Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State vs. Texas (DK: $6,600 | O/U: 58.5)
Spencer Sanders finally got his first taste of action in Week 8 since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter of Week 1. He collected 24.4 FPs in a tough home matchup against Iowa State. While that might not seem like great output, at his $6.2K DraftKings salary, that’s nearly 25 percent over value. And we must consider the opponent. The Cyclones field a top-25 overall defense, run defense, and zone secondary. With all of that in mind, confidence in exposure to him in Week 9 should be high against a Texas defense that’s missed a ton of tackles and ranks in the 35-45 range in the country.
The Bottom Line: Best of all, the combined pace of these teams ranks first on the slate. After a rough showing in Week 1 against Tulsa, the Cowboys’ O-line has improved to the point that I would now consider the unit as one of the top-10 in the FBS. That’ll be huge for Sanders against a Longhorns’ pass rush featuring dynamic edge Joseph Ossai. With a 16 percent carry share, a rock solid O-line, and paramount talents at both RB and WR, Sanders is a top play for me this week.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana at Rutgers (DK: $6,200 | O/U: 52.5)
If you didn’t see it live, make sure you check out Indiana’s Week 8 overtime victory over Penn State. While the skill position performances from the Hoosiers don’t jump off the page, just as with Sanders, we need to consider the opponent. Most notably, Penn State’s premium recruiting annually stacks that roster with four- and five-star talents. That’s not the case with Indiana. They must choose their recruits from the best of the rest after the top programs round out their rosters. With that in mind, you can understand just how impressive that victory was for the school. For Michael Penix Jr., a former three-star recruit, his redshirt sophomore season couldn’t have started any better.
Penix will draw a dream matchup in Week 9 at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights scored their first B1G victory since 2017 last week at Michigan State. However, Rutgers was gift-wrapped that victory thanks to seven turnovers from the Spartans that led to 24-of-38 points. Those turnovers eliminate reliability in their defensive ranks, so we will need to rely on the eye test. Make no mistake, edge Mohamed Toure is a future NFL talent. But the pass rush as a whole didn’t impress me. That is huge for Penix’s upside this week. He just took on one of the best pass rushing defenses in the nation in the Nittany Lions to great success.
The Bottom Line: While the pace of play isn’t going to impress, it’ll provide more than enough opportunities for Penix to prove that their victory over PSU was no fluke. In his matchup with Rutgers last season, Penix collected 22.3 FPs in the 35-0 victory. Although, this version of the Scarlet Knights should actually be able to score a few points. That’ll be huge for Penix and the rest of the offense. I am expecting to see Penix approach 30 FPs on Saturday with an opportunity share that rivals that of Sam Ehlinger’s this season.
Will Howard, Kansas State at West Virginia (DK: $5,900 | O/U: 45.5)
It was very tough to watch the litany of wasted opportunities for Will Howard in Week 8 against Kansas. It was simply a poor showing all around for the Jayhawks. The Wildcats scored on two punt returns by Phillip Brooks and added another on an interception return. While his 20 FPs may not seem bad at all, his output could’ve been so much better with those opportunities restored. At 4-1, Kansas State sits atop the Big 12 with a road matchup at West Virginia on the docket. The Mountaineers are only allowing 16.9 FPG on the ground this season. And the entire defense has played rock-solid through five games. However, their schedule has been rather kind. They’ve played Eastern Kentucky, Oklahoma State -- sans Sanders, Baylor, Kansas, and Texas Tech.
To me, West Virginia’s two losses say more about their defense than the three victories. Against Okie State and Texas Tech, they allowed 382 rushing yards (4.8 YPC), and five TDs combined. At those rates, their run defense would rank south of 75-of-101 teams in 2020. What has been consistent in each contest is their zone secondary. They’ve limited opposing QBs to only 10.9 FPG through the air. However, they’ve found that success with an unimpressive pass rush. That’ll provide Howard with plenty of golden opportunities to use his legs.
