This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
DraftKings' Week 9 slate offers a bit of a new challenge. There are 15 games on the docket as opposed to the 17 games we've been accustomed to. And not only is the talent pool smaller, it's without nearly all of the obvious weekly stacks. No TCU, no Baylor, no Bowling Green, no Western Kentucky.
It's a week where many players are going to have to alter their strategy a bit. Two games (Tulsa-SMU and Oklahoma State-Texas Tech) have totals approaching 80, while USC-California sits near 70, but none of these games have great stacking options due to price, and the teams' proclivity to spread the ball around.
Treon Harris, Florida (vs. Georgia) - $5,100
Simply put, Harris seems like the best of the cheap options. Georgia boasts a top-30 defense against the run and the pass, but this rivalry matchup usually proves you can throw stats out the window. Harris threw for 271 yards and two scores in his last start at LSU, and ran 13 times for good measure. I don't love this pick, nor do I see a ton of upside in Harris. But it's going to cost you at least $1,000 more to upgrade to someone like Colorado's Sefo Liufau in order to get into another tier of quarterbacks. If you're bargain hunting, Harris is the safest choice.
Kyler Murray, Texas A&M (vs. South Carolina) - $5,100
Murray is the first of a few speculative options in this column. He's proven very little as a passer, but with Kyle Allen struggling and seemingly not fully healthy, the Aggies have re-opened their quarterback competition and face a manageable South Carolina defense. If Murray gets the nod as the starter, it seems likely he'll have a successful day with his legs, which gives him major fantasy appeal. Anything his arm produces would be gravy.
Akrum Wadley, Iowa (vs. Maryland) - $5,700
It doesn't seem to matter who the Hawkeyes plug in as their lead back. Jordan Canzeri has been ruled out for the game already, and Wadley scored four times in relief of Canzeri two weeks ago. Maryland bit me last week by containing Penn State's Saquon Barkley, I'm not expecting lightning to strike twice.
Tra Carson, Texas A&M (vs. South Carolina) - $4,500
Consistency has not been Carson's forte, which may make him an even better option this week. He's tallied only 94 yards total in the past two weeks while not scoring. Prior to that, he had three games with at least 96 yards and scored four times. It seems as though Carson is simply due for a better performance, and facing a South Carolina defense that is vulnerable against the run offers that opportunity. South Carolina is allowing 200.1 yards on the ground, which includes a 26-yard shutdown of Central Florida. And with questions under center for the Aggies, there's even more reason for them to lean on Carson.
Ervin Philips, Syracuse (at Florida State) - $3,800
Philips production comes off as a bit of smoke and mirrors, but it would be wrong to outright dismiss his current success. He's scored four times in four games and is a valuable pass catcher from his listed running back slot, averaging five catches over his last three. Philips hasn't produced a game with under 14 fantasy points and while the matchup isn't perfect, the price point appears to be.
Others to consider: Zack Langer, Tulsa (at SMU) - $5,400; Brandon Wilds, South Carolina (at Texas A&M) - $4,600; Kelvin Taylor, Florida (vs. Georgia) - $5,600; Soso Jamabo, UCLA (vs. Colorado) - $5,300; Xavier Jones, SMU (vs. Tulsa) - $4,100
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin (vs. Rutgers) - $5,200
Erickson is on a three-game tear where he's caught 26 passes for 292 yards, but unfortunately just one touchdown. He supplemented that last week with 81 yards rushing and now gets to face a Rutgers team that seemingly can't stop anyone. They've allowed an average of 44.0 points, 359.3 yards passing and nine receiving touchdowns in the last three weeks. Erickson is safe at worst, and seems to offer some upside in this matchup.
Courtland Sutton, SMU (vs. Tulsa) - $4,900
Sutton has scored in all but one game this season and faces a Tulsa defense that ranks 121st nationally against the pass, allowing 301 yards weekly. I don't trust quarterback Matt Davis to flirt with that number, but the game has a total of 76 suggesting there will be enough opportunity for Sutton to make a few plays even if Davis uses his legs more than his arm.
James Washington, Oklahoma State (at Texas Tech) - $4,400
Washington comes in to the contest averaging 19.1 fantasy points in his last three outings, and that includes a 5.0 point stinker against West Virginia. He's topped 100 yards while scoring in the other two contests. The Cowboys spread the ball around too much to truly have faith in their options, but Washington's price isn't prohibitive and it allows a buy-in on the slate's projected highest scoring contest.
Others to consider: Ricardo Louis, Auburn (vs. Ole Miss) - $5,000;
My PICKS THIS WEEK
QB – Treon Harris, Florida (vs. Georgia) - $5,100
QB – Josh Rosen, UCLA (vs. Colorado) - $7,600
RB – Tra Carson, Texas A&M (vs. South Carolina) - $4,500
RB – Akrum Wadley, Iowa (vs. Maryland) - $5,700
WR – Alex Erickson, Wisconsin (vs. Rutgers) - $5,200
WR – Courtland Sutton, SMU (vs. Tulsa) - $4,900
WR – Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (at Auburn) - $6,700
FLEX – Thomas Duarte, UCLA (vs. Colorado) - $5,700
FLEX – Brandon Wilds, South Carolina (at Texas A&M) - $4,600
I snuck in a UCLA stack, which I feel pretty good about. The total in that game is approaching 70, and with running back Paul Perkins dealing with a knee injury, I expect Rosen to throw often against a suspect Buffalo defense.
If I can gain some confidence in Kyler Murray starting, and going the distance, I like his upside vastly more than Harris. The second quarterback slot has killed me this season, but I don't see any obvious choices to downgrade in order to buy up from Harris. Old habits die hard I suppose, as this week could make even more sense to spend on two solid signal callers with the normal expensive options not in the player pool. The only real option may be Treadwell, but it's hard to give up a guy that has three straight 100-yard games with four total touchdowns.
I like Wilds as a cheaper running back option, as Texas A&M has allowed at least 196 yards on the ground in four straight, including last week's 230 yards against a Ole Miss team that can't run.