Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 9

Source: USA Today

Fantasy Football Sleepers: Week 9

Another NFL week has been completed, giving us plenty of data points to focus on for the remainder of the fantasy football season. As always, rostering players with upside or a high floor, whether it's been proven on the field yet or not, is a good way to define what a fantasy football sleeper prospect comprises. Not every acquisition has a 100 percent success rate, but shaking up rosters is a vital piece to winning a fantasy football championship, especially getting out in front of a player before other league managers catch on, or replacing a player on a downward trajectory. 

Whether it's a player on a fantasy manager's bench who has yet to see the starting lineup or another prospect who continues to sit idly on league waiver wires, with the return of Byes in Week 9, plus the number of injuries that continually pile up, grabbing sleepers is more important than ever, as we're now officially halfway through the fantasy football regular season. 

NFL fantasy analyst Matt MacKay shares his latest analysis of six fantasy football sleepers to target in lineups for Week 9 and beyond using half-PPR scoring to contextualize each of these players entering a pivotal week in the fantasy football season. 

Roschon Johnson (RB - Bears)

During his return from a multi-week stint in the league's concussion protocol, Chicago rookie running back Roschon Johnson earned 24 percent of rushing attempts, while playing more snaps (36.8 percent) than veteran D'Onta Foreman. Foreman's explosive outing against a bad Raiders run defense in Week 7 was nowhere to be found in Week 8 against the Chargers. Plus, Johnson earned a 10.8 percent target share, twice as high as Foreman. With Tyson Bagent remaining the Bears' QB1 heading into a tough matchup against the Saints, expect Johnson to be used as a safety valve out of the backfield, raising his floor in PPR formats. Despite a tough matchup in Week 9 against New Orleans' run defense, a Week 10 matchup against Carolina is much more promising, making it worthwhile rostering Johnson as a mid-range RB3 with RB2 upside. 

Chuba Hubbard (RB - Panthers)

It's safe to say Chuba Hubbard is now Carolina's RB1. He's been the more explosive player all season, despite the Panthers electing to pay Miles Sanders a handsome contract this offseason. Hubbard played 67 percent of snaps compared to Sanders' 17.9 percent snap share in Week 8 against Houston. While Hubbard only finished with 6.4 fantasy points, he showcased what he is capable of delivering against Miami in Week 7, handling 19 carries for 88 yards and a rushing touchdown. An extremely favorable matchup against the Colts' run defense, ranked as a top-five fantasy matchup in Week 9, makes Hubbard a mid-range RB2 with high-end RB2 upside and a viable candidate to insert into fantasy lineups. 

Brandin Cooks (WR - Cowboys)

A slow start in Dallas likely resulted in Brandin Cooks being dropped to waivers. If he's still there, make sure to put a claim in on the veteran wideout now. He's emerged as a solid WR2 option opposite of star wideout CeeDee Lamb, drawing softer coverage and taking advantage of improved play from Dak Prescott. Cooks has only seen four targets in four consecutive games, but he makes the most of his opportunities, recording four receptions and at least 36 yards, with back-to-back touchdowns against the Chargers and Rams. Now, another plus-matchup against an Eagles' secondary that got gashed by Sam Howell and Washington in Week 8 awaits Cooks in Week 9, making him a fringe WR2 with mid-range WR2 upside. 

Rashid Shaheed (WR - Saints)

When New Orleans looks to throw the deep ball, Derek Carr has consistently looked to Rashid Shaheed to deliver results. The speedster is a second-year wideout who is averaging 9.8 fantasy points per game due to his average depth of target, which is 12.6 yards. Compare this to 6.7 for Chris Olave and 7.2 for Michael Thomas, and it's easy to see how dynamic Shaheed can be as a vertical threat stretching the field. The Saints like to lull a defense to sleep with its rushing attack, followed up by play-action passes that tend to all be funneled to Shaheed. His target share is volatile, bouncing around between 3 and eight targets in the last three games, but a plus-matchup against Chicago's defense in Week 9 means Shaheed could extend his big-play streak and make himself an asset in fantasy lineups. Treat Shaheed as a boom-or-bust WR3 with high-end WR2 upside, fresh off of a 22.8-point outing against the Colts. 

Trey McBride (TE - Cardinals)

With Zach Ertz out of the picture due to injury, second-year tight end Trey McBride is quickly rising up the tight end rankings. McBride exploded with 20.5 fantasy points against Baltimore in Week 8, going 10-95-1 on 14 targets. Yes, Josh Dobbs is no longer QB1 in Arizona, but Kyler Murray is expected to return in the next two weeks following his activation off I.R. McBride is a big target with reliable hands in an offense that lacks depth, so he's definitely a viable pick up to insert into fantasy lineups as a low-end TE1 ahead of a Week 9 tilt with the Browns, despite allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. Matchups against the Falcons and Texans after Week 9 make McBride worth stashing at the very least. 

Bryce Young (QB - Panthers)

We've seen flashes of good quarterback play from Bryce Young, the 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick who just beat C.J. Stroud in a head-to-head matchup in Week 8, giving Carolina its first win of the season. Young has quietly been playing well, completing at least 61 percent of his pass attempts in five of six games, while eliminating turnovers. He doesn't have much of a rushing upside, lowering his floor a bit, but Young faces the Colts defense in Week 9, which is a top-three fantasy football matchup for quarterbacks. Young could eclipse 20 fantasy points for the first time this season, so don't miss out on a viable quarterback streamer who is an efficient signal caller capable of avoiding big mistakes and maintaining efficiency within the Panthers' offense, which also has a new play-caller, which could elevate Young's stock moving forward. 

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