Fantasy football deep sleepers: Alex Smith may be poised for big week vs. Atlanta Falcons

It’s Week 9 of the fantasy football season. If you are looking for an unexpected roster replacement or an inexpensive starter for your daily fantasy lineup, here are players who could help.

These deep sleepers are players flying under the radar whose matchups suggest they could have a big game in Week 9. Just remember, they are risky fantasy plays given the other options likely available.

QB Alex Smith, Washington Redskins

Smith hasn’t been a very good fantasy football quarterback this season. However, this week he plays against a Falcons defense allowing a league-leading 348 yards and two or more touchdowns per game over their last three games. A 250-yard and multiple touchdown outing should not surprise. Smith is available in nearly six of every 10 fantasy football leagues.

RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

Similarly, Johnson has been a disappointment for fantasy football team owners this season having only 29 targets in the passing game through eight games. Now that running backs coach Freddie Kitchens is the new Browns offensive coordinator, expect Johnson to see more touches, especially this week against a Chiefs defense that on the season has allowed the most receiving yards and third most rushing and passing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Johnson should see eight to 10 touches, which should translate to 60 to 80 all-purpose yards and a score. Johnson is available in a little more than half of the fantasy football leagues.

Fantasy rankings:  How players stack up at each position in Week 9

Fantasy football sizzlers, fizzlers: Carolina offense runs through Cam Newton

WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

After totaling six touchdowns and 264 yards through the first four weeks of the season, Ridley has barely been on the fantasy football radar as he’s failed to score a touchdown and been held to a meager 128 yards since. This week, the Falcons play a Redskins defense which should limit slot-man Mohamed Sanu and expend every effort to stop Julio Jones. Ridley should roam free and post a 60- to 80-yard performance and a score. Get Ridley off your bench and into your lineup.

TE Chris Herndon, New York Jets

A recommended waiver wire add this week and last, Herndon has emerged as a genuine red-zone threat in the Jets' passing offense having scored a touchdown in each of the last three games. The Jets play a Dolphins pass defense that has allowed four touchdowns in the past two games to tight ends. With the Jets' best wide receivers injured and likely to miss this week’s game, the rookie should be good for 40 to 60 yards and a score.

Tennessee Titans defense/special teams

In a week in which six teams are on the bye, most of the best defenses are no longer available on waivers. The Titans defense, however, is available in most leagues. The Titans defense has been a middle of the road fantasy play all season and has a middle of the road matchup against the Dallas Cowboys this week. The Cowboys have allowed more fantasy points to opposing defenses as the weeks have worn on. In their last game, Dak Prescott was sacked four times and the Cowboys allowed a defense/special team’s touchdown. The Titans are also coming off their bye week and have had an additional week to prepare. They’re primed for a top 10 finish in a game that should be a defense/special teams battle.

Jim Saranteas, aka "The Fantasy Greek," is a contributing writer for, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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