The Week 9 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 14 games. Our breakdown will highlight core plays, which are cash game options and also players to build our GPP lineups around. We will also list some other players worth consideration for GPPs. As always, hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments (@hindery).
Week 9 gives us one of the most fun and interesting slates of the season. There are strong options at each position in a lot of different price ranges, which gives us a wide range of equally strong roster paths to build our rosters. We have some elite high-priced options at each position to use as core plays. We also may have some decent minimum-priced options at quarterback (pending injury news) and running back to roster if we want to try a stars and scrubs approach. The wealth of strong mid-tier options means we don’t necessarily have to take that approach, however. Wide receiver is especially strong in the $8,000-8,900 range with a number of pass catchers capable of exploding with a slate-winning performance.
D’Eriq King is a slam dunk play despite the high price. He has been a touchdown machine (both as a passer and runner) leading one of the nation’s top offenses and is playing in what should be a fast-paced shootout. Kyler Murray is also an elite option who lags behind King a bit this week due to what should be a slow-paced game with blowout potential.
In tournaments, it may make sense to try to save some money with someone like Tommy Devito who is likely to split snaps at quarterback for Syracuse. It is certainly a risky play but the price savings allows massive upgrades at other positions. Wisconsin’s Jack Coan should also be on the radar for GPP and possibly even cash games if we receive official word Alex Hornibook is out with a concussion. Nobody is excited about Wisconsin’s passing game but the chance to roster a minimum-priced starting quarterback is tough to pass up.
Dual-threat quarterbacks are always in play for GPPs. This week Brock Purdy and Blake Barnett stand out as strong mid-priced options with rushing upside.
D’Eriq King, Houston ($10,500)
King is the top overall play on the slate. He has put up massive fantasy numbers all season long with 23 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing touchdowns. The 32 total touchdowns have come in just 6 games (5.3 per game). He has put up 40+ fantasy points four times in six games this season. There are some minor concerns about the matchup against South Florida but overall it looks like an excellent spot for King. South Florida does have a solid pass defense (25th) and is weaker against the run (93rd). Perhaps we see Houston run a bit more than normal. Even then, King has been the most effective runner in this offense as well. No other runner has more than 2 rushing touchdowns while King has ran it in 9 times already. Plus, Houston has the #8 offense in the nation and shouldn’t be slowed too much by the Bulls defense. Houston has been incredibly consistent, scoring 40+ points in every single game this season. In fact, the Cougars are the second-highest scoring team in the nation (48.7 points per game) behind only Alabama.
Compared to some of the other top quarterbacks on the slate, the real separating factor for King is that he should be in a shootout. Houston is favored by 7.5 points in a game with a whopping 75-point total. This should be a game where we get four full quarters of Houston’s potent offense with the pedal to the metal.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,400)
Last week, Kyler Murray had his worst fantasy day in six games and still put up 29.6 points. In this unstoppable Sooners offense, it is fair to say Murray’s floor is right around 30 points. He also showed his ceiling with a 51.8-point fantasy day a few weeks ago against Baylor. If you can fit Murray’s salary in, you want him in your lineup alongside King.
Looking at the Week 9 matchup against Kansas State, we most likely see Murray score closer to his 30-point floor this week. Wildcats legend Bill Snyder was open in talking about how he hopes to copy the game plan Army used to take Oklahoma to overtime earlier this season—a slow, grind it out offense that keeps the Sooners offense on the sideline. If Kansas State can execute their plan, Murray’s opportunities to rack up yardage and touchdowns will be limited. But even if Kansas State can’t achieve their offensive goals, Murray may have a slightly limited ceiling because the game would quickly turn into a blowout and Oklahoma would likely spend the second half pounding away with their running backs. The minor concerns about pace and blowout combine to make Murray the second option behind D’Eriq King but even Murray’s floor game projection (30 points) is better than the expectations for the rest of the quarterbacks on the slate.