The Bottom Line: In their 21-14 Week 6 victory at TCU, Howard took on a 35 percent carry share en route to 95 rushing yards, and a score. With the score getting out of hand early last week, that carry share was cut in half (18 percent). We should see that share rebound in Week 9. I am not expecting a ton of production through the air, but anything we do get will be an added bonus tacked onto his rushing totals.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (DK: $8,500 | O/U: 64.0)
Malik Cunningham, Louisville vs. Virginia Tech (DK: $8,000 | O/U: 67.5)
Ken Seals, Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss (DK: $5,000 | O/U: 64.0)
Dirt cheap super-flex options (basement floor, be warned):
Joey Gatewood, Kentucky vs. Georgia (DK: $4,700 | O/U: 42.5)
Jalon Daniels, Kansas vs. Georgia (DK: $4,700 | O/U: 52.0)
Breece Hall, Iowa State at Kansas (DK: $9,100 | O/U: 52.0)
As you are already aware, my strategy is to once again roster sub-$7K QBs in Week 9 in order to load up at RB, and snag a top WR. But which of the top RBs should be select? Let’s do a quick rundown. Clemson and Travis Etienne are once again huge favorites at home over Boston College. It’s always possible that the Eagles’ solid D contains the Tigers’ O, but I do not envision a scenario where the BC O finds meaningful success against Clemson’s D. With only a 39 percent carry share, we can eliminate Etienne. Chuba Hubbard has actually seen a drop-off in production compared with last season’s insane totals. With only a 50 percent carry share and five percent target share, I feel HC Mike Gundy is limiting his touches to save him for a potential playoff run. Eliminating him in my eyes.
With such a small sample size of Khalil Herbert in a lead role, we saw last week against Wake Forest just how risky he is at a top salary. No Herbert for me at Louisville. I think Deuce Vaughn could be a dark horse, but his uber-valuable receiving production will be tough to replicate against the WVU defense. Finally, we have Gerrid Doaks. The Memphis defense is not going to fool anyone into thinking it’s one of the best. However, they are only vulnerable through the air. I think Memphis could actually pull off/come close to an upset over Cincinnati on the road. The Bearcats’ offense lives-and-breathes behind the success of its ground game. No thank you on Doaks.
The Bottom Line: That leaves us with Breece Hall, Leddie Brown, Javian Hawkins, Kyren Williams, and Stevie Scott III. In my opinion, you really can’t go wrong with any two of these youngsters. However, I am all in on Hall. If you want to read about my analysis on the Kansas run D, here you go. Despite playing some of the top defenses in the Big 12, Hall has 953 rushing yards, and nine TDs through five games. As long as the Jayhawks do not allow three non-offensive TDs again this week, Hall is going to run straight through the Kansas front seven. Hall is going to be a special player at the next level. With a 74 percent carry share and an average of nearly four yards coming after contact, I almost feel sorry for the Jayhawks. Almost.
Javian Hawkins, Louisville vs. Virginia Tech (DK: $7,600 | O/U: 67.5)
Well, the Louisville offense came through for us last week. The trio of Malik Cunningham, Tutu Atwell, and Javian Hawkins ran up the score against Florida State. I think they’ll all do much of the same in Week 9 against one of the most generous defenses in the nation, Virginia Tech. However, they’ve each seen a significant bump in salary this week. Atwell and Hawkins can still be managed within the budget, but it’ll be tough to compete elsewhere with Cunningham’s salary on the books.
The Bottom Line: While I actually prefer Stevie Scott III this week, it’s only by a slight margin. For a back with the pure rushing talent as Hawkins, only the top defenses in the country can be expected to contain him. The Hokies will not stand a chance in the face of the Cardinals’ explosive offense after they allowed the Demon Deacons to rack up 229 rushing yards and a pair of scores in Week 8.
