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Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 4

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.

PLAYERS TO START

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (vs. Central Michigan)
Cook is thought of as more of a guy with a nice pro future than a guy who racks up fantasy points in college, but he’s a talented player capable of putting up good numbers in the right matchup. Last week he threw for four touchdowns against Air Force, and he has eight touchdowns to one interception on the season. Central Michigan gave up 30 points to Syracuse, who had to dig deep into their quarterback depth chart, so Cook should be able to have another big game against his intrastate opponent.

Tommy Armstrong, QB, Nebraska (vs. Southern Miss)
The Cornhuskers have taken a couple rough losses already, but scoring points has not been a problem. Armstrong did throw three picks last week, but he also tossed four touchdowns, and he has nine touchdowns to four interceptions on the season. Southern Miss plays a lot of high-scoring games as well, so this could be a shootout, which would behoove Armstrong and his fantasy numbers.

Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (vs. Florida International)
Driskel struggled at Florida, but the move to Louisiana Tech has gone well for him, as he’s currently leading an offense that is 11th in passing yards per game in the FBS. He’s also run for four touchdowns, making him a true dual threat. FIU is better than in the last couple of years, but they still aren’t good enough to really threaten Driskel and the Bulldogs.

C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame (vs. Massachusetts)
Injuries have hit the Fighting Irish particularly hard, including at running back, but Prosise has helped to stabilize that situation with his excellent play. Two weeks ago, he rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown against Virginia, and last week he took it up a notch and ran for 198 yards and three scores. UMass will be the easiest opponent Prosise has faced thus far, so this matchup is particularly enticing.

Jordan Canzeri, RB, Iowa (vs. North Texas)
Canzeri has only rushed for 201 yards over three games, but he barely played in Iowa’s opening win over Illinois State. However, he’s rushed for four touchdowns and he’s a real contributor in the passing game, as he has 12 catches for 139 yards so far. This is as much about the matchup, though, because North Texas has allowed 31 points to SMU and 38 points to Rice in their two games so far, and they are allowing 231 yards per game on the ground. That should give Canzeri the chance to have a big game.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama (vs. Louisiana-Monroe)
Last week wasn’t fun for the Crimson Tide, but they get to right the ship with a visit from Louisiana-Monroe, and they probably won’t be in the mood to show mercy. Derrick Henry is the clear lead running back for Alabama, but this is the kind of game that can provide more than one runner with a fantasy bounty. This is especially true if Alabama gets out to a big lead, which seems likely, and decide to rest Henry and let Drake churn up yards running out the clock.

Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (vs. Western Michigan)
Yes, now may not seem like the time to buy into the Ohio State offense after their struggles against Northern Illinois. However, let’s not blow one bad game out of proportion. This is still the talent-laden team most picked to win the title before the season. They’ll figure it out, and there is a good chance it will happen against Western Michigan, who have given up 100 points in three games, including 43 to Georgia Southern in Week 2. Thomas is the No. 1 weapon in the passing game and, be it Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, somebody is going to get him the ball this week.

Ronnie Moore, WR, Bowling Green (at Purdue)
Bowling Green is throwing the ball with impunity. They lead the FBS in passing yards per game, and they have so far played a legitimate schedule free of cupcakes. Roger Lewis is the main guy you want, but, hopefully, at this point you don’t have to be told to start Lewis. Moore hasn’t played quite to the same level, but he still has 20 catches for 238 yards. He hasn’t found the end zone yet, but, as we all know, that can change in the blink of an eye. The Boilermakers aren’t likely to make it too difficult for him to score.

Devonte Boyd, WR, UNLV (vs. Idaho State)
It has been a rough year for UNLV so far, but they have also had to play NIU, UCLA, and Michigan in their three outings. Despite that, Boyd has still managed 227 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll finally get to go up against a manageable opponent in Idaho State. This is the Rebels’ chance to get their offense going, and Boyd should be the main conduit through which that happens.


