Flex On ‘Em – Week 4


As always, the primary function of this column is to help you secure the bottom half of your starting lineup. Fantasy football is won and lost in WR2/RB2 and FLEX spots. Don’t be the person tweeting screenshots of a 30-point performance sitting on your bench.

Racks:  Players that are in a good position to outperform their typical projections. If they’re on your squad, then rack them into your lineup and don’t look back.

Rests:  These are players facing tough weeks, whether due to matchup or other circumstances. Rest them for this week.

Flex, rack, rest; welcome (back) to your weekly workout.

Mailbag Questions? Need Rack/Rest advice? Hit me up on Twitter:  @DJEN5EN


Rack ‘Em


Andy Dalton:  If you have Dalton rostered and your starter is facing an extremely tough matchup, you might as well Rack the worst baggage handler of all time (for this week only). Week 4 opponent Cleveland remains an awful pass defense, but has shown flashes of competence against the run. This is a must-win game for Dalton and the Bengals – expect them to come out with their red rifle BB gun blazing.

Eli ManningThe Giants are 0-3 with a road game in Tampa threatening a fourth loss. This is what Eli Manning lives for. Without his postseason heroics of the past, he’d be the Jeff Fisher of quarterbacks, perpetually hovering around .500. The Gerald McCoy-led Bucs have been stellar against the run, but their pass defense ranks in the bottom five.

Carson PalmerPalmer was a “Rack” last week and burned me. I’m doubling down on him with a dream matchup against a San Francisco team that gave up so much yardage to Jared Goff that twenty more people are going to show up at LA’s next home game.

Running Back

Chris ThompsonIt feels like an insult to the man to even consider benching him when he’s the 3rd highest scoring RB in fantasy through three weeks, but the latter part of that is key. It’s just three weeks. Can Thompson keep this up? With Fat Rob Kelley injured, Thompson should keep seeing touches and targets (“opportunities”). He’s scoring an unsustainable 1.97 per opportunity, and while that number will trend downward, don’t expect much less against a Kansas City team that gives up on the ground what they don’t through the air.

Christian McCaffrey:  This is a sneaky-important game for both the Patriots and Panthers. The Patriots’ defense is looking so un-Patriotic that they may get blackballed like Kaepernick, and Cam Newton looks like the Cam Newton from several amateur psychologists’ pre-draft scouting reports. Enter McCaffrey, who provides Newton an easy release valve and challenges a very suspect group of Patriots corners and linebackers.

Frank Gore:  Despite doing less per opportunity than backfield-mate Marlon Mack, Gore continues to get double the looks. Seattle just gave up a ton of yardage to a similar back in Demarco Murray, and with Jacoby Brissett still at the helm for Indy, expect the Colts to replicate that gameplan.

Bilal Powell:  Reports out of New York suggest Matt Forte will miss extend time with a turf toe injury, so expect Powell’s usage to tick upward for the time being. Week 4 opponent Jacksonville’s run defense (dead last per Football Outsiders) is being a good teammate by playing poorly enough to take the heat off of Bortles, and Powell will be the benefactor this week.

Jacquizz Rodgers:  With Doug Martin returning in Week 5, this is likely your last week to squeeze anything out of Rodgers, whose first name drips with a combination of sex and multiple choice. Somehow, the Giants’ defense has been as bad their offense, particularly vs. the run.

Wide Receiver

Jordan Matthews:  Matthews seems to be developing some sense of a rapport with quarterback Tyrod Taylor after an injury on his first day as a Bill cost the two the abbreviated preseason together. Despite the Super Bowl choke, the Falcons are no slouch against the pass. It’s their run defense that is atrocious. So, why Matthews? Because the Falcons know they’re awful vs. the run and that the Bills would love to finally unleash McCoy. NFL coaches aren’t stupid; expect the Falcons to hedge secondary players into the box and force Taylor and Matthews to nickel-and-dime them down the field.

Michael Crabtree:  Denver’s lone above-average corner Aqib Talib will be glued to Amari Cooper, and Crabtree will feast on the rest. Oakland can’t and won’t run the ball when they can put the game on Carr’s arm.

Taylor GabrielAs pleasant a surprise as the Bills’ defense has been in the young season, particularly their secondary, their linebackers are easily exposed against shifty receivers like Gabriel.

DeVante Parker:  Death, taxes, and starting flex-able players that face the New Orleans secondary.

Ted Ginn Jr.:  On the opposite sideline as Parker, Ginn and the Saints are coming off a strong showing against formidable Carolina defense and now draw a weak Dolphins secondary. As you’ll find in the Rests, the Dolphins’ run defense has been a top unit, so expect Brees to sling it.

