Week 15 of college football has given up many little slates, so I wrote this week’s rankings analysis like last week’s edition. I have split up the analysis into Thursday/Friday, Saturday Early, and Saturday Late. It sounds like Saturday’s GPP action is going to combine the early and the late slates, so you’ll have plenty of players to choose from. It’s been a long season, but we’ve finally come to an end. This is the last week of fantasy college football action before bowl game slates start in mid-December.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY QUARTERBACKS
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon – When it comes down to it, fading the top quarterback option on a short slate isn’t that smart of an option. Mariota falls into that category this week and he’s played great in 2014 and in recent weeks especially. He has ten passing TDs and four rushing TDs in his last three games. He has put up 40+ fantasy points in those games and although he wasn’t great against Arizona earlier this season (26 fantasy points), he should play better in the Pac 12 Championship. He completed 63% of passes, threw zero INTs, and had 276 passing yards, but it was his two fumbles and lack of run game that killed his value.
2. Justin Holman, UCF – Holman has been really tough to nail down this season, but with a short slate and a great matchup against 107th ranked pass defense East Carolina, he’s a very strong consideration Thursday. UConn, Cincinnati, and Tulane have all thrown for 300+ yards against them in the last month and this game could turn high scoring very fast. I like UCF’s defense enough to leave Carden unranked, but there is always potential for a high scoring game when the Pirates are playing. Holman has thrown for 2+ TDs in four of the last five games.
3. Anu Solomon, Arizona – Solomon is coming off an injury and wasn’t 100% last weekend, but was still good enough to throw two TDs and complete 71% of passes. He is likely losing one of his best receivers in Samajie Grant, but there are other weapons on the team. On a normal week, Solomon isn’t ranked, but that’s not the case. He has big potential with his dual threat ability (and another week to get healthy). Earlier this season, he threw for 287 yards and one TD against Oregon. Oregon has given up the 114th most passing yards per game this season.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY RUNNINGBACKS
1. Nick Wilson, Arizona – Wilson has been a stud in recent weeks and there’s no reason for it to stop now. In the last two games he has rushed for 396 yards and six TDs. He had 104 yards and two TDs the game before that. When these two teams faced off in week six, Arizona rushed for 92 yards on 13 carries. He found pay dirt three times total that game. Terris Jones-Grigsby has been hurt and MIA in recent weeks and there’s no reason to think that this dynamic offense with a possibly banged up quarterback doesn’t rely on Wilson a bunch in this big game.
2. Travis Greene, BGSU – Greene burned a few of us a few weeks ago when he was healthy to play, but didn’t play any snaps. We saw him get 14 carries for 159 yards and one TD last week, so we don’t have to worry about that at this point. It was his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season and now he faces a Northern Illinois rushing defense that has averaged 4.14 ypc this season with 20 TDs. Greene has been a solid PPR contributor in 2014 catching 2+ passes in seven of ten games this season.
3. Central Florida RBs – I’m not sure who is starting at running back against ECU, but he should be considered if we find out in time. Stanback and Wilson have come up with shoulder issues lately, so Micah Reed has seen some carries. With the injuries piling up, Rannell Hall has even seen some carries. Reed is the third option and Hall will be a receiver that spells Reed for carries if the top two guys are out. This is a good matchup for UCF backs even if the 2014 stats don’t show it. ECU is a top ten run defense overall, but they have given up 4.20ypc and two TDs in two of their last three games. UCF isn’t going to put all of the pressure on Holman and with them likely trying to keep Carden and company off of the field there could be plenty of carries to hit value.
4. Cameron Stingily, Northern Illinois – Stingily gets an odd amount of carries in a very odd way, but he typically hits value. Against Ohio, Toledo, and Ball State, I saw first hand how odd his touches are. In those games, he rarely touched the ball in the first half, but crushed it in the second half. In those games, he totaled 272 yards and six TDs. With a price like he has, I would say that it’s a worth a risk even with a limited load last week against Western Michigan. They are about a one TD favorite against BGSU, which should mean plenty of rushing attempts in general and a bruiser running back that can wear down a defense. BGSU ranks 98th against the run with 30 TDs allowed and almost 5ypc.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Justin Hardy, East Carolina – UCF has a very strong defense ranking in the top 15 in yards/attempt, completion percentage, TDs allowed, and INTs, but guess what? I don’t care and neither does Justin Hardy. Hardy is the top receiver for ECU and in his second to last game as a Pirate, he’ll be motivated to play great. Hardy has been red hot putting up 100+ yards in five of the last seven games and has six TDs during that time.
