James Washington, RB, North Carolina State
Washington's production this year is far from impressive - he averages just 4.0 yards per carry - but he's still a good option this week against a Maryland run defense that has been helpless in 2011. The Terrapins have allowed a jaw-dropping 2,240 rushing yards in their last nine games, surrendering 24 touchdowns on the ground in that span. That's an average of 249 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game. Given that, anything less than 100 total yards and a touchdown would have to be considered a faceplant for Washington.
Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina
Renner has been much sharper at home this year (12 total touchdowns, four interceptions in six games) than on the road (nine touchdowns, seven interceptions in five games), and this week he has a home matchup against an especially vulnerable Duke pass defense. The Blue Devils allow 8.6 yards per pass attempt while allowing 20 touchdowns through the air compared to just five interceptions. Look for North Carolina to show a merciless gameplan Saturday, playing aggressively from start to finish as the Tar Heels attempt to set up their first-year signal caller for a big regular season finish and a confidence boost heading into 2012.
Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers
The instability of the Rutgers backfield (Jeremy Deering led the team with 14 carries two weeks ago only to receive four carries last week) makes Jamison primarily a deep league consideration, but it's still difficult to dismiss what he did against Cincinnati on Saturday. Jamison lit up what was previously an accomplished run defense, bolting for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Even after Jamison ran over them, the Bearcats still boasted an average of just 2.7 yards per carry allowed this season. Cincinnati allowed just 2.4 yards per carry prior to Saturday.
Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh
After looking rather awful for the first seven games of 2011, Sunseri has puzzlingly come to life the last three weeks despite facing three fairly competent pass defenses. Connecticut, Cincinnati and Louisville combine to allow 7.4 yards per pass with a combined 45 touchdowns and 33 interceptions in 31 games. Against those three teams Sunseri totaled 833 passing yards (8.2 yards per attempt), four touchdowns and one interception while running for 135 yards and three touchdowns. He should be a decent play Friday as Pittsburgh attempts to keep up with West Virginia's high-powered offense.
Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State
B.J. Cunningham is still Michigan State's top receiver, so Martin is primarily a deep-league option, but there are still worse gambles to take given his favorable matchup this week, as well as the fact that his production has seen a sharp increase the last month or two. After starting the year with 19 catches for just 177 yards and no touchdowns in his first five games, adding just eight yards on the ground, Martin has gone off for 32 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns while running for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the six games since. He goes against a vulnerable Northwestern pass defense this week and should get his number called a fair amount as Michigan State tries to match Northwestern's quick-strike pace.
Derek Moye, WR, Penn State
The Penn State passing game is a mess and Moye's numbers suffer for it, but this week's matchup with Wisconsin gives him a good opportunity to post some quality numbers. Not only is Wisconsin likely to put up points and force the Nittany Lions to throw more than usual, but Moye's skill set matches up well with Wisconsin's vulnerable secondary. The only Wisconsin cornerback who is consistently better than average is Antonio Fenelus, but even the 5-foot-8ish Fenelus is a questionable matchup against Moye, who is probably a legitimate 6-4.
Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
Robert Griffin III has thrown 33 touchdowns through 10 games this year, and this week the Baylor offense takes on a Texas Tech squad that almost always gets itself into shootouts. The Red Raiders average 33.1 points per game while allowing 36.8 per game. More specifically, Tech allows 8.5 yards per pass attempt and has given up 21 touchdowns through the air compared to just five interceptions. Given all of that, the Baylor passing game should go nuts Saturday, and Reese has a good shot at being heavily involved. While he's generally behind Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams in the Baylor passing attack, Reese has been quietly productive almost all of 2011, totaling 41 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns the last eight weeks.
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M
Cyrus Gray is questionable for Thursday's showdown with Texas due to a shoulder injury, which makes Malena worth a look in Big-12-only and some deep leagues. The matchup is hardly ideal - the Longhorns allow just 3.1 yards per carry - but any back who gets the starting spot in the Texas A&M offense figures to get a good amount of touches.
Tyler Smith, RB, Rice
The Rice offense is probably goofier than any in the country, but it seems as if Smith has managed to carve out a steady role the last month despite the rest of the offense remaining in unpredictable chaos. The last four weeks Smith has totaled 488 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while adding 22 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown. He's a must-own in all formats.
Justin Johnson, WR, Houston
Patrick Edwards is clearly the top receiver for Houston, but Johnson has quietly turned into the team's second-best option this year. His upside is limited due to Edwards hogging an average of 120 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game, but Johnson has 804 yards and eight touchdowns this year, including 396 yards and four touchdowns the last five weeks. He should be more active than usual as Houston attempts to outgun Tulsa's high-powered offense this week.
Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame
Rees is only worth a look in deep leagues this week, but he could be a surprisingly decent spot starter as the Irish take on a high-scoring Stanford squad. The Cardinal averag 45 points per game, which should force Notre Dame to air it out more than usual, particularly with top running back Jonas Gray expected to miss the rest of the year with a knee injury.