Emmanuel SandersSanders is getting more opportunities per game than highly-valued Demaryius Thomas, and is doing even more on a per-opportunity basis. Siemian will likely have a tough time keeping track of Khalil Mack, but the Broncos are likely to follow the same blueprint they did against the Bills: quick passes to the ultra-quick Sanders, as opposed to deep shots to Thomas.

Davante Adams:  My Davante Adams bandwagon is lonely af right now. I’m as committed as the Bears’ defense is not.

J.J. Nelson:  Nobody will confuse him with an up-and-coming star, but Nelson is averaging nearly 2 fantasy points per target and gets the 49ers at home.


Rest ‘Em


Joe Flacco:  Don’t expect any success because he’s trading one Big Ben for another. Flacco is a borderline Decline at this point.

Jacoby Brissett:  Not many Brissett owners outside of 2-QB leagues. I wouldn’t start him against Seattle, even as a second.

Case Keenum/Sam BradfordWhether Bradford is healthy enough to go or not, stay away from the Vikings’ pass offense vs. a top-5 secondary in Detroit. Last week’s performance was an absolute anomaly.

Running Back

Adrian Peterson:  Teammate Mark Ingram is still getting too many carries (and doing nothing with them, for what it’s worth). Alvin Kamara is muddying the waters even further on an offense that really just wants to pass the ball. Miami’s run defense has shown up through two weeks of play, while their pass defense has been league-worst. You get the idea.

Orleans Darkwa/Paul Perkins:  Like Miami, the Tampa Bay defense struggles against the pass, while Gerald McCoy and their front 7 are dominant against the run.

Demarco Murray:  If you take away the perfectly blocked 75 yard touchdown run in Week 3, Murray would have finished with just 40 yards on 13 carries. With Derrick Henry continuing to eat into his touches and the likelihood of another long TD slim, don’t count on Murray this week.

James White/Rex BurkheadNeither of these guys is getting enough consistent opportunities to warrant a spot in your lineup – particularly with a strong Carolina front 7 to worry about.

Wide Receiver

Jermaine Kearse:  Kearse has been a solitary bright spot in New York. Expect Jalen Ramsey and the Jags’ secondary to key on him, forcing the Jets to run the ball.

Josh Doctson: One catch for 52 yards does not equate to playing time on good fantasy teams.

Cooper Kupp:  Sammy Watkins swaggerjacked the spotlight from Kupp last Thursday and, while the Cowboys’ defense can be exposed, he’s just not seeing enough targets to warrant a Rack this week.

Jeremy Maclin: If I were lazy, I’d copy/paste last week’s outlook: the Ravens are a terrible passing team and face a top secondary this week. Maclin is no longer an every week Rack.

Allen Hurns:  I wrote this about Hurns last week:

I will concede that the game being in London, and particularly with the Jags’ familiarity with playing there, may warp the traditional outlook on the matchup – but I wouldn’t bet on Hurns and Bortles to be the beneficiaries. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t bet on Hurns and Bortles, ever. Don’t even bet on them to lose, because they’ll find a way to lose that for you too.

That, folks, is called hedging your bets. A no-lose situation. Hurns doesn’t produce and I get to say told you so, and if Hurns does produce, then I get to also say told you so. Obviously, the latter applies after last week’s respectable 10-point fantasy day. Don’t expect a repeat.

T.Y. Hilton:  Until Andrew Luck returns, Hilton is far too risky a play in poor matchups like the one he has in Week 4 vs. Seattle.

Nelson Agholor:  Despite capitalizing a terrific 1.7 points per target, Agholor, whose name rivals only Belichick and Coach K in Google spelling searches, isn’t getting enough targets to count on.

Travis Benjamin:  Even without Ron Darby, the Philadelphia Eagles are a top-5 defense against their opponents’ WR2. Benjamin and his 5 targets per game are unlikely to capitalize on what looks like a good matchup on paper. 

(Future) Fantasy Ghost Of The Week

Each week I’ll highlight a typical fantasy star that will likely under-produce. This doesn’t mean they’re automatic “Rests” – but be prepared to be disappointed.

Rob GronkowskiIt’s unfortunate for fanboys everywhere that Gronk surpassed the 69 touchdown milestone so quickly by scoring his 70th early in Week 3. Expect him to stay at 70 as Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are two of a select few humans on the planet capable of matching Gronkowski’s size/athletic ability combination. Those two and a strong Panthers front will curtail the usual Gronk party in a tough matchup.

Tweets Of The Week

As always, a pair of tweets to sum up the week that was in the NFL world and out.



Primetime Picks

*Pick In BOLD

Last Week (1-2)

Season (5-5)

Chicago +7.5 @ Green Bay

Indianapolis +13.5 @ Seattle

Washington +9 @ Kansas City


Have a good weekend, everybody.