Last week was a middling one for the fantasy sleeper column. Daniel Jones didn’t run, and Harrison Bryant hardly played. Meanwhile, Khalil Herbert was terrific, and Kalif Raymond made a few splash plays. You take what you can get.
Sleeper, of course, is a nebulous term. Use whatever definition works for you. Likewise, this column is whatever you want it to be. Perhaps it helps you make a start/sit call this week or a DFS decision. Maybe you apply the information to an over/under prop. Perhaps you’ll add a player to your fantasy bench as depth, but won't deploy him this week.
We’re onto Week 9.
RB Deon Jackson at New England
Jackson might be the last back standing for the Colts, given that Nyheim Hines has been traded and Jonathan Taylor has a lingering ankle injury. The Patriots haven’t given up a lot of aggregate rushing production, but they’ve been gashed per-snap — they rank 27th in run-defense DVOA. And it’s not like you have to take Jackson as a full-speculation play; he had 91 total yards in Week 5, and 121 total yards and a touchdown (and 10 juicy receptions) in Week 6.
I tried to add Neon Deon everywhere I could and came up empty. But you can still act in some pools; he’s 31 percent rostered in Yahoo.
QB Malik Willis at Kansas City
This is another conditional pick, of course. It’s not clear yet if Ryan Tannehill (ankle/illness) will be able to play. And I understand Willis didn’t do much against Houston, where the Titans realized they could run all day and easily dispatch the Texans.
This week will be different, as the Chiefs will force the Titans to chase the game. And this means I want to look into Willis’s rushing prop. He was not a proactive runner last week, but he ran 14 times for 159 yards in the preseason, and was a dynamic runner at Liberty. Be ready to act if Willis gets another start.
WR Kalif Raymond vs. Miami
Yep, we’re going back to the Raymond play. Six teams are off this week; we are desperate for wide receiver help. And Raymond is still rostered in a mere two percent of Yahoo leagues.
Raymond’s turned into a full-time player of late, running 90 percent of the snaps the last three games. He’s posted a useful 13 catches for 196 yards over that span. Yes, Amon-Ra St. Brown’s absence did help in two of those games, but the Sun God returned last week and Raymond was still active. If nothing else, consider Raymond the Hail Mary play in this passing game, not Josh Reynolds. And perhaps the absence of traded TE T.J. Hockenson will open up a few more opportunities.
WR DeAndre Carter at Atlanta
Joshua Palmer is the obvious plug-and-play in the Chargers passing game, the beneficiary of snaps and playing time with Mike Williams out and Keenan Allen questionable. But in the likely case of Williams and Allen both missing the game, Carter could also step into relevance. The Falcons have allowed the second-most points to opposing wideouts, and the game is indoors and on a fast track. Carter’s been underwhelming in his opportunities so far, but he does have three catches in five of his seven games. I suspect he’s ready for his best game of the year, likely to snag five or six passes. I’ll be curious to see what his props open at, too.
TE Isaiah Likely at New Orleans
Likely checks in at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, a little undersized by modern tight end specs. But the Ravens basically view Likely as a receiver, a desperately-needed player in a room that’s lacking healthy options. Likely is coming off his best game (6-77-1) and a seasonal high for snaps (67 percent) and routes (30). The Saints have been stingy in tight end coverage this year, but Likely figures to be deployed as a hybrid player anyway. I’ll start him proactively Monday night.