This article is part of our Fantasy Elite Football series.
Tulane at Duke, Maryland at Syracuse, Iowa at Pittsburgh, Connecticut at South Florida
A strategy that has proven effective in this format has been to stack players across all positions from the same team; a high-powered offense against an overmatched opponent. That is not going to work with this slate of games, though if you believe in this strategy, I guess you'd stock up on Blue Devils, as Tulane's defense has been surprisingly bad while Duke is putting up more than 42 points per game.
QB - Tanner Lee, Tulane - $18,660
The top two quarterbacks are Anthony Boone ($26,249) and C.J. Brown ($25,041) and while you aren't likely buy both, one of them is a near must. Terrel Hunt and Chad Voytik check in next, and while both offer intriguing running ability, neither has fully figured out how to compliment that with their arm. I'm avoiding both quarterbacks in the UConn-USF match up, which leaves your choices for a second quarterback as Lee, or Iowa's Jake Ruddock. Lee has eight touchdowns in three games, and the Green Wave put up 21 points on Georgia Tech two weeks ago. I have more faith in Lee than I do in Ruddock to provide scoring.
QB - Thomas Sirk, Duke - $5,000
Sirk hasn't been used as the Blue Devil's running quarterback as often as we saw Brandon Connette plunge into the end zone last season, but if you're a gambler, Sirk can't be cheaper and will afford you the opportunity to buy better receiving options. Sirk has two rushing touchdowns and one score via the air, and 79 rushing yards on 15 carries. He's not the ideal second quarterback, but he could be a better choice than South Florida or Connecticut starters.
RB - James Conner, Pittsburgh - $21,403
No other running back is within $9,000 of Conner, but no other running back comes with guaranteed production. Conner has carried at least 31 times in consecutive games, and has eight touchdowns through three contests. His lowest output of the year was a 14 carry, 153 yard, four score game against Delaware. Further, Pittsburgh is averaging 101.3 yards passing. This game looks and feels like a grind it out contest, where Conner could see another 30+ touches.
RB - Shaun Wilson, Duke - $5,000
There is next to no chance Wilson repeats last week's 12 carry, 245 yard, three touchdown performance. And just the week before, he saw only three carries. Duke will continue to split carries between Wilson, Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell, but for the bargain basement price, Wilson represents a gamble that could pay off.
RB - Sherman Badie, Tulane - $9,238
Baddie slides down the list here, not that they are listed in any order, so I'm not accused of suggesting a Tulane stack. He's still a bit of an unknown as his success has come against Southeastern Louisiana and Tulsa, but Baddie is averaging 9.4 yards per carry on 33 rushes.
The one back I'm avoiding here is USF's Marlon Mack. He figures to get his share of carries, but the Connecticut rush defense has been a spoiler previously, allowing Boise State to rush for just 52 yards last week, and are allowing just 3.57 yards per carry, including being gashed by BYU in the season opener.
WR - Ashton Broyld, Syracuse - $7,740
Overall, the wide receiver options look rather suspect. No one is overpriced, and there's no reason not to purchase a couple of the top options. I'm leaning towards taking the minimum two receivers from the top three or four (Jamison Crowder, Geremy Davis, Stefon Diggs and Tyler Boyd,) and going on my way with lots of cheap running backs to fill out my flex positions. I wouldn't call Broyld a value pick at this price, but he's safe. There is absolutely no upside to Broyld, as he has 64 career receptions without a touchdown. But every week, he shows up in the box score with four catches and 50 or so yards. Putting him on your team assures you of not getting a goose egg.
WR - Teddy Veal, Tulane - $5,142
Again, I'm loading up on running backs in this session. Syracuse's Prince-Tyson Gulley at $6,259 looks appealing, as does Duke's Shaquille Powell at $6,545. But if you're really bargain shopping for a receiver, Veal offers some upside. The freshman is averaging 16 yards per touch, but has only six touches this season. Veal's better days are ahead, but there is a home run chance here.
Virginia at BYU, Texas A&M at SMU, North Carolina at ECU, Florida at Alabama
In handicapping this slate without looking at pricing, I'd rule out all things Virginia, SMU and most things Florida and Alabama. The latter two more so because they feel like an unknown as conference play opens. That leaves studs at Texas A&M, North Carolina and East Carolina to load up, with an occasional Tide or Cougar sprinkled in.
QB - Greyson Lambert, Virginia, $10,632
Quarterback is a tough call with this group. Being able to afford Taysom or Kenny Hill seems like a stretch. I'm a huge fan of loading up on Pirates and Tar Heels, but a Shane Carden, Marquise Williams pairing would still set you back $42,000 plus. Thus, you're likely going to have to gamble with a second QB, and Lambert is the default choice. Jeff Driskel is the next cheapest, coming in almost $9,000 more than Lambert. It's not ideal, but you almost have to hope Lambert makes 10-15 points, and move on.
RBs and WRs - All Things North and East Carolina
This is equal parts gut and statistically based, but the prices seem right, and the feel here is the Heels and Pirates put up a plethora of points with little help from the run game. ECU's Cam Worthy ($5,000) exploded for 224 yards last weekend and merits consideration. UNC's Bug Howard ($5,000) does as well as a constant threat to score. The team's star receivers, ECU's Justin Hardy (14,560) and Isaiah Jones ($12,808) and UNC's Quinshad Davis ($10,126) and Ryann Switzer ($11,985) are all fairly priced. That's six names, and if it's not enough, ECU's Trevon Brown ($5,000+) has two scores to date.
