Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Hocus Pocus? Fitzmagic shop reopens for business

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Shiver me timbers! Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return signals positive outcomes for his fantasy owners. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack, File)
Shiver me timbers! Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return signals positive outcomes for his fantasy owners. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack, File)

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 9 Flames in the comments section below.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB, QB (7 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $29)
Matchup: at Car
Vegas line/total: Car -7, 54

Fitzpatrick is akin to any memorable horror movie villain with a voluminous catalogue; the Michael Myers of the NFL. He starts. Breaks records. Flounders miserably. Gets benched. Then, he’s suddenly and unexpectedly reinserted under center. In other words, just when you think he’s dead, the man resurrects. Though Cincinnati bested the Bucs at the buzzer last week, Fitzmagic waved the wand after Jameis Winston was pulled due to a disastrous four interceptions. Resembling the passer who stormed out to three consecutive 400-yard games, he unloaded downfield, made near-impossible tight-window throws, extended plays on the ground and crawled the Bucs out of an 18-point deficit. On the year, he’s averaged an obscene 10.8 pass yards per attempt and posted top-10 numbers in air yards per attempt, deep-ball completion percentage and fantasy points per dropback. Now likely back in the saddle — presumably for the rest of the season — he’s a probable top-10 option moving forward.

His aggressiveness combined with Tampa’s wretched defense and mostly friendly schedule point to a number of spectacular performances. This week will be no exception. The Bucs travel to Carolina to encounter a Panthers team painfully mediocre defending the pass. This season, Carolina has surrendered 7.2 yards per attempt, 261.6 pass yards per game, 1.7 pass TDs per game and the 13th-most fantasy points to the position. Under the hood, James Bradberry, arguably the weakest link in the secondary, has conceded a 104.6 passer rating and over 1.44 yards per snap to his assignments. Unless Jamie Lee Curtis trots out of the tunnel, the Beard marches into Charlotte and flexes his fantasy fur.

Fearless Forecast: 327 pass yards, 3 pass touchdowns, 2 turnovers, 24 rush yards, 27.9 fantasy points

Dion Lewis, Ten, RB (28 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at Dal
Vegas line/total: Dal -6.5, 41

Dots. Sugar Daddies. Tootsie Rolls. If your trick or treat bag is full of these jaw-breaking, overrated candies, you can understand my Titans plight. Yes, this fantasy-jinxing dimwit stocked up on an unhealthy amount of Tennessee options, believing Matt LaFleur’s Rams-designed offense would unlock Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis, Lewis and others. Everything was wrong about that belief. Sure, Mariota wasn’t healthy for several weeks, but moving the chains consistently has been problematic, to say the least. It’s why Tennessee ranks No. 30 in total offense. Though Lewis hasn’t lived up to RB2-level expectations, he hasn’t tumbled completely. His YAC per attempt has slipped a bit since his 2017 campaign with New England (’17: 3.17, ’18: 2.85), but he’s forced a missed tackle 27.4 percent of the time, tops in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s No. 7 in elusive rating, ranking only behind the likes of Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt and James Conner. That’s distinguished company.

Derrick Henry, meanwhile, pales in comparison (2.79 YAC/att; 16.7 MT%). If LaFleur hopes to ignite his offense post-bye, the shifty complement should net at least 15 touches per game. The matchup might demand it. Dallas has steadily stuffed the run, surrendering 3.47 yards per carry and 72.3 rush yards per game to RBs. Leighton Vander Esch and DeMarcus Lawrence both rank inside the top-16 in run-stop percentage. Though unforgiving between the tackles, Dallas can be snacked on in the short field. RBs are netting 6.7 receptions and 50 receiving yards against them. Lewis picks up where he left off Week 7 in London.

Fearless Forecast: 12 attempts, 44 rush yards, 5 receptions, 38 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.7 fantasy points

Aaron Jones, GB, RB (33 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: at NE
Vegas line/total: NE -6, 56.5

Outside Green Bay, in the heavily wooded hills of northern Wisconsin, a monster fixated on crushing fantasy owner dreams lurks. Featuring a rotund frame reminiscent of a Hickory Farms cheddar wheel and equipped with the stubbornness of a mule, he feasts on any and all innocent fantasy souls who dare question his decision making. The name of this boneheaded, blood-sucking beast: Mike McCarthy. As stated ad nauseam in this space since July, Jones is the Packers’ most talented RB. It’s not remotely debatable. Witnessed last week in a barn burner versus Los Angeles, he’s powerful, evasive and explosive. He and Kareem Hunt are the only two RBs currently inside the top-five in yards after contact per attempt and missed tackle percentage among healthy rushers with at least 40 attempts.

