Week 9 may prove to be tough for some fantasy owners, as the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars are all on their bye week. Owners will need to look to the waiver wire for sleeper options to fill out prominent positions.
The sleepers in Week 9 are players who are especially important to your overall success. With guys like Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Frank Gore recuperating after playing tough the first eight weeks of the season, owners will be looking for waiver-wire additions to step up.
Choosing the right players to start this week will be the difference between a win and a loss for your squad. Staying informed as to which secondary options are the best for your team is paramount in a week with so much talent on a bye.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker is definitely a viable replacement for owners of Manning, Colin Kaepernick or Matthews Stafford. He has a favorable matchup this week against the St. Louis Rams and will look to get his team back to .500 on the season.
Coming off a bye week, Locker should be back to 100 percent health. He threw his first interception of the season just two weeks ago against the 49ers, and his presence in the pocket this season has been superb.
Putting him in your lineup for Week 9 wouldn't be a bad idea. You could do much, much worse.
Eddie Lacy is definitely the go-to back for the Green Bay Packers, but backup James Starks stands to see a decent amount of touches this week against the Chicago Bears.
Starks totaled 57 yards and a touchdown on seven carries against the Minnesota Vikings, so it's obvious he has big-play potential—even if it comes on minimal touches.
Lacy has gotten a ton of work lately, and head coach Mike McCarthy could look to lower the rookie's workload a bit as the season progresses. This would mean good news for Starks and his fantasy owners.
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers face off against the Washington Redskins and their 27th-ranked passing defense in Week 9, making slot receiver Eddie Royal a potential sleeper start in place of guys like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or any of the Broncos wide receivers.
Royal already has six receiving touchdowns this year on 22 catches for 285 yards. Even if he's not racking up the receptions or yardage, the fact that he's already found the end zone six times is enough to start him in Week 9.
Rivers is facing a soft pass defense that doesn't defend well over the middle. Royal should be able to find plenty of room in the slot to make grabs and gain yards after the catch. In "and-goal" situations, expect Rivers to look his way as well.
The Indianapolis Colts face the Houston Texans this week in just the second game since Reggie Wayne went down with an injury. With the offense still adjusting to life without their best receiver, expect a guy like Coby Fleener to play an important role in the passing game against Houston.
The Texans boast the best passing defense in the NFL, but Andrew Luck will likely be able to hook up with Fleener over the middle for short gains. Fleener has been inconsistent running routes this season, but he should thrive this week knowing that he'll be receiving an increased number of targets with Wayne out.
Starting Fleener in place of Julius Thomas or Vernon Davis would be a smart move in Week 0.
Kicker is usually a position that you get lucky with from week to week, but with several high-scoring teams on byes this week, you'll need another kicker to replace guys like Matt Prater or David Akers.
Both kickers from the Tennessee-St. Louis game would be useful this week. Rob Bironas and Greg Zuerlein both play on semi-stagnant offenses at times, meaning that drives stall in the red zone pretty often. This sets them up for more than a few field-goal attempts.
I'd take Zuerlein over Bironas if I was forced to pick one this week, but you really can't go wrong with either option.
If this week seems Titans-heavy to you, then you're right. Tennessee's defense is also a viable start this week, as any team playing Kellen Clemens and the Rams from here on out should be considered a good option for points.
Tennessee has 20 sacks, six interceptions, seven fumble recoveries and three touchdowns on the year, and all of those numbers could increase after Sunday's action. Owners of the 49ers or Cardinals defenses this week should look toward the Titans for support.