This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We head into Week 9 with a large chunk of heavy favorites on the slate, with Alabama topping the bunch at -30.5 over Mississippi State. Michigan checks in second versus rival Michigan State as 24.5-point favorites alongside Clemson's -24.5, though that line is shrinking following news Thursday evening that Trevor Lawrence will miss the contest after testing positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, the Tigers have star signal-callers waiting in the wings and D.J. Uiagelelei, who was the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class per 247 Composite, is set for his first career start. and Notre Dame is also expected to top Georgia Tech by 20.5 to round out the top-tier favorites. The three clubs comprise three of the top four expected scoring totals this week as well, with Bama topping the charts at 47.0, Clemson coming in at 40.5 and Notre Dame sitting fourth at 39.5. Sandwiched between them is Oklahoma, who is a 14.5-point favorite over Texas Tech and expected to total 41.5 points. That contest also checks in second in terms of the over-under (66.5) behind Louisville-Virginia Tech (67.5).
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Week 9 Plays
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma ($10,200) at Texas Tech
Among the heavy favorites Saturday, Oklahoma's expected 14.5-point advantage is the tamest spread, suggesting the game could remain relatively close throughout. The Red Raiders allow the opposition 78.6 plays per contest, good for second on the slate. Texas Tech has also struggled mightily against the pass, letting up 8.2 yards per attempt and 2.8 passing touchdowns per contest. While Rattler's early tenure under center has been shaky, he's still managed to top 27 FanDuel points in all but last week's game versus TCU. There's a good chance he returns to that threshold Saturday given that the Red Raiders have been fairly stout against opposing run games thus far.
Ian Book, Notre Dame ($9,700) at Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets' defense has been a dumpster fire across the board and even more so over the past two weeks, having given up a combined 121 points to Clemson and Boston College. Notre Dame's offense has churned out 42-plus points in three of the five games thus far and the matchup tends to favor another big scoring output. That should work out favorably for Book, who seems to be finally be developing a rapport with his pass catchers and is coming off a season-best 312 passing yards versus Pitt. Georgia Tech has given up three passing touchdowns per contest on average and another 2.2 per contest on the ground. That fits right in the wheelhouse for Book, who also has five rushing scores over the past four contests.
TJ Finley, LSU ($8,600) at Auburn
There isn't much appeal down the list of quarterbacks this week, but Finley may have the best chance to return value among the signal-callers under the $9,000 salary threshold. On the outside, a matchup with an Auburn defense surrendering just 220.4 passing yards per game, 7.4 yards per attempt and 1.6 passing touchdowns per contest doesn't seem particularly appealing. However, the Tigers haven't exactly faced the cream of the crop when it comes to passing attacks. Finley handled himself well in his collegiate debut, completing 81 percent of his passes for 265 yards and a 2:1 TD:INT ratio while adding 24 yards and a score on the ground. The Tigers (LSU) were also able to take the foot off the gas in that game by taking a 31-10 lead into the halftime locker room. Finley compiled 216 of his passing yards before halftime and attempted just three passes in the second half. That seems unlikely to be the case Saturday as minimal favorites against Auburn (-1.5), so the passing attack should remain in high gear throughout.
Another to Consider: Joe Milton, Michigan ($9,200) vs. Michigan State
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,000) vs. Boston College
While I would rarely deviate from Najee Harris ($10,800) atop the running back board and will likely still draft him in some lineups, Etienne may be the biggest beneficiary of the change under center. With a true freshman under center in D.J. Uiagelelei, I would anticipate coach Dabo Swinney taking things a bit easy with him and taking some of the pressure off by getting the run game involved. The Tigers are still 24.5-point favorites, so the game script calls for plenty of rushing attempts and potentially a significant number of check downs in the passing game, of which Etienne has also proven efficient, reeling in 22 of his 26 targets for 294 yards and a score. The Boston College defense has also yielded 4.5 yards per attempt and north of 165.3 rushing yards per contest, so the matchup also checks out just fine.
Javian Hawkins, Louisville ($9,400) vs Virginia Tech
To be frank, I'm perfectly fine with giving the hat tip to either Hawkins or Khalil Herbert in a contest featuring two porous rush defenses. Hawkins gets the slight edge for me with the prospect of Hassan Hall potentially missing out on another contest. He finished with a season-high 65 percent carry share in the first game without Hall versus Notre Dame and dominated the touches for the first half and into the early second last week against Florida State before the game got out of hand in favor of the Cardinals and the backups were let loose. With Saturdays line featuring a minuscule 3.5-point spread, Hawkins should be in for a healthy dose of usage in a favorable matchup.
