Week 9 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

Half the season is behind us, and Tyler Loechner has some ideas for coming breakouts.

| 8 months ago
(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Week 9 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

We now have a half season’s worth of data under our belts, and the unique fantasy points per opportunity data here at PFF continues to prove useful in identifying breakout candidates. Travis Kelce, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Devontae Booker and Amari Cooper were among those highlighted in last week’s article.

An opportunity is defined as a rush attempt or a pass route run, so PPO is calculated by dividing total points scored by carries plus routes run. This stat can help you uncover which players are too reliant on volume, and which players could become fantasy studs if they get more opportunities.

We’re going to attempt to identify some players who will break out in Week 9. Below are some of the players who have been making the most of their opportunities or who have great matchups.

Wide receivers

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

Bryant has had an up-and-down season, and he has been largely off the fantasy radar due to the fact he has only played in four games. He returned to form last week while catching four passes for 113 yards and a score. However, his night could have been even bigger, considering he was targeted 11 times. Dallas’ run-first offense makes Bryant a bit risky, but he clearly possesses big-play ability and is still a monster in the red zone. Bryant and the Cowboys play against the Cleveland Browns this week, who have given up the second-most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts this year.

Brandon Marshall, New York Jets

Marshall put up big numbers back-to-back in Weeks 4 and 5, but he has been quiet ever since, despite a string of favorable matchups. He gets another plus matchup against the Miami Dolphins this week, who have given up the 11th-most PPO to wideouts this year. Marshall has seen six-plus targets in every game this season, and he’s the kind of beast that can only stay dormant for so long. Marshall could record his third 100-plus yard game this year and add a touchdown for good measure.

Kenny Britt, Los Angeles Rams

Britt remains a hit-or-miss fantasy player, but this is a good week to bet on a “hit.” Britt and the Rams play the Carolina Panthers, who have been torched by wideouts all season long — particularly down the field. Britt has caught 57.1 percent of his deep targets this year, the ninth-highest rate among wideouts. The Panthers have given up the fourth-most PPO to the position this year.

Running backs

Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

Hyde exited Week 6 early, then missed Week 7, and then the 49ers were on a bye in Week 8, so it has been a while since we’ve been able to consider him for fantasy purposes. From Weeks 1 to 6, however, Hyde was one of the best running backs in fantasy, compiling six touchdowns in as many games while carrying the rock just under 20 times per game.

Hyde has scored 0.37 fantasy PPO this year, which ranks 11th among running backs who meet the 50 percent snap count threshold. Hyde has a great chance to pick up where he left off in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the second-most PPO to running backs this season, including the most on the ground.

Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens

Like Hyde, West has been off our radars for a bit. He gained just 10 yards on eight carries in Week 7, and then was on bye in Week 8. However, from Weeks 4 to 6, West had 55 attempts (seventh) for 295 yards (fourth) and three touchdowns (tied for second). He was fantasy’s No. 4 running back over those three games, tied with DeMarco Murray.

West gets another crack at it in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have struggled against running backs lately and have given up the fourth-most PPO to the position this season. On the year, West ranks 13th among running backs with 0.42 PPO.

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

With Tevin Coleman out in Week 8, Freeman found the end zone twice against the Green Bay Packers — once through the air and once on the ground. However, he gained just 35 rushing yards against the Packers’ stingy run defense, so it was a disappointing outing in that regard. Coleman is out again in Week 9, and Freeman’s matchup is a lot better. He draws the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have given up the ninth-most PPO to running backs this year. Freeman is primed for a big game.

Tight ends

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

People are jumping off the Vikings bandwagon. Heck, their own offensive coordinator just resigned. But give me Rudolph this week against the Detroit Lions, a team that has been eviscerated by tight ends all year. The Lions have given up the second-most PPO to the position in 2016. Rudolph ranks fifth in targets among tight ends this year.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

I made the case for Gates in DFS earlier this week, and I still really like him as a breakout candidate. Gates has admittedly not been incredibly efficient — he ranks 23rd in fantasy PPO among tight ends — but he has generated 24 targets over the past three weeks, tops among all tight ends. He faces the Tennessee Titans this week, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to tight ends. And, as noted in the DFS preview article, the Titans have ceded 11-129-1 and 12-92-1 lines to tight ends over the past two weeks.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Big Brate games have been difficult to predict this season, but Week 9’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons is a glaringly obvious matchup upgrade. The Falcons have given up the sixth-most PPO to tight ends. While Brate has had a couple of strong games this season, he has yet to have a true breakout performance. It could come this week.

Below is a chart showing the top 20 players at each position in terms of fantasy PPO scored so far this season (minimum 25 percent snaps).

2016 Season PPO Leaders (min. 25% snaps)
WR   RB   TE
Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO
Tyreek Hill WR 0.77 Damien Williams RB 0.72 Rob Gronkowski TE 0.49
Russell Shepard WR 0.68 Tevin Coleman RB 0.59 Austin Hooper TE 0.46
Arrelious Benn WR 0.59 Jay Ajayi RB 0.57 Martellus Bennett TE 0.41
Julio Jones WR 0.41 Mike Gillislee RB 0.56 C.J. Fiedorowicz TE 0.33
Sammie Coates WR 0.37 John Kuhn RB 0.55 Hunter Henry TE 0.32
Danny Amendola WR 0.37 Ryan Mathews RB 0.54 Greg Olsen TE 0.3
A.J. Green WR 0.35 LeGarrette Blount RB 0.51 Delanie Walker TE 0.3
Mike Evans WR 0.35 LeSean McCoy RB 0.5 Vernon Davis TE 0.3
Cole Beasley WR 0.35 Jonathan C. Stewart RB 0.48 Jack Doyle TE 0.29
Antonio Brown WR 0.33 Jeremy Hill RB 0.47 Vance McDonald TE 0.29
Kelvin Benjamin WR 0.32 Isaiah Crowell RB 0.45 Anthony Fasano TE 0.29
Michael Crabtree WR 0.31 DeMarco Murray RB 0.43 Jordan Reed TE 0.27
Brian Quick WR 0.31 Ezekiel Elliott RB 0.42 Ed Dickson TE 0.27
J.J. Nelson WR 0.31 Spencer Ware RB 0.42 Jimmy Graham TE 0.25
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 0.31 Terrance West RB 0.42 Levine Toilolo TE 0.25
Odell Beckham Jr. WR 0.3 Jalen Richard RB 0.41 Brandon Myers TE 0.25
Rishard Matthews WR 0.3 Melvin Gordon RB 0.39 Travis Kelce TE 0.24
Andre Holmes WR 0.3 Devonta Freeman RB 0.39 Kyle Rudolph TE 0.23
Marvin Jones WR 0.29 Latavius Murray RB 0.39 Trey Burton TE 0.23
Brandin Cooks WR 0.29 David A. Johnson RB 0.38 Erik Swoope TE 0.23
Demaryius Thomas WR 0.29 Matt Forte RB 0.38
Davante Adams WR 0.29 Matthew Jones RB 0.38

Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

  • geo2209

    Isn’t Haden going to be on Dez?