I'm excited for the Week 9 Saturday slate on Fantasy Aces -- mostly due to who isn't available. Trevone Boykin, Seth Russell and Leonard Fournette won't be dominating ownership, making for a more interesting combination of lineups across the platform. There are still plenty of marquee fantasy performers to choose from, though.
Early in the season I was discounting running backs. Recently, though, I've found more success spending a little cash on that position and raising my point floor. I'm passing on a handful of priciest quarterbacks, so that will make some room in my budget, but I'll still need big scores from bargain pass catchers.
Cody Kessler, USC (at Cal) - $5,600
The Trojans looked revitalized last week when they hit No. 3 Utah with 42 points. Kessler didn't put up huge numbers in that contest, but USC will likely need to keep the pressure on Cal, who can put up points in bunches. Vegas has the over/under at 69.5, which is among the highest on the slate. The Golden Bears haven't exactly been stout in back-to-back losses.
Josh Rosen, UCLA (vs. Colorado) - $5,550
I didn't purposely target Pac-12 players, but I do like a lot of west-coast matchups this week and I wanted to have enough cash to play two solid running backs and one stud receiver. Rosen is coming off two 300-yard games in a row and faces a Colorado team that shouldn't be able to hang with the Bruins. I'm a believer in Rosen's raw talent and steady development. He could have a huge second half to his freshman season.
Others to consider: Patrick Mahomes, Luke Falk
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (at Washington State) - $5,850
I was hoping for big things from the Sophomore when I rostered him in week 1, but didn't see this type of success on the horizon. McCaffrey is suddenly in the Heisman Trophy conversation as the nation's leader in all-purpose yardage. Washington State has one of the weakest defenses Stanford will face all year, so I expect well over 100 combined yards rushing and receiving for McCaffrey, with at least one touchdown -- more if he hits some big plays.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma (at Kansas) - $5,350
We saw Oklahoma go run heavy last week against Texas Tech when Perine rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns. There's no reason the Sooners can't impose their will again versus a bottom ten Kansas run defense. For that reason I'm buying Perine and the ground game rather than quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Others to consider: Dalvin Cook, Akrum Wadley, Dare Ogunbowale
Juju Smith-Schuster, USC (at Cal) - $5,850
Juju is one of the most consistent receivers in the country, having scored in every game but one and going over 100 yards in all but two contests. This is just too good of a price for a player with both a high floor and high ceiling in week 9.
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma (at Kansas) - $4,550
I explained earlier how I think Oklahoma could go ground and pound at Kansas, but they will score a ton and some of those points will come through the air, especially early. Westbrook gives me another piece in an offense that will dominate, but at low cost.
Others to consider: Gabe Marks, Ricky Seals-Jones, Zach Austin
Stephen Anderson, Cal (vs. USC) - $3,850
Anderson is averaging seven targets over the last five games in Cal's uptempo offense. He just needs to find the endzone for the first time this season. He scored five times in 2014, so he knows where it is. Anderson's zero touchdowns are fluky and I'm betting his scoreless streak ends against USC.
Others to consider: Jaylen Samuels, Austin Hooper
Ronald Jones II, USC (at Cal) - $4,350
I obviously like USC's offense this week and their players are priced well, which helps. You might be surprised that I chose Jones over Justin Davis. With Tre Madden banged up, Jones and Davis will probably split carries again, but I think we will start to see Jones take over this backfield. He's averaging 7.7 yards per carry and is clearly the most explosive Trojan tailback.
James Washington, Oklahoma State (at Texas Tech) - $3,850
The Texas Tech-Oklahoma State matchup has the week's highest over/under at 78.5, so I had to get a piece of it -- even a minor one. Washington is Oklahoma State's second-leading receiver and this team likes to spread the ball around, so he could easily end up with his second 100-yard performance in as row.