7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 9
Regardless of the motivation for turning to the waiver wire/free agent pool, this is the place to find streaming options -- even for gamers in leagues as large as 14- or 16-team formats. Every week in this space, you'll find a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, and a flex who are low-owned options in Yahoo! leagues and offer plug-and-play appeal.
Kyle Allen, QB, Carolina Panthers
Yahoo Ownership: 8%
What a difference a week should make for the Carolina Panthers and Kyle Allen. Much of the shine is off Allen's star after getting whooped by the 49ers, but San Francisco's defense is a whole different animal than he'll face this week. We rank the 49ers second in overall defense in our power rankings. The Tennessee Titans rank well, too, ranking as our sixth-best defense overall, but there's a sizable gap in one notable category that should help Allen right the ship this week.
The 49ers rank first in quarterback pressure percentage (defined as hurries, plus knockdowns, and sacks per dropback) at 32.6 percent, and the Titans have the seventh-lowest quarterback pressure percentage at 19.6 percent, per Pro-Football-Reference. Circling back to our power rankings, Tennessee's stellar rank overall is boosted by ranking as the fourth-best run defense. They're more giving against the pass, sitting in the middle of the pack.
With less pressure this week, Allen should have a considerably easier time getting the ball to his electric weapons on offense and letting them do the work after the catch. Carolina's implied total this week is a solid if unspectacular 22.25 points. Our algorithm projects him to finish at QB21 this week, but I'm slightly more bullish on his outlook and think he'll flirt with a top-15 quarterback finish this week.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Ownership: 30%
I've bemoaned picking deep sleeper options at running back a few times in recent weeks, and this is another tough week to get fired up about the low-owned options. Having said that, even being the number-two back behind stud Dalvin Cook has provided Alexander Mattison an opportunity to showcase his rushing ability. He's parlayed 68 carries into 331 rushing yards, good for 4.9 yards per carry. He's also rushed for more than 55 yards on all three occasions he's toted the rock double-digit times in a game this year.
Patrick Mahomes' status for this week remains up in the air, and if he's forced to sit out, it's not inconceivable backup Matt Moore could struggle against a Minnesota Vikings defense we rank as the seventh-best that now has a game-plus of film on Moore in regular season action in Kansas City's offense to game plan against. Even if Mahomes plays, the game could remain in a neutral script or favorable one for the Vikings that allows them to lean on their running game heavily against Kansas City's porous run defense that's surrendered the third-most rushing yards (978) to backs this year at a whopping 4.94 yards per carry, per Pro-Football-Reference. Obviously, if Mahomes is out, it takes less squinting to see a path to a lopsided win for the Vikings in which Mattison can receive a hefty workload in garbage time.
Mattison's floor is low as a backup running back. It's reduced even further by his lack of involvement in the passing game. If the Chiefs are able to race out to a multi-score lead at home early, Mattison will have a tough time seeing the field and contributing. We project Mattison to finish as only RB47 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week, but I'm optimistic the Vikings are capable of rolling the Chiefs if Moore starts, making Mattison a reasonable speculative add now to see how things shake out.
Tra Carson, RB, Detroit Lions
Yahoo Ownership: 7%
In the wake of Kerryon Johnson hitting Injured Reserve, many (myself included) expected Ty Johnson to serve as the Detroit Lions feature back with J.D. McKissic complementing him as a change-of-pace option. Things didn't exactly go that way in the first game without Kerryon last week. Johnson led the backfield at 40 percent of the offensive snaps played, but Tra Carson started the game, played 30 percent of the offensive snaps, and nearly doubled up Johnson's seven carries with 12 of his own.
Carson wasn't impressive, rushing for only 34 scoreless yards. Having said that, his yardage total led the backfield on the ground. Additionally, he received the team's only red zone carry last week. For full disclosure, the Lions ran just three plays from the red zone.
The playing time and usage split is up in the air entering this week, making Carson a dice roll who has a wide range of outcomes that includes a zero-point floor if last week's unimpressive showing results in the team awarding their other backs more opportunities. As it stands, we project him to finish as RB35 in PPR formats, and that's good enough to make him a desperation play for gamers scrambling to find a running back in the free-agent pool.
Chris Conley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 25%
Chris Conley has used his jets to rip off nifty back-to-back games in which he's bested 80 receiving yards in both and totaled 186 receiving yards on 7 receptions with 1 touchdown and a 2-point conversion for good measure. He's eclipsed 70 receiving yards in four of eight games this year, and he's back on the radar this week as he continues to amass a solid amount of air yards.
Conley's 570 intended air yards rank as the 35th-most among receivers and tight ends this year, according to Sports Info Solutions. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew is uncorking deep balls to Conley. Among receivers targeted a minimum of 20 times this year, Conley's average depth of target of 15.4 yards is the fifth-deepest mark, again, per Sports Info Solutions.
The matchup is favorable for Conley to keep things rolling this week. The Houston Texans have coughed up the second-most receiving yards (1,536) and most touchdown receptions (13) to receivers this year, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Furthermore, receivers are thumping them for 13.96 yards per reception. We project Conley to be the lowest-scoring receiver of the three I'm touting in this space as WR43, but he's my favorite option of the trio by the slightest of margins.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Ownership: 23%
Diontae Johnson checks in a few spots higher than Conley in our projections, projecting to finish as WR38 in PPR formats. He's still a bit lower in our projections than a forthcoming receiver, and Johnson's my least favorite deep sleeper out of the three. Although, he's still a strong sleeper option given his work with Mason Rudolph this season.
In three of Mason's five starts this year, Johnson's totaled more than 50 receiving yards and scored a touchdown. Mason's attempted 130 passes this year, and he's directed 27 of them Johnson's way, second behind the 29 thrown to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Johnson also ranks second behind Smith-Schuster in receptions and receiving yards, 17 and 238, respectively, on passes thrown from Rudolph while tying for the team lead with 3 touchdown grabs. Bank on the young duo continuing to demonstrate good rapport this week if you need help at receiver or flex and Conley or a soon-to-be-named option at receiver are already rostered.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo Ownership: 25%
Dallas Goedert is a holdover from my 3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 9 piece published here earlier in the week. Check out that piece for analysis as to why I suggest using him in Week 9.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
I've been teasing Preston Williams throughout this piece. Our algorithm is completely enamored with the rookie receiver this week and projects him to finish as WR17 in PPR formats against the visiting New York Jets. I won't go as far as calling him a top-20 receiver this week, and, as I noted above, like Conley more. Still, there's plenty to like here.
Williams' 718 intended air yards this year are tops on the Miami Dolphins and the 13th most among receivers and tight ends this season. He was very inefficient with Josh Rosen chucking the ball this year, but he's been much better with Ryan Fitzpatrick airing it out. He has a team-high 19 receptions and 250 receiving yards on passes from Fitzpatrick, and his 28 targets are second to DeVante Parker's 30. He's also caught a touchdown pass from Fitz.
Head coach Brian Flores has announced the team will stick with Fitz as their starting quarterback this week, and that's good news for Williams' outlook. There's some risk of an in-game benching for Fitz, but Williams is still a solid option as a WR3 or flex play for gamers this week.