Week 9 in the NFL will see a season-high six teams on a bye. Despite the ominous sound of that reality, Andrew Luck is currently the only top-12 fantasy quarterback who will be out of action this week. However, there are several quarterbacks who have been borderline QB1s who will be off in Week 9. Among them are Carson Wentz, Andy Dalton, and Blake Bortles. There are still plenty of quarterback sleepers to be found this week. Among them is Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In my opinion, we need to come up with a better classification for Fitzpatrick. The term “sleeper” does not do the man justice. He has more lives than a cat. Ryan Fitzpatrick is like the bad guy in a horror movie. He just won’t go away. However you classify him, he is certainly worth a look in fantasy leagues this week. Here are my thoughts on him as well as my other Week 9 quarterback sleepers.
Week 9 Quarterback Sleepers
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Ryan Fitzpatrick returned on Sunday following Jameis Winston’s fourth interception against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Fitzpatrick had merely been human, Winston would have likely remained the starter going forward and the world would go on as normal. Instead, the bearded wizard accounted for 212 total yards and two touchdowns in barely more than a quarter, nearly leading the Bucs all the way back from an 18-point deficit. On Monday, Dirk Koetter named Fitzpatrick his Week 9 starter against the Carolina Panthers. The fact that this most recent turn of events occurred on the week of Halloween is only fitting for the crafty veteran. FitzMagic is back, at least for the time being.
How can Fitzpatrick not be included on this list? Sure, Carolina has a solid defense, but Fitzpatrick has proven this season that when he is on, he cannot be stopped. He has plenty of weapons to throw to, and the Panthers have allowed two passing touchdowns in six consecutive games. If you kept him on your roster or can acquire him through waivers, I would plug in Fitzpatrick as a low-end QB1 in this matchup. His upside is simply too great to ignore.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers
Derek Carr has proven to have a wide range of outcomes. Perhaps not one as wide as Fitzpatrick’s, but a pretty wide range nonetheless. That is evidenced by his last two games. He finished as the overall QB3 in last week’s game against the Colts. In his previous game, he was the QB 30. While another QB3 finish seems overly optimistic, I do think Carr is in line for a good game on Thursday night when the Oakland Raiders face the San Francisco 49ers.
As I may have mentioned once or twice last week, Doug Martin is no longer a starting-caliber running back in the NFL. He was on his way to a reasonably good game last week when he promptly coughed the ball up, and along with it, any chance the Raiders had at defeating the Colts. The lesson here is that the Raiders have no real running threat. This means that Derek Carr should be given a green light to throw the ball. San Francisco has not defended the pass well at all this season, allowing an 18:2 touchdown: interception ratio. Carr was working underneath with great success last week, and I expect him to employ a similar strategy on Thursday night. This game has some sneaky shootout appeal because both teams have porous defenses. I like Carr to put up a solid fantasy line in this game, making him one of my favorite Week 9 quarterback sleepers.
Alex Smith, Washington Redskins v. Atlanta Falcons
Alex Smith is squarely on the line between fantasy and reality. Smith enters Week 9 as just the overall QB25 on the season. He posted a weekly finish as the QB11 in Week 1 and has not finished a week higher than QB16 since. He has yet to throw for three touchdowns or 300 yards in a game, and he has not even thrown for 200 yards in a game since Week 5. Smith has not scored 20 fantasy points in any game all year. Yet Washington sits at 5-2 and in first place in the NFC East, so it is hard to argue with their methods. The veteran is the quintessential game manager. He does have a Week 9 matchup that is one to exploit against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta has given up at least 335 passing yards to five of seven opponents so far this season. That is quite alarming given the names on this list. Drew Brees is on the list, which is forgivable. But the rest reads like this – Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Eli Manning. These are not exactly prolific passers. Smith may not add his name to that list due to Washington’s conservative nature, but he should be able to produce solid fantasy results in this matchup. I believe Smith has an outside chance to post his first top-ten weekly finish of the 2018 season.
C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers v. Oakland Raiders
There are so many reasons to love fantasy football. But one of my favorite reasons is that it makes terrible games like Oakland against San Francisco in primetime relevant. Why else would anyone tout either quarterback in this game, much less both? Let’s talk about C.J. Beathard. Beathard has finished outside of the top-20 in each of his last two games. But the 49ers’ quarterback should produce better results in a Thursday night matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
Oakland’s defense is not its strong suit and playing a game on short rest does not figure to change that. The Raiders have the worst adjusted sack rate in the entire NFL. This means that Beathard should have plenty of time to throw the football. As a result of their failure to cause pressure, Oakland has allowed a league-high 8.8 yards per passing attempt. (Yes, even worse than Tampa Bay’s.) Beathard has not proven himself worthy of being a steady starter but is an under the radar play this week. In a week where six teams are on a bye and a couple of other quarterbacks seem to have short leashes, you could certainly do worse than plugging C.J. Beathard into your lineup this week.
Mick Ciallela has been writing for FantraxHQ since July 2017. He has also written for Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong sports fan and has been an avid fantasy sports player for many years. Mick was the Overall Champion of both the 2016 Football Challenge – Roto and 2017 Play 3 Football contests hosted by CDM Sports. Mick was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York and currently resides in New London, Connecticut.
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