Others worth Considering
Tommy Devito, Syracuse ($5,000)
Devito is a wild card for Week 9. We don’t yet know if Devito or Eric Dungey is going to draw the start against NC State and we probably won’t have anything official prior to kickoff. Following the news right up until kickoff will be key if you are considering playing Devito and the late kickoff (7 PM eastern) complicates things. However, the bet here is Devito either starts or comes off the bench to play extensively. He is clearly the top option as a passer and Dungey hasn’t been overly effective as a runner lately. Dungey and the offense struggled most of last week’s matchup against North Carolina. A late-game change at quarterback from Dungey to Devito provided a huge spark, leading to a comeback overtime win. In his limited time, Devito threw for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rolling with Devito is a high-risk, high-reward strategy for GPPs only. His bargain-basement salary opens up the rest of the roster and if he puts up 20+ fantasy points at this price, he will be a great play.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State ($9,100)
Purdy is a dual-threat freshman quarterback with a big arm. He has been able to connect on multiple deep balls in both of his two starts. Over the last two weeks, he has thrown for 572 yards and 7 touchdowns. Impressive numbers through the air but it is the rushing upside on top of the solid passing numbers that makes Purdy so attractive for our fantasy lineups. Over the last two weeks, he has rushed 30 times for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. In GPPs, you can play Purdy and hope he scores at least once with his legs. If he does, there is a good chance he ends up being a strong tournament play. The $1,300 discount compared to a top quarterback like Kyler Murray is also key. Every little bit of savings we can scrounge up on this slate is crucial.
Jack Coan, Wisconsin ($4,000) only if Hornibrook is out
Starter Alex Hornibrook unexpectedly popped up on the injury report as questionable late in the week amid reports he is in the concussion protocol. If he is unable to go, Coan would make his first start. Wisconsin is averaging just under 200 passing yards and 1.6 passing touchdowns per game this season and would like to lean on the running game if they can. Still, even modest production of 150 yards and 2 touchdowns would allow Coan to produce a strong 3.5x multiple on his salary and would leave you with $56,000 to spend on your other 6 roster spots.
Blake Barnett, South Florida ($9,300)
South Florida hasn’t been a dangerous passing offense (just one game over 265 yards) but Houston is allowing 333 yards per game through the air. In an expected shootout, the Bulls may be forced to throw more than they typically do to keep up with the Cougars. Barnett is also a solid threat as a runner, especially in the red zone (averaging 1.0 rushing touchdowns per game). He is attractive in a game stack with King for GPPs.
We have the same old names at the top in Travis Etienne and Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has the better yardage projection while Etienne has been finding the end zone at a much higher rate. The question is whether you can fit both in or if you are forced to pay down at RB2. David Montgomery is a strong option to at least save a little bit of cap space and lock in 20+ touches and a high floor. Kennedy Brooks and Jafar Armstrong are backups who should see enough touches to make them strong bargain plays in tournaments.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,100)
Etienne is the most expensive non-quarterback on the slate for good reason. He has been a touchdown machine, scoring 11 touchdowns over the last 4 weeks (all ACC opponents). His matchup isn’t great this week. Florida St. has the #21 S&P defense overall and is 28th against the run. Clemson has #15 rushing offense, so it will be a strength-on-strength matchup for Etienne and the Clemson line. The game script is ideal for Etienne, playing as a 16.5-point road favorite. Etienne also had 113 total yards and 2 touchdowns against FSU as a true freshman last season. While Etienne isn’t quite as safe a bet for big yardage numbers as some other backs on the slate, he has the highest touchdown expectation and has a great shot at a multi-touchdown game for the sixth week in a row.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin ($9,700)
Taylor has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game this season and is as safe a bet as there is in college football to rack up a solid rushing total each week. However, his touchdown production has been inconsistent. Over the first two weeks of the season, Taylor scored five times. In the five games since, he has only scored in one game. It feels fluky to see Taylor rush 25+ times, put up 100+ yards, and not get into the end zone. Odds are he finds the end zone this week against Northwestern. With a budget-busting salary, we need him to score to be worth rostering.
David Montgomery, Iowa St. ($8,900)
Montgomery is a talented back, considered the top NFL running back prospect for next spring by many scouts. Iowa State is a 3-point home favorite in a game with a surprisingly low total (56 points). Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising, however. The Cyclones defense has been one of the best in the Big 12 and the Red Raiders defense is much improved as well. Texas Tech has a solid run defense (45th rated in S&P) and is only allowing 141.5 rushing yards per game. Montgomery is talented enough and such a workhorse the mediocre spot shouldn’t scare us too much, though. He had 30 touches last week against West Virginia and has at least 20 touches in every single game this season. Guaranteed volume, talent, and a solid sub $9,000 price tag make Montgomery one of the safest bets at the position on the slate.
others Worth Considering
Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma ($7,700)
Trey Sermon is listed as probable despite suffering a scary-looking knee injury last week. However, he may not be 100% healthy and even if he is, Brooks has been Oklahoma’s best back in recent weeks. At worst, the two should split carries evenly. Oklahoma has a slate-high 44.3-point team total and is a 24.5-point home favorite. The game script sets up perfectly for Brooks to see 15+ carries and he has shown to be explosive enough to make them count. In fact, Brooks is averaging a whopping 10.9 yards per carry on 33 carries this season. Of the sub-$8,000 running backs, Brooks has the highest ceiling for GPPs.
