We've reached a point in the season where roles are clearly defined for most teams. It's leading to very little price fluctuation and fewer and fewer appealing bargain options. Matchups will be key when building your Week 12 lineup.
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech (at Miami) - $6,200
Thomas' season has been a major disappointment when compared to last season, but I find it likely that coach Paul Johnson can get the best out of his signal caller against a defense that is non-existent against the run while also having a history of laying down when nothing is at stake. Miami is finally eliminated from the ACC Coastal race and when that's happened previously, they've been rolled by bottom feeders like Virginia. They rank 109th in the nation against the run, allowed six rushing touchdowns last week and haven't had a clue at stopping the option to date. With the Jackets' A and B backs struggling, Thomas seems likely to run 20-plus times while making a few throws downfield.
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana (at Maryland) - $5,100
Sudfeld is still averaging 21.0 fantasy points despite having just 24.2 total points in his last two games. Those came in tough matchups against Iowa and Michigan, and it's easy to forget Sudfeld had three 300-yard games and a 464-yard outing prior to his recent silence. I don't have tremendous faith in the play calling, as running back Jordan Howard has seen 57 carries in the last two weeks. But this game has an over/under of 64 and Sudfeld is priced at a very low number. This is a guy who at one point this season cost $8,300.
Others to consider: Chad Kelly, Ole Miss (vs. LSU) - $6,600; Perry Hills, Maryland (vs. Indiana) - $6,500; Jerrard Randall, Arizona (at Arizona State) - $6,000
Ronald Jones, USC (at Oregon) - $5,100
Jones and Justin Davis ($4,400) both continue to see in the neighborhood of 15 carries with Tre Madden sidelined. Jones has bigger play potential and had scored in three straight prior to last Saturday. Oregon has allowed 207.3 yards on the ground in their last four, and this game has the highest total on the board at 71.5.
Kenneth Farrow, Houston (at Connecticut) - $6,400
Farrow was going to land in the "others to consider" category as we're trying to highlight value picks here, not top-tiered guys. But the matchup appears excellent, especially if starting quarterback Greg Ward sits out due to an ankle injury. Connecticut held Tulane to 34 yards rushing last week, but had allowed 203 yards or more in each of its previous three games. Farrow, meanwhile, has scored 12 times, all of which have come in his last seven games. His 10 carries last week were a result of the Cougars falling behind early, something that seems unlikely this week.
Marcus Marshall, Georgia Tech (at Miami) - $3,500
This name is interchangeable, and I highly recommend checking the Jackets' B-back situation prior to kickoff Saturday. Call this a hunch that Marshall reclaims his starting job. The team continues to look for big plays from its fullback, and Marshall represents the best shot, as evident by his 7.8 yards per carry. Despite the weekly rotation, Georgia Tech has shown a willingness to stick with one back in any given game, and we've already touched on Miami's woeful rush defense. A confirmed starter will be know before Saturday, and Patrick Skov ($3,300) and Marcus Allen ($3,200) are in the same price range.
Zac Brooks, Clemson (vs. Wake Forest) - $3,000
The Tigers appear to be hinting at resting some key starters in a winnable game Saturday, and should Wayne Gallman be one of those due to an ankle injury, Brooks seems likely to start in his absence. Clemson averages 40 rushes a game compared to 30 passes and could turn to a grind-it-out attack if it takes a big lead early. There are a lot of ifs here, but Brooks is seemingly in line for his biggest workload of the season and is averaging a solid 6.9 yards per attempt.
Others to consider: Kalen Ballage, Arizona State (vs. Arizona) - $5,200; Justin Davis, USC (at Oregon) - $4,400; Elijah Hood, North Carolina (at Virginia Tech) - $6,500;
Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech (vs. North Carolina) - $4,300
The Hokies' leading receiver, Isaiah Ford merits consideration as well as his price has dipped to $4,800, but Phillips is surging late in the season. He's snagged six passes in each of the last two games while averaging 91 yards and scoring once. The game has a total hovering around 62, and Phillips recent success makes him a contrarian option to the likely more popular Ford.
Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky (at Florida International) - $4,000
Norris has quietly overtake Jared Dangerfield as the Hilltoppers second-leading receiver in terms of yardage, though four others on the roster have more touchdowns. He's caught at least five passes in three straight games, coinciding with the absence of tight end Tyler Higbee ($4,500). If Higbee remains sidelined, Norris offers a cheap way to get in on a game with the second-highest total in this slate at 67.5.
Jehu Chesson, Michigan (at Penn State) - $4,300
Chesson is virtually obligated to be listed here as his price only increased $700 following last week's 10-catch, 207-yard, four-touchdown performance. There's no chance he replicates that, and he faces a Penn State defense that ranks second in the nation against the pass, allowing only 159.0 yards a game. Chesson had three touchdowns in the previous two games entering last week's explosion, and he's not simply a one-hit wonder.
Others to consider: Charone Peake, Clemson (vs. Wake Forest) - $4,100; Bralon Addison, Oregon (vs. USC) - $5,100; Ricky Jones, Indiana (at Maryland); Malachi Dupre, LSU (at Ole Miss) - $4,300
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
QB - Cody Kessler, USC (at Oregon) - $7,200
QB - Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech (at Miami) - $6,200
RB - Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State (vs. Michigan State) - $7,900
RB - Kenneth Farrow, Houston (at Connecticut) - $6,400
WR - Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky (at Florida International) - $6,200
WR - Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky (at Florida International) - $4,000
WR - Darren Carrington, Oregon (vs. USC) - $5,600
FLEX - Zac Brooks, Clemson (vs. Wake Forest) - $3,000
FLEX - Marcus Marshall, Georgia Tech (at Miami) - $3,500
Definitely a week where I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I don't have tremendous faith in either flex option, but they are worthwhile gambles in a tournament setting. I have Marshall in and will adjust accordingly to the Jackets' depth chart. I feel much more comfortable with Marshall than Brooks.
I clearly have no faith in my team, the Miami Hurricanes, to show up. I initially had Brad Kaaya in as my second quarterback, but think Thomas and the Jackets get their option attack rolling this weekend against an undisciplined and poorly coached defense.
Elliott looks like a bargain, as he hasn't been priced less than $8,000 since Week 1 and reached as high as $9,900 in Week 3. I had Western Kentucky's Anthony Wales as my other back, but chose to downgrade to Farrow after doing a little digging on the matchup. That saved me $900, which allowed me to upgrade at receiver from LSU's Malachi Dupre to Oregon's Darren Carrington. A mini-stack of WKU wideouts allowed me to retain a piece of the Hilltoppers offense without spending $8,800 on quarterback Brandon Doughty.
I'm completely out of money, so upgrading the flex positions will take some effort.