In this column, going position-by-position, we’ll offer up one building-block DFS sleeper priced at $6,000 or cheaper ($6,500 and cheaper at QB) and three deeper bargains priced at $5,000 or cheaper (two QBs at $6,000 or cheaper). We’re plucking our dark horses from DraftKings. Player pool this week will be drawn from the Saturday main slate.
Affordable building block ($6,500 or less)
Iowa QB Nathan Stanley ($6,100) vs. Northwestern -- While Stanley has cooled off after a four-game stretch earlier this autumn in which he tossed 14 touchdown passes, we like him for a rebound performance against the Wildcats. Northwestern was wholly unable to contain Ian Book this past weekend, allowing 343 yards passing and a pair of touchdown passes. Granted, Stanley is not Book and Iowa is not Notre Dame. The Wildcats also surrendered 329 yards passing to Brian Lewerke (of all people) at the beginning of October. This is a defense which will give up plays in the passing game.
And two from the bargain bin ($6,000 or less):
South Carolina QB Jake Bentley ($6,000) at Florida -- Bentley made some beautiful passes, including several “wow” drops in the bucket, on his way to scorching Ole Miss for 363 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. The Rebs offer one of the more flimsy defenses in the country, but Bentley’s torching of ‘em was just the continuation of an encouraging trend. He has now thrown six touchdown passes over his last three games. The Gators are possessing of a strong passing defense, but it is not an infallible one. Missouri’s Drew Lock -- much drubbed for his inability to perform against decent secondaries -- touched them up for 250 yards and three touchdowns this past Saturday. If Bentley stays on his current track, we would not be surprised to see a similar showing out of the junior signal-caller upcoming.
Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald ($5,700) at Alabama -- Snap up Fitzgerald on the Alabama discount and cross your fingers. Facing the Crimson Tide is generally a nightmare proposition, but we don’t view a gamble on Fitzgerald as an immediate burning of your DK funds. Fitzgerald is not Joe Burrow, after all, and a year ago, he managed 66 yards rushing and a touchdown against Bama even while he was being shut down as a passer. That dual-threat upside is clutch in this kind of spot, where it would not be reasonable to assume much through the air. Fitzgerald has rushed for at least 100 yards in three of his last four games.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)
Penn State RB Miles Sanders ($5,900) vs. Wisconsin -- This price point makes little sense to us, even taking into account the fact that Sanders managed just 14 yards rushing against Michigan on Saturday. Let us reiterate, that came against Michigan. It is not indicative of his upside in the least. This is a Badgers team which will give up fantasy points to opposing runners, too. In nine games this season, they have allowed four 100-yard rushers. Not only will we eagerly snap up Sanders at the equivalent price of loose change gathered from sofa cushions, we would be none too surprised if he ends up shredding against the Badgers.
And three from the bargain bin: ($5,000 or less)
UCF RB Greg McCrae ($5,000) vs. Navy -- Adrian Killins has more name value (and costs $1,700 more) than McCrae, but the latter back has outproduced the former to a noticeable degree this season. On the year, Killins has rushed for 463 yards (4.6 YPC) and four touchdowns in eight games, while McCrae has picked his way to 572 yards (9.7 YPC) and three touchdowns in that same space. He just turned in his best game of the campaign, bolting for 188 yards and a touchdown against Temple last Thursday. The starting job is not McCrae’s outright and Killins will continue to sap him of carries, but we aren’t particularly concerned. McCrae should receive his fair share of work regardless of what Killins is up to, especially after what he just did to the Owls.
Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill ($4,900) at Alabama -- We touched on Fitzgerald earlier in the column. Here be another Bulldog who is getting a slight discount due to their monstrous opponent waiting in Tuscaloosa. Injury concern has blunted what was looking to be a strong season by Hill, and indeed, you will want to make sure of his status before you lock in your lineup, but the tentative expectation is that he will play against the Crimson Tide on Saturday (he is dealing with a lower-body injury). Temper your expectations given the matchup, but Hill is so inexpensive that we will roll the dice.
Washington State RB Max Borghi ($4,800) at Colorado -- Borghi has not even gone over 50 yards rushing in a game this season, but Wazzu HC Mike Leach likes to get him involved in the red zone, with the true freshman having accounted for nine touchdowns between rushing and receiving this year. He has scored at least once (as either a runner or receiver) in each of his last four games. This is largely a cheap, touchdown-dependent play, it should be noted. If you prefer a little more stability beyond just possible end zone glory, consider looking elsewhere.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)
Alabama WR Henry Ruggs ($6,000) vs. Mississippi State -- Another one of the receiving tentacles on the Alabama monster, here. We mentioned Borghi as something of a touchdown-dependent option. Ruggs is similar in that aspect, and has been similarly productive in finding the end zone. The wideout has caught touchdown passes in each of his last two games and has been held out of the end zone in just two contests all season. Ruggs has eight touchdown catches in nine games this season.
And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less):
Ohio State WR Johnnie Dixon ($5,000) at Michigan State -- Dixon has had a nose for the end zone of late, hitting it three times in his last four games. The Spartans don’t figure to offer too much resistance in this spot. They’ve allowed a trio of 100-yard receivers this season while ranking 98th in the FBS in passing-yardage surrendered on average. In a game where OSU’s passing strength will match up nicely with MSU’s weakness in the secondary, we view Dixon as a good bet to find the end zone again, here.
Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore ($4,800) at Texas A&M -- In a star-studded receiving corp for the Rebs, Moore stole the show against South Carolina this past weekend, catching 11 passes for 129 yards in what finished as a narrow defeat. While Moore has no other game of more than even 60 yards receiving, this is a risk worth taking. Affordable price, hot previous game, plays in a prolific offense. These are the best kinds of gambles. Just remember that there are all kinds of receiving mouths to feed on this roster.
Iowa WR (TE) T.J. Hockenson ($4,700) vs. Northwestern -- Once more we will take one of our favorite DFS tacts and target a tight end for one of receiver slots. We have already touched on Hockenson previously in this space, but his appeal comes in both his price ($800 cheaper than his more heralded teammate, Noah Fant) and his production. Hockenson hauled in a touchdown pass against Purdue on Saturday, his fourth score of the campaign. The obvious drawback in sliding a tight end in at receiver on DK is that you’re not going to receive a ton of yardage. That’s not something that particularly concerns us. At these price points, we’re less interested in big yardage totals (though those are great!) and more in the possibility of cashing in on some cheap touchdowns. Hockenson fits the bill.