Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 9

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve just that.

The following offers suggestions for players to pick up now (who are currently under 50% rostered) so that that you won’t need to use a high waiver claim or spend a significant amount of free agent acquisition budget (FAB) on them next week.

Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns

ESPN Roster Percentage: 43.5%

This season has been yet another year of blah tight end fantasy production. Travis Kelce is the only tight end who has scored more than 80 half-PPR fantasy points this season -- for context, 28 wide receivers have surpassed 80 fantasy points thus far. Kelce is joined by only Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson, Robert Tonyan and George Kittle (who just suffered a likely season-ending foot fracture) as the only tight ends averaging double-digit fantasy points per game this year.

The remaining tight end market is barren of exciting fantasy options, but Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper is a worthwhile add for those with underwhelming tight end options or with Kelce, who has a Week 10 bye.

Hooper has missed each of the past two games with an appendix injury but has a strong chance to emerge as one of the league’s more productive tight ends following Cleveland’s Week 9 bye. Hooper had a slow start to the season but earned roughly double the amount of both targets and receptions he saw in Weeks 1 through 3 over the following three games. Hooper is likely to continue seeing an increase in targets with the loss of Odell Beckham (ACL tear).

The Browns will play the Houston Texans in Week 10, and Houston has allowed the 10th-most receptions and fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season. Hooper may not have a true breakout second half of the season, but considering he signed one of the richest tight end deals in NFL history last summer and Cleveland lost its leading pass-catcher, he’s a worthwhile pickup at a position void of quality fantasy production.

Matt Breida, RB, Miami Dolphins

ESPN Roster Percentage: 39.5%

Miami Dolphins lead running back Myles Gaskin recently suffered a sprained MCL injury and is expected to miss Miami’s next three games. That opens the door for Matt Breida to start, as he currently has over twice as many snaps and touches as fellow backup Jordan Howard while the recently-acquired DeAndre Washington is unlikely to see close to the majority of backfield touches so soon.

Gaskin quietly had one of the most valuable fantasy roles among running backs -- in the past month, he ranked third in high value touches and expected fantasy points per game, according to Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks. In the span of his five starts (Weeks 3 through 8), Gaskin ranked top-10 in red zone carries, targets and total touches as fantasy’s RB15 in that period.

It’s worth adding Breida now in the event that he has a similar role, in which case he’d be a reliable RB2 until Gaskin returns in a few weeks. Add Breida now, because in the event that he does get the majority of work this week against the Arizona Cardinals, he’d be a strong start in Week 10 against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that ranks 32nd in targets and 18th in fantasy points per game allowed to running backs this season -- although Breida himself is now banged up, too, so keep an eye on Miami's injury report.

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

ESPN Roster Percentage: 35.7%

After a rough four-turnover performance against the Dolphins last week, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff now sits 13th in fantasy quarterback standings. The Rams have a bye this week, but quarterback-needy fantasy managers should consider adding Goff now before his mouth-watering matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. Seattle is allowing the most pass attempts, completions, yards and fantasy points on a per-game basis to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Among 38 qualifying quarterbacks this season, Goff ranks 9th in passer rating in a clean pocket but 33rd when under pressure (per Pro Football Focus). The Seahawks currently sit 22nd in pressure rate and 30th in PFF's team pass rush grade, so Goff should be able to find success against one of the worst passing defenses in the league. Goff has scored 18-plus fantasy points in each of his past three games against Seattle while averaging 335.3 passing yards per game in that span.

Seattle games have had among the highest projected totals in nearly every week this season, and that isn’t likely to change against Los Angeles in Week 10. Managers with Patrick Mahomes or Matt Ryan (or dare I say, Sam Darnold or Garrett Gilbert) and need a bye week fill in for Week 10 shouldn’t look further than Goff.

Green Bay Packers D/ST

ESPN Roster Percentage: 16.2%

The Green Bay D/ST currently ranks 19th in fantasy points and hasn’t scored over five fantasy points since Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. However, matchups matter more for defenses than maybe any other fantasy position, and Green Bay is in for a treat in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season, and that was with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Minshew will be out in Week 9 with a thumb injury, and he could be out longer, which means sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton will be the Jaguars' starter for the foreseeable future. Luton has never taken an in-game NFL snap and will be thrust into an offense that has scored the sixth-fewest points in the league.

The Packers rank ninth in time of possession while leading this season, while the Jaguars rank dead last (per Football Outsiders). Assuming that Green Bay’s offense will be able to score on a Jacksonville defense that has allowed 30-plus points in six straight games, the Jaguars are likely to continue to live in negative game scripts, which means more opportunities for valuable fantasy statistics like sacks and interceptions for the Packers' defense.

Make sure to add Green Bay D/ST now before the Packers' Thursday Night Football matchup against the San Francisco 49ers as you won't be able to pick them up once that game kicks off.