Jamaal Williams, who inexplicably continues to net around 44 percent of the opportunity share isn’t even in the same galaxy. The plodder ranks No. 55 in YAC per attempt and No. 62 in missed tackle percentage. And don’t spew the misinformed “It’s because Jamaal is the better blocker” nonsense. Though he’s played on far fewer snaps than Williams, Jones has earned a higher pass-blocking grade according to PFF. This week, in another potential shootout affair, No. 33 should be trusted. New England has allowed 4.25 yards per carry and 149.4 total yards per game to RBs. Wicked McCarthy detests your fantasy team, but after last week’s showing, maybe, just maybe, he’ll finally feed his best running back.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 65 rush yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.4 fantasy points

D.J. Moore, Car, WR (6 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $19)
Matchup: vs. TB
Vegas line/total: Car -7, 54

Sir Thomas. Roger. Demi. Mandy. The 34th-most popular surname in English-speaking countries is about to add another famous member. After a rocky start, the rookie’s mid-season breakthrough is already underway. Last week against the generally unforgiving Baltimore Ravens he logged a season-high 46 snaps (69.8%) en route to the first 100-total yard effort in his fledgling career. Employed as a underneath grease man, field-stretcher and rusher, Moore showcased reliable hands, dodgy open field moves and yards-consuming burst. When considering he compiled most yardage against Brandon Carr (72.3 passer rating, 55.3 catch% allowed), his Week 8 effort was all the more impressive. Blessed with a cakewalk rest of the season schedule — THE easiest for fantasy WRs — Moore should be a WR2 fixture.

He’s sandwiched between Michael Thomas and Brandin Cooks at No. 5 overall in yards per route run (2.68), according to PFF. Given the salivating slate, his growing role and open-field explosiveness, Moore will be a key player in getting fantasy players over the hump and into the playoffs. This week, look for him to build on his recent success. Grape shots fired by quarterbacks have routinely torn through the Buccaneers. On the season, only the Saints have surrendered more fantasy points to WRs. Moore’s most likely dance partner, slot corner M.J. Stewart, has given up an 85.3 catch percentage, 146.7 passer rating, 2.04 yards per snap and five touchdowns to his assignments. Total it up and the Panther will purr for the second straight week.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 18 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 18.5 fantasy points

Keke Coutee, Hou, WR (3 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)
Matchup: at Den
Vegas line/total: Den -2.5, 46.5

In the African language Yoruba, “Keke” translates to “long-awaited or celebrated child.” For those who’ve waited with bated breath for the youngster to rediscover the statistical success experienced Weeks 4-5, their patience is about to be rewarded, and handsomely. Will Fuller’s premature exit due to a blown ACL paves the way for the upstart to become an offensive centerpiece. Fuller’s 19.2 percent target share (6.5 looks per game) is up for grabs. Coutee’s rapid acceleration and quick-twitch should pick up the slack on screens and underneath routes. His speed (4.43 40-yard), too, should fill the void on explosive attempts downfield. Keep in mind, Coutee ranks No. 2 in average target separation per route per Player Profiler. This week, he’s sure to be a weapon of choice for Deshaun Watson.

Chris Harris, Denver’s best cover man, is the primary slot option, but Bill O’Brien is sure to move Coutee around in an attempt to maximize matchups. More routes outside are a necessity with Fuller sidelined. If shifted about, he should thrive when lined up against Bradley Roby. A massive disappointment, the DB has yielded a 115.3 passer rating and 1.66 yards per snap to his assignments. As a group, Denver ranks middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to WRs. Assuming his hamstring checks out in practice this week, Coutee is a heavenly option in 12-team and deeper leagues given the hellish number of byes. And, no, I wouldn’t worry about newly acquired Demaryius Thomas, who is sure to play sparingly.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.3 fantasy points

WEEK 9 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10 percent started)

Elijah McGuire, NYJ, RB (1 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $10)
Matchup: at Mia
Vegas line/total: Mia -3, 45.5

In Fantasyland, desert communities exist. Buffalo, Arizona, Jacksonville, San Francisco and New York (Jets) are largely devoid of reliable talent. However, McGuire is a potential oasis. Freshly activated off injured reserve after missing the regular season’s first eight weeks after foot surgery, he’s exactly what the doctor ordered. Prior to the Jets’ Week 8 downfall in Chicago, personal favorite, Bilal Powell, was placed on IR with a nasty neck setback. The veteran accounted for 47.6 percent of the team’s opportunity share, averaging 13.0 touches per contest. Isaiah Crowell will remain the primary power RB, but McGuire, who was slated to earn touches on pass downs in August, is a likely double-digit touch-per-game candidate the rest of the season.