Jahwan Edwards, RB, Ball State
If you're in need of a running back and the Edwards owner in your league dropped him due to his month-long 100-yard game drought, Edwards could be a good pickup for your team. The Toledo run defense is tough by MAC standards, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry this year, but Edwards should have more of a stranglehold on the Ball State running game than he previously did this year, as Barrington Scott, who regularly stole double-digit carries, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury. Averaging 15 carries per game, Edwards should make a push for 20 carries against the Rockets.
Chleb Ravenell, WR, Western Michigan
Ravenell has quietly picked up his game the last few weeks, totaling 23 catches for 352 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. He heads into a Friday matchup against an Akron defense that has allowed 7.9 yards per pass attempt this year while allowing 16 passing touchdowns compared to just two interceptions, and the Western Michigan offense is at full throttle at the moment. With the Zips undoubtedly more worried about Jordan White than Ravenell, the matchup couldn't be much more inviting.
Chris Nwoke, RB, Colorado State
Nwoke had a rough go of it against TCU on Saturday, running for just 60 yards on 21 carries. In the three games before that, however, he totaled 481 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 68 carries, good for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Expect him to bounce back in a big way this week as the Rams take on an Air Force defense allowing 219 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game on the ground this year.
Phillip Payne, WR, UNLV
The instability of the UNLV passing game makes Payne too risky outside of deep leagues, but he could pay off as a gamble in the right scenario this week. The Rebels face a San Diego State squad that can score points but doesn't play great defense. The Aztecs figure to force UNLV to throw the ball, and Payne is the best bet to catch whatever the defense doesn't.
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Mannion has been up and down in his redshirt freshman season, but he's a surprisingly viable fantasy option in most cases due to his high pass attempt volume - his last nine games have seen him average 42.1 passes per game. With an average of 7.1 yards per attempt, the result is a big chunk of yardage, even if the touchdown total (13) is modest. Mannion faces a competent Oregon defense this week, but the Ducks' ability to score quickly makes him a good bet to approach 50 or more pass attempts.
Marshall Lobbestael, QB, Washington State
Lobbestael lost his starting spot to both Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, struggling in the games he did start between the benchings. But he could be a good deep-league gamble this week as he takes on a weak Washington pass defense in his final college game. Tuel and Halliday are both out due to injuries, leaving Lobbestael as the clear starter against a Huskies squad that just allowed 339 yards and two touchdowns through the air against Oregon State redshirt freshman Sean Mannion.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia
Like the entire Georgia roster, Mitchell's performance against a weak Kentucky squad Saturday was not impressive. Don't expect the Bulldogs to look as flat as they take on in-state rival Georgia Tech this week, though. Although an ACC school, Tech usually finds a way to score points against Georgia - it put up 34 in 2010, 24 in 2009 and 45 the year before that. As long as the Yellow Jackets put Georgia up to the usual test, the Bulldogs will need to throw the ball a fair amount. In that scenario, Mitchell is a good bet to post at least 80 yards and a touchdown.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The presences of Trent Richardson and Jalston Fowler limit Lacy's utility to deep leagues, but he should get more work than usual this week against an Auburn squad that has no on-paper means of slowing down or scoring on Alabama. The Tigers are a bit better at home, but they only combined to post 21 points against Arkansas and Georgia this year. The Tide bring a defense that's far fiercer, so this should get out of hand quickly.
Eric Thomas, WR, Troy
It's been a disappointing year on the whole for Troy, but Thomas has been a bright spot. The sophomore has 51 catches for 709 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games, including nine for 198 yards and four touchdowns over the last two weeks. The Trojans face a Western Kentucky squad this week that's much stronger than past years, but still is a bit vulnerable against the pass.
Jonathan Perry, QB, UAB
Perry has been a bit up and down this year and is therefore ideally approached in deeper leagues, but he has been impressive the last two weeks. After throwing for 410 yards and four touchdowns while running for 47 yards against Memphis on Nov. 12, Perry threw for 236 yards and a touchdown while running for 49 yards and another touchdown against a much tougher Southern Mississippi defense on Thursday. He faces a Florida Atlantic team this week that might be the worst team in the nation, sitting at 0-10 while allowing 35.5 points per game.
Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech
Cameron continues to impress since taking back over the starting quarterback role for Louisiana Tech. He lost the job to Nick Isham during the preseason, but in his three conference starts since getting the job back at the end of October, his numbers have been excellent. In those three games he has 950 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 79 yards on the ground. He should probably be owned in most or all scenarios as Tech takes on a New Mexico State squad allowing 37.3 points per game, as well as 22 passing touchdowns in 11 games.
Matt Faulkner, QB, San Jose State
He doesn't get the ball to the end zone with great frequency, but Faulkner has quietly put up big yardage numbers for most of 2011. In his last eight games, Faulkner has averaged 309 yards per game, throwing 11 touchdown passes over the span. He takes on a Fresno State defense this week that has been extremely weak against the pass, allowing 8.0 yards per pass attempt while surrendering 19 passing touchdowns and making just four interceptions.