7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 9

Darnell Mooney's production has earned him a larger role in the Chicago Bears' offense. Is he someone to plug in against a struggling Titans' defense?

Everybody loves a good sleeper pick.

Throughout the season, of course, sometimes sleepers aren't just luxuries to gawk at but necessary fill-ins for our fantasy football lineups.

Not every situation requires benching your starters for a sleeper, but every fantasy team and situation is different, and I'm sure we're all playing daily fantasy football on FanDuel anyway. That's where sleepers really can pay off.

Because there is no consensus definition of what a sleeper is, I'll keep it consistent throughout the season. Using ESPN's fantasy football platform, I'll choose quarterbacks and tight ends outside the top 15 in roster percentage and running backs and wide receivers outside the top 40.

I'll also list some honorable mentions because there's nothing worse than realizing that every player mentioned in an article is already rostered in your league. We're seeking non-obvious plays who can put up starting-caliber performances. I'd rather list too many options than too few.


Derek Carr (61% Rostered) - There are a number of streaming options against bottom-tier pass defenses this week, but Carr is attractive for more reasons than just his matchup. According to our math, the Las Vegas Raiders' quarterback is tied for 13th among qualifying passers (100-plus drop backs) in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. And his 53.2% Passing Success Rate is 10th behind a number of likely candidates and Nick Mullens. He's played well enough to have his team out to a 4-3 start heading into this week's meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have been tough defensively, yet Pro Football Reference shows us that they have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, trailing only the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. On Sunday, Carr should be able to take advantage with the oddsmakers expecting his team to put up 26 points in a neutral script.

Others to Consider: Matthew Stafford (65%), Drew Lock (6%), Jake Luton (0.5%)

Running Backs

JaMycal Hasty (62%) - Last week, Hasty found himself one spot lower as we liked him at his low 7% roster percentage. He has since been picked up in more than 60% of leagues, but the San Francisco 49ers have suffered yet another injury to the running back spot. With Tevin Coleman already ruled out for Week 9, Kyle Shanahan will be without the services of Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, leaving Hasty and Jerick McKinnon to the backfield. McKinnon reached a 50% snap rate a week ago, but he saw one more target (four) than he did carries (three) as Hasty operated as the leader with 12 attempts on a 41% snap rate. He's the best candidate to perform his best Dalvin Cook impersonation after the Minnesota Vikings' star back rushed for 163 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a total of 46.6 fantasy points against these Green Bay Packers. If the Niners can get things going, it promises to be a great week for the young Hasty.

Tyler Ervin (0.2%) - Speaking of Green Bay, they have problems of their own in the backfield. They have been practicing caution with Aaron Jones, and are reportedly pessimistic about his chances of suiting up this coming week. Meanwhile, A.J. Dillon was placed on the COVID list and Jamaal Williams followed as a "close contact," meaning neither will take the field against San Francisco. The Packers' running game will come down to a combination of Dexter Williams and Ervin. While Williams, a second-year back, is more familiar with the offense Ervin profiles as more of a three-down back and has played 108 offensive snaps to Williams' 0. He's also turned his 9 targets and 4 carries into 33 and 43 yards, respectively, speaking to his efficiency in both areas. San Francisco has been good against the run, but they are dealing with injuries, and unfortunately, your fantasy team probably is, too. You can't do much better than a certain role in one of the league's best offenses.

Others to Consider: La'Mical Perine (50%), Damien Harris (45%), Matt Breida (20%), Dexter Williams (0%)

Wide Receivers

Cole Beasley (72%) - Beasley is fairly high-rostered, but he fits the bill, as he's flying under the radar considering his standing in the fantasy ranks. So far in PPR league, he checks in 35th in per-game average and 25th in total points so far in 2020. According to PlayerProfiler, he owns an 18.7% target share (17.1% in the red zone) and has run the seventh-most slot snaps with a 84.9% snap rate from that position. On the flip side, Seattle has given up the most fantasy points to wideouts and are 31st against WR2's such as Beasley.

Mike Williams (53%) - The rollercoaster ride that is Mike Williams is on the upswing once again. After being held to 1 catch, 4 yards and 3 targets in Week 7, the big man rallied for 5 catches to the tune of 99 yards and a touchdown a week ago. He finished with at least 16 fantasy points for the second time in three weeks, all while reaping the benefits of Justin Herbert's 5.5 deep ball attempts per game. Williams' 17.2 average depth of target (aDOT) is fast-approaching his 17.8 mark from a year ago, and he has produced 0.87 Reception NEP per target to this point. The Raiders have done fairly well to limit receivers to lower fantasy outputs, but they are a bottom-10 defense in adjusted yards allowed per attempt and could have some touchdown regression coming their way in the passing touchdown department.

Darnell Mooney (6%) - Like Williams, Mooney is another player with a propensity for the big play. His 15.7 aDOT leads all Chicago Bears with at least 10 targets, and his 243 yards before catch are second to only Allen Robinson. The rookie has proven himself to be a legitimate threat on the outside, and he's earned more playing time for that reason, pushing his snap rate from 65% in Week 4 to 93% a week ago. He's fresh off a 5-catch game in which he totaled 69 yards and a touchdown, so he'll look to continue his production against a Tennessee squad that ranks 25th against the pass and 30th against WR2's.

Others to Consider: Tee Higgins (82%), Henry Ruggs (63%), Sterling Shepard (38%), Kendrick Bourne (2%), Donovan Peoples-Jones (0.2%)

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed (3%) - As most of you probably know, the 49ers have been hit by the injury bug at other positions outside of running back. And most recently, star tight end George Kittle was unable to get away from the bad juju in San Francisco. With Kittle set to sit out up to eight weeks, a combination of Reed and Ross Dwelley will be asked to step up in his stead as the 4-4 Niners aim to get back on track despite all the injuries. The two have shown they can be productive, but Reed was the one to show out with a 17-point performance in Week 2 against the Jets. After all, it appears that Reed is the preferred receiving option at the position given he's garnered 16 targets to Dwelley's 9 despite playing 150 fewer snaps to this point. If you're a desperate Kittle manager, don't be afraid to pick up and stream Reed against a Packers team that's had its ups and downs against opposing tight ends this season.

Others to Consider: Eric Ebron (62%), Ross Dwelley (0.1%)