Injuries are mounting in the NFL, which is a sad reality we're reminded of every December as depth charts are tested in real life and fantasy football. This week in #FixMyFlex, I was presented with plenty of interesting and difficult dilemmas to solve featuring some names one wouldn't expect to be featured so heavily in a fantasy football column. My answers to your inquiries are below, and if you'd like to have your question featured in a future column, remember to use the hashtag #FixMyFlex on Twitter or to reply to the tweets from the @NFLFantasy handle or my personal handle @AlexGelhar.
While I'm all aboard the Gus Edwards train, with this being a PPR league I think Chris Godwin is the winner. Edwards has seen exactly one target over the last three weeks (he didn't catch it), while Godwin is coming off a 5-101-1 game where he trailed only Mike Evans in snaps among Buccaneer wide receivers. DeSean Jackson missed that game and could miss this next one as well, meaning more playing time and opportunities for Godwin in a game where the Bucs will likely be passing a lot (they host the Saints). If Jackson does return this week and that makes you squeamish, Edwards is a fine floor play, but I'd still chase the upside with Godwin.
Jaylen Samuels is the talk of the fantasy town this week between James Conner's injury and Samuels' dual TE-RB eligibility in Yahoo fantasy leagues. I get the appeal with Samuels, as he's the clear-cut pass-catching back replacement in one of the league's pass-happiest offenses. However, reports this week are that Samuels and Stevan Ridley will be splitting series this week against the Raiders, which worries me from a game-flow perspective. The Raiders are, how do I put this gently . . . really bad. If the Steelers jump out to a big early lead, they could salt away the clock in the hands of a veteran like Ridley.
Those worries about Samuels lead me into a D.J. Moore vs. Tarik Cohen conundrum here. Over the last three weeks, Moore leads the Panthers in playing time, target share (23 percent), receptions (19), receiving yards (292), and trails only Curtis Samuel in air yards (261 to 267). The Browns allow the sixth-most yards per game to opposing wideouts, so there's both a high ceiling and floor for Moore. As for Cohen, he's coming off two games with Chase Daniel under center where he likewise led his team in target share (26 percent), receptions (17) and receiving yards (160), but Mitchell Trubisky is expected back this Sunday against the Rams. Still, even with Trubisky back, there are reasons to believe Cohen has a high ceiling in this game as well. The Rams are the second-highest scoring offense in the league, and Cohen has been heavily involved in the passing game in high-scoring Bears games this season (7-90-0 in a 28-31 loss to the Dolphins, 8-61-1 in a 31-38 loss to the Patriots, and so on). Honestly, it's close to a coin flip for me, but my instinct is to go with Cohen and hope the Bears and Rams trade offensive blows all night on Sunday.
Would it surprise you to learn that over the last month, Peyton Barber is a top-20 fantasy back in standard scoring? That's because he's found the end zone in three straight weeks while averaging about 60 rushing yards per game in that same span. Barber offers a reasonable floor but is very touchdown-dependent as he has just five receptions in his last four games. Dante Pettis, on the other hand, is a rising star in his offense. Over the last two weeks, he's second on the team in target share with 18 percent but leads the team in receiving yards (206), air yards (176) and receiving touchdowns (three). He only plays around 30 percent of his snaps from the slot, but 46 percent of his targets this year have come while lined up there and he's gained 47 percent of his yards there as well. With Chris Harris Jr. out for the Broncos, Pettis could find opportunities from the slot on Sunday. I'd rather shoot for the moon and play Pettis than bank on a rushing score from Barber.
Doug Martin popped up on the injury report with a knee issue, giving credence to the idea of starting Jalen Richard in the flex. However, the Raiders signed C.J. Anderson this week, and we know all too well how much Jon Gruden likes his veterans. Jokes aside, the Richard will be splitting time with Anderson and DeAndre Washington. A committee back in a bad offense is a recipe for fantasy disappointment. Kyle Rudolph was never in consideration for me. He has just one more target than Aldrick Robinson over the Vikings' last four games. That leaves Allen Robinson, who could be set up for a monster game against the Rams. While it looks like Robinson has gone cold of late, a lot of that has to do with Chase Daniel being under center. In Robinson's last two healthy games with Trubisky, he led the Bears in target share, receiving yards and touchdowns. He's the best player of this trio playing in the best offense of this trio and is likely to be featured in a high-scoring game.
Nick Chubb is the clear choice for me in this flex battle. Even casting aside Austin Ekeler's disappointing performance against the Steelers last week (more on that in a second), Chubb has the edge. Chubb also disappointed last week receiving just 12 touches (his lowest total since becoming the starter in Week 7), thanks in large part to Baker Mayfield throwing three first-half interceptions. In Chubb's five games prior to last week, he averaged around 23 touches and 119 total yards per game while scoring six touchdowns. In Ekeler's two games without Melvin Gordon this year, he's averaged 17.5 touches and 55.5 total yards per game. Couple that with the emergence of rookie Justin Jackson in Los Angeles and Ekeler's path to a huge game becomes even harder. Chubb's volume wins out here. Speaking of Jackson . . .
Justin Jackson's surge in the second half of Sunday Night Football last week (eight carries, 63 yards, one touchdown) has many (myself included) contemplating starting him this week IF Melvin Gordon is out again. I think we can rule Marlon Mack out right away, as his workload has taken hits in recent weeks and he has to face the formidable front seven of the Houston Texans, who have made life miserable for opposing backs all season. Tyler Boyd is my pick for the flex. It's not ideal having him travel on the road with a backup quarterback and no A.J. Green opposite him, but the volume should be there. That leaves us with a decision between Jackson and Josh Adams, who find themselves in similar situations. Both are in timeshares and offer little in the passing game. Since both play in afternoon games, I'd probably slot Jackson in as the starter since Cincinnati's defense is atrocious and the Chargers figure to stake out and maintain an early lead. However, if Melvin Gordon plays, swap out Jackson for Adams and hope for the best. Adams has an ugly matchup on paper against the Cowboys, who just shut down the dynamic Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara duo.
This is a toss-up between Sony Michel and Jeff Wilson for me. LeGarrette Blount is averaging 18 carries for 75 yards with Kerryon Johnson out of the picture, but is a non-factor in the passing game and relies too heavily on goal-line plunges for my liking. Michel is in a similar boat, averaging 19 carries for 98 yards over the last two weeks with minimal involvement in the passing game. However, his matchup is juicy, as the Dolphins allow the fourth-most rushing yards per game to opposing backs, and the Patriots should be able to maintain a lead that would favor a more run-heavy approach.
That leaves Jeff Wilson, who is more of a wild card but also the back in this bunch with the most upside. Matt Breida has already been ruled out for San Francisco, and Wilson carried the ball 15 times while receiving 19 percent of the 49ers targets while filling in for the injured Breida last week. If this is a PPR league, I might roll the dice and hope Wilson is pummeled with targets again. The Broncos have been tough on running backs through the air to date, but Chris Harris' injury takes away a dangerous presence covering the slot and flats. I can see a scenario where Nick Mullens is under pressure all afternoon from Von Miller and co. and resorts to countless checkdowns.