Week 9 NFL DFS Advice: Sleepers, Busts and More

Fantasy Football - Sleepers Busts and More Week 9

It was another good week with my NFL DFS advice column, as I hit on some studs, nailed a few contrarian plays and even had a huge sleeper deliver.

Each week I break down some of the popular daily fantasy football sections and try to give some insight on what options are worth a look and others that may be best left avoided. Going 100% in this breakdown is pretty impossible, but week eight was an overall success.

My only hope is that The Sports Geek readers actually benefit from it. The trick, really, is to piece my advice together with your own favorite picks to form the perfect NFL DFS lineup.

Join me as I attempt to do that again in week nine at FanDuel:

Studs to Trust in Week 9

My stud calls were fantastic last week. Andrew Luck threw three touchdowns, Kareem Hunt had a respectable 17 fantasy points, A.J. Green found the end-zone and Travis Kelce had almost 17 fantasy points.

The Chicago defense was the only disappointment, as they managed just five fantasy points in the face of an awesome home date with the Jets.

If you stacked that core (maybe aside from the Bears), you would have been off to a great start.

I’m honestly fine with going right back to the well with all of these picks, but I don’t mind switching it up a bit for week nine. Here are my top studs to build around at FanDuel this week:

  • Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers ($8.6k)
  • Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs ($8.5k)
  • Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings ($8.9k)
  • Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers ($6.2k)
  • Chicago Bears Defense ($5.4k)
Cam Newton:
Instead of paying almost $1,000 more for Patrick Mahomes, considering starting your lineup building process with Newton this week. The Panthers star passer has been on fire with 24+ fantasy points in three straight games and gets a Buccaneers defense that ranks dead last against fantasy quarterbacks.
Kareem Hunt:
It’s hard not to love Chiefs options going up against the sad sack Browns. I lobbied for Kareem Hunt as a great pivot off of Todd Gurley last week and while he didn’t match Gurley, I don’t mind trying that again. Hunt has been largely fantastic and gets a Cleveland defense that ranks 27th at stopping running backs.
Adam Thielen:
Thielen may not be the best overall fantasy receiver this week. He faces a capable Lions defense and could draw coverage from Darius Slay, but the guy has been as automatic as it gets. With 100+ receiving yards in every single game this year, he feels like a guy you can perpetually count on.
Greg Olsen:
Olsen is an elite pivot off of Travis Kelce, who is $1.4k more expensive this week. He’s scored in two straight games and offers nice upside against a Buccaneers defense that ranks 31st against tight ends in 2018.
Chicago Bears Defense:
I’ll wrap things up with Chicago. The Bears weren’t great last week and are insanely expensive, but they get to face Nathan Peterman. That’s historically meant great things for defenses so this may be a good week to just bite the bullet and spend big on your team defense.

Players to Avoid in Week 9

I don’t know what it is about me avoiding players based on pricing or matchups, but they seem to always wreck.

I joked about it last week, but perhaps you will want to take my picks in this section with a massive grain of salt; i.e., maybe stacking them in a GPP lineup isn’t a terrible idea.

Cam Newton, Tarik Cohen and Odell Beckham Jr. were all good to great last week. The only suggested sit call that worked out was the Colts, who gave up 28 points to the Raiders.

Here are my players to avoid (or stack?) in NFL DFS for week nine:

  • Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers ($8k)
  • Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($11.2k)
  • Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($8.8k)
  • Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears ($6.1k)
  • Carolina Panthers Defense ($4.3k)
Philip Rivers:
I usually like Rivers just fine and he does have a ton of weapons to work with, but he’s got a tough matchup this week. He’s not that much cheaper than options (like Newton) that I prefer and he faces a solid Seattle defense that ranks #1 against fantasy quarterbacks.
Todd Gurley:
Fading Gurley (in tournaments) is all about price. Not only is he so restrictive, but as last week showed, there are several viable pivots that can match or even exceed him. You just need to find the right combinations. It’s also worth noting that New Orleans has allowed the fewest rushing yards to running backs this year and has given up the fifth least total fantasy points per game to the position.
Antonio Brown:
Brown is $100 cheaper than a reliable beast like Thielen, so in theory he could be contrarian and historically is the superior play. Sadly, he faces a stingy Ravens secondary that limited him (14 fantasy points) the last time he faced them. Baltimore also ranks 5th against wide receivers on the year, so paying up for a massive outing seems like a reach.
Trey Burton:
I’m also not into the idea of paying for Burton this week. He’s got a great role and can always pop off, but he has a pretty tough matchup ahead of him. Buffalo’s defense is solid; they stifled Rob Gronkowski in week eight and rank 11th against fantasy tight ends on the year.
Carolina Panthers Defense:
You can use the Panthers if you want. They’re good at home and Ryan Fitzpatrick historically takes sacks and turns the ball over. He’s also been a different guy for much of 2018 and Tampa Bay has a lot of weapons. Carolina, meanwhile, just hasn’t been an elite fantasy defense with 10+ fantasy points zero times over their last three outings.

Contrarian Studs to Consider

The point with this section is to try to identify some high-priced options that could pan out, but may do so at fairly low ownership. You don’t want to be contrarian just for the sake of getting someone that nobody else is on, but if they can perform well and be 15% owned or lower, it’s not a bad thing.

Last week I vouched for Aaron Rodgers, Christian McCaffrey, Robert Woods, Jared Cook and the Chiefs defense.

