P.J. Walker, QB, Temple
The Temple offense looked like one of the nation's worst for the five or six games of the year, as starting quarterback Connor Reilly faceplanted in the team's new offensive system, but the Owls have a new reason for hope since Walker took over as Reilly's replacement. Walker has posted superb numbers so far, completing 59-of-97 passes (60.8 percent completed) for 891 yards (9.2 YPA), nine touchdowns and three interceptions while showing standout dual-threat ability with 191 yard (4.3 YPC) and a touchdown on the ground. The Temple pass defense is among the nation's worst, allowing 15 touchdowns while intercepting just two passes in eight games, so the Owls will continue to have reason to call an aggressive game plan for Walker.
Paul James, RB, Rutgers
It's no guarantee James will be back on the field for Rutgers this week - he was given a somewhat nebulous prognosis of "at least three weeks" for his unspecified leg injury, and he missed his third game in four weeks as Rutgers played Houston on Saturday. His return should be imminent, however, and James was one of the nation's elite runners prior to his injury, totaling 573 yards (7.4 YPC) and six touchdowns in four games. Those who need running back help might want to add James now just in case he's declared active for this week's game against Temple. If James doesn't play, backup Justin Goodwin should have another big game after torching Houston for 161 yards and two touchdowns on the ground Saturday.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
James Wilder sat out Saturday's game against North Carolina State due to a concussion, but even if he returns to play against Miami this weekend, Florida State likely will continue to give Freeman a healthy workload. You don't give your backup players tuneup snaps in what might be the most important conference matchup of the season, so the Seminoles should consistently give Freeman the ball to ensure a (big) victory. Freeman received 21 carries in a similar matchup against Clemson on Oct. 19, a game in which he posted 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Look for him to do at least that well against Miami.
Wake Forest Defense
The Demon Deacons haven't been known for strong defenses in recent years - they averaged 30.3 points per game in the four seasons prior to this one - but Wake has quietly played tough defense in 2013, holding Miami to 24 points while allowing 20.8 points per game. Those in need of a waiver-wire defense this week should definitely consider Wake Forest as it takes on Syracuse, a team that just got shut out by Georgia Tech and has been turnover prone all year. Since throwing for seven touchdowns and no interceptions against Wagner and Tulane, quarterback Terrel Hunt has thrown six interceptions and no touchdowns on just 194 yards in his last three games, while backup Drew Allen has two touchdowns compared to eight interceptions on the year.
Desmond Roland, RB, Oklahoma State
Roland began the year as backup to start Jeremy Smith, but Smith's struggles on the year (3.3 YPC on 82 attempts) forced the Cowboys to turn to Roland as the feature back against Iowa State on Saturday. Roland couldn't have been much more dominant against the Cyclones, torching them for 219 yards (8.4 YPC) and four touchdowns on 26 carries. Roland faces a Texas Tech defense this week that just allowed 277 yards (5.5 YPC) and three touchdowns on the ground against Oklahoma, and he faces a helpless Kansas squad the week after that.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
Lockett struggled through inconsistent quarterback play and a leg injury in his two games prior to Saturday's contest against West Virginia, missing Kansas State's Oct. 12 game against Baylor and catching two passes for six yards against Oklahoma State the week prior, but Lockett's eight catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns against West Virginia on Saturday indicate that he's more than ready to continue producing in his breakout season. Lockett opened the year with back-to-back 100-yard efforts and torched Texas for 237 yards on 13 catches, so you have to like his chances of producing against Iowa State and Texas Tech the next two weeks.
Bill Belton, RB, Penn State
Incumbent starting running back Zach Zwinak has had fumble troubles for Penn State lately, and Belton has capitalized on the increased workload he was given as a result. Although he struggled in his first year at running back last season, he's steadily shedding the "tweener" label in his transition from receiver, averaging 5.1 yards per carry this year. Belton has 183 yards and a touchdown on the ground over the last two weeks, and his status as a former wideout gives him potential as a pass catcher, too - he has two touchdowns this year on nine catches.
Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois
Ferguson owners should have kept him inactive against the ruthless Michigan State defense on Saturday, but it's time to fire him up again as the talented dual-threat running back takes on the much friendlier defense of Penn State. The Nittany Lions allow 4.0 yards per carry and have surrendered 12 rushing touchdowns in seven games this year, and allowed Indiana runner Tevin Coleman to catch seven passes for 55 yards on Oct. 5. That makes this week's game look like a nice on-paper matchup for Ferguson, who has 25 catches for 361 yards and three scores to go with his 66 carries for 361 yards (5.5 YPC) and two scores on the ground.
Essray Taliaferro, RB, Marshall
The Marshall backfield is a scary one for fantasy owners to approach - the Thundering Herd seems to switch from Kevin Grooms, to Steward Butler to Remi Watson to Taliferro with little or no notice - but it's Taliferro who has the clearly hot hand, and his recent standout production makes him a curiosity for those who need help at running back. Taliaferro ran for 134 yards (5.6 YPC) and two touchdowns against Middle Tennessee on Thursday, and he ran for 105 yards on 26 carries against a tough Virginia Tech defense on Sept. 21. He has the most momentum of any Marshall runner as the Thundering Herd takes on a Southern Mississippi squad that has surrendered 24 touchdowns on the ground in just seven games this year.
Jordan Howard, RB, UAB
Darrin Reaves remains a prominent part of the UAB backfield, but the former feature back has had his role reduced in recent weeks as Howard has seen his own greatly expand. Reaves has been completely flat in the last month, running for just 201 yards on 57 carries, a rushing average of 3.5 yards per carry, which led UAB to turn to Howard. Howard has 436 yards (7.5 YPC) and two touchdowns in those five games, adding a third touchdown and 43 more yards as a receiver. His workload has especially picked up in the last two weeks, a span in which he's taken 32 carries for 249 yards and a touchdown (7.8 YPC).
Cam McDaniel, RB, Notre Dame
The waiver options among the independents are quite thin this week - as they are most weeks - so just skip past this one unless you're in a really vicious deep league. McDaniel could come in handy this week for an owner in such a league who's desperate for running back help, however. Although he was expected to serve as Notre Dame's third runner heading into this year, he has established himself as the favorite runner of coach Brian Kelly in recent weeks. After running for 61 yards on 10 carries against Air Force on Saturday, McDaniel is up to 235 rushing yards in his last three games. This week's matchup with Navy would be a reasonable setting for McDaniel to score his third rushing touchdown of the season.
Rob Blanchflower, TE, Massachusetts
It's too bad that Blanchflower doesn't play for a more prolific offense because it seems clear at this point that he's one of the nation's best receiving tight ends. Although he didn't catch a pass as his offense was shut down against Buffalo on Oct. 19, Blanchflower has 12 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns in two of his last three games. He ought to get the ball at least a few times as Massachusetts takes on Northern Illinois this week. The Huskies offense is run-based, but it should score with such ease Saturday that Massachusetts should still run plenty of drives. Northern Illinois allowed at least 245 passing yards in all but one game this year, and Blanchflower should approach 100 yards if Massachusetts can reach that mark.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
David Fluellen is one of the nation's elite running backs and the obvious star of the Toledo football team, but he was a game-time decision for Saturday's game against Bowling Green with a back injury, and then he left the game with an ankle issue after running for 61 yards on three carries. That likely means Fluellen is questionable for this week's game against Eastern Michigan, a team that Toledo should beat with or without Fluellen's assistance. Hunt is the main reason that statement is true - he's been a beast for Toledo the last two weeks, running for 241 yards (6.7 YPC) and three touchdowns while Fluellen dealt with injuries. If Hunt starts against Eastern Michigan or merely secures 15 carries, his owners should feel entitled to at least 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Eastern Michigan has allowed 31 rushing touchdowns already this year, as well as 2,051 yards.
Tyler Winston, WR, San Jose State
The Spartans were so deep at receiver at the start of this year that Winston was at one point listed as a defensive back on the team's roster. But longtime star wideout Noel Grigsby went down with a season-ending injury after two games, and emerging third wideout Jabari Carr was suffered an injury not long afterward. That forced San Jose State to turn to Winston, who came through in a big way by catching 23 passes for 481 yards and three touchdowns in the last three weeks. Carr is set to return any day, but even if he does, Winston might permanently be ahead of him on the depth chart. Winston has been nothing less than dominant, and the Spartans have no good reason to reduce his snaps while he's playing like this.
