Week 9 Offensive Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar plays for Week 9

QB

Colin Kaepernick (vs NO) - This one could be a trap with first-round DT Sheldon Rankins and #1 corner Delvin Breaux likely returning for the Saints this week, but Kaepernick should have every chance to run and pass his way to a good fantasy line in a futile attempt to keep up with the Saints offense. Opposing quarterbacks had at least 18 points in typical fantasy scoring every week against the Saints until Russell Wilson’s dud last week, but unlike Wilson, Kaepernick’s wheels are in good shape. He has run for at least 66 yards in each of his two starts, and he has thrown for at least 143 yards and a score in both starts. That adds up to an adequate game if you’re covering a bye or looking for a streamer.

Nick Foles (vs JAX) - The Chiefs have a downfield passing game all of the sudden with Foles at the helm, and it has come on line just in time for the reeling Jaguars visit to Arrowhead. The Chiefs have Tyreek Hill to stretch the field along with Chris Conley and Travis Kelce to present matchup problems for the Jaguars defense. Jacksonville has allowed four scores to Philip Rivers, 302 yards to Brian Hoyer and 270 yards and two scores (on only 22 attempts) to Marcus Mariota on the road this year, so Foles is set up for a nice game this week.

Cody Kessler/Josh McCown (vs DAL) - The Cowboys defense was better than expected, but still not a shutdown defense by any measure, allowing at least 200 passing yards and a score to every quarterback they faced except Blaine Gabbert this year. That was before they lost Barry Church and Morris Claiborne to injuries last week, which took out half of their starting secondary. We’re not sure who will start for Cleveland at quarterback at this moment, but Kessler had over 300 yards and two scores in his last game, and we know McCown is not shy about throwing downfield. Corey Coleman will be back this week to add to an already stocked Browns offense that is usually playing catchup because of their woeful defense. The Browns quarterback is a solid play this week no matter who it is.

RB

Tim Hightower (at SF) - This one might seem obvious after last week’s 100-yard game, but this is a reminder to not be scared of the pronouncement that Mark Ingram II still has a big role in the backfield. This week against the 49ers run defense, there will be enough to go around for both backs to get fed in Santa Clara. San Francisco is giving up over five yards per carry and they are facing 36 rush attempts a game, by far the most in the NFL. Ingram could get 20 carries, and there would still be enough left over for Hightower to get at least 80 yards with a shot at a score or more.

Derrick Henry (at SD) - Demarco Murray is back to practice and he won’t miss Week 9 against the Chargers - a team the Titans bludgeoned in the preseason in the rollout of “exotic smashmouth”. Still, Henry should get a big workload this week to keep Murray from breaking down, and the matchup points to a big game for the Titans running backs. The Chargers ILB corps has been depleted to the point that they have moved Kyle Emanuel to inside linebacker, a bad sign when a team is about to face a vicious power running game. Philip Rivers’ receiver group is down to Dontrelle Inman as the healthiest member, so the Chargers can’t run away and hide this week. Henry should get at least 12-15 touches in this game, and he has also shown upside as a receiver out of the backfield this year.

Latavius Murray (vs DEN) - Murray hasn’t been a highlight reel player this year, but he has scored in four of the six games he has played in, and he has caught at least five passes in two others. That’s not a bad scoring outlook for a player that might be featured as the Raiders will try to attack the one of weaknesses of the Broncos defense - their performance vs. the run. Denver has given up over 100 yards to opposing running backs in four of the last six games, and San Diego totalled 99 in one of the two sub-100 games. Murray should get at least half of the carries and any goal line opportunities, which is RB2 worthy in a thin week at running back.

Antone Smith (vs ATL) **Thursday** - Smith isn’t an attractive play this week, but he could be by the time the Thursday night game is over. The blistering speed that produced scores and long plays in five of the first six games of 2013 (while a member of the Falcons, his opponent this week) is still intact, and with Jacquizz Rodgers sidelined, he should start and get the most touches of the three-way committee the Bucs will employ in the backfield in Week 9. Smith might be a dud, but it only takes one long play for him to make your week as a what the heck flex or desperation RB2.

Darren Sproles (at NYG) - Sproles had the vast majority of touches, snaps, and yards out of the backfield for the Eagles last week. While Doug Pederson still claims that Ryan Mathews is the starter, it would make sense for the Eagles to feature Sproles this week anyway to avoid the resurgent Giants run defense led by free agent pickup Damon Harrison. Sproles has been used sparingly until last week, which should make him fresh enough to handle a big workload for the second straight week, and his receiving ability gives him a higher floor in PPR leagues.

