- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
One might think the lineup decisions are tougher when bye weeks remove significant players from consideration, but now that there are more names, it gets more difficult for unsure owners. After all, look at the flex rankings. Some decent players didn’t make the top 100 because there are so many options. One should continue to play the best ones, in some cases regardless of matchups and always taking into account injury. Perhaps weather will also rear its cold and windy head this weekend. Bottom line: Here are one man’s thoughts on the best running backs, wide receivers and tight ends nestled into one tidy package.
Got questions? Sure you do! Well, we’re here to help, and if the flex rankings below aren’t enough or you want other opinions, check through the loads of information we provide in columns, blogs, chats, videos, Spreecasts, podcasts and more! As for my Wednesday chat session, here is the link! And here are the staff rankings!
Happy Thanksgiving to all and best of luck with your fantasy teams in Week 13 and beyond!
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: I think even Trent Richardson could run all over the Chicago Bears this week, if given the chance. What do you think Peterson can do against them? By the way, who could have imagined back in August that a healthy Richardson would ever miss the top 100 in the flex rankings? Perhaps the Browns!
2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Now the schedule gets tougher. And he’s still No. 2.
3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Quiet game against the Broncos last time. Now he’s at home.
4. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Playing on Thanksgiving as opposed to Sundays isn’t a skill, but Megatron had 140 receiving yards and a touchdown in last year’s Turkey Day game. Sounds like a normal Sunday.
8. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
9. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: He had 145 yards and two touchdowns last Thanksgiving. His owners could sure use that this week!
10. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions
11. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
12. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
13. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: His team is really a mess, but Morris keeps on producing. McCoy and Peterson are the only ones with more rushing yards. (How about the occasional touchdown, Al?)
14. Andre Brown, RB, Giants: He’s so much fun to watch. Pretty unstoppable.
15. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
16. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Let’s not presume everyone puts up monster numbers against the Jaguars. But he should.
17. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Touchdowns in three consecutive games. And the Texans are really, really awful at this point.
18. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
19. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Lit up the Colts a few weeks ago for 20 fantasy points. Knowing this guy, it probably means he gets four points this week. Or 30.
20. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
21. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: Finally got back on the touchdown train. Not that anyone should have been worried.
22. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
23. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Fantasy’s MVP is far from a lock to play. And even if he does, the Chiefs' defense is still legit. Might be smarter to use a Thursday guy instead.
24. Wes Welker, WR, Broncos
25. Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: Will find out his plight (concussion) on Friday.
26. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
28. Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders: Playing great football over the past month. Just keep giving him carries and he should torch the Cowboys. Unless he doesn’t get the carries.
29. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Has his own three-game touchdown streak. Unstoppable! Well, kind of stoppable.
30. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: Just because he didn’t blow up against the awful Cowboys defense hardly means he’s going to disappoint again versus the Redskins. But good luck convincing his owners of this!
31. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
32. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens
33. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: Antonio Brown is the only NFL player with more receptions. You would not have guessed that. And everyone’s whining about Washington’s quarterback play.
34. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
35. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
36. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
37. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: In his case, I do think home/road splits matter. But ultimately I still trust him.
38. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers: Pretty underrated. Has outperformed Nelson since Rodgers went down.
39. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: Love the matchup. But we’ve seen the downside.
40. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: If you think he’s 100 percent healthy, then trade a top-10 running back for him. Not a chance I would.
41. Eric Decker, WR, Broncos
42. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: Treat him like a PPR monster, not a guy with 15 rushing attempts coming.
43. Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers: Nothing wrong with relying on him, and he could get 15 rushing attempts.
44. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
45. Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons
46. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
47. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: Hey, he scored a touchdown last week, his second! If he scored more touchdowns, he’d threaten to be a top-10 option. And yeah, I like Ryan Fitzpatrick more than I should.
48. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: Just try to avoid relying on Jets. Bottom line.
49. Ben Tate, RB, Texans: Word is he’ll get the carries this week. But word has been wrong before.
50. Marques Colston, WR, Saints
51. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: Fifteen touches or zero? Honestly, I doubt Bill Belichick even knows. But I bet he’s not totally forgotten and the matchup is awesome.
52. James Jones, WR, Packers
53. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
54. Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles: Not a beautiful matchup, but he’s been so productive.
55. Donald Brown, RB, Colts
57. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: Yes, he is capable of scoring touchdowns.
58. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
59. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: And you trusted him. You were warned!
60. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: And you didn’t trust him. Well, in this case you weren’t warned.
61. Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: People forget that back in August he was supposed to be fantasy’s top rookie running back. So he’s got skills.
62. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
63. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: I’d sell high if trades were still allowed, personally.
64. Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
65. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
66. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
67. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons
69. Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers: He’s not Ray Rice, but again, there’s a reason why he was so well-traveled. And this is a terrible matchup for him.
70. Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars
71. Nate Burleson, WR, Lions: He’s not a top-20 wide receiver, but some people sure act as if he is. Add him and if he’s your top flex option, go for it. But don’t force it.
72. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals
73. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
74. Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: Underrated option this week due to matchup, people forgetting that zero in Week 12 from him was his bye week.
75. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
76. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Really telling that even with Daniel Thomas done, Miller’s rank is far from exciting. That’s what 21 carries for 27 yards over a few weeks will do. He’s either really underrated or just far worse than anyone expected.
77. Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals
78. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals
79. Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: Could be their No. 1 back in theory. Perhaps Belichick gives him 20 touches this week, only to change his mind in Week 14.
80. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Not healthy, and it’s a tough matchup. Still.
81. Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks
82. Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks: Should get more touches, but more than Tate?
83. Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns
85. Benny Cunningham, RB, Rams: Rushed for 100 yards in relief last week, but that was against the Bears, so pardon the overall skepticism.
86. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: Would we rank him better if he didn’t score touchdowns but got tons of targets, like a Kendall Wright? Well, yeah we would!
87. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
88. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: I can’t fathom why he continues to be active in a ton of more leagues than Josh Gordon, for example. But it’s happening weekly.
89. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants
90. Darren Sproles, RB, Saints: No lock he plays.
91. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: He must know time’s a wasting on his brittle career.
93. Coby Fleener, TE, Colts
94. Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings
95. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers
96. Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins
97. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
98. Dennis Johnson, RB, Texans
99. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
100. Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers
Others: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts; Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears; Bilal Powell, RB, Jets; Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings; Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys; Mark Ingram, RB, Saints; Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins; Joique Bell, RB, Lions; Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings; James Starks, RB, Packers; C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos; Kenny Stills, WR, Saints; Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys; Robert Woods, WR, Bills; Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers; Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants; Justin Hunter, WR, Titans
One might think the lineup decisions are tougher when bye weeks remove significant players from consideration, but now that there are more names, it gets more difficult for unsure owners.