Optimal Flex Plays: We are back baby!

·5 min read

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It's that time again folks! We are back, NFL football is back and fantasy football is back to own our souls. It's been a while since I've written this type of article and it feels good because these have to do with actual games being played. No more fluff, no more takes, no more talk. It's been a long offseason of speculation, Twitter crying with some if/and/but's sprinkled in but we are finally here. In this Optimal Flex Plays article, I'll give you players who could potentially put you over the edge in your fantasy matchups. The key in season-long fantasy is (in most leagues) to beat your opponent and win your week. This article will never have players like Christian McCaffrey, Justin Jefferson, Kyle Pitts or Justin Herbert, those are weekly starters. Optimal flex plays may be on your bench one week but in your lineup the next. Let's get to it.

Allen Robinson - WR, Rams
We are going to start with a player who is helping kick off the 2022 season. Robinson is coming off a miserable 2021 season in Chicago where he recorded only 38 receptions, 410 yards and a touchdown. Injuries and falling out with the previous staff helped cause his demise in the Windy City. The 29-year-old seems rejuvenated now that he's latched on with the Super Bowl champs. He is only two seasons removed from going 102/1,250/6. To start the season he'll face a Bills secondary who was the best against the pass last season, but that defense will be without their top defensive back in Tre'Davious White. The Bills could be forced to use extra resources in an attempt to slow down Cooper Kupp. This, coupled with an over/under of 52.5 (with low rushing props) could mean a nice opening day for Robinson. If he's not already your WR2, throw him in your flex spot.

Isaiah McKenzie - WR, Bills
Staying in the same game, McKenzie could pleasantly surprise us. While more eyes will be on the hopeful Gabe Davis explosion, McKenzie occupies a position that Josh Allen is quite fond of. McKenzie will man the slot, formerly occupied by Cole Beasley. In the past two seasons, Allen targeted Beasley an average of 109.5 times while he caught 82 passes each season. This could very well be McKenzie's trajectory. He dealt with a groin injury the last week of August, but he has since returned to full practice. It was thought (by me as well) that Jamison Crowder would take over the slot role after signing with the Bills this offseason. McKenzie has held him off and could big in for a big game if you are struggling to find a flex player. The Rams' defense still has all-pro Aaron Donald but will be searching for production in replacement of the departed Von Miller. Allen should have time to find his new trusty slot receiver.

Hunter Renfrow - WR, Raiders
In the event Renfrow isn't starting in your WR3 spot, you certainly will want to throw him into your flex for Week 1. Again, In these situations I like to chase the games with the highest over/unders. The Chiefs/Raiders Week 1 matchup has the second-highest over/under of any game at 52.5 points. Although he's not been ruled out for Sunday, the Chargers could be without top corner J.C. Jackson. Another Chargers' defensive back, Derwin James, recently gave high praise for what Renfrow can do on the field. The Raiders will possess one of the elite passing attacks this season with Derek Carr, Darren Waller and a guy named Davante Adams. Renfrow will find his way. Play him in Week 1 with confidence.

Fantasy football guru Matthew Berry has joined the team and his two shows have you covered all season long. Spend weekdays at noon with the Fantasy Football Happy Hour and then, every Sunday at 11am getting ready for kickoff with the Fantasy Football Pregame. Watch both shows live on Peacock and catch replays for the weekday show on the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Tony Pollard - RB, Cowboys
Pollard has seen a lot of hype come his way this offseason. So much so, that some feel like he could outright supplant Ezekiel Elliott as the Cowboys' RB1. While that may not happen this season, Pollard could be in store for his best season yet. There's been talk of him being more involved in the pass game and it makes too much sense. The Cowboys are suffering with injuries at the wide receiver position, and Pollard is actually a former full-time receiver. The Cowboys will face the Buccaneers in a Week 1 rematch of last season. In last year's matchup, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady threw the ball 58 and 50 times respectively. A lot of points are expected to be scored in this game (over/under 51). Elliott may be called upon to carry a heavier load in pass protection this game which should result in more opportunities for Pollard.

Nyheim Hines - RB, Colts
For Week 1, this may be more of an option for the deeper leagues/rosters. Hines nonetheless has been talked up by his coaches and it's been said he'll have a bigger role. We expect the offense to move a little more fluid with Matt Ryan at quarterback. We will get to see that on display as the Colts (-7) face the Texans in Week 1. If this game gets out of hand, (in the Colts' favor) then forgive me because this call is going to hell. If Hines does in fact have a larger impact on the game though, he will have done his damage throughout the game. I'm not hedging, but let's be real here.

AJ Dillon - RB, Packers
I may not get to use this one much this season so I'm doing it now. Why? Because Dillion could very well be a weekly starter in your RB2 slot going forward. With a questionable wide receiver group heading into the season, more will be asked of Dillon and Aaron Jones. As a bigger back, Dillon has proven he can catch the ball out of the backfield and make something happen. The Packers are slight (1.5) favorites against the Vikings in Week 1. The Vikings have made some upgrades on defense including Za'Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks, but they'll still have to prove they're better than last season when they were ranked 30th in total defense. Dillon is going to put that to the test early.