WR

Dontrelle Inman (vs TEN) - Travis Benjamin’s knee was bothering him so much that he went to have a second opinion this week, and Tyrell Williams’ knee is bothering him so much that he missed the first two days of practice. Dontrelle Inman should be the #1 receiver for the Chargers even if one or both of them can play, and Inman has a history of producing solid numbers when called upon because of injuries ahead of him on the San Diego depth chart. Inman had 79 receiving yards in back-to-back games after Keenan Allen went out in 2014, and he had at least 78 receiving yards in two of three games after Stevie Johnson went out last year. He’s a fine stop-gap in a six-team bye week.

Mohamed Sanu (at TB) **Thursday** - Sanu was banged up to begin the season, but last week he showed that he was healthy with a 9-84-1 performance against the Packers. He is facing a Bucs secondary that has given up touchdowns to more than one wide receiver every time they haven’t faced Derek Anderson or Blaine Gabbert this year, so Sanu is a good bet to score this week. Julio Jones isn’t on the injury report this week, but he has gotten nicked up in games often this year, and if it happens again in Week 9, Sanu could be a 20+ point PPR play once again.

Kenny Britt, Brian Quick (vs CAR) - The Panthers secondary has collapsed at times this year without Josh Norman, and they have allowed eight scores to opposing wide receivers in the last four weeks. Case Keenum isn’t exactly trustworthy, but he has put up at least 266 passing yards in each of the last four weeks, and Carolina’s stiff run defense will encourage him to pass a lot this week. Quick hasn’t fallen below 50 receiving yards in the last five weeks, and Britt has at least 75 in three of the last four, so they have reasonably high floors considering the reputation of the Rams offense.

Cole Beasley (at CLE) - Everything works against the Browns defense and #2 wide receivers have scored five times against them this year, so that points directly to Beasley finding the end zone and having a good game this week. He hasn’t fallen below 53 yards receiving yet this year and Beasley also has three scores in the last three weeks.

Breshad Perriman (vs PIT) - Perriman is a player that the team is looking to get more from coming out of their bye, and they have had two weeks to draw up plays to harness the arm of Joe Flacco and the deep speed of Perriman. Both players are well-rested and the Steelers secondary is one of the most vulnerable in the league. Perriman could kick off a breakout second half of the season with a big performance in this pivotal divisional matchup.

Tyreek Hill (vs JAX) - Hill has scored in three of the last four weeks, and this week he has Nick Foles throwing the ball to him. That means that the dormant deep passing game has been activated for the Chiefs, and it showed last week as Foles hit Hill on completions of 34 and 49 yards, the 34-yarder good for a touchdown. Jeremy Maclin missed practice on Thursday with a sore groin, so even if he goes this week, he could be limited and free up more snaps for Hill. Against the Jaguars who were waving the white flag last week, Hill might find it easy to get free deep at least once, if not multiple times like he did last week.

TE

Austin Hooper (at TB) **Thursday** - The first time these two teams met, Falcons tight ends combined for seven catches and 65 yards. It was Hooper’s NFL debut and Jacob Tamme accounted for most of the production. Since then, Hooper has had three games with at least 40 yards receiving, and he has caught all 11 targets from Matt Ryan this season. He should be a safe play with a high ceiling, considering that he has three catches of at least 34 yards in those 11 targets.

Cameron Brate (vs ATL) **Thursday** - Brate has been steady for Jameis Winston this year, which will be important because Cecil Shorts is the number two receiver this week and the running game will feature a UDFA rookie and two players that weren’t on the team a month ago. Brate. Atlanta’s young linebackers have given up at least five scores and fifty receiving to tight ends in every game this year, including five scores and three individual games over 75 yards. Brate is a high floor play with a higher ceiling than you think against a Falcons defense that usually gives up a lot of points and yards through the air.

Virgil Green (at OAK) - The Raiders have already given up five scores to tight ends this year (including four in the last four weeks), and just in time for Green, who tied his highest reception total and set his season-high in receiving yards last week. He’s worth consideration if you have to go to the waiver wire for your tight end this week.

Lance Kendricks (vs CAR) - Kendricks is an attractive play this week against a Panthers pass defense that has already allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this year. Kendricks has come on as Case Keenum has been passing more in the last four games, with at least five catches in three of those games. The Panthers run defense is strong and should incline the Rams to pass more again this week, and Kendricks is likely to have success on his targets.