7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 9
The 2020 NFL season -- like everything about 2020 -- is unique. While turning to the waiver wire or free agent pool for streaming options is a common practice in normal years, the need for deeper options could be even greater this year as the NFL tries to navigate playing through a pandemic.
This is your weekly home for finding deep sleeper options across the board this year, with plug-and-play options listed at quarterback, running back, receiver, and tight end. Whether you set out to stream or circumstances have changed for your roster and dictate streaming on the fly, I've got you covered with a full roster's worth of low-rostered choices in Yahoo! leagues.
Drew Lock, QB, Denver Broncos
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 13%
The Atlanta Falcons have played more admirably on defense over the last three weeks for interim head coach Raheem Morris, yielding 23 points in back-to-back contests before holding the Carolina Panthers to only 17 points last week. However, they've ceded more than 320 passing yards to the opposition in two of three with Morris as the head coach and their pass defense remains in the basement in the numberFire power rankings.
With that in mind, this is a dreamy matchup for Drew Lock and the passing attack of the Denver Broncos. Last week, Lock turned in a stellar effort, completing 26 of 41 passes for 248 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. It marked easily his best game of a second season interrupted by injury, and he'll have an opportunity to build on it this week -- namely if one of his top pass-catching options returns from injury for this matchup (more on that shortly).
The second-year signal caller checks in as QB19 this week in the numberFire projection algorithm.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 31%
With Mark Ingram sidelined last week, it was rookie J.K. Dobbins who dazzled the most in the Baltimore Ravens' backfield, with 15 carries for 113 rushing yards and a reception for 8 yards. He also led the way in snap percentage at 65.85 percent, as you can see on our snap counts landing page. However, Gus Edwards played a respectable 31.71 percent of the snaps and actually led the team in carries with 16 for 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The fantasy usefulness of Edwards is entirely driven by Ingram's health this week. If Ingram returns, Edwards isn't a starting option. If Ingram is sidelined again, though, Edwards is a flex or desperation RB2 play for running back-needy gamers. Ingram reportedly didn't practice Wednesday, but his practice availability and injury status will need to be monitored by gamers who scoop up Edwards in hopes of using him this weekend.
Tyler Ervin, RB, Green Bay Packers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 6%
They were without starting running back Aaron Jones in a Week 8 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and Jones' availability for this week looks like it will come down to the wire with him testing his injury pre-game. If he's ruled out, it won't be backup Jamaal Williams or rookie A.J. Dillon filling in for him, though, as both are on the COVID-19/reserve list. Instead, practice squad call-up Dexter Williams (on just two percent of Yahoo! rosters and also a viable hail-mary play at running back) and Tyler Ervin will be tasked with filling the void left by Jones' absence.
In Wes Hodklewicz's linked piece above, he speculates "on paper, Dexter Williams is the most logical option to line up in the backfield if Jones doesn't suit up Thursday night." The piece also shares quotes from Aaron Rodgers voicing confidence in Williams.
If Williams is utilized most in the backfield, shouldn't he get the nod in this space? Maybe, but the 49ers have a stout rush defense we rank as the fourth-best and have allowed just 523 rushing yards at a paltry 3.46 yards per carry, per Pro-Football-Reference.
Ervin's the more talented pass-catching option and has been used creatively on offense this season. Receptions are more valuable touches -- even in non-point-per-reception (PPR) formats -- than carries, and the stiffness of San Francisco's run defense could prompt head coach Matt LaFleur to lean more on his shifty pass-catching back and the passing attack in general in this week's game.
Presently, Ervin projects as RB24 in PPR scoring this week even with Jones slated to play in our current projections. But if Jones is out, Ervin could sneak into the top 20 at the position.
Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 19%
I teased Tim Patrick's inclusion as Lock's stacking partner above in the latter's write-up, and here he is with a chance to return after missing last week's game. This week is off to a promising start with Patrick listed as a limited participant on Denver's estimated practice report. Assuming he returns, he'll be back in the saddle as a field-stretching option in a cushy matchup.
