne Allen IND vs. Buf
91. Dustin Keller NYJ vs. NE - Was huge against the Pats last week.
92. Heath Miller PIT at Cle
93. Joel Dreessen DEN at KC - Tight ends have torn up the Chiefs this year.
94. Greg Olsen CAR at Phi
95. Chris Ivory NO vs. SF
96. Donald Brown IND vs. Buf - Just four carries for Brown last week, compared to 16 for Vick Ballard.
97. Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at TB
98. *Bilal Powell NYJ vs. NE - Scored twice and had two more snaps than Shonn Greene last week.
99. *Lance Ball DEN at KC - More active last week after McGahee's injury, but lost a fumble. Probably behind Hillman, ahead of Moreno.
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