Caleb Herring, QB, UNLV
Aside from a 161-yard, one-touchdown letdown on the road against Fresno State on Oct. 19, Herring has quietly put up big passing numbers the last month. In the other three of his last four games, Herring totaled 1,013 yards and eight touchdowns compared to one interception. He also had 50 yards and a touchdown on the ground in those three games. Herring is a good bet to produce more passing yardage this week against the shootout-prone San Jose State Spartans, a team that has allowed 40, 27, 27 and 44 points in its last four games, respectively.
B.J. Denker, QB, Arizona
It would be a mild miracle if Denker is still available in your format, and he's a player to add immediately if you have room for another quarterback. His passing production has improved significantly after a discouraging start to the year (445 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 4.9 YPA in the first four games), and he's quickly become one of the most productive running quarterbacks in the country. After burning Colorado for 192 yards on the ground Saturday, Denker is up to 516 yards (5.8 YPC) and eight touchdowns in seven appearances, and he has 796 yards and six touchdowns as a passer the last three weeks, too.
Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State
Gabe Marks remains ahead of Mayle in the box score for Washington State, but Mayle continues to come on strong in recent weeks and appears to be a real threat to finish the year as Washington State's top fantasy receiver outside of PPR formats (Marks' 59 receptions give him a nice cushion in those leagues). Listed at 6-foot-3, 240, Mayle has rare red-zone potential for the Cougars, with five touchdowns on just 21 catches this year. There's reason to expect his catch total to continue climbing, however, because the Cougars have only recently made Mayle a prominent part of the offense - 14 of his catches have come in the last three weeks alone, and he posted a season-high seven catches against Oregon on Oct. 19. The Cougars will be in constant shootout mode against Arizona State this week, and recent trends indicate Mayle is a good bet to be involved with any trips the team makes to the end zone.
Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
Fred Taylor's son is finally getting his chance as starter for Florida, and even against a fairly competent Georgia run defense, there's reason to hope for a breakout game this week. The Florida offense is legitimately bad, but the team's choice to start the plodding Mack Brown (3.6 YPC) at running back has been a significant contributor to its awful performance so far, and Taylor (6.1 YPC) might single-handedly spark the offense. Taylor was one of the elite recruits of 2013, and he should exceed 100 yards on the ground as long as he approaches 20 carries.
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
The Auburn offense is all about the ground game and therefore Coates looks a bit hit-or-miss on paper, but there's no doubt that he's emerging as one of the nation's top talents at receiver. After catching just six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns a year ago, Coates has turned into one of the country's elite deep threats so far this year, posting 536 yards on just 21 catches, averaging 25.5 yards per reception. He seems to be catching fire as the season moves along, as he has 217 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Give Coates an upgrade in the rankings if quarterback Nick Marshall (shoulder) sits out against Arkansas this week, as backup Jeremy Johnson is a superior passer.
Ross Metheny, QB, South Alabama
A former Virginia transfer, Metheny has turned into a strong dual-threat producer in the Sun Belt for South Alabama. Despite backup Brandon Bridge (378 yards, one touchdown passing and 140 yards, one touchdown rushing) occasionally stealing some of his workload, Metheny heads into his eighth game with strong numbers on the year. He has 1,589 yards (8.3 YPA), nine touchdowns and five interceptions through the air and 282 yards (4.7 YPC) and eight touchdowns on the ground. That's about 23 fantasy points per week in standard scoring.
Tyler Jones, QB, Texas State
Jones is a freshman starter who's working through the raw parts of his game, so he's only a consideration for Sun Belt-only and deep formats. He has the dual-threat skill set, and the offensive scheme necessary to be useful in fantasy football if he continues to develop, though, and this week's match with a weak Idaho squad should be an especially favorable situation for him. Jones threw for 218 yards (8.7 YPA), two touchdowns and an interception against South Alabama on Saturday while running for 68 yards, leaving one to wonder how Jones might fare against a Vandals defense allowing 316 passing yards per game and 27 passing touchdowns in just eight contests.