Patrick's average depth of target of 16.4 yards is the fourth-deepest mark among receivers and tight ends targeted at least 25 times this year, according to Sports Info Solutions. The 6-foot-4 wideout has stepped up admirably in the absence of Courtland Sutton and has bested 100 receiving yards in two of his last three games while clearing 40 receiving yards and hauling in at least three receptions in four straight games.
Circling back to Patrick's usage as a field-stretcher, a matchup with the Falcons is tailor-made for that usage. The Falcons are tied for the highest explosive pass rate percentage allowed to the opposition this year at 12 percent, per Sharp Football Stats. Further, they've been barbecued for a silly 15.27 yard per reception by wideouts this year. I view Patrick as a high-end WR3 with upside to crack the top-25 receivers this week.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 8%
Undrafted receiver Darnell Mooney hasn't been a consistent week-to-week fantasy option, but he's emerged as an integral part of the passing game for the Chicago Bears. He set a new high with 69 receiving yards on 5 receptions -- including a touchdown -- last week. Despite the ho-hum single-game high in yardage, he's garnered at least five targets in six straight games and caught multiple passes in every game this year.
For the year, his 663 intended air yards are the 14th most. Like the previously discussed Patrick, Mooney's used as a vertical option in the passing game. His average depth of target of 15.4 yards is the seventh-deepest mark among receivers and tight ends targeted at least 25 times. Deep balls are lower percentage passes for completing, but they're obviously higher value for receivers when the quarterback connects.
Mooney's steady diet of targets and downfield usage bode well for a big game at some point, yet he doesn't have a disastrous floor, with 3 receptions and 35-plus receiving yards in in six of eight games this year.
Amplifying the odds of this being a week in which Mooney's targets and air yards result in a blow-up game is a cushy matchup with the Tennessee Titans. They've coughed up the fifth-most receiving yards (1,398) to receivers this year on the second-most receptions (124) surrendered to the position. The Titans rank as the eighth-worst pass defense in the numberFire power rankings.
I slightly prefer Patrick to Mooney if both are available for streaming, but it's a near coin flip picking between the two.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 27%
Logan Thomas is a regular in this space, and he and the Washington Football Team are coming off of a bye to face the New York Giants on a short week for Big Blue. The G Men lost a nail-biter on Monday Night Football last week, and tight end Rob Gronkowski gave them problems, hauling in all 4 of his targets for 41 receiving yards and 1 touchdown on 4 receptions. The Giants are merely run of the mill defending tight ends.
Having said that, Thomas is more like a jumbo wideout. This season, he has a gaudy 92.6 percent route participation percentage and has played the slot 60.6 percent of the time, according to Player Profiler. His usage is ideal from a fantasy perspective. Additionally, he's had back-to-back useful games with Kyle Allen at quarterback, totaling 4 receptions for 60 yards and a score in Week 7 after reeling in 3 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown against the Giants in Week 6.
The numberFire projection algorithm projects him to finish respectably at TE17 in PPR formats, but I'm far more bullish on his outlook and expect a top-10 finish at the position this week.
Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 2%
Jakobi Meyers rounds out this week's deep sleepers after he played fairly well last week in the absence of Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry for the New England Patriots. Edelman's on injured reserve and won't play this week, and Harry's status is up in the air as he recovers from a concussion -- which isn't the first of his football career, as you can read here. Even if Harry returns, it doesn't dissuade me from touting Meyers.
The second-year wideout was targeted a whopping 10 times last week against the Buffalo Bills and parlayed the hefty workload into 6 receptions for 58 yards and added a two-point conversion for a cherry on top. The week before, Meyers amassed 4 receptions for 60 yards on 6 targets and rushed once for 2 yards.
This week, he'll square off with the dumpster fire New York Jets and their giving pass defense ranked as the fourth-worst in the numberFire power rankings. He's a fringe top-50 receiver option this week, and that's reflected in our algorithm projecting him to finish tied for WR51 in PPR formats.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.