Jafar Armstrong, Notre Dame ($4,000)
Armstrong was running as Notre Dame’s top back early in the season before a knee infection sidelined him for three weeks. In his absence, Dexter Williams exploded onto the scene and has probably locked down the lead role in this backfield moving forward. However, Armstrong should still have a role as a change-of-pace backup. Notre Dame is a 24-point favorite and if the game goes according to script, there could be enough carries to go around in the backfield in the second half. Notre Dame is running 42.7 times per game and should have at least that many if they can jump out to an early lead. Getting a player of Armstrong’s talent level for the bare-minimum is a rare opportunity because the extreme cost savings allow us to absolutely load up the rest of our roster.
Benny Snell, Kentucky ($10,000)
Kentucky’s game plan traveling to Columbia to play Missouri is no secret—they want to pound away with Benny Snell. In their last trip to Columbia, Snell rushed for 192 yards on 38 carries. Last season in Lexington, Snell ran for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns against Mizzou. The Wildcats are road underdogs with a modest 23.8-point team total, which tempers enthusiasm for Snell. However, Snell is such a dominant presence in this offense, he can have a huge fantasy day even if the Wildcats score only 21 points.
The mid-range at wide receiver is loaded this week. Keith Corbin, Courtney Lark, Kelvin Harmon, Hakeem Butler, and T.J. Vasher are each strong options priced in the $8,000s and highlighted below. We just as easily can consider Tee Higgins, Collin Johnson, Tyre McCants, and Jamal Custis (amongst others) in this same range. A balanced build with a couple of these mid-tier guys is attractive this week.
There is also plenty to like above $9,000 if you can find the cap space to get there. Marquez Stevenson, Rondale Moore, and CeeDee Lamb each stand out as high floor, high ceiling options.
Houston Pass Catchers: Marquez Stevenson($9,600), Keith Corbin ($8,800), Courtney Lark ($8,000), and Romello Brooker ($6,200)
Each of Houston’s top four pass catchers is strongly in play this week and fairly priced. The matchup against South Florida should be a high-paced shootout. Stevenson leads the team in catches (40), receiving yards (613) and has accounted for eight touchdowns. He is the top option and priced accordingly. Corbin is the top red zone threat. He has 26 catches for 498 yards and seven touchdowns. He has caught a touchdown in six consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. Lark ranks second on the team in targets (49) and receptions but is narrowly behind the other two in receiving yards and touchdowns. Brooker is a strong receiving tight end. He is averaging just 3.3 targets per game but has 184 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season.
Rondale Moore, Purdue ($9,500)
Moore has been unstoppable this season, leading the Big Ten in targets (76), catches (57), receiving yards (728), and touchdowns (7). The matchup against Michigan St. is a bit tough to figure. Purdue is a 2-point underdog with a team total of just 23 points. However, most of Purdue’s damage should be done through the air. The Spartans have a pass funnel defense, ranking 2nd against the run and just 60th against the pass.
Others Worth Considering
Kelvin Harmon, NC State ($8,600)
Harmon is one of the many attractively priced mid-tier options this week. He is an NFL talent and has 35 catches for 547 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma ($9,200)
Marquise Brown ($10,000) is typically a top option but didn’t look fully healthy with an ankle injury last week. Lamb is usually the 1B option for Kyler Murray but led the way last week with Brown hobbling. Lamb hasn’t put any of the crazy single-game performances Brown has but has been a consistent producer. He has scored a touchdown in 6 straight games and put up 11+ points in each of those games.
TJ Vasher, Texas Tech ($8,200)
Vasher has missed time with injuries but still put up a solid 23-362-4 line in just over 4 games. With the Red Raiders other two key receivers priced way up, Vasher is the cheapest way to get exposure to the productive Texas Tech passing offense.
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State ($8,400)
Butler is a massive human being and has been a major red zone and big play threat. While he has caught just 24 of 47 targets on the season, he is averaging 20 yards per catch (479 yards) and has scored 5 touchdowns. Texas Tech has a strong but beatable defense in what should be a higher-paced game.
Darrell Stewart Jr., Michigan St. ($5,900)
The Spartans have lost their top two receivers with Cody White out and Felton Davis going down for the season last week with a torn ACL. Stewart will be one of three young guys stepping into the void and he will move into Davis’ spot outside. Brian Lewerke has been struggling and is listed as questionable and this isn’t a passing offense worth getting excited about. However, Stewart looks like the top option and we rarely get the opportunity to roster a WR1 for under $6,000.
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