10 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week Nine
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 9
As I suggested last week, and it may not have been a surprise to many, but the 2018 NFL Trade Deadline was exactly as advertised. In fact, it was even busier and more impactful than I originally thought with three fantasy football-relevant moves made ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Not only did we see Amari Cooper get traded to Dallas, which we already knew, but both Golden Tate and Demaryius Thomas are also in new destinations. The Lions traded Tate to the Eagles and the Broncos dealt Thomas to the wide receiver-needy Texans in the wake of Will Fuller’s season-ending ACL tear last week.
As a result, Cooper, Tate and Thomas’ respective fantasy values are on the upswing as their new suitors each had a need for an upgrade at the wide receiver position. And aside from Tate, who is on a bye, we will get to see just how effective Cooper and Thomas will be on their new clubs as soon as Week 9.
Most-Productive Players from Week 8
|12||65.7||Marvin Jones Jr.||WR||23.7|
While the top 15 overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard was dominated by some of the most notable names in the NFL last week, there were quite a few sleepers in the mix as well. Derek Carr (8.8) and Russell Wilson (38.3) are both being started in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN Fantasy leagues this week and finished amongst the top 15 most productive players for Week 8. For the purpose of this article, any player with less than a 50 percent start-percentage at ESPN Fantasy will meet the criteria of eligibility to qualify as a sleeper despite their notoriety — see Russell Wilson.
Sleepers Week 8: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Pos||STD Rank||STD Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Week 8 Full-Disclosure: By the Numbers
I knew that when I began including a full-disclosure in my article last year that there would be some good weeks mixed in with some bad. But never had I imagined one as terrible as my showing in last week’s slate of games. In fact, Week 8 might have been the absolute worst week in picking sleepers in the history of fantasy football.
And while I can’t control injuries, coaching strategies or outcomes, I am ultimately responsible for my selections. Thus, I apologize. I sucked. However, it is time to stop dwelling on the past — I am, of course, my absolute worst critic and have been beating myself up about this for days — and move forward to try to dominate some fantasy football matchups in Week 9.
- Andy Dalton was my best Week 8 finish regardless of position. He was the QB10 with 20.2 fantasy points in a bounce-back effort.
- My choice of Raiders running backs wasn’t terrible. Jalen Richard was fruitful in PPR and Doug Martin had a solid game as well, but Martin’s showing wasn’t strong from a fantasy football perspective.
There really isn’t much else to break down here. A handful of my remaining sleepers did just that. They slept and contributed goose-eggs across the board. I mean, I get one here and there, but three? And not to mention the three players who managed to accumulate — or lack thereof — fewer than 2.4 fantasy points in PPR. It was bad. So bad, that it can’t and won’t be repeated. Anomalies happen.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 8 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 9, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due bye weeks and a handful of notable injuries from around the league. With players that include Tyreek Hill, Ben Roethlisberger, and Baker Mayfield all succumbing to injuries last week, some more significant than the others, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 9 to help you fill the vacant holes on your fantasy football rosters. You can read that here.
Week 9 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 10.3
Folks, if you think Dak Prescott is headlining my sleepers article because of Amari Cooper, you haven’t been paying attention. While Prescott is coming off his bye, he was outstanding in three of the four games preceding it. Opening the season as the QB28 with 32.4 points from Weeks 1-to-3, Prescott was the QB14 with 86.2 points from Weeks 4-to-7 going into his bye. Although Cooper will be an immense boost to the offense, Prescott was already beginning to put it together, scoring at least 20 fantasy points per game in 3-of-4 games since Week 4.
If you read my content or listen to me on-air at the FFFaceoff, you’ll already know that I have Prescott pegged to finish the season as a fringe QB1. I even have a rest of season bet with my co-host on Prescott’s finish. However, his recent string of success isn’t completely attributed to his production in the passing game. Prescott is a top-end rusher.
Not only has he rushed for at least 282 yards and six touchdowns in each of his first two seasons in the league, but he’s also rushed for at least 32 yards and a score in his past two games. Prescott’s ability to rush the football bolsters his fantasy value while putting up mediocre numbers passing. If you don’t believe me, check out the QB rushing leaders here. Currently, Cam Newton leads all QBs in rushing, which is no surprise, but he’s followed up by Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles then Prescott. They all fit the aforementioned mold of quarterback in the above paragraph.