2. Breshad Perriman, UCF – Perriman was more of a PPR type receiver in the last game with the running back injuries and Hall getting carries. This should continue even if both of the running backs play. I suspect that Perriman will benefit just as much from JJ Worton being out for the season. If both things happen then Perriman receives a major boost. He has a TD in each of his last six games and now faces an ECU defense that is among the worst in the NCAA. Perriman is a big play threat and ECU ranks 85th in passing plays of over 30 yards.
3. Dwayne Stanford, Oregon – Stanford seems to be the big receiver for Oregon these days, but that doesn’t seem to mean a ton in terms of fantasy value. I like him against Arizona, but am only ranking him due to slate size. I think Mariota’s game against Arizona earlier in the season is encouraging and Stanford played well in that game (4/74/0). Mariota has ten TD passes in the last three games with Stanford having two of them. I see Arizona forcing Mariota to pass and that should mean more chances for Stanford to score than Mariota’s legs.
4. Rannell Hall, UCF – Hall receives a boost in multiple ways this week with JJ Worton out and a possible situation where the two top running backs could sit or be limited. If they were to be out then Hall would receiver 8-10 carries like he did last week against South Florida. He has been pretty decent in terms of receiving catching five passes or more in four of the last five games, but hasn’t found the end zone during that time. He doesn’t actually have a TD catch on the season, so he’s due! I have already talked about the matchup, so let’s talking rushing stats. Hall would be used in the backfield and on jet sweep type plays if the running back situation was to get thin.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY TIGHT ENDS
Not sure there is anyone to write about here. Evan Baylis has done stuff in recent weeks like a TD against Colorado in week 13 and a catch last week. Pharaoh Brown is out for the season, so someone has to step up.
SATURDAY EARLY QUARTERBACKS
1. Rakeem Cato, Marshall –Cato is an obvious pick here, but he’s not even that expensive when it comes down to it. The guy has major potential even with Devon Johnson or other running backs having big games. Cato is coming off an amazing 400+ yard and seven TD game. Now, he faces Louisiana Tech and their surprisingly great turnover defense. They have 24 INTs on the season, but don’t rank that well in terms of yardage per game (76th). In recent weeks, they have been beaten up by comparable offenses like Old Dominion and even Rice. Both teams threw for over 300 yards and totaled six TDs. The matchup looks good to me and Cato is starting to throw it around a bunch lately.
2. Trevone Boykin, TCU – Boykin started off slow against a great Texas defense, but caught fire in the second half. He finished the game with 233 passing yards and three total TDs. Now, he gets to face an Iowa State team that is just terrible. They rank 105th against the pass and have been terrible against mobile quarterbacks this season. Skyler Howard ran seven times for 69 yards. Trevor Knight finished with a line of 16/146/3. Tyrone Swoopes went for 14/95/1 and over 300 passing yards. The totals these quarterbacks put up against Iowa State’s defense make you want to find room for him.
3. Tim Boyle, Connecticut – Boyle is going to be starting his second game in 2014 and is a straight GPP play for me. He’s going to be cheap to roster and with good reason. Against a solid Memphis defense, he threw for 160 yards and one TD. I can’t possibly go over SMU’s pass defense again this season. They’re bad. Boyle could have a breakout game because of the matchup or he could put up a stinker. I’m leaning more towards an above average game for him.
4. Matt Davis, SMU – Davis has put up 15+ fantasy points in three of his four starts in 2014 and I think there’s no reason for him to put up less than that against UConn Saturday. His passing numbers have been blah, but his rushing usage has been great. He only has three passing TDs on the season, but has added three on the ground to go with 344 rushing yards. Against UConn, he sees a nice matchup against a pass defense that has allowed 2+ TDs when the other team has attempted more than three passes. In their last two games, they have given up seven TD passes.
