Week 9 is here, and some of the notable names on byes are D’Andre Swift, Terry McLaurin, Mike Evans, Tom Brady, and DK Metcalf. This isn’t the most backbreaking week of byes, but we do lose a few players near the top of their positional rankings. For those of you that have leaned on Buccaneers, congratulations to you, but this week, you’ll have to fill in the gaps. Whether it’s with players on your roster or those sitting on the waiver wire, those are always with sneaky upside in a given week. Jeremy McNichols, Jordan Love, and Taysom Hill are the types of players on the start ’em, sit ’em bubbles thanks to newfound roles, and we like their chances enough to put them on our Week 9 fantasy sleeper list.
It’s worth noting that any of our selections could bust this week. We’re taking some chances here, as we don’t want to say anyone too obvious. A list of easy choices wouldn’t do anyone any good. You aren’t going to start the guys below over consistent, proven producers, but you’re probably not searching for fantasy sleepers if your lineup is set. However, even if that’s the case, our sleepers list can help you find value in DFS contests, as the prices of these players should be affordable.
WEEK 9 FANTASY: Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em
Last week, Michael Carter was one of our best picks of the season, but it might have been canceled out by the dumpster fire we saw with Kenneth Gainwell. To round out our RBs selections, Zach Moss was a weak standard league play but a decent PPR piece. Our QB selections of Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, and Teddy Bridgewater were OK as a whole, with Wentz having the most success. At pass-catcher, Darius Slayton, Laviska Shenault, Jerry Jeudy, and Mo Alie-Cox left a lot to be desired, but we cashed in on Evan Engram and Dan Arnold.
All that said, we had some awesome Ws and massive Ls, but hey, that’s part of it when you’re looking at fringe fantasy starters.
Week 9 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs
Jeremy McNichols, Titans @ Rams (Jackson Sparks). McNichols’ workhouse dreams were crushed by the acquisition of Adrian Peterson, but McNichols will still be a contributor in this offense, especially this week. We expect Tennessee to transition into more of a pass-heavy team with Derrick Henry (foot) out, and McNichols will serve as the receiving back. That said, Peterson signing was a better case scenario for McNichols rather than a back with a receiving profile. The Rams are going to score, Ryan Tannehill is going to attempt a ton of passes, and McNichols will get plenty of targets. In PPR leagues, he looks to be a great flex option.
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins vs. Texans (Iyer). Gaskin should be busy with a positive game script plus nice receiving numbers this week.
Derrick Gore, Chiefs vs. Packers (Matt Lutovsky). Gore came out of nowhere to run 11 times for 48 yards and a TD last Monday, and if Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) is out again, it seems likely Gore will get a similar workload against the Packers. As crazy as it sounds, Kansas City is in danger of losing handedly in this game (yes, even with Jordan Love at QB), and if that happens, Gore’s ceiling is also lowered, but he should get important carries early, especially if the Chiefs get around the goal line. He can still work as a flex in this neutral matchup.
WEEK 9 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins vs. Texans (Sparks). Tagovailoa averaged 25.45 fantasy points against Atlanta and Jacksonville and will face a similarly bad defense in Week 9 against Houston. He knew he’d struggle against Buffalo, but his 16.2-point outing was actually a better showing than many expected. The Dolphins lack a decent rushing attack, so they’ve had to air it out early and often over the last three weeks (42 passing attempts per game). Tua is our No. 1 QB streamer.
Jordan Love, Packers @ Chiefs (Iyer). Love has the weapons and running game support to put up good numbers opposite Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs’ reeling defense will scramble to prepare for an unknown.
Taysom Hill, Saints vs. Falcons (Lutovsky). Hill averaged around 21 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in his four QB starts last year. That total puts him around QB10/11 this year. He has a high floor/medium ceiling regardless of opponent, but a bad pass defense like Atlanta only raises his potential. Expect around 200 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, and a couple TDs if Hill (concussion) is cleared and starts.
WEEK 9 DFS LINEUPS: FanDuel | DraftKings | Yahoo
Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers
DeVante Parker, Dolphins vs. Texans (Sparks). Parker has averaged 8.6 targets per game this season and came back from a hamstring injury in Week 8 to catch eight-of-11 targets for 85 yards. We love Tua, so naturally, we love Parker. He’s a strong play in PPR and standard leagues in your flex spot. Houston has been a top-six team against fantasy WRs, but context shows us that is more of a result of teams taking it easy at the end of games. Is this Dolphins squad really good enough to blow out the Texans?
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos @ Cowboys (Iyer). He was quiet in his return last week, but he should eat in the slot against Dallas with high volume for his QB.
Van Jefferson, Rams vs. Titans (Lutovsky). Jefferson has seen 13 targets over his past two games, and with DeSean Jackson out of town, that target share should only go up. Jefferson has big-play ability and can also be used around the goal line. Against Tennessee’s poor pass defense, he has a high ceiling.
WEEK 9 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos vs. Cowboys (Sparks). Assuming Noah Fant (reserve/COVID) is out, Albert O should be viewed as a low-end TE1. He has similar physical tools as Fant, and while Dallas has playmakers in the secondary, they’re stingier against WRs than TEs. Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been shy about targeting Okwuegbunam when he’s on the field, so we aren’t shy about playing him this week.
Tyler Conklin, Vikings at Ravens (Iyer). This is a terrific matchup for Conklin, as Baltimore has allowed the second-most FPPG to TEs. Expect Conklin to stay more involved with Adam Thielen contained inside.
Pat Freiermuth, Steelers vs. Bears (Lutovsky). Freiermuth has back-to-back seven-target games in contests without JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder). It’s not a coincidence. He’ll continue to be a big part of Pittsburgh’s dink-and-dunk offense, giving him a high PPR floor (for a TE) against anyone. Chicago has actually allowed the fewest FPPG to TEs, so on paper, this is an awful matchup, but their lofty numbers are largely due to lack of TDs and favorable matchup. In three games against “good” TEs (Tyler Higbee, Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson) in offenses that feature the position, the Bears have allowed an average of 4.3 catches and 51.7 yards — still impressive, but not lights out. Freiermuth is now closer to that tier of TE than the rest of Chicago’s TE opponents, so with Hockenson, Rob Gronkowski, and Ricky Seals-Jones on bye and Dawson Knox (hand) and George Kittle (calf) likely out, Freiermuth still works in PPR leagues.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defense
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Browns (Sparks). Cincinnati’s defense was exposed against Mike White and the Jets, but we’re going to chalk that down as a fluke, for now. Before that game, their defense was solid and ranked in the top half of the league in fantasy points per game. Cleveland’s injured offense is a dumper fire at the moment, so we like the Bengals’ stop-unit to play well at home.
Las Vegas Raiders at Giants (Iyer). Expect a jackpot, baby vs. Daniel Jones with an active, aggressive D after the bye.
Green Bay Packers @ Chiefs (Lutovsky). In seven games since the start of Week 2, Kansas City has turned it over 19 times and allowed 14 sacks. Perhaps even more shocking, in three of the past four games, the Chiefs have been held below 21 offensive points. Meanwhile, the Packers have 14 takeaways and 20 sacks in their past seven games. The trends are too striking to ignore.