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Position Units: Strong Plays for Week 6

Chris Bennett

Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.

Week 5 finally brought the consistency that was hoped for with running back selections, as five of six units topped 200 yards. The receiving options left a little to be desired, as monsoon-like conditions pelted the Pacific Northwest while a Crimson Tide defense was angry after being called out during the week.

Week 6 finds a plethora of conference action with a few remaining non-conference tilts from which to pick.


Virginia Tech (vs. North Carolina) -
It's likely now or never for both of these units. On one side, you have a Hokies' offense that has been sputtering all season. It's shown signs of life the last two weeks, solely thanks to quarterback Logan Thomas, and it's come at the expense of his backfield mates. A week ago at Georgia Tech, running backs Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus combined to run eight times for minus-1 yard while Joel Caleb and J.C. Coleman didn't receive a carry. On the other side of the ball, North Carolina owns the 113th-ranked rush defense, giving up 234.3 yards per game, including 227 a week ago against usually pass happy East Carolina. That's a lot of into to chew on, so lets sum it up. Virginia Tech has talent in their backfield, North Carolina doesn't seem capable of stopping the run. Trey Edmunds goes for 100-plus, and J.C. Coleman re-emerges as a change of pace option.

Penn State (at Indiana) -
Redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch's emergence has given the Nittany Lions three viable options in the backfield. Both he and Bill Belton average in the neighborhood of eight yards per carry, and Zach Zwinak leads the team with 297 yards on 67 carries. Indiana allows 247.8 yards per game and is coming off a game against Missouri that saw the Tigers rush for 280 yards. It wouldn't be surprising to see a two Nittany Lions (at least) top the century mark.

South Carolina (vs. Kentucky) -
Last week at Central Florida, things changed remarkably in the second half when the Ole Ball Coach decided to give Mike Davis the ball. Trailing 10-0, Davis opened the third quarter with a 53-yard scoring strike in route to a career-high 26 carries, 167 yards and three touchdowns, and the Gamecocks found a way to win. Quarterback Connor Shaw may not play this week against Kentucky, and while his replacement, Dylan Thompson, may be a better passer, USC is still lacking reliable receiving options across the board. A Wildcat defense travels to Columbia ranked 101 nationally against the run, allowing 200.8 yards per game. Davis should do plenty of damage while freshman David Williams could shine in his debut thanks to an injury to Brandon Wilds.

Buffalo (vs. Eastern Michigan) -
A similar feel exists for the Bulls of Buffalo as previously mentioned for the Hokies of Virginia Tech; it's now or never. The Bulls are an offense still searching for an identity, and "star" running back Branden Oliver has just 195 yards on 62 carries, scoring twice. He showed signs of life last week against Connecticut (23 carries, 90 yards,) and backup Anthone Taylor showed he's a capable option in Oliver's Week 3 absence (24 carries, 118 yards.) The Eagles defense has given up at least 185 yards in each contest to date and averages 208.8 yards allowed.

Virginia (vs. Ball State) -
The reoccurring theme this week is a due-or-die feel for certain offenses. Virginia certainly falls into that boat, ranking 114th nationally in total offense. The Cavaliers have been desperate enough in preparations for Week 6 that they've shuffled their offensive line and adjusted their receiving rotation. While he hasn't shined, the one stable option in the Cavaliers attack remains running back Kevin Parks. He'll have a full complement of backups available for the first time in three weeks, as Khalek Shepherd and Taquan Mizzell are fully healthy and will join walk-on Daniel Hamm in battle against a Cardinals defense allowing 202.6 yards on the ground weekly. Look for Parks to have his second 100-yard game of the season, while Mizzell awakes from his early season freshman funk.

Ole Miss (at Auburn) -
A week ago, Ole miss quarterback Bo Wallace ran his mouth and claimed he'd be able to move the ball at will against a Crimson Tide defense, and this author believed him. That mistake won't be made again. Running back Jeff Scott has alternated good and bad games, rushing for 138, 28, 164 and 28 yards. He's due for another big weekend and gets a Tigers defense that's allowing 175 yards a week on the ground, 215 against their two SEC opponents.


UCLA (at Utah) -
A Thursday night special, as the Bruins take the nation's 12th-ranked passing offense out of state to face a struggling Utes defense that allows 288 yards weekly. The Bruins spread the ball around, as leading receiver Shaquelle Evans has just 13 catches on the season, but the unit is deep and talented and should maintain its 330 yards per-game pace.

Idaho (vs. Fresno State) -
The Vandals may go against the grain with normal thinking when picking a unit. Their opponent, Fresno State, boasts one of the nation's most prolific passing attacks. That leads to a lot of points and a lot of passes from their opponents to keep up. As such, the Bulldogs rank last in the nation in passing defense, allowing 332.5 yards per game. Idaho quarterback Chad Chalich hadn't tossed for more than 232 yards through his first four games, but hit for 310 a week ago against Temple. Wide receiver Dezmon Epps has 34 catches on the year, and his first trip to the endzone has to be on the horizon.

Louisville (at Temple) -
Louisville falls into a Captain Obvious play, especially on the heels of reaching deep and discussing Idaho. The Owls are allowing 322 yards per game through the air, and Louisville averages 329 yards passing. Led by scoring machine DeVante Parker, the Cardinals have five receivers with at least 10 catches to day, and even if both teams are just average, the makings for a terrific fantasy day are there.

Washington State (at California) -
The Golden Bears defense is simply woeful, and a wise weekly play is to find what their opponent does well, and role with it. Quietly, coach Mike Leach has his air raid offense humming, averaging 327 yards per game. The Cougars have been held to less than 300 yards once (against Southern Cal,) and it doesn't appear to matter who is under center. Wide receivers Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and Kristoff Williams anchor a deep receiving group that will look to pad its season totals Saturday in Berkeley.

Rutgers (at SMU) -
The Scarlet Knights' aerial offense has been very hit or miss over four games with their passing totals being 348, 150, 80 and 346 yards through four games. The important number is that last total, which came against Arkansas in a game where starting running back Paul James was injured and the Knights rushed for just 54 yards. James isn't going to play in Week 6, and Rutgers travels to Southern Methodist to face a Mustags' defense that allows almost 294 yards through the air. Expect receivers Brandon Coleman and Leonte Carroo to shine.

Illinois (at Nebraska) -
Normally, a passing attack averaging 307.5 yards facing a defense that gives up 284 yards would be a slam-dunk choice. Unfortunately, the Illini come with slight risk, as their leading receiver is running back Josh Ferguson. The Cornhuskers secondary has been particularly bad, however, and Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has blossomed in his senior season. Scheelhaase has 12 touchdown passes through four games, and with a solid performance in Lincoln, he'll approach his single-season career high of 17. Receivers Ryan Lankford and Steve Hull will lead a deep unit that should star in Week 6.

Old Dominion (vs. Liberty) -
Consider this a bonus play, as the Monarchs may or may not be an option in your league as they transition to FBS status. If you have the option to use this unit, it's teetering on must-start status weekly. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has 1,638 yards and 12 touchdowns through five games. Against the likes of Howard, The Citadel and Albany, the Monarchs have averaged 67 points and they boast a receiving corps that contains three receivers with at least 24 catches and 260 yards, and three more who have at least 11 grabs and 120 yards. Old Dominion is putting up video game-like numbers weekly.