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Fantasy Elite Football: Daily Game Picks Week 9

Jason Thornbury

Thornbury is a senior editor at RotoWire. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he has also worked in sports television and radio, including co-hosting RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM.

Rules: Live draft, add/drops allowed after draft, two- or three-team leagues, various buy-ins, players cannot be on multiple teams, $105,000 salary cap, roster of nine, broken down as two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, three flex.

This column's author, Chris Bennett, is out this week. I'll follow his usual format.


Maryland at Wisconsin, Rutgers at Nebraska, BYU at Boise State, Texas at Kansas State

QB - Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska $17,972

At first glance, the price ($13,376) on Maryland QB C.J. Brown looks good relative to the other quarterbacks, but considering his struggles, injury and the opponent -- at Wisconsin -- it's easy to pass. Armstrong is still cheaper than the top-4 options and has an enticing matchup. Rutgers has a good pass rush but has had problems containing mobile quartebacks. So if the pass rush gets through, Armstrong still has a chance to make something out of nothing. And Rutgers' woeful rush defense likely will load the box to stop Ameer Abdullah, opening the passing game for Armstrong with one-on-one coverage.

RB - Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska, $27,672

He's not cheap, but Abdullah looks headed for a big day. Ditto Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon ($28,682), the only RB more expensive than Abdullah.

RB - Corey Clement, Wisconsin, $6,320

Clement has been a relative value most of the season. It's no different this week. Maryland gives up nearly 200 rushing yards per game, ranking 104th in the nation. As Gordon gets his, so will Clement, as he did last week against Illinois -- 164 yards on 13 carries (12.6 YPC).

WR - Kenny Bell, Nebraska, $8,737

Wide receiver is a little tricky this week. Finding great values isn't easy, but let's go with Bell, who should have one-on-coverage all night as Rutgers sells out against Ameer Abdullah and the running game. The last time Nebraska played a bad passing defense, Sept. 27 vs. Illinois, Bell had 105 yards and a score.

WR - Shane Williams-Rhodes, Boise State, $11,269

Williams-Rhodes' price isn't great, but it's still cheaper than the other No. 1 WR on board. He's scored in three consecutive game, and with Matt Miller out for the season, he's the team's top target. Plus, he faces a BYU pass defense that's worse than all but four teams in the nation.

WR - John Harris, Texas $9,507

If Texas is going to beat Kansas State, it's going to have to be through the air. The Wildcats are fourth in the nation in rush defense, but 92nd in pass defense. Harris has scored in all but two games this season, and last week when he was held out of the end zone he posted 147 yards against Iowa State.

TE - Sam Arneson, Wisconsin, $5,940

Arneson is the top TE on the board but could pay off well. Maryland first and last focus will be on slowing the Wisconsin running machine, leaving Arneson to slip behind the linebackers or zip down the seam. He only has two touchdowns this year, but he should be a red-zone option this week, if the Badgers want to take a break from feeding Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement.


Oregon at California, Memphis at SMU, Minnesota at Illinois, UAB at Arkansas

QB - Marcus Mariota, Oregon, $30,415

Sometimes it's better just to pay and eschew value. Mariota's the top price on the board, but he should return a handsome payoff considering he faces a wretched Cal defense that is 120th in points against. The Golden Bears allowed Washington's Cyler Miles, who no one will ever mistake for a Heisman candidate, to throw for 273 yards and three touchdowns a couple weeks ago. On offense, Cal can throw (fourth in the nation), which could force more production out of Mariota if the Bears can keep pace.

QB - Paxton Lynch, Memphis, $22,103

If you don't want to pay top dollar for Mariota, then perhaps second-top dollar for Lynch will work. Simply put, SMU allows 48 points per game -- last in the nation out of 125 teams. That's nearly five points worse than the next closet teams (Troy, North Carolina, 43.3).

RB - Byron Marshall, Oregon, $8,139

Marshall is a bit of a risk after having a few quiet games this year. But considering the price of teammates Royce Freeman ($14,330), Thomas Tyner ($14,330), he brings value. Plus, Oregon should be in for a bevy points in this one.

RB - Jordan Howard, UAB, $9,971

Howard's the pick because teammate D.J. Vinson is $11,871. Jordan has reached 100 yards in three of his last four and has scored in three consecutive games, giving him seven this season. Vinson also has seven touchdowns, but five came in one game in mid-September. Howard is the workhorse.

Notable Omission - Sam Craft, Memphis

Craft does not appear to be listed. He was recently switched from WR to RB, but he's not listed with the WR, either. It's too bad because he has perhaps the best matchup of the weekend against a horrendous SMU defense. Against Cincinnati two weeks ago, he rushed for 170 yards and a score. Of course, maybe it's user error.

WR - Tevin Jones, Memphis, $10,742

This is a pretty good price, fifth highest among WR, for what should be a profitable day against lowly SMU.

WR - Bryce Treggs, California, $9,682

At least one Cal WR likely will have big night against Oregon. The Bears will have to throw to keep up, and they can toss it with just about anyone. Treggs has not scored in consecutive games, so perhaps he's due after scoring five times in the first five games. Kenny Lawler ($10,154) is more expensive, and Chris Harper ($9,489) is less consistent.

TE - Alan Cross, Memphis, $6,297

When in doubt, capitalize on SMU. This is a good value, relatively speaking.


Mississippi State at Kentucky, Texas Tech at TCU, West Virginia at Oklahoma State, Michigan at Michigan State

QB - Trevone Boykin, TCU, $25,343

This seems like a good price for Boykin, all things considered: Boykin's cheaper than Mississippi State's Dak Prescott ($31,652) and Texas Tech's Davis Webb ($26,619); he's coming off a 410-yard, three-touchdown game against Oklahoma State; Texas Tech is ranked 94th in the nation in defensive pass efficiency.

QB - Clint Trickett, West Virginia, $24,153

Trickett is fourth in the nation in passing yards and has thrown multiple TDs in a game five times this year. He faces an Oklahoma State pass defense that was gashed this year by Florida State, Texas Tech and TCU.

RB - Josh Robinson - Mississippi State, $15,577

Robinson is the most expensive RB on the board, but strategy might dictate taking him. Robinson has scored eight touchdowns in his last five games, is capable of a huge game at any time and faces a Kentucky defense that struggles against the run. what's more, Michigan State's Jeremy Langford ($15,437) is right behind him but faces a Michigan defense ranked fourth in the nation against the run.

RB - DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech, $8,541

Washington, as he's shown the last two games, can pile up the yards, but his glaring problem, of course, is finding the end zone, which he has not done since Week 1. The risk-averse might just want to go with Jeremy Langford, matchup be damned. Langford's backfield mate, Nick Hill ($11,288), offers value with three scores in the last two weeks, but he likely won't get enough opportunities for big yards.

WR - Tony Lippett, Michigan State, $16,137

Lippett failed to score last week against Indiana for the first time this season. He has eight touchdowns in seven games and five 100-yard games, including the last three. And he's still only the third-most expensive WR on the board.

WR - Bradley Marquez, Texas Tech, $9,538

There is value to be had among the WR, including Marquez. He's had some quiet games this year but should see plenty of targets in this one as Texas Tech figures to throw a lot. Teammate Jakeem Grant is a safer play, but he'll cost you $20,127.

TE - Josiah Price, Michigan State, $7,482

There are really only two TE worth picking, and Mississippi State's Malcolm Johnson ($8,348) is more expensive.