Unlike week nine’s schedule of games, I have stepped up my game when it comes to action and entertainment. I have listened to your suggestions and have revamped this week’s article. It includes not just 27 early slate players, but also 17 late slate players as well. It continues to have four lineups included as well. Last week’s DraftDay lineup would have almost guaranteed taken top 2-3 in every GPP while the Fantasy Aces lineup cashed 8th in their GPP. It’s time to sit down and enjoy the show folks. Week nine has arrived.
1. Connor Cook, Michigan State – Cook is a much-improved quarterback from last season and it’s showing. He has a 16 to 5 TD to INT ratio and is throwing the ball more often in close games. The Spartans have played in four close games and in those games he’s averaging 36 passes. While the spread of this one is in the mid teens, I believe the game will stay close enough where Cook will be used all game long. He’s coming off his best game of the season throwing three TDs against the Hoosiers and throwing for over 300 yards. The Wolverines only have three INTs on the season and have given up huge games to Rutgers and Notre Dame. Look for the Spartans to pour it on against the Wolverines Saturday.
2. Brett Hundley, UCLA – Hundley is red hot for the Bruins and could fall into fantasy luck going into the Colorado game. Paul Perkins is possibly out in this one and if he is then you must expect Hundley to throw/run more. He has thrown for over 70% completion rate in six straight games and has 13 total TDs/231 rushing yards in the last four games. Now, he gets to face Colorado, the same team that has given up two 7 TD games in the last three. It’s quite amazing honestly. This matchup is top notch and he does it at an affordable price across the DFS sites.
3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis – Lynch is a great play this weekend with a great matchup against SMU. They are routinely targeted by myself and others, but honestly I’m a fan of Lynch even with average matchups. There is some fear that SMU gets blown away by the Memphis running backs, but I’m not buying it. Memphis lives and dies on Lynch and it has shown this season. He has been great in the last two weeks totaling seven TDs and 80 rushing yards. He has struggled only once on the season and it was against Ole Miss. You can’t get mad about that as Ole Miss is very good. In every other game this season he has put up at least two TDs and a 60% completion rate.
4. Jake Waters, Kansas State– I’ve routinely discussed how much I like the Texas defense, but I think Waters pulls the exception this weekend. I think it’s a GPP play for those playing as this defense could shut him down. I’m leaning towards a great day from Waters and here’s why. He’s the entire Wildcats offense and he’s been great lately. Auburn is the only team that has slowed him down and that was in rainy weather. He’s coming off three straight games of 65% rate or better plus a rushing TD in each. Vegas has Kansas State scoring four TDs and if that happens then you can almost lock in Waters for three of them.
5. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota – Leidner isn’t much of a passer, but he’s listed here. Why? Well, he gets to face Illinois, one of the worst run defenses in the country and that’s what Leidner does best. I think he or Cobb have huge games against Illinois and there’s a good chance both have very good games. In the last two games, Leidner has two passing TDs, one INT, three rushing TDs, and 115 rushing yards. Those are great numbers getting him almost 50 fantasy points. Opposing QBs have done well running against the Fighting Illini. Appleby ran for two TDs and 76 yards a few weeks ago while Tommy Armstrong Jr. ran for 66 yards on ten carries the game before that. Early on in the season, Cyler Miles ran for 55 yards on nine carries. The precedence is their for Leidner to have a good game on the ground and make him a nice cash game play.
6. Devin Gardner, Michigan – Easily the scariest play of the day here, but one that you will surely be the only guy to have. He’s cheap across almost every site and especially on DraftKings where value is needed. He’s been better in his last two games and has continued to run the ball plenty. He has three rushing TDs in the last three games, but hasn’t been great through the air. Indiana’s passing attack was supposed to be bad, so that doesn’t scare me. What I like is the effectiveness of Purdue and Nebraska against Michigan State. They threw for almost 500 yards. Gardner has big upside (see Ohio State game in 2013) when on and is coming off a bye week. Don’t give yourself too much exposure to this play though.
7. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas – Swoopes groups up with Gardner and Bailey as the biggest GPP plays here, but he could provide great value for your squad. The Longhorns have been great in three of the last four games and it has been because of Swoopes. He has put up 30+ fantasy points in his last two games and now gets Kansas State’s 98th ranked passing defense. They have given up nine passing TDs in the last three games and surprisingly their worst game this season against the pass was against UTEP. Swoopes has chucked it a ton recently with 80 attempts in the last two games and 25 total rushes.