Entering a tough matchup with the Titans giving up the 24th most fantasy points to QBs at a 15.6 FPPG pace, Prescott’s matchup isn’t exactly a good one on paper. However, he is hot, has a new weapon and has played better at home than on the road. Sprinkle in the fact that the Titans have surrendered at least 19.9 fantasy points in 4-of-7 games this season to an opposing QB, and I believe Prescott will put together a respectable fantasy outing on Monday night. Although Prescott might be better suited in fantasy formats in which you can start two QBs, he does hold some value in single QB leagues with at least 12 teams. Prescott is a middling QB2 with fringe QB1 upside for Week 9.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 18.8
While Alex Smith is clearly not the QB from 2017 — let’s face it, last season was an anomaly, which was expected — he has a terrific matchup on Sunday at home against a Falcons defense surrendering the second most fantasy points to QBs at a 24.4 FPPG pace. In fact, the matchup is so fruitful that he could be started for that reason alone, especially due to injuries, inept QB play from a few teams around the league and bye weeks — there are six teams on their bye in Week 9 (Eagles, Bengals, Cardinals, Colts, Giants, Jaguars).
Although Smith hasn’t topped 17.5 fantasy points in the past three games including two games of fewer than 14.5 points, he opened the season well scoring at least 20.5 points in three of the first four games of the season. And let’s face it, Smith hasn’t exactly had the healthiest arsenal of weapons. With Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, and Jamison Crowder all missing games with their respective injuries, Smith is making the best of a tough situation.
However, while Crowder and Tompson are already ruled out, Richardson does have a chance to play despite being limited in or missing practice at times this week. He followed a similar path last week and played. And while Thompson is fantastic when he is in the game, he has one of the most erratic injury histories and the Redskins have covered themselves decently despite the fact with Kapri Bibbs.
With Thompson ruled out against the Cowboys in Week 7, Bibbs handled the change-of-pace work behind Adrian Peterson and compiled a 4-43-1 stat line as the Redksins’ primary receiver out of the backfield in that Week 7 contest. He is a suffice fill-in for Thompson. Moreover, while I’d be a bit more hesitant with Smith if Richardson didn’t play, the chance that he will is promising. A big-play receiver, Richardson has caught two of Smith’s eight touchdowns in 2018.
Facing a Falcons defense who’ve surrendered at least 24.7 fantasy points to the opposing QB1 in 6-of-7 games this season — the 24.7 was to Eli Manning and they only shut down Nick Foles in the season opener — I expect Smith to get back on track and finish in the fringe QB1 range in Week 9.
Week 9 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 47.3
Let me blow off a little steam. The Packers had a shot to beat the Rams last week and Ty Montgomery made a selfish and poor-character move. After whiffing on a few blitz pickups while in pass-protection last week against the Rams, which ultimately led to him losing playing time, he went into business for himself and took the kickoff out of the end zone with time left on the clock for Aaron Rodgers to go to work and do what he does best, which is leading the Packers to the most inconceivable of victories.
What makes matters worse are the reports suggesting that Montgomery was told, in so many words, to take a touchback. He blatantly disobeyed team orders and did him. As a result, he fumbled and the rest is a gross history. Thus, the Packers did the only thing they could do and traded the under-performing and self-centered rusher to the Ravens for a future late-round draft pick. With Montgomery out of the picture, there is one less mouth to feed in a once-crowded Packers backfield.
Montgomery’s absence means that there will be additional touches for Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, who happens to be one of my sleepers this week. While the knock on Jones has been the fact that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t give him enough of the workload, perhaps he will get it now minus Montgomery. And if Jones doesn’t get an increase in touches, McCarthy should be fired.
In five games in 2018, Jones is averaging at least 5.1 yards per carry. And while he’s garnered single-digit touches in three matchups this season, in the two games in which Jones handled touches in the double digits, he’s been exceptional. In the two games in which he’s seen double-digit opportunities, Jones touched the ball at least 12 times, gained at least 82 yards and scored while accumulating at least 14.2 fantasy points.
In his upcoming road matchup at the Patriots, Mike McCarthy would be wise to feed the rock to Jones early and often. Not only will it ease the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers, but it will also control the time of possession and keep Tom Brady off the field on the other side. And the matchup isn’t bad either. Amidst the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to the running back position, the Patriots are ranked 17th, yielding 17.4 FPPG to opposing rushers.
The No. 2 ranked running back in true yards per carry (5.8) and the No. 12 ranked rusher in yards per touch (6.3) Jones should have his breakout game if he’s given the opportunity. Facing a Patriots defense surrendering at least 90 total yards or a TD in each of the past five games — they’ve given up at least nine standard fantasy points to the opposition’s top running back in that timespan — Jones supports back-end RB2 upside or better for Week 9.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.3
I know it is difficult to trust Duke Johnson in fantasy this season, but the matchup is there in a Week 9 matchup with Kansas City. Not only will the Browns get the Chiefs at home, but since they fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, this week, things could be looking up for Johnson. In fact, he could be one of the main beneficiaries of the firing not named Baker Mayfield.
While there is no evidence to prove my notion, you have to assume that one of the reasons why Cleveland made their coaching changes was because some of their best skill-players were falling by the wayside in the wake of their misusage, like Johnson, who handled fewer than six touches in every game this season. To make matters worse, his misusage still occurred following the Carlos Hyde trade, which seemingly opened up additional opportunities for Johnson.