5. Cody Thomas, Oklahoma – Trevor Knight has been announced as out this weekend against the Cowboys, so Thomas should get the start. He is coming off a low usage game against Kansas in which he attempted and completed just three passes. He also only ran it three times (for 21 yards). This is a pure GPP play as he has shown legs (11/125/1 on the season) and has a great matchup against a bad passing defense. They are the sixth worst pass defense when it comes to yardage per game and 112th overall for yards/attempt. In a slate of games that isn’t deep, Thomas should be low owned and everyone will be on Perine instead of Thomas. Play at your own risk, but I see enough potential to consider him when using multiple lineups.
SATURDAY EARLY RUNNINGBACKS
1. Aaron Green, TCU – One thing I didn’t mention when talking about Boykin was that TCU is going to try and put up Texas Tech like numbers and that’ll mean increased usage for everyone. In a game that should be a blowout, I could see the starters logging more time because of this. Green is probably the biggest beneficiary of this as long as BJ Catalon remains out. With the score being out of hand, TCU will run it with Green more and we’ve seen how potent he can be. In his three starts, he has four TDs, two games of 125+ yards, and six catches. Iowa State is allowing 5.71ypc and over three TDs per game on the ground this season.
2. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech – Dixon is a TD machine and he’s really showing it in recent weeks. In two of his last three games, he has three TDs. Rarely does he run for 100+ yards (just five times this season), but he consistently finds the end zone. He has 23 TDs so far and against Marshall could be in for another three TD game. Marshall has given up seven rushing TDs in the last four games and two straight games of 200+ rushing yards including a huge game to Leon Allen last week.
3. Kenneth Farrow, Houston – Houston has decided to run the ball since Greg Ward Jr. became quarterback and Farrow has excelled because of it. He has rushed 18+ times in three of the last four games and in those games he has 100+ rushing yards and eight total TDs. Cincinnati has given up 4.61ypc and four multi-TD games on the ground. Houston’s offensive game plan will remain the same in this one especially considering they’ll want to keep the Bearcats’ offense off the field.
4. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma – At first glance, it doesn’t look like Perine has that good of a matchup, but I think he really does. Oklahoma State is allowing right under 4ypc on the season, but have struggled recently. In four of the last five weeks, teams have ran for over 4ypc and two have rushed for 5.4ypc or more. They have allowed 19 rushing TDs on the season with 15 of them coming in the last six games. Perine is pretty good at scoring TDs. He has eight in his last two games and 640 rushing yards. This isn’t the first time scored TDs in bunches. Earlier this season, he scored seven TDs in back-to-back games.
5. Ron Johnson, Connecticut – Johnson is the beneficiary of being the running back with the heavy load against SMU, so he has to be written about. It’s a shame because this is a mere plug and play type situation where the matchup is so bad that it’s worth the risk. Johnson ran 22 times for just 67 yards last game against a good Memphis defense. It seems like UConn is trying to set up the run then throw it offensively, so the carries should be there for Johnson.
SATURDAY EARLY WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Josh Doctson, TCU – If you saw TCU play on Thanksgiving then you saw an offense that threw mainly to Doctson. Boykin uses him as his safety blanket and multiple times he let Doctson make a play on a jump ball and it ended well for them. He had a nice line of 7/115/1 after a few shaky games. Earlier in the season, he had back-to-back two TD games and should be great against a bad Iowa State defense. This TCU team is going to want to put up a ton of points to try and stay ahead of Baylor this weekend.
2. Geremy Davis, Connecticut – Davis gets the great matchup against SMU and he’s the number one receiver for UConn. It was nice to see him have a nice game against a tough Memphis defense because it showed that he’s fully healthy. Davis missed a few weeks because of an injury and that would be the one thing holding me back from playing a guy against SMU. He’s been very good at times with games of 8/63/0, 8/80/0, 7/96/0, and 6/113/1 in 2014. It’s those kinds of games and that price that allow me to believe he’s a great play come Saturday.
3. Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech – Marshall’s pass defense has typically been pretty good this season, but they have struggled as of late. We just saw what Western Kentucky did to them, so anything is possible. Taylor has emerged as the receiving threat in 2014 and his quarterback, Sokol, has been better as of late. In the last four games, Taylor has 5+ catches, 55+ yards, and one TD or more in every game. In fact, he has two games of 100+ yards and seven TDs during that stretch. I expect Taylor to be the pivot play to Tommy Shuler, a smart move in small slate action.
