Optimal Flex Plays: Palmer, Dotson, and more

·6 min read



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Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is in the books. We had some wild finishes, but more importantly we got a little bit of clarity. A lot of times as we approach Week 1, we are jousting and scraping to see who has what role and how often they'll have it. The season is still young like a precious newborn coming out of the womb, but we have at least something to go from.

Some things happened that we expected, like Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson dominating, but some things didn't come to fruition. I personally did not expect Allen Robinson and Hunter Renfrow (who were in this column last week) to combine for fewer points than Kendrick Perkins in an NBA Finals game. They should both bounce back. AJ Dillon and Isaiah McKenzie (who were both also in this column last week) both falling into the endzone saved me from complete shame and embarrassment. Shout out to Nyheim Hines too, he held me down. As we go forward, I'm looking to give you the sneaky edge you need in your fantasy lineups, not the layups. Here we go, let's get to it.

Josh Palmer - WR, Chargers @ Chiefs
Opportunity is knocking at Palmer's door and he's set to open it. In Week 1, Keenan Allen was on a tear, hauling in four catches for 66 yards by the time the game hit early on in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Allen left with a hamstring injury, and though not considered serious, he is unlikely to play in Week 2. Palmer should be next up in line. The popular name in the Chargers' receiver room is DeAndre Carter as he caught 3-of-4 targets for 64 yards and a touchdown. Carter however played only 37% of the snaps compared to Palmer's 75%, which was second only to Mike Williams at 93%. Palmer also ran 25 routes compared to Carter's 14. While Carter will have an expanded role, look for Palmer to man the WR2 spot for the Chargers against the Chiefs in a game that has the highest over/under of Week 2 at 54.5 points. Gerald Everett also figures to be more involved. Don't take Palmer's weak three-catch for five yards performance in Week 1 to heart. Williams was in the same boat. The Chargers/Chiefs game will be a throwing fest.

Jerick McKinnon - RB, Chiefs vs. Chargers
As mentioned above, the Chiefs/Chargers game in Week 2 is expected to be a high scoring one, so it's only right I nabbed another player from this game. You're likely already starting JuJu Smith-Schuster and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but McKinnon could provide you with a needed boost if you're lacking in your flex spot. In a Week 1 blowout win against the Cardinals, McKinnon ran the ball solid, gaining 22 yards on four carries. He also did well in the receiving game by gaining 27 yards on three receptions. Not a crazy stat line I know, but since the Chiefs were bludgeoning the Cardinals, neither he nor CEH was needed later in the game. Make no mistake, the Chiefs backfield is a committee, but McKinnon led it as far as snaps were concerned at 39%. He also played on 51% of passing plays as his ability to catch the ball and willingness in pass protection are what the Chiefs value. Isiah Pacheco will get limited looks as well. He finished as the Chiefs' leading rusher with 12 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, but he only had two carries for two yards in the first half. In an expected shootout, I expect McKinnon to eat.

Jahan Dotson - WR, Commanders @ Lions
I want to make it clear that I'm vouching for Curtis Samuel as an optimal flex play as well! Both players could feast on a Lions' defense that just gave up 38 points to an Eagles' team that is less pass-oriented than the Commanders. It's easy to see Dotson's two-touchdown performance as fluky considering he only caught 3-of-5 targets for 40 yards. For starters it's how and when he caught his touchdowns (including a game winner). The fact that he played 88% of the snaps compared to Terry McLaurin's 90% is the biggest factor, he's always on the field. Samuel on the other was used like the all-around player he was at Ohio State, catching 8-of-11 targets for 55 yards and a touchdown. He also added four carries for 17 yards while playing 71% of the snaps. 12 touches?! Sign me up! Neither team's defense is expected to put up much resistance as evidenced by the 49.5 over/under. I like Dotson and Samuel to build on their Week 1 performances.

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.

Chase Edmonds - RB, Dolphins @ Ravens
Edmonds did not run the ball well in Week 1 gaining only 25 yards on 12 carries. He did however catch all four of his targets and gained 40 yards with some good running after the catch. Michael Carter was able to gain 60 yards on 10 carries against the Ravens in Week 1, so there may be a little more running room for Edmonds in Week 2. Although in a negative game script, the Ravens allowed Carter and Breece Hall to combine for 13 receptions and 78 yards. Edmonds has the potential to produce in this category as well. The threat of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill will always leave room for other Dolphins players to make plays. In Week 2 Edmonds is your guy.

Hunter Renfrow - WR, Raiders vs. Cardinals
I know, I know, Renfrow stunk last week giving us only three receptions for 21 yards. I am riding with him AGAIN. After getting 17 targets in Week 1, I think Davante Adams can spare four or five targets for our boy. While not his best game, Renfrow still tied for second on the team in targets with Darren Waller. The Raiders have a matchup against a Cardinals defense that just got cooked by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Don't expect David Carr to repeat his poor performance either. Week 1 was his first three-interception game in four seasons. The Cardinals had trouble covering the Chiefs' pass catchers, they'll surely have a hard time with Renfrow, Adams and Waller in a game that's over/under is currently set at 51.5, the second-highest in Week 2. Look for Renfrow to destroy the Cardinals' nickel backs in Las Vegas.

Devin Singletary - RB, Bills vs. Titans
Singletary is no Saquon Barkley, but man did that Titans' defense look soft against the run in Week 1. After running well on 12 touches for 70 total yards against the Rams, Singletary will get an opportunity to upgrade his performance against a lesser opponent. While things could change, at this point he's clearly the top option over Zack Moss and James Cook. Singletary was in on 59% of the snaps in Week 1. The Bills are a whopping 10-point favorites against the Titans so the game script could work in Singletary's favor as well. Losing to the Giants was not a good look for a Titans team with playoff aspirations, they'll have their hands even more full with Josh Allen and the Bills. This is the type of game where Singletary will be a beneficiary.