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In this column, going position-by-position, we’ll offer up one 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 $5,500 or cheaper). We’re plucking our dark horses from DraftKings. Player pool this week will be drawn from the Saturday early slate.
Affordable building block ($6,500 or less)
Michigan QB Shea Patterson ($6,300) vs. Maryland -- We understand if you’re nervously moving the cursor over the “close” tab, but quarterbacks fitting our scrimp-and-save parameters are few and far between. So Shea Patterson. Patterson has just seven touchdown passes on the year -- he’s also yet to even top 1,000 yards on the season (currently sitting at 905 yards passing) -- with six of them coming in two games, against Western Michigan and SMU. It’s hard to sell upside when it’s been so rarely fulfilled If you’re going to take the plunge with Shea in order to save elsewhere, just be aware that you’re throwing a dart into the ocean with UM’s offense.
And two from the bargain bin ($6,000 or less):
Iowa State QB Zeb Noland ($5,600) at Oklahoma State -- Noland was held to 79 yards passing by TCU on Saturday, but that was his first time facing off against a defense of that caliber. Oklahoma (which is not of that caliber) coughed up 360 yards passing and two touchdowns to him earlier this season. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has played like an out of tune piano this season. They’ve surrendered at last two touchdown passes in each of their past three games (against Boise State, Texas Tech and Kansas), with both Brett Rypien and Carter Stanley shredding them for three touchdowns apiece. Rypien and Alan Bowman both passed for at least 380 yards in their respective games.
Kansas QB Carter Stanley ($5,100) at West Virginia -- Speak his name and he shall appear. This is less a play on Stanley himself -- though he did just put up the three touchdown passes against Oklahoma State on Saturday -- and more a play against West Virginia. Facing off with the only decent offensive team they’ve seen this season in Texas Tech in Week 5, the Mountaineers surrendered 34 points. And that’s with the Red Raiders getting off to a dreadful start in the contest and losing the aforementioned Bowman to a collapsed lung (he’s since been released from the hospital) in the first half. KU has shown enough juice on offense for us to give their pieces note in select matchups. This is one of those matchups, and coming at a delectable price at that.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)
Ohio State RB Mike Weber ($5,900) vs. Indiana -- Weber has not topped 65 yards rushing since he went off for 184 against Oregon State in the opener (talk of an outright timeshare with J.K. Dobbins has not come to pass in reality), but it’s not like his carries have evaporated completely. He received 18 against TCU in Week 3 and at least eight carries in four of five games. The Hoosiers have surrendered at least 70 yards rushing to the lead back in every game they’ve played this season except for their most recent, a win over Rutgers, which, Rutgers. Weber plays in a loaded enough offense that he’s usable even behind Dobbins here and there. Take advantage of his low price point against a soft conference opponent.
And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less):
Texas RB Keaontay Ingram ($4,900) vs. Oklahoma -- True freshman Ingram is fresh off the best game of his career after rushing for 68 yards on 10 carries against Kansas State over the weekend. He’s back healthy -- or close to it -- after dealing with injury limitations early in the campaign. Tom Herman said this week that he believes Ingram is now ready to take on a lead role. The Red River Rivalry would make for a fine stage on which to introduce himself to the public writ large. Oklahoma has been fine, if unspectacular, against the run this season, ranking 58th in the country on a per-game yards-allowed basis. Take your shot to get Ingram at this price now. You might not get another one.
Wake Forest RB Cade Carney ($4,900) vs. Clemson -- Timeshares are always tricky beasts to tackle, but in the case of Carney v Colburn, it’s the former back who has been more dependable this year. Carney has taken double-digit carries in all five of Wake’s games, with a pair of 100-yard showings (also a 79-yard performance vs. Notre Dame) and at least 50 yards rushing in four of five contests. Colburn offers no such consistency. He rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown against Boston College several weeks ago, but has otherwise failed to top 50 yards on the ground. You get Carney on discount here because Wake Forest is playing Clemson, but it’s so difficult to find consistency in bargains (so often more boom/bust), and Carney at least has a respectable track record.
Oklahoma RB Kennedy Brooks ($4,200) vs. Texas -- We’ll admit it, we love this one. Since Rodney Anderson went down with a season-ending injury, the Sooners have proven somewhat wobbly on their feet. Trey Sermon is working as ostensible starter and has flashed in a few spots -- most notably rushing for 119 yards against Army two weekends back -- but Sermon’s not going to do this alone, and Brooks may just have a chance to emerge as a second banana. He played a lovely game against Baylor on Saturday, rushing for 107 yards and a pair of scores.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or cheaper)
Clemson WR Tee Higgins ($5,700) at Wake Forest -- Higgins has been one of the more disappointing statistical performers this season, with a 3-123-1 receiving line posted versus Texas A&M standing as his only game of the campaign over 55 yards. He’s been held to 35 or fewer in three games. All of this -- plus injury uncertainty with Trevor Lawrence (he’s expected to play -- has worked to drive Higgins from irritating overpriced non-performer to endlessly intriguing upside value asset. It’s all about perception. Wake Forest’s defense is ranked No. 108 against the pass nationally.
And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or cheaper):
Indiana WR Whop Philyor ($3,700) at Ohio State -- You’ll want to check on Philyor’s status before locking him into your lineup, as he missed the last contest with an ankle injury and will be a game-time decision for Saturday. So long as he’s able to go, well worth a test drive. The last time we saw him, he was whopping it up with 13 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Michigan State. He had not previously caught more than three passes in a game, so perhaps it was a one-off, but Ohio State is a sneaky-vulnerable defense when it comes to the pass. KJ Hamler, Jalen Reagor and Trevon Bradford have all posted big games against the Buckeyes.
Northwestern WR Flynn Nagel ($4,700) at Michigan State -- Nagel has caught at least five passes in three of four games this season. His high-water mark on the year was a beaut, with the Wildcats wideout catching 12 passes for 133 yards against Duke in Week 2. While the Spartans have been a near-impossible puzzle to solve rushing the ball, not so through the air. MSU, as the above Mr. Philyor can attest to. Sparty has allowed a 100-yard receiver in two of four games this season and ranks as the No. 115 pass defense in the country on average, surrendering a shade over 288 yards a game through the air.
Miami TE (listed as WR) Brevin Jordan ($4,400) vs. Florida State -- With N’Kosi Perry making just his second career start in this one -- and his first in a monster spot -- we like Jordan to see some safety-blanket action against the Seminoles this weekend. While he has yet to turn up the heat on the yardage front, he does have two games of at least five receptions, and has caught three touchdowns on the year. Coupled with the fact that Ahmmon Richards has already been ruled out with a knee injury, this is a nice spot for Jordan, at a nice price.