Fantasy Football Week 9 Sleepers: Jeremy McNichols best bet to fill Derrick Henry void, plus DFS lineups

I’m curious to see how the Titans plan to replace Derrick Henry (foot), who is out for 6-10 weeks. It doesn’t appear like offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to change things in Tennessee, even with Henry not on the field.

On Thursday, Downing said, “I’d be doing the offense a disservice if I jerked the wheel on our identity at this point of the season with Derrick Henry out.”

It sounds like Downing still wants to lean on the ground game, which bodes well for either Adrian Peterson or Jeremy McNichols. For now, give me McNichols heading into Week 9 at the Rams — and maybe the rest of the year.

McNichols will be the one playing on passing downs. And despite what Downing said, I expect the Titans to be forced to throw the ball more with Henry sidelined. That will likely happen Sunday night against the Rams if the Titans are chasing points as expected. 

McNichols already has at least three catches in four games this season. He should get the chance to carry the ball more as well, and he’s a nice sleeper for Week 9. 

We’ll see what happens with Peterson, who is 36 and last played for the Lions in 2020. He could be the best running back for the Titans, and maybe he keeps Tennessee’s run game afloat.

But I’m skeptical to trust Peterson, which is why I’d lean toward McNichols, who has been Henry’s backup all season. I’m hoping McNichols steps up and takes over for Henry in Week 9 and beyond.

McNichols is one of my favorite sleepers in Week 9.

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Why Heat’s Jimmy Butler offers great value as long-shot MVP bet this season

Jimmy Butler is not, by nature, an especially aggressive player. When he joined the Miami Heat for the 2019-20 season, he didn’t even lead the team in shot attempts. That honor belonged to undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn. The 13.1 attempts he did take per game matched the total that his predecessor as the face of the Heat franchise — Dwyane Wade — took as a rookie in the 2003-04 season. The Heat have been tremendously successful with Butler by running Erik Spoelstra’s equal-opportunity offense. Entering this season, there was no reason to believe that was going to change. 

The Heat did, after all, give Kyle Lowry a hefty three-year, $85 million deal. They re-signed Duncan Robinson for five years as well. Tyler Herro is well on his way to a bounce-back year after disappointing as a sophomore last season, and much to the delight of the organization after steadily pushing him to be more assertive, Bam Adebayo is averaging a career-high 20.6 points per game. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, but through six games, Butler is eating more than ever. 

In those six games, Butler is averaging career highs in both points (25.3) and field goal attempts (17). He’s shooting a career-best 52.9 percent from the field and 89.1 percent from the line. As the entire basketball world around him struggles to draw fouls with the league’s updated rules on offensive players initiating contact, Butler’s 7.7 free throw attempts per game are fourth in all of basketball and first among non-big men. He’s getting to the basket more at the age of 32 than he ever has. Not only are his 7.3 shots per game in the restricted area a new career high, but it currently places him in a tie for sixth place in all of basketball

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