PLAYERS TO SIT

Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee (at Florida)
Dobbs was thought of before the season as the guy to finally settle things under center for the Volunteers, but so far he has been, at best, adequate. He hasn’t thrown for more than 205 yards in a game, and he has yet to throw for more than two touchdowns in a game either, although he has added a couple of touchdowns on the ground. However, in a double overtime game against Oklahoma he only went 13-for-31 for 125 yards, one touchdown, and one pick. A road trip to Florida is an even tougher proposition, as the Gators remain strong on defense, particularly in the secondary. This will not be the week Dobbs takes it to the next level, if he even starts, as there are now rumblings that he might not.

Blake Frohnapfel, QB, Massachusetts (at Notre Dame)
Frohnapfel’s game last week against Temple - 393 yards with three touchdowns and one interception - was impressive, especially given how good the Owls have been so far. However, his season-opening performance against Colorado was less impressive. Despite Temple looking legit and despite Notre Dame’s injuries, this is still Frohnapfel’s toughest matchup so far. Even if you think he’s capable of doing reasonably well, and he probably is, do you want to settle for “reasonably well” when there are so many more palatable matchups out there? The potential reward simply is not worth the risk here.

Thomas Sirk, QB, Duke (vs. Georgia Tech)
Sirk and the Blue Devils got a dose of reality last week when they finally faced a real defense in Northwestern. Though they were at home, Sirk only managed 150 yards passing with one interception, although he did also run for 61 yards and a score. Georgia Tech may be stinging a bit after their loss to the Fighting Irish, but their defense will provide enough of a challenge to curb any enthusiasm for Sirk.

Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan (at Ohio State)
Oh, Franklin’s freshman season was fun for fantasy owners who stumbled upon him early and rode his 1,500 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns to fantasy glory. This year, though, has led to murmurings about the ol’ sophomore slump more than anything else. He did manage to run for 161 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries last week, but that was against Murray State. Even with that game, he has just 242 rushing yards and one score on the season. In their opener, Franklin was limited to 47 total yards by Michigan State, and the Buckeyes aren’t really a better matchup.

Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State (at Penn State)
Losing to South Alabama probably wasn’t in the plans for the Aztecs, one assumes, yet that happened last week. Pumphrey did his best, but he still only gained 102 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown, although he also caught five passes for 55 yards. He’s way off last season’s pace, and the Nittany Lions are letting up just 293.7 yards of total offense so far, and 208 of that has been through the air. That doesn’t bode well for Pumphrey.

Michael Gordon, RB, Arkansas State (at Toledo)
The injury to Fredi Knighten has complicated things a bit for the Arkansas State offense, but it still has been a slow start for Gordon. Admittedly, the Red Wolves were merciful on Missouri State, only giving Gordon nine carries, which he took for 92 yards and a touchdown. Against FBS opponents, he has been less impressive, netting 120 yards on 28 carries. Toledo’s defense is probably somewhere in between Missouri State and, say, Missouri, who Arkansas State also played. The Rockets should be tough enough to make things difficult for Gordon, even if Knighten returns.

Johnny Holton, WR, Cincinnati (at Memphis)
Holton leads the Bearcats with 167 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are fine, but Holton is really here as a stand-in for the Cincinnati offense as a whole. Gunner Kiel is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Memphis. Given that, it wouldn’t be terribly helpful to list him as a player to sit, but without Kiel, there is no reason to play anybody from Cincinnati’s offense, especially with Memphis being a tough defense on top of everything else.

D’haquille Williams, WR, Auburn (vs. Mississippi State)
Auburn’s season hit a new low last week when the Tigers got housed by those other Tigers from LSU. The now-benched Jeremy Johnson gets the brunt of the scorn, at least on offense, but Williams has not impressed, either. He only has seven catches for 81 yards and one touchdown, and even running back Roc Thomas has more receiving yards. Mississippi State has been respectable defensively to this point. If nothing else, they will provide more of a challenge than Jacksonville State, and that may be too much of a challenge for Auburn…and Williams.

Jordan Williams, WR, Ball State (vs. Northwestern)
It has been a disappointing season for receivers named Williams, apparently, and this doesn’t even take into account injured Clemson receiver Mike Williams. Ball State’s Williams has yet to eclipse 100 yards on the season despite games against VMI and Eastern Michigan. Northwestern, meanwhile, has been quite feisty on defense en route to a surprise start. If Williams couldn’t impress against VMI, it seems unlikely he’ll do it against the Wildcats.