My Week 9 list features under-the-radar players that are not being started in a majority of fantasy football leagues. These players could produce good fantasy numbers this week due to a favorable matchup, injury, or other circumstances. With that in mind, here are our top fantasy football sleepers for Week 9.
With an Ezekiel Elliott suspension looming for Week 9, there’s a good chance the Cowboys opt for a more pass-heavy approach during the absence of their star running back. With the Cowboys welcoming the Chiefs 27th ranked pass defense to Dallas this weekend, it will be a ripe opportunity for Dak Prescott and company to prove they can still operate as one of the most effective offenses in the league, even without Zeke. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters has been a ball hawk in recent weeks and should match-up against Dez Bryant on the outside for most of the afternoon. That won’t prevent Prescott and the Cowboys from ensuring Bryant is a big part of the offensive gameplan for Sunday. I also expect Jason Witten to absorb a number of targets working over the middle of the field, an area that the Chiefs have struggled to fill the void of Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, who they lost to a ruptured achilles during a Week 1 win over the Patriots. Kansas City has been one of the league’s most consistent and craftiest offenses and they should have no problem putting up points at AT&T Stadium. With the Cowboys needing to match the Chiefs offense, Prescott’s floor for pass attempts will be higher than normal this weekend and should provide fantasy owners with an increase in fantasy points.
Tyrod Taylor’s rising fantasy stock has been well-documented as of late. Despite playing in the dreaded Thursday Night game, Taylor will have a new weapon at his disposal after the Bills acquired 6’5″ receiver Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers on Tuesday. The former Florida State Seminole should make life a lot easier for Taylor in what was previously a vastly underwhelming passing attack. While the Jets defense will surely focus on bottling up LeSean McCoy, I like T-Mobile to make some plays out of the pocket with his legs and establish a chemistry with his new, big receiver. Jordan Matthews should also reap the benefits of Benjamin on the Bills roster, as he projects to be much more comfortable operating in a No. 2 receiver role, rather than the go-to target within the offense. I like Taylor to continue his recent hot streak on Thursday Night Football in the Meadowlands, as he’ll be a solid bet to account for 2 + scores against the division-rival Jets.
For the second consecutive season, the San Francisco 49ers defense has become an automatic target for fantasy owners to expose within the running game. The 49ers run defense ranks 29th in the league and is giving up a exorbitant 131.8 rushing yards a game. With Carson Palmer out for the season due to a broken arm, it significantly clouds the rest of the year outlook for all of Arizona’s skill players. This includes Adrian Peterson, despite the expectation that the Cardinals will lean on him more going forward. While I think opposing defenses will begin to stack the box against AP, there’s some serious blowup-game appeal this week in San Francisco. The 49ers defense, along with everyone in the stadium, can expect a heavy dosage of Peterson on Sunday, but that doesn’t guarantee an effective effort to prevent him from having a big day. With NaVarro Bowman now in Oakland, the team continues to look worse each week against the run. With Peterson set for a heavy workload against a run defense that knows its coming, something has to give and I fully expect it to be a continued implosion by San Francisco’s non-existent run defense. Look for Peterson to cross the 100 rushing yard plateau on Sunday in San Francisco.
With Ezekiel Elliott looking like he’ll be suspended for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, it should be the veteran Alfred Morris who draws the start at running back for the Cowboys. Running behind a stout offensive line in a game that projects to be a shootout will be a classic recipe for Alf to re-establish himself. Kansas City sports the league’s 28th ranked run defense, as they’re allowing 131.1 rushing yards a game. Without Zeke in the lineup, Kansas City should shift their attention to slowing down Dak Prescott who has set the league ablaze during his sophomore season. This should allow Morris a good opportunity for some chunk gains on the ground as Jerry Jones and the Cowboys hand the reins over in Zeke’s absence. Darren McFadden and Rod Smith may eventually threaten Morris’ workload as the featured back in Zeke’s absence, however fantasy owners can expect Morris to lead the backfield by a wide margin this week as McFadden works out the rust from being a healthy scratch all year. Assuming Zeke’s suspension does indeed stick, Alf will be an RB2 for his inaugural start of the year. Editor’s note: Ezekiel Elliott is going to play Week 9 in an exploitable spot against the Chiefs. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden aren’t usable in fantasy this Sunday, but are still worth stashing.
After beginning the year by serving a three-game suspension for a substance abuse violation, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has given the running game a solid boost after returning to the lineup. That said, his monster performance has yet to arrive, as he’s yet to surpass 75 rushing yards in a game this season. With Jameis Winston feeling better in his recovery from a sprained AC Joint, fantasy owners can expect the Tampa Bay offense to resemble more of its balanced self this weekend during their clash with the rival Saints. The New Orleans linebackers and secondary should give respect to Winston’s ability to work the middle of the field to Mike Evans and Cameron Brate, thus providing Martin with ample opportunities to cash-in. With the Saints defense giving up a 120.3 yards a game on the ground, Martin is a great bet to cross the 100-yard threshold with a touchdown, this weekend in the Big Easy. He also makes for a great play in DFS.
Since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, the Green Bay Packers wide receivers have struggled to keep fantasy relevance. Coming off the bye week, rookie quarterback Brett Hundley gained a much needed additional week of preparation for Monday Night’s matchup against the Lions. With the Packers and Lions both looking to make up ground on the Vikings, who sit atop the NFC North, this game will be crucial for both teams. That said, I expect the Green Bay offense to be more in-sync than wh they’ve demonstrated over the past few weeks. With Detroit’s top corner Darius Slay coming off an impressive performance in coverage against Antonio Brown, he should mimic that kind of production against Green Bay’s top wideout, Jordy Nelson. This leaves Davante Adams as a receiver with a great opportunity to build some chemistry with Hundley during Monday Night’s matchup at Lambeau. Look for the former Fresno State Bulldog to garner close to double-digit targets with a solid chance to find the end zone.
Cam Newton has struggled to post consistent production throughout the season and will now be missing his No. 1 receiver after the Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills. With Benjamin gone and Greg Olsen still recovering from a foot injury, there will be more targets to go around in the Caroling passing game. I fully expect tight end Ed Dickson to be one of the main beneficiaries in the continued Olsen absence. While Dickson has only managed double-digit fantasy points in the Panthers’ Week 5 win over the Lions, he’s a good bet for a double-digit performance this weekend against the Falcons. His targets-floor projects to be around six and I like him to produce as a top 10 tight end with Benjamin now in Buffalo.
After the Dolphins suffered an embarrassing shutout at the hands of the Ravens last Thursday Night, Head Coach Adam Gase was noticeably upset with the offensive showcase, ripping into starting running back Jay Ajayi after the game. A few days later, the Dolphins decided to ship Ajayi to the Eagles for a 4th-round pick. Now, the ‘Fins project to be even more devoid of talent which makes it an easy team to circle on the calendar for opposing fantasy owners. This week the Dolphins host Khalil Mack and the Raiders defense that looks to capitalize on the vulnerable state of the Miami offense. With turnover-prone Jay Cutler expected back this week, don’t be surprised if the Raiders are one of the better dark horse defenses on the week.