In the backfield, the Heels will continue to roll out their three or four headed committee. T.J. Logan is due for a big play or two, and at $8,276 looks worth of the gamble. And Elijah Hood (Wood, $7,418) is in line for more short yardage work. In purple, the Pirate's only issue is a lack of commitment to the running game. Breon Allen ($8,651) has been solid but has only 25 touches in three weeks.
Ultimately, the running back position is a bit void of solid choices. T.J. Yeldon ($14,568) appears underpriced due to his lower than normal workload, and he could see 20 carries with SEC play opening.
All skill position players from Texas A&M remain a very nice choice, except Speedy Noil, who won't play due to injury.
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Mississippi State at LSU, Miami at Nebraska, Oklahoma at West Virginia, Clemson at Florida State
These four games feature balance, and have me wishing I had more than three TVs to watch the action on. It's not an ideal situation for stacking a team's top options, but there is lots of value that should lead to a deep roster.
QB - Anthony Jennings, LSU - $13,321
I'm noticing my own trend to select the cheapest, safest quarterback as one of my two starters. And unless you can afford two middle-tier options, it makes perfect sense. Jennings is the safest bet amonst the bottomed priced passers; he should play almost exclusively, he has the capability to run, and he's in line with the average per-cost player for your budget. He won't win you the game, but he won't lose it either. Clemson's Deshaun Watson ($5,000) merits at least a look if you think a) Cole Stoudt struggles or b) Florida State rolls.
RB - Kenny Hilliard, LSU - $7,691
Hilliard continues to be overshadowed by the hype surrounding freshman Leonard Fournette. He's cheaper, and has scored in every game so far. It's another limited upside pick, but one that can be taken early and help save some money and anchor your lineup.
RB - Wayne Gallman, Clemson - $5,000
Gallman looks like a nice flex gamble. The Tigers have four running backs with at least 11 carries, but Gallman leads the team in yards thanks to a blowout against South Carolina State. Clemson notably played conservative with their rotations at Georgia to open the season, but they have little choice but to play their best players this weekend. Gallman may not see action in the first quarter, but could end up as the team's closer. Freshmen Adam Choice and wide receiver Artavis Scott fall into this category as well.
RB - Duke Johnson, Miami - $13,148
Johnson seems to offer the best choice of safety and value. He's $5,000 cheaper than Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, and the 'Canes figure to give him the most work he's seen all season. As such, I'm expecting his best stat line.
WR - Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami - $5,456
It's important to note here that I'm selecting cheaper options who can help; I'm not suggesting Berrios is the top receiver in this grouping. With that out of the way, Berrios is one of the lesser discussed freshmen in the country. He leads Miami in targets, and has 106 yards on 10 catches this year, scoring once. He'll be available very late in drafts, and should help your lineup for cheap.
WR - Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson - $5,156
Scott's numbers are certainly inflated by the team's last opponent, but the freshman looks like the team's second receiver over Charonne Peake. He's going to have to show he can break tackles against a real defense, as he figures to see most of his chances on screen passes, but Scott is a cheap upside selection.
WR - Phillip Dorsett, Miami - $10,352
Skimming over these selections, I'm very nervous. I have three receivers playing on the road with unproven quarterbacks. If it's any consolation, I'm a die-hard Miami fan, and usually overly critical when it comes to their players, so listing three 'Canes shows I think this game in Lincoln becomes a shootout. Dorsett is averaging 35.5 yards per catch, and has four scores in the last two games. He's hot, and with eight receivers priced higher than him, feels like a value.
Oregon at Washington State, Cal at Arizona, San Diego State at Oregon State, Louisiana-Lafayette at Boise State
We're seeing the schedule even out, and as such, stacking your squad with one team's full offense is becoming less realistic. As such, depth becomes paramount, and saving some coin at the high scoring quarterback position makes sense.
QB - Jared Goff, California - $17,246
The more I look at this selection, the more I like it. Goff is the seventh priced QB, and nearly $14,000 cheaper than Marcus Mariota. He comes in averaging 250 yards and 3.5 touchdowns over two games and faces an Arizona defense which has allowed 267 yards on average against UTSA, UNLV and Nevada.
RB - Byron Marshall ($11,499), Thomas Tyner ($10,174) and Royce Freeman ($6,760) - Oregon
There's no sense in figuring out which Ducks' running back you want when you can just take all three. Freeman's low price makes him a worthwhile gamble, but putting all three together should provide steady if not spectacular performance while filling out three roster spots at an average of $9,478 per player - nearly $2,000 less than the $11,667 you're allotted per player. Washington State allowed 215 yards to each Rutgers and Nevada. Thanks to Marshall's receiving ability, this trio is averaging 247 yards and three scores through three games.
RB - Austin Hill, Arizona - $5,945
While I'm not sure why Hill is listed at running back, the fact remains that the receiver is due to make his presence felt. Hill is two years and an injury removed from an 81 catch, 1,364 yard season, and with Cayleb ones and Samajie Grant emerging as viable options, defenses will leave all of the Wildcats' receivers in single coverage.
WR - Ezell Ruffin, San Diego State - $5,000
Ruffin has struggled out of the gates, catching six passes in two games, but it would be wise to remember he caught 68 balls for 1,136 yards a year ago. Oregon State has been stingy against the pass, but has faced Portland State and Hawaii. The hope here is Ruffin builds some momentum heading into conference play, and if not, you haven't lost much at this low price.
WR - Bryce Treggs, California - $7,634
It's rather hard to believe Treggs has only five catches through two games after catching 77 balls a season ago. The hunch here is that with conference play opening up, the Bears have to rely more on Treggs and Chris Harper as go-to receivers.