A-Rod was surprisingly not great, but he wasn’t very highly owned. He could have easily gone nuts in a spot where the Packers put up 27 points and almost staged a huge upset. Woods (9.5 fantasy points) and the Chiefs D (9) were just okay, while Cook (15 fantasy points) and McCaffrey (19.6) absolutely smashed.

Here are some hopefully lower-owned studs that could wreck this week:

  • Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings ($8.3k)
  • James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($8k)
  • Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers ($7.4k)
  • Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins ($5.6k)
  • Miami Dolphins Defense ($4.2k)

Cousins stands out as a solid option that nobody will be on. There are just so many great options at quarterback this week that he’s going to fly under the radar. A date with the Lions isn’t a cakewalk, but they’ve given up 15 touchdowns through the air and this is a big home game for the Vikings. I can see Captain Kirk crushing in this spot.

Please Note:
Conner was a hit the past three weeks (26+ fantasy points in each game), so it’s possible I’m wrong here and everyone remains on him. There are also a ton of valid running back plays, however, and a date against the Ravens (#1 against running backs) could lower his ownership a good deal.

Allen is another guy who does not have a good matchup this week. It doesn’t look good given how Seattle fares against fantasy quarterbacks, but it’s not unbeatable. At a nice discount, Allen will still be low-owned and could be approaching his first big outing since a 20-point drop in week one.

Reed is another guy who has all the talent in the world and has a big role but won’t have an amazing matchup. The Falcons aren’t a staggering matchup, but they do a decent job against tight ends. I don’t mind dropping down to Reed at his current price, especially after seeing him draw a whopping 12 targets in week eight.

Miami’s defense has not been good the past two weeks. That and a plethora of other solid options around their price range will make their ownership quite low. However, they’re at home and facing a Jets offense devoid of talent. They’re worth a shot based on matchup alone, and nobody will be on them.

Bounce-Back Targets

My bounce-back plays weren’t amazing in week eight. Andy Dalton was a good play, but nobody else really delivered like I thought they might.

I’ll try again with a batch of players that could be left alone due to recency bias:

  • Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins ($7.5k)
  • Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons ($8.5k)
  • David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Cavaliers ($5.2k)

Smith stands out a bit just because he’s at home in a big game against the Falcons. Atlanta has not been good defensively this year, allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to fantasy passers. Smith has been pretty pedestrian basically all year, but this is not a bad spot to throw caution to the wind and bank on a breakout performance.

Staying in that same game, why not just bet on Julio Jones finally scoring a touchdown? I know he should see a lot of Josh Norman, but the Redskins have been a middle of the road pass defense against wide receivers and actually rank 27th against the position over the last four weeks. Jones gets catches and yardage at will and may finally be ready to, ya know, score.

One last call to bounce back this week is Njoku, who burned a lot of NFL DFS gamers with zero fantasy points a week ago. There are a lot of other tight end options out there, so it’s going to be awfully hard for people to ignore his obviously insanely low floor. True, but he’s been good in recent weeks and faces a suspect KC defense that ranks just 28th against tight ends in 218.

Week 9 Sleeper Watch

I hit it big with some NFL DFS sleepers last week, namely with Rams receiver Josh Reynolds popping off for two scores. If you fit him into your lineup and stacked my studs you could have had a big week.

Case Keenum wasn’t a terrible sleeper against the Chiefs, either, while the Arizona Cardinals only gave up 15 points to the 49ers.

It wasn’t a clean sweep, but if you used Reynolds (17 fantasy points!) you would have been quite pleased. Here’s a look at a few cheaper daily fantasy football sleepers to consider at FanDuel in week nine:

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7.1k)
  • Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets ($5.7k)
  • Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos ($5.5k)
  • Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens ($4.3k)
  • Buffalo Bills Defense ($3k)

Who else but Fitzmagic? The guy went ham through the first three weeks of the year and then got benched after not slicing up a good Bears defense. He returned after the Bucs benched Jameis Winston last week and proceeded to put up 19 fantasy points in basically a half of play. Now he gets a beatable Panthers defense that has had some troubles through the air in 2018.

You can also consider another Jets running back in Cannon, who I suggested last week. I’m going with Crowell, though. He’s displayed solid ability at times this year and this week will face a Miami run defense that has been getting positively gashed by fantasy rushers. The Dolphins rank 29th against fantasy backs, so yeah, I have some interest in saving cash and deploying Crowell.

There is also the Curious Case of Courtland Sutton, who will undoubtedly be taking on a much bigger role now that Demaryius Thomas has been traded out of town. John Elway was pretty public about playing Sutton going forward, so even though Houston isn’t the easiest matchup, he’s in play at this cheap price.

I’m not fully on board with Hurst just yet, as rookie tight ends take some time to develop. That being said, he is absurdly cheap and head coach John Harbaugh has suggested he’d like to get him more involved. He did score a late touchdown last week and the Steelers rank 29th against TEs, so he’s absolutely worth a look.


Hopefully, my NFL DFS picks at each category help you build a winner in week nine. Obviously, you can’t fit all of these guys on one team, but you probably won’t even want to.

Please Note:
The point is forever going to be two-fold; my insight and advice should help you get on/off certain plays and open things up for other plays you perhaps otherwise wouldn’t consider using.

NFL DFS tends to be a lot about the top chalk, but then finding ways to fit in a sleeper, make that contrarian pivot and then get a little lucky. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’ve certainly delivered some money picks through the course of the 2018 daily fantasy football season and hopefully, it’s helped you along the way.

Thanks for reading and good luck in your NFL DFS contests at FanDuel this week!

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