He isn’t the most electric RB, but his blend of size (5-foot-11, 216-pounds) and evasiveness shouldn’t be immediately dismissed. He ranked No. 2 in yards created per carry and No. 8 in juke rate last season. How well conditioned he is after a long hiatus prompts questions, but the matchup is quite enticing. Miami, positively dreadful against the run, has allowed the second-most fantasy points to RBs this season, yielding 4.66 yards per carry, 5.9 receptions per game, 177.8 total yards per game and 10 total TDs to the position. David Johnson, Joe Mixon, Saquon Barkley and Marlon Mack backers seeking a one-week stopgap should take a stab.

Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 41 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.4 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 9 FLAMES (Under 50 percent started)

RB: Matt Breida, SF ($24; vs. Oak) – What appendage will randomly explode next? Will he survive four quarters? If not, can he actually deliver the goods? These are weekly questions for Breida backers. This week the answer is simple: play the man. Oakland, which doesn’t have a single defender inside the top-50 in run-stop percentage, has conceded 5.10 yards per carry, 169.1 total yards per game, nine touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs. Breida, who’s averaged 2.95 yards per contact per attempt and piled up eight runs of 15-plus yards, is a rock solid RB2. (FF: 17 atts, 82 yds, 2 recs, 11 yds, td, 16.3 fpts)

RB: Chris Thompson/Kapri Bibbs, Was ($18/$10; vs. Atl) – Undoubtedly, age-defying Adrian Peterson is the motor that pumps the pistons in Washington. Thompson, a week removed from injury, should supply plenty of grease this week, though. Pass-catching backs continue to chew up real estate against Atlanta. No team has allowed more receptions to the position (62) this season. Seven backs have snagged at least four passes against them. The tacky-handed RB is in position to find the end-zone for the first time since Week 1. If he can’t go, Bibbs is a top-flight Week 9 Rip Van Winkle. (FF: 4 atts, 15 yds, 7 recs, 56 yds, td, 16.6 fpts)

WR: Chris Godwin, TB ($15; at Car) – The reinsertion of Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup is a major boost for Godwin. When the Blanketed Chin was on the field Weeks 1-3, the wideout found the end zone in each game, totaling 22 targets, 15 receptions and 193 yards. Carolina has yielded the ninth-fewest fantasy points to WRs this season, but, as stated above, Bradberry has given up a 140.6 passer rating and 2.21 yards per snap to his assignments. Godwin, who is shifted all over the field (33.5 left%, 35.3 right%, 31.2 slot%), will occasionally sprint by the overly forgiving DB — one instance for a touchdown. (FF: 5 recs, 58 yds, td, 14.3 fpts)

WR: Courtland Sutton, DEN ($13; vs. Hou) – Pants instantly vanished and backflips commenced with the news that Demariyus Thomas was traded to Houston. Sutton is finally free. Bank on the rookie to ignite fantasy rosters rest of season. Third in yards per catch (19.1), he’s developed into a feared field stretcher, a player who should add branches to the route tree down the stretch. Thomas’ 19.6 percent target share (7.0 per game) is now Sutton’s. Houston does rank No. 8 in fewest fantasy points to WRs on the season, but the youngster’s size/speed blend is a handful for an unhealthy Jonathan Joseph (ankle). (FF: 4 recs, 71 yds, td, 15.1 fpts)

TE: Hayden Hurst, Bal ($12; vs. Pit)John Harbaugh made it a point of emphasis to get the rookie more involved last week. The result in Carolina: 41.9 percent snap share, three targets, two receptions, 29 yards and a touchdown. Revered by draftniks for his dependable hands, sharp routes and power after the catch, Hurst should see an expanded role moving forward. This week, scheduled to face the rival Steelers, who’ve given up a 7.0-73.1-0.6 average line to TEs, the youngster has decent odds of crossing the chalk once again. (FF: 3 recs, 34 yds, td, 10.9 fpts)

DST: Kansas City Chiefs D/ST ($15; at Cle) – The dismissal of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley has the Browns organization in flux. Though a wise move by GM John Dorsey long term, the immediate repercussions could drag down an already struggling offense. KC, which has shown measurable improvement defensively the past three weeks, could stack points. Cleveland QBs have been sacked a league-high 33 times. (FF: 17 PA, 5 SCKs, 3 TO, 13.0 fpts)

Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

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Reader record: 24-34

Brad’s record: 40-49 (Week 8 results; W – Chris Carson, Phillip Lindsay, Christian Kirk, Marquise Goodwin; L – Joe Flacco, Raheem Mostert, Jalen Richard, Ronald Jones, Tre’Quan Smith, C.J. Uzomah, Detroit D/ST)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”