PLAYERS TO START
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming (vs. Hawaii)
After a nice start to the season, Smith's numbers have taken a hit. He's turning the ball over and isn't running the ball well at all. However, this coincides with an improvement in the caliber of Smith's competition. This week, Wyoming plays host to winless, lowly Hawaii. It seems like this will be the week Smith's performance turns around.
Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois (at Purdue)
Scheelhaase only has 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, but he has not had any really bad games, and he's rushed for four touchdowns as well. Plus, Illinois' schedule has been pretty tough, and when Scheelhaase has gotten the chance to face lesser defenses, he's done quite well with the opportunities. A game against Purdue, even on the road, is another chance for Scheelhaase to have a big game. After all, he threw for 450 yards and two touchdowns against Indiana. This is an even better matchup.
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina (vs. Old Dominion)
With Bryn Renner out for the year, Williams has taken over as the starter. While he has been merely decent throwing the ball, Williams brings a lot of value with his feet. He leads the Tar Heels in rushing yards and has rushed for three touchdowns in his last two games. Williams gets a chance to start against a weak opponent this week, as North Carolina entertains an Old Dominion team that is transitioning to the FBS. It could be his first big fantasy game.
Michael Gordon, RB, Arkansas State (vs. Georgia State)
Gordon has not been a significant part of this offense until the last two weeks, but in the last two weeks he's been outstanding. He averages 7.7 carries, and in the last two games, his first with double-digit carries, he's scored seven total touchdowns. That kind of production tends to get you more touches, and Georgia State is a great matchup for Gordon.
Charles Ross, RB, Rice (at UAB)
Ross has rushed for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, even though he missed two games with injury and was slowed by injury in the two games around those. In every other game, he's rushed for at least 101 yards, and last week he rushed for 215 yards and five touchdowns. UAB has given up 56 and 63 points in its last two games, so this game bodes well for Ross in his quest to continue his fine season.
Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford (vs. California)
Gaffney followed his busy day against Oregon with an impressive outing on the road against USC. The Cardinal lost, but Gaffney rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, so clearly he can put up good numbers without an excessive workload. He's scored in six straight games and has rushed for at least 108 yards in five straight. Also, he's facing Cal this week. The only thing that will keep him from having a big game is if Stanford blows out the Bears early before Gaffney has a chance to do much and the backups come in. Given Stanford's run heavy offense, if the Cardinal do put up a ton of points, Gaffney is likely to be a part of it.
Robbie Anderson, WR, Temple (vs. UConn)
Sure, Temple is having an awful season, but its offense has actually sort of looked better recently. Anderson only has 31 catches for 614 yards and five touchdowns, but he did not play in Temple's first three games. All his touchdowns have come in his last three contests, and in his last game Anderson caught eight passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Owls get to host winless Connecticut now, so perhaps Anderson's touchdown streak will continue.
Titus Davis, WR, Central Michigan (vs. UMass)
Davis has at least 109 yards receiving in his last three games, and two of those games saw score. Plus, those two games with touchdowns were against Northern Illinois and Ball State, arguably the two best teams in the MAC. Massachusetts is very much not the best team in the MAC, so Davis could rack up the fantasy points in this one.
Allen Hurns, WR, Miami (FL) (vs. Virginia)
It has been a tough three weeks for the Hurricanes, who have gone from undefeated to an ACC also ran, but this week they have the chance to vent their frustrations on a woeful Virginia team. Hurns has had his best run of play this season in Miami's three losses, and if he can continue that level of play against the Cavaliers, he could put up some impressive numbers.
PLAYERS TO SIT
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan (at Iowa)
Gardner and Michigan's offense has plummeted the last three weeks. He has not thrown for more than one touchdown in his last three games, and last week he rushed for 19 yards on 17 carries, which was a positive since he wasn't held to negative yards. Iowa has a good defense, and Michigan is on the road. Don't expect Gardner to turn things around this week.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana (at Ohio State)/
Indiana's offense has been good this year, especially passing the ball, and Sudfeld does have 2,281 yards passing with 19 touchdowns to nine interceptions. However, he's mostly padded his stats on easy competition. He was kept to less than 100 yards passing against Wisconsin last week, and Ohio State could do something similar to Sudfeld.
Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame (vs. BYU)
Rees is having a good year, throwing for 2,504 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. On the other hand, he has thrown two picks in each of his last two games, and one of those games was against Navy. Notre Dame is at home, but BYU has a good defense, and there are not a lot of tough matchups out there for good quarterbacks this week. That makes Rees a worse option this week than he would be in a vacuum.
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M (at LSU)
Malena is the Aggies' top running back, and he does have 10 total touchdowns, but Johnny Manziel is a largely one man offense. Additionally, other running backs get their share of carries alongside Malena, further limiting his value. Most important, though, this is a road game at LSU, which is a tough matchup for anybody.
Brennan Clay, RB, Oklahoma (at Kansas State)
Clay leads the Sooners in rushing yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, but his performance has been uneven. He's had some big games, but he's also done next to nothing in other games, and he only has four touchdowns this season. Kansas State overcame its opening loss to an FCS team, and its defense has had some good games - the Baylor game sticking out in particular. The Wildcats can probably keep Clay in check.
Brandon Hayes, RB, Memphis (at Louisville)
After not doing much of anything in the season opener, Hayes is having a good season. He has scored a touchdown in four consecutive games and has 807 total yards on the season. That said, other than Duke, there hasn't been a good defense on the docket. Louisville has a very good defense. The Cardinals should limit Hayes' output in this game.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri (at Ole Miss)
Green-Beckham has 40 receptions for 579 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, and James Franklin is likely to be back under center for Missouri this week. However, 100 of those yards and four of those touchdowns came against Kentucky. DGB has only one other 100-yard receiving game, against Indiana, and one other multi-touchdown game, versus Arkansas State. This is all to say, Green-Beckham has done most of his damage against cupcake opponents. A road game against Ole Miss is not that.
Chris Harper, WR, California (at Stanford)
While Cal is still 10th in the FBS in passing yards per game, those have been mostly empty calories, as the Golden Bears are 95th in points per game. In Harper's last three games, he hasn't had more than 25 yards, as a bad season has gotten worse. Now Cal is visiting rival Stanford and its foreboding defense? Don't expect things to get any better for Harper this week.
Ezell Ruffin, WR, San Diego State (vs. Boise State)
Ruffin has 947 yards in 10 games this season, but he only has three touchdowns, two of which came against New Mexico. Ruffin has had good games against good teams, so he hasn't completely feasted on bottom feeders, but he has also been held in check on occasion, including two weeks ago against San Jose State. Given his lack of scoring, and a matchup against a good Boise State team, this doesn't look like a game where Ruffin will find much success.