4. Kolby Listenbee, TCU – Listenbee is a value play and with good reason. His last three games have ended up with fantasy point totals of 8, 6, and 9. Against Iowa State though, I think he’s worth it as an option. He has 3+ catches in three straight games and has seen some of the most targets when it comes to TCU’s receivers. It doesn’t seem like Deante’ Gray is the second guy anymore. This game should be high scoring for TCU and there’s no reason not to try and get as much of a piece of the action as possible.
5. Amari Cooper, Alabama – Obviously Cooper is going to outscore Listenbee, but I rank him below him because of how high his salary is. He’s coming off a huge game against Auburn going for 13/224/3 and I expect a really good game out of him against Missouri. Missouri has one of the best ranked pass defenses, but nobody has stopped Cooper in 2014. They have given up 2+ TDs in four of the last five games though, so they can be beat for TDs.
SATURDAY EARLY TIGHT ENDS
Eric Frohnapfel played very well last game against Western Kentucky, but really who didn’t? He had two TDs giving him three TDs in his last three games. He’s pricey, but could be worth it. Blake Bell should be back for the Oklahoma State game and with Trevor Knight out, he’s always an interesting play. He could see goal line carries and has TD catches before he got hurt.
SATURDAY LATE QUARTERBACKS
1. Jake Waters, Kansas State – Waters is red hot and the Wildcats are going to need his best game against Baylor if they want to win. He had five total TDs last game against Kansas and is really hitting his stride throwing the football. He has thrown for 294, 400, and 291 yards in his last three games. Those three yardage totals are his three highest in 2014. Baylor is coming off a game where they gave up 609 passing yards to Texas Tech and six TDs. They’ve also struggled in the five weeks before that giving up 280+ yards in four of those games.
2. Cardale Jones, Ohio State – Look. I’m a believer in Cardale Jones. When JT Barrett was given the starting nod how did he respond? Well, Jones beat out Barrett until just before the beginning of the season as the backup quarterback. He has thrown limited passes lately completing two of three passing against Michigan and five of nine against Indiana. He was great in that game against Indiana throwing two TD passes. He isn’t a huge runner, but did rush for 47 yards against the Hoosiers. Wisconsin poses as a tough matchup against the pass, but they really haven’t played anyone with offensive talent like Ohio State.
3. Baylor’s QB – We aren’t quite sure who will be at quarterback this weekend against Kansas State, but they should definitely be considered. This offense is just so dynamic that anyone who gets put in will have success. Seth Russell would get the start if Bryce Petty couldn’t go. I think fantasy players should hope Russell gets the start because he is a much better price. He has gotten plenty of reps in 2014 with Baylor blowing the doors off of teams and even has a five TD game. He threw for 438 yards and five TDs in week two in a weak matchup. Kansas State has been good against the pass in 2014, but they’ve also had moments of terribleness. Against West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma, the Wildcats gave up 300+ passing yards. In those three games they gave up seven TD passes.
4. Jameis Winston, Florida State – Georgia Tech has a very good TD to INT ratio (13:17), but if Karlos Williams is out for this championship game I could see more passes for Jameis. He is coming off his worst game in 2014 where he threw four INTs and for only 125 yards, but at least it was against a great Florida defense. His yardage totals have been solid in 2014, but it’s the TDs that limit his potential. Karlos Williams has ten rushing TDs this season, so him being out would be better for Jameis. Georgia Tech’s 7.2 yards/attempt average is below average.
5. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech – Thomas has had a mild second half of the season and his rushing totals have shown that. His rushing high in the last four games is just 60 yards. He has been a very good passer, but because of the offensive style he just doesn’t pass enough to really talk about. The one thing he has going for him in this game against Florida State is their inability to tackle. FSU has really struggled to do that and that could mean long runs. Thomas is definitely a GPP option and not someone to put all your money on this weekend. As a running threat, he’s always an option in GPP lineups for me.
SATURDAY LATE RUNNING BACKS
1. Jay Ajayi, Boise State – Ajayi was the number one guy at this position last week for me and he showed up big time. He ran forr 229 yards and five TDs! His recent dominance has been great and because he’s a west coast guy, he just hasn’t gotten that much attention. Ajayi has four straight games of 3+ TDs and has multiple TDs in seven straight games. He also has seven games of 100+ yards. Fresno State has allowed a 4.69 ypc average and almost two TDs allowed per game on the ground. Like I said last week, if you can afford him then you play him.