Stevie Scott III, Indiana at Rutgers (DK: $7,400 | O/U: 52.5)
Some may not be all that impressed by Stevie Scott III’s opening performance against Penn State. However, he provided us with a list of reasons for exposure. The most obvious being that he got into the end zone twice to score 20.8 FPs against a top run D. Next, he garnered an 83 percent carry share, and 100 percent of RB carries in the process. Finally, in his matchup with Rutgers last season, Scott posted a rushing line of 12/164/0 -- including 111 yards in the third quarter alone -- before being rested in the fourth quarter.
The Bottom Line: As I’ve already discussed, the Scarlet Knights are much improved under new HC Greg Schiano. As long as the Rutgers offense is able to put some points on the board, the Hoosiers’ skill position groups will post outstanding fantasy totals. As the Indiana bell cow back, I feel Scott’s Week 9 upside is only marginally lower than that of Hall and Brown.
Keyon Henry-Brooks, Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss (DK: $3,900 | O/U: 64.0)
In order to save as much of our remaining cap space as possible for our receivers, we’ll need to find a flex in the $4K range that at least hits value. In Week 9, I feel that Keyon Henry-Brooks fits that mold. If you didn’t already know, the Ole Miss defense can be found listed at the bottom of most metrics. They’ve sacrificed defensive integrity in order to rack up as many points as possible with their list of playmakers. Do I think Vanderbilt stands a chance against the Rebels in Nashville? Don’t bet on it. However, we can bet on the Commodores’ offense to score some points. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might even consider stacking QB Ken Seals with his No. 1 WR, Amir Abdur-Rahman.
The Bottom Line: The starting RB roll was previously held by Ja’Veon Marlow. However, he missed Week 6, and was also removed from the two-deep for Week 9. If you had asked me prior to the season who I thought would start for Vandy, I would have told you Jamauri Wakefield. But when Marlow was forced to sit out Week 6’s contest with South Carolina, it was Henry-Brooks that took on a 43 percent carry share, and 64 percent in the first half of the 41-7 beatdown. The Gamecocks’ run D is several levels above Ole Miss.’ For basement floor’s sake, all we need from KHB is 11.7 FPs to hit value. If you disagree with this call, I’ve listed a slew of alternatives below with varying levels of upside.
Leddie Brown, West Virginia vs. Kansas State (DK: $8,100 | O/U: 45.5)
Kyren Williams, Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (DK: $7,200 | O/U: 57.0)
Tank Bigsby, Auburn vs. LSU (DK: $6,900 | O/U: 65.5)
Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (DK: $6,600 | O/U: 64.0)
Zamir White, Georgia at Kentucky (DK: $6,000 | O/U: 42.5)
Snoop Conner, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (DK: $4,300 | O/U: 64.0)
Zach Evans, TCU at Baylor (DK: $3,900 | O/U: 48.0)
Chris Tyree, Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (DK: $3,400 | O/U: 57.0)
Blake Corum, Michigan vs. Michigan State (DK: $3,300 | O/U: 52.5)
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU at Auburn (DK: $7,800 | O/U: 65.5)
We have a rare opportunity in Week 9 to play with the LSU offense. To my recollection, we’ve only had them on the DK main slate once this season. They were added one other week, but removed when the game was canceled due to COVID protocols. Personally, I’m pretty sore that much of the B1G has once again been left off the schedule. As for LSU, post-Joe Burrow life for the Tigers has not been as kind. They were able to add an impressive collection of elite true freshmen, but they will need some time to develop. One of last year’s holdovers making quite a name for himself is Terrace Marshall Jr. He’s collected at least two TDs in every game this season. Granted, the competition has not been a murderer’s row of defenses.
