Faves and Fades is a weekly installment that focuses on players who you might be deciding between in your flex spot. We won’t be talking about any of the bigger producers here because you are going to start them regardless of the matchup. These players will be low-end WR2 to waiver wire range. The flex spot is oftentimes the sweatiest decision and also the X-Factor that can decide the matchup. This one’s for the Gunslingers.
Chase Claypool, WR – Bears vs Lions
Justin Fields finally had his coming out party. He led, what we had thought, was a below-average Bears offense through a matchup with the Miami Dolphins in which he matched Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle’s explosiveness almost exclusively himself. 170+ yards rushing is true video game numbers. He rose to the occasion and showed just how FAST he is. Enter his new WR1. Mapletron. Fields’ confidence is hitting an all-time high. He’s throwing more than ever and I hope you haven’t let his years in a conservative Bears offense let you forget he was known as a deep ball specialist initially. The stars seem to be aligning in Chicago for this offense and I think Claypool is ready to get in on the fun. Oh yeah…they play Detroit this week.
Kadarius Toney, WR – Chiefs vs Jaguars
Adam Schefter reported that the Chiefs have been trying to acquire Toney since the Giants drafted him. I think they see him as a true replacement for Tyreek Hill. They obviously had plans to move on from Hill and were looking for that contingency and who else would catch their eye but the guy who looks an awful lot like Tyreek on the field…when he’s healthy…which he is now! Mecole Hardman has had his chance to fill that role and has been on a nice little run recently but when Toney starts to get those opportunities the Chiefs will forget all about Hardman and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on a new team next year. The dude is electric and the upgrade from Daniel Jones to Patrick Mahomes is undeniable. If you were smart enough to use some FAAB or trade a bag of peanuts for him then feel confident in starting him this week. You don’t need to wait for that big game first before you start him. JuJu has carved out a nice role and of course, Kelce will be Kelce but Toney is only going to complement that. MVS, Hardman, and Watson are all going to take a back seat to the best three players they have. To all my true Gunslingers, fire up Kadarius Toney against a faltering Jaguars team that should be a tasty matchup.
George Pickens, WR – Steelers vs Saints
The Steelers coming off the bye might surprise a lot of people. They have survived the brutal stretch in their schedule that had all of us staying away from the offensive playmakers but now we can start to reinvest. Claypool is gone and they are ready to start building the Pickett and Pickens relationship. This is the future and with a fully healthy Najee ready to eat up this second half of the schedule we might see some big things from this offense. They are almost certainly out of playoff contention but I don’t see Mike Tomlin rolling over, so don’t be surprised if they look like a new team coming off the bye. I think Pickens benefits in almost every scenario that will play out. He’s the clear WR1 and is working his way to becoming a matchup-proof option. His skill is insane and the opportunity is about to follow. They need to win and they are playing a NO team that has been known to get in shootouts.
Terrace Marshall, WR – Panthers vs Falcons
Last week I advised against trusting to see if the explosive offense we saw against Atlanta again showed up because I think that was more the result of the emotional interdivisional matchup with so much on the line. Well, this week they play Atlanta again and even in a down offensive week, Marshall was the leading fantasy producer for the Panthers last week. We are amidst the Panthers giving Marshall his first true opportunity to carve out a role and he is showing his skills on the field. If he is on your waiver wire you need to correct your league’s mistake and scoop him up. He’s on a pathway to WR2 and would be a perfect flex spot this week. Everyone in the division has a losing record so every NFC South matchup from here on out is something I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Brian Robinson, RB – Commanders vs Eagles
Brian Robinson is one of those players that is just important to the game plan. I know everyone complains about Gibson not getting more work but I think it’s simply because this coaching staff loves the one-cut hard-nosed nature of Robinson. They love giving him the ball on early downs to set up the easier third downs. This has led to less-than-spectacular finishes for Robinson. He’s touched double-digit fantasy points but almost reluctantly through sheer volume. The Eagles are great this year but the one thing that they have trouble with is stopping the run. I think the combination of the coach’s love for Robinson along with what works well against the Eagles is going to result in a Dameon Pierce like performance from last week. Start Robinson.
Mecole Hardman, WR – Chiefs vs Jaguars
I think the Toney trade has potentially signaled the end of Hardman’s career as a Chief. The Chiefs are all in on Toney and two weeks of practice now should result in a heavier involvement I think putting any trust in Hardman to extend his streak of good fantasy production is risky business. There is a chance Toney needs another week to get involved and you can squeak out another week here with Hardman but I would rather get ahead of the curb on this situation.
Adam Thielen, WR – Vikings vrs Bills
TJ Hockenson looked really good last week. He was criminally underutilized in Detroit and it’s looking like he almost immediately slid into the number 2 option in this offense behind Jefferson. Thielen is only getting older and has always been touchdown-dependent. He’s still catching touchdowns but not at the rate that gave him his vaunted WR2 status for so many years. Bundled with the Hockenson arrival is a matchup with a Bills team that is embarrassed after a Jets loss. I don’t see them losing two in a row and I know the Vikings have been playing well this season but I don’t see them keeping pace with a pissed off Bills team. Stay away this week and be cautious going forward with Thielen.
Courtland Sutton, WR – Broncos vs Titans
The Broncos are riding (Ha) off the bye week into a tough matchup. Sutton is on a three-game streak of 5 or fewer fantasy points. It’s almost a complete turnaround from his consistent production above double digits for the first 4 games. The Broncos offense is a mess and Sutton is truly a player I am waiting to see if he starts producing again. Jeudy has been emerging as well as Dulcich and they just traded for a pass-catching back in Chase Edmonds as well. There is alot going on and while he’s still atop the depth chart and a talented player it seems like his skill set is just not being utilized right now in this troubled offense.
Justin Herbert, QB – Chargers vs 49ers
Justin Herbert is very talented but the Chargers have been going through it this season. Their offense has been dealing with all sorts of injuries on the O line and in the receiving core. Herbert has the talent to overcome all these obstacles and any matchup but it’s still asking ALOT from him. He only has 4 games above 20 fantasy points and the other four have been rough. Derek Carr rough. They come in still hobbled to a game with a very explosive and healthy 49ers team. Maybe Herbert pulls out some magic but if you have a Justin Fields or Tua on your bench I would seriously consider trying to find that replacement option until he at least gets his weapons back. I don’t think he’s going to flop this week but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable expecting anything over 15 this week. So do with that what you will.