Now with Freddie Kitchens taking over the reins as the new Browns OC, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Johnson’s usage rise. Kitchens was Cleveland’s running backs coach preceding his promotion. He knows the talent and versatility is there with Johnson and he would be wise to get the ball in his hands, especially in a Week 9 matchup against the Chiefs in which the Browns will most likely be chasing points — the negative game-script will favor a PPR back like Johnson more times than not. And I get Johnson hasn’t been featured in that capacity as of yet in 2018, but he’s been efficient in that role in the past.
Facing a Kansas City defense surrendering the second most fantasy points to RBs at a ridiculous 25.9 FPPG rate — they’ve yielded at least 9.2 fantasy points to the opposition’s RB2 in 5-of-8 games this season — Johnson should finally get back on track. Although the Chiefs defense is improving, they will still give up chunk yardage, big plays, and points. Johnson is an upside Flex option better suited for PPR scoring formats in Week 9.
Week 9 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 33.3
I’m pretty shocked that Amari Cooper’s start percentage at ESPN is only falling at 33.3 percent right now in the wake of his trade to Dallas. However, I get it. Not only is he difficult to trust, but so is the Cowboys’ passing game. But as I suggested above in the Dak Prescott blurb, things are looking up for the Dallas offense, especially in the passing game.
Not only is Prescott hot, but the team plays better as a whole at home. Moreover, Cooper is not in Oakland anymore. The Cowboys gave up a first-round draft pick for him and will use him. They didn’t bring Cooper in to be a party favor. They brought him in to be the centerpiece of their passing attack, a position of dire need on the outside.
And it’s not like Cooper doesn’t have the talent, he comes from a first-round pedigree and is only 24-years-old. Plus, in his first two seasons in the NFL, Cooper had accumulated at least 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and five TDs. When given the opportunity, the targets and decent play from his quarterback, Cooper has been terrific. He finished as the WR24 in 2015 and the WR12 in 2016 before he fell off the face of the earth in the past two years.
Cooper hasn’t been a total wash in 2018, however. While he’s been sub-par in four games, he was outstanding in the remaining two. In fact, in the four games in which he couldn’t get anything going, he drew fewer than five targets. In the two games in which he went off, Cooper saw at least 10 targets and caught at least eight passes for 116. yards. I expect him to put in a complete game in his Week 9 Cowboys debut.
Facing a Titans defense surrendering the 14th most fantasy points to WRs at a 25.3 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed at least 15.1 fantasy points to the opposing WR1 in three of the past four games, only shutting down Bills wideouts in the process, Cooper holds back-end WR2 upside. If he goes off, he could finish as a fringe WR1.
While he will likely draw No. 10 ranked cornerback Adoree’ Jackson on the other side, Cooper has the talent to overcome the matchup. If Dallas can get Ezekiel Elliott going on the ground, the Cowboys could run away with this one on Monday night. Cooper should be a big part of it.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.2
If you remember my rookie rankings, I had D.J. Moore pegged as my top rookie wideout coming out of the draft in 2018. And although Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton had already flashed this season, it appears that Moore is the late-bloomer.
Catching 5-of-6 targets for 90 yards while adding another 39 yards on two carries, Moore finished Week 8 as the WR17 with 12.9 points. Despite catching at least four passes for 49 yards and rushing at least one time for 18 yards in three of his past four games, you have to consider Moore’s Week 8 outing the best of his young career to date.
While it seems like Moore has finally passed Torrey Smith on the depth chart, the veteran wideout is on track to miss his second straight game with a knee injury — he has yet to practice this week — which bodes well for the rookie’s fantasy outlook. Although Moore played well on limited opportunities with Smith active earlier in the year, the rookie enjoyed career highs in snaps (69.8), routes (24), targets (six), receptions (five) and yards receiving (90) in Week 8.
In his upcoming home matchup against a Buccaneers defense that can’t stop anyone, Moore is primed to have his breakout game. Not only is the Tampa Bay defense surrendering the third most fantasy points to WRs at a 31.1 FPPG rate, but they have yielded at least two receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown to the opposition’s WR2 in 5-of-7 games this season while getting absolutely torched by the WR1. Moore is an opportunity-dependent Flex option for Week 9 with tremendous WR2 upside if he goes off.
Week 9 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.8
The Jets have been dealing with injuries on the offensive side of the football all season long, especially at wide receiver. Entering Week 9, nothing has changed really. With Week 1 starters Robby Anderson (ankle) and Quincy Enunwa (ankle) both questionable for Sunday’s matchup against the Dolphins with their respective injuries — they have yet to practice this week — the Jets will be working with Rishard Matthews, who has been with the team going for two weeks, and Jermaine Kearse, once again as their top wideouts if Anderson and Enunwa are ultimately ruled out.