Tank Bigsby, Auburn ($8,900) vs. LSU
Bigsby has seen his stranglehold on Auburn's rushing attack only grow in recent weeks, topping 50 percent of the rushes for the first time this season last Saturday despite Shaun Shivers returning from injury. The increased workload led to a season-best 129 rushing yards and his first multi-touchdown game of the season. He should carry a hefty weight again this week into a matchup with an LSU defense that is allowing 29.9 points per game to opposing running backs. The only downside is that a decent chunk of the damage done by running backs has come in the passing attack, of which Bigsby has no contributions in the last two contests. However, he did reel in 11 passes on 13 targets in the previous two games, so the ability to contribute in that facet of the game plan remains in play for him. If he's more involved as a pass-catcher as well Saturday, that increases his chances of turning out another big day.
Devyn Ford, Penn State ($6,800) vs. Ohio State
While much of last week's success against the Buckeyes came with quarterbacks running the football, many of them were designed runs as well that gashed the defense. It's fairly rare that you can get an expected workhorse at a salary this low, and that's exactly what Ford is set to be due to the season-ending injuries for Noah Cain and Journey Brown. After Cain left last Saturday, Ford took over the lead role and rushed 20 times for 69 yards and a score while also reeling in three passes for another 11 yards. As 11.5-point underdogs, the Nittany Lions could still have a chance to keep the game close enough to keep the run game involved against a Buckeye defense that was gashed for six yards per carry last week.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Terrace Marshall, LSU ($10,000) vs. Auburn
While Marshall was only targeted seven times last week versus South Carolina, it's worth noting that that accounted for 35 percent of the team target share for the week, which is a season-high single-game percentage for Marshall. The Tigers were able to turn off the passing game for much of the second half last week in a blowout win, but not before Marshall and Finley connected for a pair of touchdowns. With Finley set to take the reins again Saturday, Marshall could be in for another heft target share that should warrant his salary despite it topping the board again this week. With the game expected to be much closer than last Saturday's affair, we should get a whole game's worth of production out of Marshall this time around.
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State ($8,500) vs. Penn State
Wilson had the training wheels on as a freshman last season working behind seniors K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor but they were taken off in the opener. Wilson reeled in all of his seven targets for 129 yards and a touchdown versus Nebraska. That equates to 18.4 yards per target, good for the best mark on the slate among any player averaging more than five targets per contest (albeit on a one-game sample size). The next closest is teammate Chris Olave (14.9) and then Terrace Marshall (14.2), who is the only healthy player on the slate (Jaylen Waddle averaged 19.2 yards/target but is out for the season) averaging more than 14.0 yards/target and more than six targets among all players who have played more than one contest. Wilson's damage came despite the Buckeyes holding a healthy second-half lead that allowed them to focus on the rushing attack. With Saturday's contest against the Nittany Lions expected to be closer at just an 11.5-point spread, Wilson may be engaged deeper into the second half and could see a few more looks.
The likely season-ending injury for Jaylen Waddle last week opened the door for Slade Bolden to take the field consistently last week for the first time all season and he didn't disappoint, reeling in six passes for 94 yards versus Tennessee. Bolden is slightly undersized at 5-foot-11, so reaching the end zone consistently may not be part of his typical identity, but Bolden should be in for a healthy number of targets moving forward. It's also worth noting that Baker has reportedly raised some eyebrows in practice and could be in line for some reps moving forward. It's certainly a risky play to include Baker in a lineup and would likely be only advisable in GPPs where you are looking for a bottom-of-the-board filler who could have some upside.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame ($6,200) at Georgia Tech
Mayer had done very little to date to inspire much confidence from a fantasy standpoint prior to last week, but that's what makes him the perfect GPP play. With Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy down this week, Mayer figures to step into a larger role in the Fighting Irish offense. Despite owning just 12 receptions to his name through the first five games, two of them (16.7 percent) have gone for scores. He also saw a significant jump to a season-high eight targets last week when Austin and Lenzy went down, suggesting he could be in for a sizable number of looks versus a Yellow Jackets defense that is surrendering nearly eight yards per pass attempt and more than 280 passing yards per game, not to mention three passing scores per contest. He should be a primary target in the red zone again Saturday and comes at a steeply discounted salary.