Ryan Mathews, Pierre Thomas, and the Week 11 Flex Rankings
We’ve reached the point in the season where you probably know the drill. The Flex Rankings are based on two principles. 1) Having a dominant strategic approach to the Flex position is a key to your championship run. 2) The Game Level Similarity Projections can help buttress your intuitive approach by using historical matches to project fantasy points.
The half-ppr rankings received an enthusiastic reception last week, so we’ll go with those numbers again for Week 11. These rankings use only results from 2013, but the App is very customizable. (You can even get 1.5 ppr projections for tight ends.) I’ve shifted the expected usage for a few of the players, an exercise you should perform for yourself if you’ve got a tricky lineup call.
- This is a good week for running backs at the top of the Flex Rankings. Ryan Mathews is slowly rebounding from an ugly start and could be building his way back to solid RB2 status. After being held under 4.0 yards per carry in four of his first five games, he hasn’t been held under 4.2 over the last four. For the season, Mathews now has six more Actual Points than Expected Points. That contrasts sharply to a player like Ben Tate (6.1) who has 20 fewer Actual Points than Expected Points. Mathews makes the better Flex option in Week 11, and he’s also the better dynasty acquisition. (Both players are impending free agents. Correction: Mathews is a free agent after the 2014 season. At one point it was assumed he would be released after this season, but his salary combined with level of play makes it less likely now.)
- We saw in Week 10 that Darren Sproles (13.2) and Pierre Thomas (12.7) don’t necessarily have a negative impact on each other’s numbers. Sproles leads the running back position with 444 receiving yards, but Thomas is also in the Top 10 with 312. The matchup with San Francisco could be a difficult one, but the 49ers are not playing at quite the same level as they did in 2011 and 2012. The Saints have the ability to threaten defenses in so many different ways that I still like their runners in this game.
- I received an interesting question on twitter yesterday from @C_ryran asking about the possibility of a Zero RB or Antifragile approach in daily leagues. You probably won’t be surprised that I really like the strategy in DFS as well. Somewhat bizarrely, Thomas costs only $5,600 on FanDuel and Sproles even less at $5,100. As Ryan Gilmore says in his FanDuel value breakdown, That’s borderline irresponsible.” For a variety of reasons, you can start both players – or even start Mark Ingram for $4,500 – and have plenty of money left over to start elite players at the other positions. (I just started playing DFS this season and am currently up 3x my money on FanDuel and more than 10x on DraftStreet. I’ve been very lucky so far, but the strategies I’ve outlined for seasonal events can definitely be applied in the weekly formats.)
- Mike Wallace (9.7) owns a startable projection but after his lackluster effort on MNF he’s now scored 20 fewer points on the season than expected. That’s Greg Little territory, but I might even be tempted to start Little over Wallace this week. At least he’s trending in the right direction and appears to be trying. (And by trending in the right direction, I mean Little had one good game. If you’re a Little fan, you take solace in small victories.)
- Among players with at least 50 touches, Andre Ellington (8.4) leads the NFL in yards after contact per carry. (Adrian Peterson is No. 2). While smaller, shiftier players tend to break fewer tackles, they often gain many more extra yards for every tackle broken. Although I hate to flex running backs in PPR leagues, I’m doing that with Ellington on a few teams this week.
- The recent hot streak by Jordan Reed (9.0) probably dictates you play the Washington tight end over Leonard Hankerson (9.5), but Philadelphia gives up more yards than average to both positions. Due to the expected pace and likelihood of offensive fireworks, this is a great week to plug in the up-and-down Hankerson in deep leagues.
- Starting in Week 6, Emmanuel Sanders (9.3) has been a clear cut WR2. He runs deeper routes than Antonio Brown and yet maintains a 62% catch rate. If recent games are any indication, he could see plenty of targets in comeback mode against Detroit.
As always, check out the Week 11 Flex Suspects from Jacob Myers.