It’s finally $*%#$!&-ing here.
The National. Football. League. kicks off the regular season today and, well, you made it. This means you should probably download your league’s hosting site app and remember the interface rivals a NASA command center in both capability and complexity.
Spend some time learning the new features you’ll never use and unchecking all super-helpful “offers” options to send you news, promotional opportunities, and other such garbage that will flood your inbox year-round. That spam will bury the tracking information for the phone charger you bought on Amazon and will inevitably lose. You can’t have that.
As long as you can add, drop, and adjust your lineup with relative ease, you’re good. You’re better than good. You’re a technological wonder, and everyone should ask for your advice when setting up the TV in their new apartment.
Like getting used to the app again, you’re going to have to re-acclimate to paying attention to the relative health (or lack thereof) and job situation of other men with whom you’ve entered into the one-way contract us nerds call fantasy football. Use Twitter, SportsCenter, and the like to be up-to-date on the major stuff. If it’s a fantasy star (i.e. one of your first five picks), then you’ll hear about anything affecting his status without much effort. Unless he’s not playing, he should be in your line-up. They are your ride-or-dies and should start every week. You won’t find much about LeSean McCoy or Julio Jones in this column – because they should be started every week without a second thought.
But what about the rest of your roster? What about the true decisions between your RB4 and WR3? That’s where this weekly column comes into play. As I’m sure you’ve figured out from the (very apropos) title, we’re going to focus on the back-end of your squad here on Cover-1 Thursdays: the (in)famous flex zone.
The premise for this weekly column is simple.
I’ve classified a bunch of mid-tier flex-level players into one of two categories:
Racks: Players that are 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 the matchup or other circumstances. They should be sent to the grayed-out purgatory that is your bench.
Flex, rack, rest; welcome to your weekly workout.
Questions? Concerns? Want to tell me I’m an idiot? Hit me up on Twitter: @DJEN5EN
Sam Bradford: Set to face a New Orleans defense that in 2016 ranked in the bottom 3rd of every defensive metric. The ghost of Rob Ryan’s abandoned lap-band still haunts the Saints, and even Sam Bradford’s perpetually broken body can take advantage.
Carson Wentz: This is the North Dakota product’s first chance to unleash the Jeffery on a Washington secondary that, like the Saints, ranked in the bottom 3rd of defensive metrics. My only concern is a stingy Eagles defense stealing a score on a pick-six.
Tyrod Taylor: Expect the Jets to sell-out against the run and leave their super-young secondary isolated. The Bills and Taylor don’t have a great track record of throwing the ball, but they’ll be forced to against that Gang Green front line.
Adrian Peterson: Obligatory revenge game comment. Honestly, I think AP gets the bulk of the carries this year, and it starts here in Week 1.
Jonathan Stewart: Still, somehow, productive. I think McCaffrey sees the bulk of the work, but Stewart will nab a touchdown late.
Ty Montgomery: This may be the last time Montgomery appears in “Flex On ‘Em”. He’s going to be the feature back on a productive Green Bay offense. He’ll be rackable on a weekly basis and therefore ineligible for this column.
Kareem Hunt: Like Montgomery, likely one of the last times Hunt will qualify for “Flex On ‘Em”. Andy Reid was born to have a mustache and draw up plays for pass-catching running backs.
Latavius Murray: Facing the Saints. Expect Dalvin Cook, who I would start, too, to get a ton of run, but Murray will score. **Update: Murray is out for Week 1. He will not score.**
C.J. Prosise: If you invested a pick in him, then you might as well start him in the one week he’ll be healthy. I’m not sold on Rawls or Lacy dominating the Seattle RB job, so if he can stay healthy, then watch out.
Derrick Henry: As much as I want to recommend waiting this situation out, I think it’s safe to roll Henry out Week 1. He’s going to take over the full-time job, and that campaign starts this Sunday.
Martavis Bryant: He’s back. You better believe that an organization like the Steelers would have cut Bryant long ago if he wasn’t a football-catching freak.
Adam Thielen: I’m picking on the New Orleans defense today.
Stefon Diggs: Ok, now I’m just being mean.
Kenny Britt: Expect Cleveland to go down big early and throw the entire game. Kizer will rely on the vet to bail him out a few times.
Sterling Shepard: Though he underperformed in several areas last year, Shepard is primed to develop into a trusted secondary target in New York. The Dallas secondary shut down #1 receivers consistently last year, but struggled with the secondary options and tight ends. With OBJ slightly hobbled (even if he’s just shaken mentally after the knee-shot he took last week), expect Shepard to prosper.
Dak Prescott: The Cowboys will run the football with Zeke Elliott active. It’s opening week and both offenses will be working out kinks while the division rival defenses play field position.
Andy Dalton: I’ll pass on Dalton vs. a strong Baltimore secondary.
Mark Ingram: See Adrian Peterson. (Side note: why is it a thing to say “See Last Name, First Name” like we’re perusing a phone book? I won’t do it. We’re breaking rules here, and it starts with that one.)
Robert Kelley: Does he call himself “Fat Rob” Kelley a la throwback rapper Fat Joe, or is this something he was called one day after inhaling a pile of crabcakes, and it stuck? Imagine being 6 feet tall and having 240 lbs of pure muscle on your frame, and everyone still calls you “Fat Rob”. That sucks, man. Anyway, Eagles’ defense is a force; by the end of the season we’ll be talking about them as a top 5 unit.
Matt Forte: Buffalo’s defensive front was woefully awful statistically in 2016. That being said, I think the new McDermott scheme, coupled with health along the front line, will reveal a better than average unit. Without the threat of a QB to test them vertically, expect them to sell out against the run.
Mike Gillislee: One of the best “per opportunity” players last season. The Patriots are notoriously non-committal to their running backs and, well, humans in general. Wait this one out.
Davante Adams: As much as I’m on the record that this is Adams’s year, his Week 1 matchup isn’t exactly going to get the hype train moving. He’ll catch a few balls and post a respectable yardage, but the Seattle defense will rough him up in the meantime and, more importantly, keep him out of the endzone.
Pierre Garcon: That Philadelpha defense strikes again. Do better.
T.Y. Hilton: With Aaron Donald apparently continuing his summer vacation, expect the Colts to take a more balanced approach than they would if he were there to smash what is left of their offensive line. Tolzien will have a little more time to throw, but I wouldn’t expect that to translate to a huge game for Hilton.
Jordan Matthews: New team plus new offense plus Tyrod Taylor plus injury does not equal a Rack rating.
Cole Beasley: After Tuesday night’s ruling releasing Zeke Elliott to play in Week 1, and (so far) only Week 1, I hereby declare this Zeke Week. Sure, Dez will get his goal line fade opportunities, but they’ll be pounding #21 between the 20s. Rookie Ryan Switzer will steal some Beasley reps, too.
(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.
Odell Beckham Jr.: I touched on this above, but the Dallas defense holds up very well against number one receivers. Couple that with OBJ’s injury, and the subsequent lack of conditioning leading up to Week 1, and you can reasonably assume both his reps and production will suffer.
Tweets Of The Week
As always, a pair of tweets to sum up the week that was in the NFL world and out.
Happy Birthday to my amazing wife. pic.twitter.com/7vulMXqOdp
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 26, 2017
*Pick In BOLD
Kansas City +8.5 vs. Patriots
Dallas -3.5 vs. New York Giants
New Orleans +3.5 vs. Minnesota
Denver -3.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Have a good weekend, everybody.