The Bottom Line: LSU will face its toughest test to date from Auburn. I would love to employ an LSU RB against the porous Auburn run D, but they’ve been splitting carries three ways, and John Emery Jr. and Tyrion Davis-Price are priced to fade. Thus, we are left with Marshall against an Auburn secondary that has actually been decent this season. The factor working against Marshall is that, with true freshman T.J. Finley under center for the injured Myles Brennan, we can’t stack him with his QB with anything resembling confidence.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State vs. Texas (DK: $7,100 | O/U: 58.5)
Partially alluded to within my reasoning for pivoting away from Marshall, we can confidently stack Tylan Wallace with Spencer Sanders. I was shocked to see this matchup only implied for a combined total of 58.5 points by Vegas. Both defenses are better than average, but the offenses are loaded with playmakers, and these teams combine for the fastest pace on the slate. Wallace is collecting a massive target share of 39 percent this season, the highest on the slate.
The Bottom Line: Outside of Week 2 at Kansas, Wallace has played a collection of quality secondaries. Even with a true freshman running the show in Weeks 4 and 5, he has still managed to average over 100 receiving YPG this season. The Cowboys will need him to bust out here to keep pace with the Longhorns.
Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson vs. Boston College (DK: $6,500 | O/U: 61.0)
Can it be true? Never in my wildest imagination would I have guessed that I’d tout Amari Rodgers as the most valuable DFS play from the Clemson offense. Yet, here we are. I’ve already detailed why Travis Etienne is off my plate. The same narrative applies to Trevor Lawrence. I’m just not sold that the BC offense will do enough to keep him on the field. Vegas agrees with only 14.5 implied points for the Eagles. As for Rodgers, he’s collected a total receiving line of 30/449/5… in the first halves of his six games alone!
The Bottom Line: Might need to let that set in a little. Rodgers has only collected 7/95/0 combined during the third and fourth quarters the entire season. He is averaging 17.5 FPs in the first half this season. Forget about hoping he plays in the second half, we would only need him to top that average by two points to hit value.
Whop Philyor, WR, Indiana at Rutgers (DK: $5,400 | O/U: 52.5)
Outside of QBs who I feel can do enough with their legs for standalone value (i.e., Will Howard), you can always expect me to list a prime stack with my recommended QB plays. In the case of Michael Penix Jr., we have Whop Philyor. If you’re wondering it, no, Philyor didn’t even lead his team in receiving yards last week. That privilege went to Miles Marshall. Marshall is unlikely to play this week, but I would be on Philyor, regardless. When these teams met last year, Philyor posted 8/162/0 of his 10/182/0 receiving line in the first half.
The Bottom Line: For the third time, Rutgers is far better this year. However, they can’t hold a candle to Penn State’s secondary. Philyor will find a place on an NFL practice squad in the future. That may read as a knock on his abilities, but that is actually a very rare achievement for college athletes. As for Week 9, Philyor will have zero issues covering value at $5.4K (16.2 FPs). As mentioned above, if you disagree with any of these recommendations, I’ve provided an array of alternatives for you perusal.
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (DK: $8,400 | O/U: 64.0)
Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville vs. Virginia Tech (DK: $6,800 | O/U: 67.5)
Kearis Jackson, WR, Georgia at Kentucky (DK: $5,700 | O/U: 42.5)
Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan at Michigan State (DK: $5,300 | O/U: 52.5)
James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech at Louisville (DK: $5,200 | O/U: 67.5)
Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (DK: $4,900 | O/U: 64.0)
Tahj Washington, WR, Memphis at Cincinnati (DK: $4,500 | O/U: 55.0)
Amir Abdur-Rahman, WR, Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss (DK: $4,100 | O/U: 64.0)
Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana at Rutgers (DK: $4,100 | O/U: 52.5)
Jordan Whittington, WR, Texas at Oklahoma State (DK: $4,000 | O/U: 58.5)
Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State at Kansas (DK: $4,000 | O/U: 52.0)
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (DK: $3,800 | O/U: 57.0)
Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati vs. Memphis (DK: $3,500 | O/U: 55.0)