Michael Nease brings you his insights each week for the world of Fantasy Football. Follow him on Twitter @mikeinsights
The legendary Etta James once sang a song named “Don’t Cry Baby” It started something (but not quite exactlyJ) like this.
Don't cry, don't cry baby
Don't cry baby
Dry your eyes, and let's be champions again
OK, so I took a little bit of poetic license there. In this article though, champions fits better than sweethearts. My purpose in writing this season has been one of teaching you some of the strategies you need to win games and championships. Anyone can draft a team and fill in in a lineup week after week, but it takes not only a solid knowledge of fantasy football, but also a lot of work gathering the information you need to make informed decisions. You will note too that this week’s article is labeled as Week 6, with #5 having been skipped. From this point on we will be looking forward, rather than rehashing what has already happened.
My goal this week is to help you fill that wild card slot in your lineup, the flex position, with viable, practical solutions.
Contrary to what many think, I believe that the flex position may very well be the most important position in your lineup. At draft time so many are obsessed with drafting the key starters for their lineup and then filling the roster out with players that are just that, fill-ins. Let me ask you this. If you throw a fill-in type of player into that flex position what do you expect? I expect the results to echo the words of the Tin Man contemplating a yoga class.
In a typical fantasy football lineup we have one position dedicated to a flex player, that being an extra RB, WR, or TE. Many people just take a lower tier RB or WR and slap them into the lineup. Following that haphazard strategy can cost you games on a regular ongoing basis.
You can turn the challenging flex position in your lineup into one of strength, rather than an afterthought. Typically the selection pool here in a 12-team league includes those players ranked beyond RB24, WR36 and TE12. I will use several rankings sources to obtain a healthy consensus.
Here are some players I have selected to recommend this week. Some may even be available on your waiver wire and would make great pickups. With bye weeks now a major lineup challenge (Week 6—Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas and Seattle) and injuries, some may even fill RB2 or WR3 slots with some of these players as well.as well.
- RB Alvin Kamara, NO—Over the last three weeks, Kamara has averaged 19 points/week (13-26-bye) and is the #19 scoring RB for the season averaging 14 points. Many rankings have him below the RB2 level, but he is a must play in any lineup. Their Week 6 opponents, the Lions, give up an average of 24 fantasy points/game to RBs each week. Bear in mind that many teams have up to three RBs sharing those points. With Peterson now gone, Miller and Kamara will share the points and Kamara is likely to get a good percentage of them.
- RB Jerrick McKinnon, Min—Playing time and opportunity are a key to any player’s success. McKinnon has only really had a chance to show his stuff once so far, this last Monday night against the Bears. With Dalvin Cook on IR, he shared the load with Latavius Murray and stole the show. Scoring 27 fantasy points, he had a 16-95-1///6-31-0 stat line. Murray only had 43 yards on 14 touches. McKinnon is a hot waiver prospect this week.
- RB Andre Ellington, Ari—Given the opportunity to play, Ellington has taken full advantage of it. He has averaged16 points/game (13-19-16) over the last three weeks and should hold off the ancient former superstars Johnson and Peterson to be the dominant fantasy scoring RB for Arizona. He could be either an RB2, or flex player in your lineup. Tampa Bay, this week’s opponent, is pretty generous in giving points to opposing RBs.
- WR Mike Wallace, Pit—Gone are the days when Wallace was the lead WR in Pittsburgh and then Antonio Brown was chosen to be the WR1 of the future. After a slow start to the season, the last couple of weeks Wallace has scored 18 and 16 points. This week he faces a Bears team with a depleted LB corps and an inexperienced defensive back crew. He has a great match up and you should take advantage of it.
- WR Ricardo Lewis, Cle—Another hot waiver prospect, Lewis is only the #77 scoring WR, but the last two games he has had 11 and 12 points. That makes him a little risky since he has almost no track record. However, the Cardinals yield 38 points/game to opposing WRs. Lewis is better than 50-50 in my mind to be productive for you.
- WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ—A Jets player? Yes indeed. Kerley is not spectacular or flashy. Nobody has ever called him a diva like Dez Bryant. All he does is go out and get you a consistent floor of about 8-9 points per game. Over the last three games he has scored 9-9-8 points. On the season he has been targeted 17 times and has caught all 17 of them. 14 targets have come over the last three weeks and that number should be moving up. QBs love a WR that catches almost everything thrown to him. What you see is what you get with Kerley. Look at him as being a poor man’s Edelman or Welker.
- WR Ju Ju Smith, Pit—Being a rookie and playing in the shadows of both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, Smith has been pretty much invisible to everyone but Steelers fans. Looking at the scoring list, he is there pretty far down at #64 with an 8 point average. Looking at his last three games you see 6-14-10 results, a not too shabby 10 point average. I see Smith as a young player gaining some consistency on a weekly basis. To me he is a hot waiver prospect who can help your team rise as his scoring rate grows. As for this week, the Chiefs defense has been generous in giving up points to opposing WRs, with over 40 each game. Smith should get his share.
- WR Adam Humphries, TB—With DeSean Jackson being erratic thus far this season, Humphries has continued his scoring growth from last year. In his last three games he has garnered 13-12-8 points, a good 11 point average. On the season he is averaging 9 FPPG and is the #45 scoring WR, making him a solid WR4. Being that successful, he is not likely to be found on your waiver wire, but if he is, snap him up NOW.
- TE Zach Miller, Chi—Now that Mitchell Trubisky is starting, Miller has become fantasy relevant again. Scoring 13 points in Week 5, he has quickly become his young QB’s security blanket. With a makeshift, undependable WR corps, Miller becomes a good flex option going forward. Look for him to be targeted frequently each week because he is more dependable than most of Trubisky’s other options.
- TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins—Yeah, I know. I was surprised to include him on this list myself, but his numbers were too strong not to. After three undistinguished seasons Sefarian-Jenkins came to the Jets this year and missed the first two games with a suspension. Then he came back and shocked everyone with three games in which he scored 8-9-15 points on 15 catches out of 18 targets for 106 yards and a TD. It does not hurt this week that he is playing a Patriots team that is giving up not only the most fantasy points across the board this season, but 17 FPPG to TEs. That makes him a very hot waiver prospect this week.
And there you have it—the Week 6 flex player recommendations. When you look at your lineup, view it as a combination of players designed to give you enough points not only to win this week, but enough to win each and every week and ultimately to win your league championship. Conversely, if your lineup is too impotent to score the points you need consistently, you MUST try to fix it to win. Fantasy football is not a game for slackers.
Good luck! Have fun!