8. Aaron Bailey, Illinois – There’s a decent chance Bailey starts going into the game against Minnesota, so you’re looking at another minimum priced quarterback. He had a nice game against Wisconsin last week with 75 rushing yards and a TD. He led the Fighting Illini to two scoring drives, so they have to respect that. Appleby also had success against Illinois rushing for 79 yards and a TD against them last week. He also threw for three TDs. There is a chance that Bailey starts and splits time with O’Toole, so beware, but if he is to get most the snaps he could be a very good value option.
1. JT Barrett, Ohio State – JT Barrett has been downright ruthless in his last four games. He has thrown for 17 passes and added three more on the ground. He has over 250 rushing yards and almost 1,200 passing yards. Barrett has been nasty! This weekend he gets Penn State, a team that made Devin Gardner look decent and gave up 250+ passing yards to UMass and Northwestern. Penn State has only allowed three passing TDs on the season, but Barrett could easily double that number Saturday.
2. Blake Sims, Alabama – So Sims went through a little bit of a slump a few weeks ago, but who am I to judge? I’ve been in slumps that have last longer than those two weeks against Arkansas and Ole Miss sadly enough. Against Texas A&M though, Sims went off for four TDs and over 300 total yards. I think TAMU is overrated, but it’s not like Tennessee will slow this offense down. They’ve faced some bad quarterbacks and have great pass defense stats because of it. Trevor Knight threw for over 300 yards against them and Ole Miss threw for 200 and two TDs last week against the Vols.
3. Cody Fajardo, Nevada – Fajardo will cost you a pretty penny coming into this week, but at least you know what you’re getting into. He has thrown 40+ times in three straight games for six TDs and then also added five rushing TDs in those games. He has at least 47 rushing yards in each of his last four games, so he’s a consistent threat on the ground. Hawaii’s pass defense is below average, so Fajardo should have his way for a steady three or four more TDs.
4. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State – Kelly is back from a foot injury which held him out of games for a while, but he should be 100% in this one. The coaches held him back from playing last game even though he’s been practicing for two weeks now. He was electric before the injury throwing for six TDs and adding another two on the ground. With two weeks of practice, I feel safe in that he should continue to get plenty of carries. It’s also nice to see his matchup being so great. Washington has given up 14 TDs to just five through the air and a 64% completion rate or better in six straight games.
5. Nick Marshall, Auburn – If you want to pivot away from one of the top quarterback plays then Marshall is your guy. He’s gone for 27+ points on DraftKings in three straight games and has been great through the air. He has seven passing TDs and almost 200 passing yards per game during that stretch. Marshall is still a major threat on the ground as he has recorded three straight 100+ rushing games.
1. Josh Robinson, Mississippi State – As much as Dak Prescott runs the Bulldogs offense, Robinson still manages to score plenty of TDs. He has seven in his last four games and has been great with yardage as well. He’s averaging 115 yards per game and gets a Kentucky game that is supposed to be pretty close. The Wildcats have given up big TD totals to the rush in their last two SEC games (South Carolina and LSU). Mike Davis and the group of LSU running backs had very nice games. Robinson is a safe play for me at his price and could go for another 100+ yards and two TDs.
2. James Conner, Pitt – There is reason to see Conner’s price go down lately as his carries have lessened and his production has as well. The schedule has gotten tougher, but he did have a very nice game against Virginia Tech. He had two strong TD runs of 10+ yards in that game. He started the season with four straight 100+ rushing yard games, but now has fallen short of that in the last three. Georgia Tech has given up 16 rushing TDs on the season and over 5.25 yards per carry though. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Conner breaks out for another 200 yard game here as Georgia Tech has really struggled lately. If Duke and UNC can run for over 400 yards and 6 TDs then Pitt can do damage as well.
3. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin – Gordon against Maryland is just as good of a matchup as he has had in the last few weeks and he has torn those teams ups. In the last four games he has ran for 217 yards and 12 TDs. I don’t see those kinds of numbers slowing against Maryland’s run defense. They’ve given up four rushing TDs in the last two games and really struggled against Ohio State and Syracuse earlier this season. There’s not much more to say really. Gordon is an automatic 175 yards and one TD with upside for 200+ yards and four TDs.
4. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas – Williams has yet to bust out in the last four games, but his time is coming. He’s coming off his best game during that stretch rushing for over 100 yards on 17 carries. In two of the last three games (Western Kentucky and MTSU) the UAB Blazers have given up three rushing TDs in a game. They also gave up over 5.5 yards per carry in those two games. Williams is primed for the majority of the carries in a great running game due to Alex Collins getting in the dog house a little bit and not getting the majority of the carries in the last game.
5. Paul Perkins, UCLA – Perkins hurt his left wrist in the last game, but has been seen practicing. Make sure he’s playing, but if he is you have to strongly consider him. He had a huge game last week against Cal going for 161 total yards and two TDs. He did his damage mainly through the air surprisingly, showing us he can score and do other things than just run the football. Colorado is a prime matchup for Perkins and the Bruins as they’ve given up 5+ yards per carry in four of seven games this season and in the last two games. When UCLA gets up in the game they’re going to want to run it and Perkins will be the guy.
6. Jordan Howard, UAB – Howard is the other great running back in this game as Williams is the first. The matchup is just okay, but Arkansas is reeling after a big loss against Georgia. In that game, the Bulldogs ran for three TDs and over 200 rushing yards. Howard has been great for the Blazers rushing for 100+ yards in three of the last four games. He carries a full load to rushing 32 and 34 times in two of those three games.
7. David Cobb, Minnesota – A pure cash game play to me, Cobb is going to carry the ball a ton and gets a prime matchup against Illinois. They’ve given up 14+ rushing TDs in the last three games 1,208 yards during that span. Holy hell! That’s an amazing amount of both. Cobb has 30+ carries in four straight games. Can you imagine what he’s about to do to them? He’s ranked this low due to a higher price and a dud game mixed in, but I feel strongly that he does very well against this terrible defense.
8. Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia – Smallwood is a total GPP play here, but somebody has to get the carries if Rushel Shell is out. Smallwood has been the most relevant backup running back in 2014 with him averaging 49 rushing yards a game. He’s also been great through the air catching 19 balls so far. His carries have improved in the last three games going from ten to 15 to 20. Oklahoma State is an above average run defense, but they are coming off their worst game in 2014 giving up 261 yards and three TDs to TCU.
1. Devontae Booker, Utah – Booker is coming off his best game of the season rushing for three TDs and over 225 yards against Oregon State and now gets a solid USC team. Their run defense is just okay though. We’ve seen Boston College run all over them in the past and they’re coming off two straight games of two TDs allowed on the ground. Booker’s work load plus price is what lands him here. The guy has 24, 33, and 32 carries in his last three games and has shown up with 178, 156, and 229 yards in those games. It’s hard not to look a running back of this quality in a tough home environment.
2. TJ Yeldon, Alabama – Yeldon had great burst in that game against Texas A&M, but to be honest who didn’t? He ran 13 times for 114 yards and two TDs. His workload is hovering in the 16-20 carry range when the game is close, which isn’t too shabby. He had a great game against Ole Miss a few weeks ago running for 123 yards, but not finding the end zone. Tennessee’s run defense has given up decent numbers to the better run games they’ve faced: Oklahoma, Arkansas State, and obviously Georgia. Even an average Ole Miss run defense put up two TDs on them last week.
3. Mike Davis, South Carolina – Davis started slow in 2014, but he has come on very strong recently. He obviously tore up Furman for 111 yards and two TDs, but he was very good against Kentucky and Missouri as well. He has three straight 100+ yard games with six TDs during that stretch. Auburn’s run defense is very good, but they haven’t been that great against SEC foes. Against Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State, Auburn has given up six TDs and 514 yards. Against non-SEC teams that same defense has given up 210 yards and four TDs.
4. Aaron Jones, UTEP – Jones is a consistent 18-20 carry guy for the Miners and has done well with that for the most part. He struggled against Louisiana Tech and Kansas State, but put up nice numbers against ODU, NMST, Texas Tech, and UNM. Jones has feasted on some really bad run defenses, but this week he gets an average one. I wouldn’t put all my eggs in this basket, but he’s going to get 18-20 carries in this one and add 4-6 catches (like he has in last three weeks). He might be the play if you want to avoid Mike Davis for some reason.
