NFL Week 16: Optimal Flex Plays

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I’d like to think that we made it through that brutal Week 15, we did right? I don’t mean just with victories in our fantasy leagues, but the stress and rigors we all dealt with. If you did find yourself moving on to the fantasy semi-finals, however, you’re a true warrior. We’d like to think it’ll be better in Week 16, but with stars like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the COVID list, we can never really know. At this point, whoever you play in your flex spot is literally the most important position in your lineups right now. Last week, players in this column like AJ Dillon, D’Onta Foreman and said Dolphins RB (Duke Johnson if you were that bold) were able to help lift you to the next round. Meanwhile Van Jefferson and Michael Pittman (ejected) were quiet in Week 15. If you’re reading this, you are likely still going for the gold, so let's get it.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions
I’m personally seeing St. Brown on waivers in some leagues and it is crazy. If you do, get him now! He has been on an absolute tear the past three weeks en route to being WR2 overall (PPR) in that span. Over his last three games, St. Brown has averaged 11.6 targets, 8.6 receptions and 83 yards a game. He was very instrumental in taking down a tough Cardinals team. Jared Goff (better late than never) has locked in on his guy, but for now, he's on the Covid list (like everyone else). St. Brown was already starting to come on, but with the season-ending injury to T.J. Hockenson there was added pressure. In Week 16, St. Brown will face a Falcons defense that is fifth-worst against receivers in fantasy, what a gold mine.

Russell Gage, WR, Falcons
In the very same game, Gage should continue to thrive as well. He has been WR7 over the past three weeks averaging 9.6 targets, 7.6 receptions and 95 yards. The Lions do present a middle-of-the-road defense against receivers, but that mainly has to do with the fact that they are worse against running backs. The Lions just saw Christian Kirk put up a 9/94/1 stat line against them in Week 15. Let’s be real, both the Lions and Falcons have defenses that aren’t good and Matt Ryan will continue to get hit and let it fly.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Rams
First, let me mention how great Cooper Kupp is for no reason at all. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s try to trust OBJ again. He did almost nothing in Week 15 against the Seahawks (one catch for seven yards). It was a weird game where a lot of points were expected to be scored, but there wasn’t. We can’t however ignore what OBJ did in his three games before Week 15 (three touchdowns). What we also can’t ignore is that he gets to go up against the Vikings who have the worst defense against receivers in fantasy. Despite the Bears only scoring nine points against the Vikes, both Darnell Mooney and Damiere Byrd were able to top 60 yards from the receiver position. There should be more than enough opportunities for OBJ in a game with an over/under of 49.5.

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Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers
Is it the return of RoJo? With Leonard Fournette being placed on IR, Jones will once again get his chance to take the reins of Bucs RB1. The Panthers have been solid against backs in fantasy, but this play is purely volume-based. Le’Veon Bell has found himself in the Bucs running back room (to keep himself from fighting Jake Paul), but it should be strictly for depth purposes and maybe some passing-down work. Tom Brady is livid that the Bucs were shutout in Week 15, they’ll come out guns blazing. RoJo, being the top back, will certainly benefit.

Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
Pollard continues to be the efficiency-God. Finally looking like he’s shaken off his injury, he took 12 carries for 74 yards, while adding three catches for 13 yards in Week 15. You have to love a situation where Pollard can get 13-16 touches weekly, especially against Washington. Washington surrendered 238 rushing yards to the Eagles in Week 15, so Pollard will most certainly find daylight. The Dallas/Washington game currently has the third-highest over/under at 47.5 for Week 16.

DON’T START Duke Johnson/Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins
It was nice seeing Johnson get back into the league and have a day. Usually, I’m advising you good people on who to start, but I’d be wrong not to fill you in on this. We have to understand that Johnson and Gaskin were up against the Jets, the worst team against backs in fantasy. In Week 16, the Dolphins will face the Saints, who have the second-best defense against running backs in fantasy. Furthermore, the Saints are coming off of a game in which they shut out the league's best offense in the Bucs. I know pickings are slim and you may HAVE to start one of these guys, but I'd set the bar low. We also don’t truly know how the timeshare will work since Gaskin was coming off the COVID list in Week 15. You’ve been warned.