Week 9 Fantasy Sleepers: Underrated Wide Receivers to Target Entering Weekend
With so many wide receivers on the mend and six teams on a bye in Week 9, fantasy owners will need to look toward underrated wide receiver sleepers to carry the load for them.
This season has been a tough one for top-tier wide receivers. Those who drafted Julio Jones, Reggie Wayne, Sidney Rice and Mike Williams have been disappointed because of their injuries, and they've likely been scrambling to make up for those huge losses.
Taking a flier on these sleeper wide receivers and getting them active this week will pay huge dividends for your team. With so many teams on a bye, it's hard to find better underrated options than these three wide receivers.
Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins
The Associated Press reports (via The Washington Post) that Brandon Gibson is out for the season with a left knee injury, and this creates a hole at slot receiver for the Miami Dolphins.
Gibson had been enjoying a decent year, catching 30 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns through seven games. With him out, replacement Rishard Matthews stands to see those targets.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has struggled in his last four games—all of which have resulted in losses. He has no touchdowns and five interceptions in that span, and he'll need to right the ship against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.
The best way for him to do that may just be to look short and hit Matthews in the middle of the field. If he can run his routes effectively, then Matthews will be utilized heavily. He won't be the go-to receiver with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline deserving of most of the targets, but Matthews stands to attract six to eight targets per game in Gibson's absence.
Owners in desperate need of a flex option for Week 9 should pick up Matthews.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
Dexter McCluster is pretty much as inconsistent as they come in terms of wide receivers, but he's led the Kansas City Chiefs in receiving yards in each of the past two weeks. He and quarterback Alex Smith have been building a strong rapport, and he'll be heavily utilized in the offense moving forward.
On the season, McCluster has caught 23 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. He averages 11.0 yards per catch, and that's an indication of his big-play potential. A player with his speed is always a candidate to break a play open, though he hasn't really had a chance to do so too many times this season.
To put McCluster's season in perspective, Kansas City's top receiver, Dwayne Bowe, has just 26 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns this season. The two have nearly identical stats, and that makes McCluster worth owning.
Pick him up and start him Week 9. He's been the best receiver in Kansas City each of the past two weeks, and he'll probably fill the same role against the Buffalo Bills.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is playing great football, and Brandon LaFell has started all seven of the Carolina Panthers' games this season. That makes him worth owning, and it also makes him a borderline start if you have wide receivers like Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas on a bye this week.
LaFell, like McCluster, has big-play potential. His longest reception this season went for 79 yards, and Newton will look for him over the top of defenses on occasion. Overall, he has 21 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
Newton is finally playing like a top-tier quarterback, and taking advantage of that by starting one of his favorite targets would be a smart move. Fantasy owners should scoop him up for Week 9 and be prepared to keep him for the future.
Carolina has a favorable matchup this week against the Atlanta Falcons, and that should give you even more incentive to pick him up.
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