Due to New York’s injury woes at receiver, Chris Herdon has been the main beneficiary. A fourth-round pick in April’s draft, Herndon is beginning to emerge as one of the upside tight ends in the league in recent weeks. In fact, in his past three games since Week 6, Herndon hauled in 7-of-11 targets for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Herndon is the TE4 with 29.4 fantasy points in that time span.
Taking his three-game scoring streak into Sunday’s road matchup in Miami, I believe Herdon will maintain his streak of good fortune. Not only are the Dolphins allowing the 13th most fantasy points to TEs at an 8.5 FPPG rate, but they’ve surrendered a combined 11 receptions for 100 yards and five touchdowns in their past three games to the opposition’s top scoring tight ends. The No. 6 ranked tight end in red zone receptions (four) and No. 2 ranked tight end in fantasy points per target (2.56), Herndon is a touchdown-dependent TE2 for Week 9. He should extend his scoring streak to four games when it is all said and done.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.0
The Seahawks have had a revolving door at tight end this season. While they brought in Ed Dickson to be Jimmy Graham’s successor, he missed the first six games of the season with a groin injury. As a result, we saw the early emergence of Will Dissly, who wound up on the injured reserve list as well as mediocre play out of Nick Vannett, the next man up.
However, Dickson was activated from the NFI list last week in time for Seattle’s Week 8 outing against the Lions and was already featured in the red zone. While playing in 33.9 percent of the snaps and running six routes, Dickson caught both of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown. A reliable big-bodied and athletic target, I expect Dickson to be a regular red area target for Russell Wilson.
In his upcoming home matchup facing a Chargers defense giving up the 11th most fantasy points to TEs at an 11.6 FPPG rate, I expect Dickson to find the end zone for the second consecutive game. Not only have they surrendered at least 7.1 fantasy points to the opposing team’s TE1 in three of the past four games, but they’ve also given up three touchdowns to the tight end position in that timespan. Dickson is an opportunity-dependent TE2 with scoring upside for Week 9.
Two Week 9 Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.1
Since Chris Thompson is officially ruled out for Week 9 with an injury to his ribs aggravated in Week 8, Kapri Bibbs is in line to assume his role as the Redskins’ change-of-pace back behind Adrian Peterson. And while Bibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury of his own, he at least practiced in a limited capacity this week and is trending in the right direction for Sunday’s dream matchup against the Falcons.
With Thompson out versus Dallas back in Week 7, Bibbs rushed for 13 yards on two attempts while making an impact in the passing game. Hauling in four targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, Bibbs played well in a tough matchup against the Cowboys. He will have a much easier time producing on Sunday facing a Falcons defense surrendering the eighth most fantasy points to RBs at a 23.3 FPPG pace.
Although Adrian Peterson will handle the majority of the running back touches, there should be enough left over for Bibbs to produce for his fantasy owners. While Peterson is a force as a rusher, he’s only caught nine passes for 151 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, which is what Bibbs does best. Facing a Falcons defense surrounding the most receptions (62) and third most yards (476) to opposing RBs in the passing game this season, Bibbs is a target-dependent Flex option who is a better fit for PPR scoring formats in Week 9.
Kapri Bibbs was also mentioned in out Bold Predictions article for week 9.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 20.2
Devante Parker finally emerged for the Dolphins and his fantasy owners this season in last week’s loss to the Texans. While he was on the verge of being traded, the Dolphins had a need at wide receiver due to injuries to Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin). Not only did Parker fil the void, but he had a huge game. Corralling 6-of-9 targets for 134 yards, Parker finished Week 8 as the WR14 with 13.4 points.
In his upcoming matchup against a Jets defense surrendering the eighth most fantasy points to WRs at a 27.1 FPPG rate, Parker should string together his second straight productive outing. Not only have the Jets allowed at least 10.4 fantasy points to an opposing wideout in every game this season, but Parker has played well versus them in his career. In fact, Paker has scored at least 13.4 fantasy points against them in 2-of-4 games.
While I like Parker a lot more if Stills sits for the second consecutive game, he did play well enough to earn himself a role in the Dolphins passing attack moving forward. Likely to line up opposite Morris Claiborne, Parker is an upside desperation play for Week 9 who should only be used in a dire situation.
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Thank you for reading my Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2018.
If you’ve enjoyed it, I will be writing this feature on a weekly basis for the duration of the 2018 season right here at Gridiron Experts! Want more of my content? Follow me on Twitter @therealnflguru and check out my @GridironExperts archive here. And before I forget, Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football as well as other NFL news notes and nuggets on our show @Faceoff. You can follow us on Twitter, hear us on the Gridiron Experts Podcast Network, or watch us on Youtube. We are also available at most of the top podcast providers, including iTunes here.
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