Rank's 11 Sleepers: Derek Carr a solid Week 9 spot start

Print

Play NFL Weekly Pick'em!

I have to admit something I never thought I would ever (and I mean ever) do. I wanted to watch the Raiders game. I know. As somebody who grew up in Southern California on the opposite side of the Raiders/Rams rivalry, I never thought there would be a day when I would actively seek out a Raiders game. (At least one that didn't involve Bo Jackson. Because you could have hated the Raiders as a youngster growing up in Corona, Calif., but there was no way you would miss the chance to catch Bo Jackson.)

So maybe it's not completely unheard of to seek out a Raiders game. Though this certainly would have been the first time since the Jon Gruden era.

There is a small part of me that would like to blame the reason for this on the fact the only other game on in the Sunday 1pm window last week (on the West Coast) was the Cowboys and Seahawks. And even though that might have been one of the most dreadful games I've ever seen in my life (for real, I finally turned off the PIP), I really wanted to watch the Raiders.

This is a very interesting team. They have a lot of budding stars, probably none bigger than Amari Cooper. The team is also pretty legit, too. As we became witness to on Sunday.

The biggest takeaway from Sunday's game was Derek Carr, who was nothing short of amazing. We had NFL GameDay Morning on in the locker room as we got dressed for the NFL Fantasy Live show on Sunday and one of the Hall of Famers said Carr had never done much against a Top 10 defense. Which I guess was a solid point. He hadn't really been tested before. Or at least hasn't carved up a good defense.

Well, that noise can officially be put to rest now. Carr was on-point against the Jets defense, which was one of the best headed into the matchup. He smartly avoided Darrelle Revis when he had to, but still went to Cooper on occasion to keep him involved in the game. Overall, it was a pretty impressive performance by Carr. I don't want to say it's going to be one of these career moments where we can look back on his career and say this was the moment he became a superstar. But it should give you some assurance if you need to pick up Carr in a pinch to start this week.

Fantasy Survivor

Carr (and the Raiders) have a pretty nice stretch of games ahead of them, too. The Steelers this week should be a great opportunity for the Raiders. Though, I would caution you a little bit because the Steelers need a victory this week and the Raiders are coming off a big win. But games against the Vikings, Lions, Titans and Chiefs are decent enough starts. I mean, it's not like any of them scream "must start!" type of situations. But it's not like they have to play the Broncos. Well, at least not until Week 14. So great matchups abound for Carr. And it starts this week.

How about some more sleepers for you?

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

I know, no (stuff) Sherlock, the dude who just threw 26 touchdowns (or so it seemed) against the Saints is a good start??? Well, I know some of you might wonder if Eli can do it again. So I will say this; he's not going to throw six touchdown passes. But he does have a good matchup against the Bucs who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Shoot, even Matt Ryan got them last week.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hey, while we marvel about how many touchdowns Eli threw against the Saints. Let's take a moment to recognize the Giants D played no D against the Saints. Winston is (probably) not going to throw seven touchdowns, but he's got a pretty nice matchup. Winston should be considered a Danger Zone play here.

Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears

The Chargers have allowed 24.25 fantasy points per game to running backs this year. And let's have some real talk about the Bears. They might be in a rebuilding mode. So now they have a chance to see what Langford can do as the focal point of the running game. This is going to be his chance. I am, however, disappointed in his pass-catching ability so far. Jay Cutler made an amazing play on third-down to avoid pressure and hit Langford in the hands. He didn't catch it. The Bears punted. And Blair Walsh (of all freaking people) ended up with the winning field goal.

Steve Johnson, WR, San Diego Chargers

Malcom Floyd is another nice option, too. Floyd has had at least 90 receiving yards in two of his last three games. But I'm leaning on Johnson this week. He does have 24 receptions this year, second on the team. The Chargers throw a lot. The Bears give up a lot of fantasy points to receivers. Though the Bears had done well against Stefon Diggs until he broke away for a big one.

Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis FC

Here's the deal. Austin was in the Danger Zone last week, but he has graduated to regular sleepers. I just want to throw some stats at you, as handed to me by my ace researcher Careen. Austin has scored seven TDs, which is the second-highest total in the league. He's averaged 16.2 fantasy points in his last two road games. The 49ers have allowed a ton of fantasy points to pretty much everybody.

Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots

He's started to get into the mix with the Patriots. He's got a great matchup this week. And look. You want to play a Patriots receiver. He's going to be a great play in a lot of daily fantasy leagues.

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

It's become a joke how well tight ends do against the Raiders. I almost feel like the Jets trolled fantasy enthusiasts with a touchdown toss to Kellen Davis last week. So I'm going with Miller. Ben Roethlisberger leaned on him a ton last week as he led Pittsburgh in receiving yards. I expect it to continue for one more week.

Benjamin Watson, TE, New Orleans Saints

Well, you have to start believing in him now. He's averaged more than 100 yards in the last three weeks on 23 receptions. He's scored at least 18 fantasy points in two of his last three games. Of course that would be more in leagues where you get 100-yard bonuses as the lord intended.

Bengals D/ST

This team gets busy. Three picks against Roethlisberger on Sunday. Now, they have the Browns who, well, are the Browns. Plus, it's never a bad idea to take the home team on Thursday night football. Oh, and I guess I should mention Johnny Football could end up as the starter on Thursday night.

DANGER ZONE

Justin Hardy, WR, Atlanta Falcons

The rookie out of East Carolina caught two passes on four targets in his first work on Sunday against the Buccaneers. He's got a great matchup this week. He's a strong play if Leonard Hankerson is again sidelined. He's got a lot of promise.

Fantasy Perfect Challenge
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington United

The Patriots are very tough on running backs. At least on the ground. If Washington falls behind in this game, they will pass a lot (duh). Thompson is better suited for the passing game and would be the favored guy here. I could see a lot of check-downs coming from the T-shirt salesman. You like that?!

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee Titans

I hope he steps up at some point. The Titans have had trouble getting separation from defenders. DGB has the best chance to do so. The matchup is pretty great. You might remember the Saints allowed a lot of fantasy points last week. Is any of that ringing a bell to you? I know I've been a huge proponent of his in the past. I really believe this could be the game that gets him going. Plus, Kendall Wright injured his knee last week and his status is uncertain for Week 9. His potential absence could lead to more opportunities for DGB.

Way, way, way past the Danger Zone

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

You think he looked at Drew Brees and isn't inspired???

Don't forget to tune in to NFL Fantasy LIVE for more top-notch analysis and up-to-the-minute news, weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Or you can always stream it on demand whenever you'd like at wwww.nfl.com/fantasylive.

-- You can hit Rank up for more advice or let him know how lousy his picks are on Twitter @adamrank. Don't be thrown off by his # wars, though.

Print