2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State – Cook has the potential to get 20+ carries and still be relevant in PPR scoring. He has two catches in each of his last three games for 60 yards. We saw what Cook could do against a really good defense last week when he ran for 144 yards on 24 carries. Against Georgia Tech, I see him doing more of the same as their run defense is ranked 72nd overall and allows more than 5ypc. They have also given up 22 TDs on the ground in 2014.
3. Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State – With Barrett out, it almost seems like a guarantee that Elliot sees more than his usual amount of carries. He has only gotten 17, 13, and 18 carries in his last three, but I could see him get back into the 20s in this game. Another big thing to think about is Barrett’s effectiveness at the goal line. Six of his 11 TDs have come from five yards or closer and seven have come from inside the ten-yard line. Wisconsin has been pretty great against the run, but so was Michigan State before they saw this offense and we know how that worked out. In their last game, Wisconsin gave up plenty of rushing yards to Minnesota (177) and a 4.02 ypc average.
4. Zach Laskey, Georgia Tech – Laskey regained the starting spot he had before his injury and performed very well. He ran for 140 yards and three TDs against Georgia and his counterpart Days also had a nice game. I think Laskey will be the main guy in this offense if it’s not Thomas on the outside. Florida State has had issues tackling and that’s kind of important against this offense. With Laskey’s size, FSU better be a great tackling team if they want to slow him down.
5. Jalin Marshall, Ohio State – A total boom or bust pick, you have to think Marshall sees enough run at receiver and quarterback to be worthy of use. There are rumors floating that he’ll see ten or so touches at quarterback and if that’s the case then he’s not as risky as he looks. He’s had huge games in 2014 and could do it again against Wisconsin. Speed kills and Marshall has plenty of it.
SATURDAY LATE WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State – Lockett has gone HAM in the last half of the season, but no more than the last three weeks. He has 30 catches, three TDs, and over 500 receiving yards during that time. He’s the clear number one for Waters and has benefitted from Sexton being a solid receiver for them as well. Baylor has given up big yardage totals in 2014 and like I said about Waters, KSU needs Lockett to be big in this game.
2. Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State – I see Sperbeck as a safe option with a great matchup against Fresno State. Fresno State ranks among the bottom ten in yards/attempt and in the 100s in total passing yardage allowed per game. Those are some bad rankings and if things continue to hold true then we should see another 6-8 catches, 80-100 yards and one TD out of Sperbeck. He has 17+ fantasy points in four of his last five games and 20+ in three of his last five.
3. Josh Harper, Fresno State – Burrell has gotten pretty hot lately and because of that Harper has been great. He’s starting to pick up his catch numbers and even has three TDs in his last three games. Boise State has struggled in the points allowed department giving up 29, 49, 30, 27, and 46 points in five of their last seven games. Harper averages 78 yards per game and has seven TDs on the season.
4. Jalen Fitzpatrick, Temple – Fitzpatrick was a great performer for us in the early weeks, but went cold when Walker did in the middle of the season. Now, Walker is still being average while Fitzpatrick is getting all of the fantasy points. He has 18 catches, 254 yards, and one TD in his last three games and is a great price for that kind of production. Tulane is a good matchup for Fitzpatrick. They rank 95th in yards/attempt and 68th in passing yards allowed per game.
5. Corey Coleman, Baylor – Coleman had that huge game against Oklahoma, but has simmered off since then. He has nine catches since then for just 132 yards and two TDs. Those are good numbers, but for his price that’s somewhat shaky. I like his potential and the fact he seems to be the most reliable Baylor receiver, but I’m looking at better value at this position. I do see plenty of reason to go with him though as KSU has had some very bad games and Baylor receivers can always go HAM.
SATURDAY LATE TIGHT ENDS
Nick O’Leary has been a big game tight end for FSU in his career and had a huge game against Florida last week. He has seven catches and three TDs in his last two agmes. To me, Jake Roh is always relevant in the passing game and he gets a good matchup against Fresno State. He has seven catches and 110 yards total in his last two games.
DraftKings THURSDAY SLATE LINE UP
DraftKings SATURDAY (EARLY SLATE) LINE UP
DraftKings SATURDAY (LATE SLATE) LINE UP
FanDuel LINE UP