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Week 14 Optimal Flex Plays: Trust and hope Rashee Rice is finally Chiefs’ WR1

Collins, Achane on the rise in fantasy
Patrick Daugherty and Denny Carter break down why Nico Collins is now a WR1 candidate and how De'Von Achane's return bodes for his performance moving forward.

Here you have it, the final week of (most of) your fantasy football regular season. Where do you stand? Are you flying high into the playoffs? Fighting for a playoff spot? Or playing for pride? Whatever the case, go out like a champ, not a chump. You already paid your league fees (I hope) so you might as well finish it off like the last piece of apple pie. DeVonta Smith, Courtland Sutton and Brandin Cooks all did well from last week’s Optimal Flex Plays. AJ Dillon, Jahmyr Gibbs and Curtis Samuel were solid, but couldn’t reach the end zone. This week, we end on a great note and go into the playoffs ready to “get er done”.

WR - Rashee Rice, Chiefs vs. Bills

Rice has quietly (or maybe not so quietly) turned into the Chiefs’ WR1 over the past two games. He followed up his Week 12 performance (8-107-1) by catching 8-of-9 targets for 64 yards in the Chiefs’ loss to the Packers. Rice is also now getting manufactured targets where they get him the ball in space and allow him to make a play. Furthermore, he slowly, but surely has played more snaps seeing a season-high 69% in Week 13. The Bills’ defense has allowed at least two receiving touchdowns in three of their last four games (sorry Jets fans) and that includes Week 12 where three different receivers for the Eagles scored against them. This, combined with what seems like Rice’s new role, has him bound for more success.

RB/WR - Zay Flowers or Gus Edwards, Ravens vs. Rams

Bear with me on this one because there’s a lot of Ravens in play in Week 14. Flowers and Edwards are my top options for Ravens’ skill players as they’ll both have the most opportunity to score at their given positions. Odell Beckham and Keaton Mitchell and their abilities to score from anywhere on the field are also factors. The Rams have outright shut teams down on their three-game win streak, allowing less than 20 points in each contest. No running back has run for more than 50 yards against the Rams and most of the passing yards they’ve allowed came in garbage time. However, the Ravens come in with a top-seven offense that ranks first in rushing. Moral of the story, start your Ravens this week.

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RB - Zack Moss, Colts @ Bengals

Moss didn’t have a great game in Week 13 despite returning to the lead back role, gaining just 57 yards (on 21 touches) from scrimmage against the Titans. The good thing is that he’ll have the same role, but up against a Bengals’ defense that has allowed a running back to score in four straight games. In those last four games, the Bengals allowed an average of 102.2 yards to those running backs. Moss played 94% of the snaps in Week 13 and backup Trey Sermon did not receive a single touch (one target). With the Bengals entering this week allowing the 12th most fantasy points per game to running backs, Moss should be in a good spot to give you a top-10 ceiling with the opportunities he’ll have.

WR - Tee Higgins, Bengals vs. Colts

Higgins only went 3-36-0 in his return, but it was nice to see him playing on 78% of the snaps coming off an injury. You would’ve liked to have seen him more involved with Jake Browning throwing for 354 yards, but the usage will come. In his last full game before his performance against the Jags, Higgins went 8-110-0 against the Bills (with Joe Burrow at quarterback) so we know he’s not far removed from good production. As the16th best fantasy defense against receivers, the Colts have been up and down this season in that department. In Week 13 the Colts allowed DeAndre Hopkins to have his best game since Week 8 (5-75-1). The game total in this matchup is 43 and it’s higher than you think considering some of the other games. Higgins will be in a good spot here.

RB - De’Von Achane or Raheem Mostert, Dolphins vs. Titans

This one may feel like a no-brainer, but the Titans haven’t allowed a running back to run for more than 70 yards since Week 5. So why have the Dolphins’ backfield here? Well, simply put, the Dolphins are still easily the best offense in the league and despite tailing off a bit, are still the second in rushing yards per game. Achane was back in action in Week 13 and saw his highest number of touches (21) since Week 3 (22). In Week 13, Mostert started off as the lead back, but gave way to Achane as the Dolphins’ lead grew. I expect both to get opportunities near the end zone just based on the Dolphins’ explosiveness in the passing game and either of these backs can take it the distance themselves. Good luck Titans defense.