5. Javorius Allen, USC – I’m not sure you’re going to be able to afford Allen in this slate, but if you can then you should plug him in your lineups. He has four straight 100+ rushing yard games and seven TDs in those games. He is typically a PPR threat recording games of four, four, five, and nine catches in games this season. Utah’s defense has been great this season, but Kessler is going to need to rely on Allen to get this offense rolling. He’s too talented to be stopped by a defense.
EARLY WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Tony Lippett, Michigan State – Lippett is underpriced across every site in the industry and I can’t figure out why. The guy has 100+ yards in three straight games and a TD in every game but one overall. While he was a low catch guy early on in the season it was because of the schedule. Against the better teams Michigan State has played (four games), he has 28 of his 39 catches. Teams haven’t tried to throw on Michigan much, but when they have it’s been great for the offense. In four games of 30+ attempts, App State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Rutgers have combined for eight TDs.
2. Jordan Payton, UCLA – Payton disappointed last week, but he’ll bounce back in this one. I’ve already talked about how putrid that Colorado pass defense is, so I won’t continue to do that. Payton isn’t a 100+ yard receiver, but at his price he doesn’t have to be. He has five or more catches in every game but one this season. Last week’s inability to find the end zone was likely because of Perkins stealing the show through the air. He caught two TD passes and almost broke 100 receiving yards. That’s not going to happen again, so be ready for another productive day for Payton.
3. John Harris, Texas – Harris didn’t score last week, but did something I liked even more: he caught nine passes. In his recent weeks, he has been capped at five or six passes. Now, Swoopes is completely relying on Harris through the air and against Kansas State he will continue that thought process. Harris does have TDs in five of seven games on the season. He’s no Sterling Shepard, but Shepard did just come off a 15 catch and almost 200-yard performance against them. Jakeem Grant went for 7/90/2 the week before that and even Ian Hamilton from UTEP went for 5/112/2 against them the week before that.
4. Tyler Boyd, Pitt – Boyd comes in being underpriced like his teammate Connor and I’m really digging it. In a slate of games that requires us to like receivers in the mid-range area, Boyd is one of the best options. Georgia Tech’s pass defense really isn’t that great. They’ve faced four teams who have attempted 26 or less passes. In the last four games, teams have completed 61% of passes or more including a mega-impressive 80.9% from UNC last weekend. Even Virginia Tech almost threw for 300 yards against Georgia Tech. Boyd’s recent performances have shown to be solid, but need to be better. He’s the main guy Voytik looks at and Virginia Tech took him away after the long TD. He has 6+ catches in three of the last four games. Rostering Boyd or Conner in every lineup seems like the move this week.
5. Devin Funchess, Michigan – Like Gardner, Funchess has had some leg/ankle issues in the past, but is coming off a well-timed bye week. He’ll be fresh for the big game against Michigan State. After starting the season off with a bang against Appalachian State and Notre Dame, he has slowed down and most of that was because of Gardner. Because of that and the fact Michigan State has owned Michigan in recent seasons, I can’t roll with Funchess in the majority of my lineups. Here’s why he’s worth rostering though. Gardner threw for over 200 yards against MSU last season and Funchess is his clear number one guy. While Funchess is 6’5, Michigan State’s best corner is only 6’1. Finally, in his last game, Funchess went for 7/69/1 and showed why he’s an NFL prospect with a great TD catch against Penn State.
6. De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State – Wilson is the ultimate cash game option right now. He’s the goal line end zone threat for a team that consistently gets in the red zone. He also is a part of the big play with catches of 44, 34, and 32 in the last three games. Wilson is money because of his ability to reach the end zone, something he has done in every game this season. Jameon Lewis could play in this game against Kentucky, but I’m not scared of that. His style is much different than Wilson’s style. Wilson has gone for four catches, 70+ yards, and a TD in the last three games. I wouldn’t expect a huge game, but 4/70/1 seems like the norm for him for a solid price.
7. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State – Lockett is on this list because of what he did to Texas Tech two weeks ago. He caught 12 passes for 125 yards and two TDs. While Lockett is the best receiver on Kansas State, Sexton has been having nice games as well. This can help and hurt Lockett as targets will be down compared to last season. He had a solid game against Oklahoma going for a line of 6/86/1 and with Vegas predicting four TDs out of KSU Saturday, you have to think Lockett is a part of at least one of them. He’s a GPP play for me and one I like if you want to use someone different than possible high-owned guys like Payton and Boyd.
8. Rannell Hall, UCF – Hall is going to be cheap across most sites and with good reason. He has zero TDs on the season and hasn’t done a whole lot other than that. He has picked it up recently even with Justin Holman disappointing me. He has 14 catches for 139 yards in the last two games. In the two games before that he was suspended for a half and didn’t play in the other. So, if you’re looking at Hall’s three full games played then you see an average of seven catches for about 70 yards. At a cheap price, I think those are numbers you can enjoy and if he gives you a TD then you’re feeling very good about yourself.
LATE WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Amari Cooper, Alabama – Cooper bounced back like a lot of us thought he would against TAMU. He went for 8/140/2 in that game and was great besides that one Arkansas game. Against Ole Miss the fantasy points weren’t crazy high, but he still went for 9/91/0. Cooper has gone for 27+ fantasy points in five of seven games, so the big point potential and consistency is there. Sims looks to Cooper first and if he plays well it’ll be all because of Cooper’s ability to get open.
2. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State – Strong has been unstoppable in recent week recording 30 catches, 423 yards, and four TDs in the last three games. He gets his starting quarterback back for this one and although that’s not the best of things, I still like it. Washington has been just awful against the pass, so Strong should have great matchups consistently in that game. He’s averaging 114 yards per game this season.
3. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss – Treadwell has been sketchy this season, but at this price you have to consider him for your team. He is trending downwards in the last four weeks, but he has also found himself against some tough matchups. Bo Wallace will be big in this game against LSU and that means he should be good for at least 5/50/0 with a good chance at a TD.
4. River Cracraft, Washington State – Cracraft went into the season as a second or third receiver for the Cougars, but he’s been playing more like a one right now. I know he’s not really in the late slate, but he’s not in the early slate on DraftKings. He’ll be in the all day slates and he’ll be worth rostering. He had a huge game against Stanford catching 14 passes for 100 yards and one TD. He has 57 catches in six games so far in 2014. Arizona is in the bottom 25 of pass defense, so it’s a prime matchup for him.
5. Mike Williams, Clemson – Going into the Boston College game I was scared Cole Stoudt would hurt Williams’ value. That wasn’t the case as he actually caught his most passes in 2014. He went for 8/128 in that one and now gets himself a good matchup against Syracuse. Florida State, Maryland, and Notre all threw the ball very well against them this season.
EARLY TIGHT ENDS
1. AJ Derby, Arkansas – Derby is expensive, but at least he’s produced this season. The former quarterback has put up nice games recently with ten catches, 180 yards, and two TDs. The game against UAB shouldn’t be a blowout, so Derby will have to be used throughout the entire game. He has a TD in three of five games played in this season.
2. Josiah Price, Michigan State – If you’re a fan of Connor Cook then it’s only appropriate that you like Price. He is a TD machine scoring four times in the last five games. He even recorded 83 yards last week against Indiana. Against Michigan, you can be sure that the Spartans will be in the red zone, which is great for Price owners. His four TDs this season have come from 10, 2, 19, and 7 yards out.
3. Cam Serigne, Wake Forest – Serigne has been a sneaky great tight end this season for Wake Forest. He has two catches or more in every season and has actually put up 5+ catches in four of eight games. Those are very good numbers considering his QB and the position he plays. He has caught both of his TDs this season at home.
LATE TIGHT ENDS
1. Evan Engram, Ole Miss – Engram is going to be needed in this game against LSU. In some of Ole Miss’ closer games or games against good opponents (Alabama, Memphis, Vanderbilt, and Boise State), he has produced nicely. He caught his first TD pass of the season last week against Tennessee.
2. Nick Vannett, Ohio State – This minimum price option on some sites has been very good recently catching three TDs in the last two games. JT Barrett is red hot, but does spread the ball around. Against Penn State, I like them to score a bunch of points and I’d be surprised if Vannett doesn’t be a part of that. He has two catches in all four games he has recorded a stat.