Optimal Flex Plays: Start Khalil Herbert now!

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We are in the full swing of the NFL and fantasy football season. Things are starting to take true shape, roles are being defined and players are getting injured. That's the game, you have to love it how it comes. As we head toward the quarter mark, we are scrambling and rushing to waivers to find players to help our rosters. Week 3 injuries to Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift and David Montgomery have changed the fantasy landscape in the blink of an eye. As always, it's the next man up, in real life and in our little fantasy world. Filling the flex spot with the right guy has become more and more important as the season goes along. Last week, players in this column like Dameon Pierce, Drake London and Garrett Wilson proved they were worthy of occupying the flex. Now let's see who we should lock in for Week 4.

Jamaal Williams - RB, Lions vs. Seahawks
Whether you had Williams on your roster or just picked him up off waivers, this is certainly the time you use him. D'Andre Swift suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3, and coach Dan Campbell said taking a few weeks off could benefit him. In the short term, that's awful news for Swift managers, but an opportunity for those who roster Williams, the known touchdown vulture. Williams was already on a path to being a solid flex play after a 20-carry, 87-yard, two-touchdown performance in which he added another 20 yards on two catches. Add in the fact that Swift will miss a little time and you have a potential top-15 running back. Williams will face a Seahawks defense that is reeling after letting Cordarrelle Patterson run for 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. In a battle of 1-2 teams, the over/under of 50 points could mean a big day for the “wave” dancing machine.

Curtis Samuel - WR, Commanders @ Cowboys
Samuel is not going away. He is a target monster in this Commanders' offense. While Terry McLaurin is entrenched as the team's WR1, Samuel has a solidified role in the offense as Carson Wentz's safety net. He's currently WR8 and while that may not hold up, he's scored two touchdowns while averaging 10 targets, 7.3 receptions and 60.3 yards per game. So far this season, the Commanders have found themselves in positions where they're throwing the ball a ton and you should expect that to continue against the Cowboys. In each contest thus far, Wentz has yet to throw fewer than 41 times in a game. The Cowboys defense will present a top-tier pass rush, but Sterling Shepard (get well soon!) turned 10 targets into five receptions and 49 yards against Dallas in Week 3. A short-area receiver like Samuel will thrive in this environment.

Kareem Hunt - RB, Browns @ Falcons
We know what Nick Chubb is going to do, but what about Hunt? He's been quiet since his two-touchdown performance in Week 1. As the Browns' number two option at running back, Hunt has still received 15 touches in each game thus far while averaging 68.3 yards from scrimmage per game. Both Rashaad Penny and Ken Walker had some success running against the Falcons defense, averaging 4.7 and 6.3 yards per carry respectively. While the Falcons are a top-five defense in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to running backs, Chubb and Hunt are the top running back duo in the NFL (492 combined rushing yards). Surprisingly enough, the games over/under of 49.5 jumped up from 46. Points are expected to be scored, and Hunt gets back on track this game.

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Khalil Herbert - RB, Bears @ Giants
Another player you just picked up off of waivers and the situation might not be better to play him. Herbert is coming off of a monster performance in which he took 20 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns after a leg injury to starter David Montgomery. Coach Matt Eberflus said Montgomery's injury is “day-to-day”, so while he's yet been ruled out for Week 4, it doesn't look promising that he'll play. Fire up Herbert at all cost as he'll face a Giants team that just surrendered 160 rushing yards (on 21 carries) to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Furthermore, the Giants are a top-three worst defense when it comes to allowing points to running backs in fantasy this season. This will be a run-heavy game with a Bears offense that only lets Justin Fields throw the ball 15 times a game and Daniel Jones who is scared to throw the ball deep. The 39 over/under tells you all you need to know about this game and Herbert will once again thrive.

Gabe Davis - WR, Bills @ Ravens
Davis, everyone's Lord and Savior (except mine), was quiet in Week 3, catching 3-of-6 targets for 37 yards despite Josh Allen completing 42-of-63 passes for 400 yards. He's simply a spot start and a guy you'll play based on the matchups. The Ravens are a matchup you want to exploit for a guy like Davis who thrives in situations where the defense busts coverages. When you let up a career-high game (156 yards) to DeVante Parker with Mac Jones at quarterback, you go after that defense. The Ravens defense is by far the worst against receivers in fantasy this season. Davis will have an opportunity to have a big day in what is expected to be Week 4's highest scoring game with an over/under of 51.5. Isaiah McKenzie is also a nice flex option if you're in need.

Rashod Bateman - WR, Ravens vs. Bills
Bateman has 226 yards on only eight catches and two touchdowns this season. Is that type of efficiency sustainable? Probably not, but he could stand to get some more targets. Averaging only 5.3 targets per game thus far is something you don't love as the team's top wideout. Even with Mark Andrews in the fold, it could still be better. Against the Bills, we could see those targets finally come knocking. The Ravens are -4 underdogs against the Bills and as mentioned above, expected to be a high-scoring game. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense has been steady in the passing game throwing it 30, 29 and 29 times. The Ravens may need to kick that up a notch if the defense continues to give up big plays. Bateman should get a chance to show why the Ravens felt confident in trading away Marquise Brown. Outside of Bateman, I also like J.K. Dobbins to be a lot better in his second game back.

Travis Etienne - RB, Jaguars @ Eagles
James Robinson is the clear RB1 in the Jaguars' offense and that doesn't need to be discussed. Etienne however, could be a nice little play in Week 4. The Jaguars are 6.5-point underdogs to the Eagles, and if the game goes as expected, we could see some production out of Etienne. The Eagles defense is allowing six receptions and 30 receiving yards per game to running backs. In Week 3, J.D. McKissic caught 6-of-9 targets for 32 yards against the Eagles in a negative game script. Even if it's a tight game and/or the Jags are competing (as we should expect them to), Etienne has seen an increase as far as carries go in each game this season. Week 4 could be a small victory lap for all you “Etienne SZN” truthers out there.