Week 9 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts in Week 9.

Quarterback

Jared Goff, LAR (at NYG) - Goff has the good luck to face the Giants with their #1 corner Janoris Jenkins suspended indefinitely by the team. That means Sammy Watkins could get going in this one, and one of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will have a terrific matchup. The Giants already had trouble defending the tight end, and the Rams have had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Giants have already given up three three touchdown games to quarterbacks this year, and Trevor Siemian threw for 376 yards against them.

Jacoby Brissett, IND (at HOU) - The Colts have also expressed a desire to get T.Y. Hilton going (what took so long?), which could also lift Brissett’s prospects this week. The game should be competitive without Deshaun Watson and Brissett's running ability could also come into the play in the red zone as it has earlier this year. 

Jay Cutler, MIA (vs OAK) - Cutler has been underwhelming as a fantasy quarterback this year, but the Dolphins will have little else to do on offense but allow him to throw the ball 40+ times against the Raiders this week. The Oakland pass defense was already suspect before injuries limited David Amerson and Karl Joseph. One or both could return this week, but the Dolphins will also get DeVante Parker back.

Running Back

Marshawn Lynch, OAK (at MIA) - The Raiders saw what life without Lynch was like last week. Both DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard fumbled when they were given more work. With Lynch back, the Raiders can establish the run and hopefully get the Dolphins to move more defenders into the box, opening up downfield passing opportunities for Derek Carr. The Dolphins previously strong run defense has been wilting against the run, giving up almost five yards per carry to running backs over the last three weeks. The lack of Jay Ajayi will also keep the Dolphins from controlling the clock and allow for more offensive drives to feed the well-rested Lynch.

Marlon Mack, IND (at HOU) - Mack has had over 60 total yards in three of the last four weeks, and he has scored in two of those weeks. He should have plenty of opportunities this week against the Texans, who won't be able to run away and hide without Deshaun Watson.

Ameer Abdullah, DET (at GB) - Abdullah has struggled to get going this year, but with six teams on bye, he is a viable play against the Packers this week. The Packers have allowed eight running back scores this year, including three in the two games where they didn’t have Aaron Rodgers for most or all of the game. They have also allowed at least 136 total yards to opposing backs in those games, including 212 to Saints backs in Week 7. The Bengals even ran for 112 total running back rushing yards against them.

Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, DAL (vs KC) - Morris will be the starter against the Chiefs, but watch out for Smith, who is the most physically talented back among the Cowboys trio. Reports also place him as the #2 back on the depth chart with McFadden as the #3 and all three getting touches this week. The Chiefs gave up 159 rushing yards to Broncos backs last week, and they have allowed a running back score on the ground in each of the last three weeks. At 6’3” 230, Smith has the size to be the back the Cowboys call on at the goal line.

Devontae Booker, DEN (at PHI) - Booker had a season high in touches and a goal line score last week. During the telecast, the broadcast team said Vance Joseph said Booker would have been the starter had he not gotten hurt in training camp, so his workload should continue to trend up. While the Eagles are the toughest team to run on in the NFL, Booker has also caught 10 passes for 114 yards over the last three weeks, with no fewer than three receptions in any of those games.

Wide Receiver

Tyler Lockett/Paul Richardson Jr, SEA (vs WAS) - The Seahawks pass offense is freewheeling now, which gives both Lockett and Richardson WR1 upside every week. Josh Norman can’t cover everyone and the Washington offensive line and passing game are both in shambles, which will make it hard for them to sustain drives and keep Russell Wilson on the sidelines. Both Richardson and Lockett are WR2 level plays this week,

Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs BUF) **Thursday** - Anderson had his best game of the year last week, and they are facing a Buffalo secondary that has allowed almost 600 receiving yards to opposing wide receivers over the last three weeks. Jeremy Kerley has been suspended, which should free up a few more targets in the passing game and help the case to get Anderson in your lineup this week.

Corey Davis, TEN (vs BAL) - Davis is healthy coming out of the bye and the team has confirmed that he will start against the Ravens. The matchup isn’t great on paper, but Davis had 6-69 in Week 1 after barely even practicing during camp and the preseason. The team has had two weeks to prepare for this game and the Ravens don’t have a lot of film on Davis to study his usage. Don’t underestimate his upside in this matchup.

Robert Woods/Cooper Kupp, LAR (at NYG) - Even though Sammy Watkins is set up for a “get right” game with Janoris Jenkins suspended, that doesn’t mean that one or both of Kupp and Woods can’t also help your fantasy lineup this week. Kupp is more likely to get a score and is the better nonPPR play and Woods has been the consistent five catch for 50-70 yards receiver who is safer in PPR leagues. Jenkins being out also improves both of their matchups.

Dede Westbrook, JAX (vs CIN) - Westbrook has been on injured reserve, but he’ll return this week, and he could even be a core part of the passing offense if Marqise Lee can’t go. He was a sensation in the preseason and might be the team’s best vertical receiver already. The Jaguars running game should be able to set up at least one or two play-action deep balls to a receiver this week, and it very well could be Westbrook on the receiving end of those passes.

Ryan Grant, WAS (at SEA) - Jamison Crowder hasn’t practiced through Thursday of this week. Even if he is active against Seattle, he might not be very effective. Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have failed to make a steady impact. Vernon Davis will replace Jordan Reed, but he could also be needed more for his blocking with almost the entire Washington offensive line banged up. Grant has been a steady, if unspectacular target for Kirk Cousins, who had his season-high in targets in last week. He could be a sneaky PPR play this week.

Curtis Samuel, CAR (vs ATL) - The Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin to get more speed on the field by their own admission. That points to Samuel, whose speed would have been the talk of the 2017 draft class if it wasn’t for John Ross. The Panthers will have more looks and snaps in store for Samuel against the Falcons, who have given up a wide receiver score in each of the last six games.

Tight End

Vernon Davis, WAS (at SEA) - Davis might be asked to block a lot this week against Seattle, but he has also been a big part of the pass offense this year, even when Jordan Reed has been playing. Reed is likely out this week. Davis had 5-58 and a score when Reed missed a game earlier this year, and the Seahawks have already given up two scores and a 98-yard day to rookie tight ends this year, so a savvy veteran like Davis should find some openings, especially with Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner both battling hamstring injuries.

Tyler Kroft, CIN (at JAX) - Kroft has been very reliable since Tyler Eifert went out for the year, with at least four catches and either 38 receiving yards or a score in the last four games. The Jaguars are very strong at cornerback, which should encourage Andy Dalton to target Kroft more often this week.

Tyler Higbee, LAR (at NYG) - Higbee is the best receiving tight end on the Rams roster, and this week he faces a Giants pass defense that has allowed a score to an opposing tight end in every single game this year. They’ve also given up at least 45 receiving yards to tight ends in every game, with an average of over 70 yards a game allowed.

Ben Watson, BAL (at TEN) - Nick Boyle is battling a toe injury, so Watson should get all of the tight end targets in the very limited Ravens pass offense. Ravens tight ends have combined for at least six catches over the last three games, and Tennessee has already allowed seven receptions each to Jack Doyle and Jimmy Graham, who like Watson, aren’t big downfield options.

Jonnu Smith, TEN (vs BAL) - Keep an eye on Delanie Walker’s status. He hasn’t practiced through Thursday, and if he can’t go, the rookie Smith would play a larger role. Baltimore has allowed six scores to opposing tight ends this season, including a three-touchdown game by Marcedes Lewis. David Njoku, Dion Sims, and Zach Miller have also scored against them, so that number isn’t a by-product of the Ravens facing a lot of top tight ends so far this year.