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Daily Fantasy Decisions

Week 9 CFB DFS Bargains

by Mark Lindquist
Updated On: October 25, 2018, 5:16 pm ET

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 early slate.



Affordable building block ($6,500 or less)

Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson ($6,100) vs. Wisconsin -- Thorson threw for a meager 150 yards against Rutgers this past Saturday, but don’t let that scare you off from a sneaky-good home spot for the upperclassman. He’s gone over 370 yards passing three times this season, with three touchdown passes in each of those contests. Now, he has not thrown even one touchdown pass in any of the Wildcats’ other four contests, so we are talking a little feast/famine with this one. We saw Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez throw for 384 yards and two touchdowns against the Badgers at the beginning of October. Don’t be scared off by the brand name of the program.

And two from the bargain bin ($6,000 or less):

Florida State QB Deondre Francois ($5,700) vs. Clemson -- Certainly a nervous proposition to put bank on Francois one week after Clemson held the normally-dependable Ryan Finley to just 156 yards passing while picking him off twice. At this price tag, though, we’ll take the risk. Francois has thrown for multiple touchdown passes in each of his last four games. In that space, he also had a pair of performances of 340 or more yards through the air. We love that Francois gets this game at home, because it would be a tough ask on the road.

USC QB Jack Sears ($5,000) vs. Arizona State -- This rides completely on JT Daniels -- currently in concussion protocol -- not playing against the Sun Devils. Sears has been unexpectedly thrown into the spotlight with Daniels’ backups, Matt Fink, out for the next month-plus with broken ribs. Sears has yet to throw a collegiate pass, but was ranked as Rivals’ No. 117 overall prospect in the 2017 class. The Trojans remain talented at the skill positions, and we’ll gladly play this through if Daniels can’t give it a go. Nothing guaranteed, other than monetary flexibility elsewhere in your lineup.

Running Back

Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)

Kansas RB Pooka Williams ($5,900) vs. TCU -- You’re presumably getting a discount because the Jayhawks are taking on a name defense. And the Horned Frogs are a fantastic team when it comes to defending the pass. They rank No. 8 in the country in that department when it comes to S&P+ analytics (hat tip to SB Nation’s Bill Connelly). TCU does not, however, boast a good run defense. They don’t even boast a decent one. By S&P+, Gary Patterson’s crew ranks 88th in the country against opposing ground games. Pooka has cost you $7,000 and $7,400 in his last two games. You’re getting him bargain, against a team susceptible to big run games. Williams has topped 80 yards rushing in every game this season but one.

And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less):

Northwestern RB Isaiah Bowser ($4,900) vs. Wisconsin -- The Wildcats have been adrift with their running game since Jeremy Larkin’s surprise September retirement. Call Bowser a dove with an olive branch, because they might have inadvertently stumbled into something with the true freshman. He put up 108 yards and two touchdowns against Rutgers over the weekend, and maybe, just maybe can give Northwestern something to build on moving forward. The Badgers make for a prime treadmill. They’ve allowed a lead rusher to bust out for 100 or more yards in each of their last two games, with Reggie Corbin of Illinois hitting the century-mark on the nose on Saturday. Wisconsin ranks No. 83 against the run on S&P+. Bowser has no track record, but consider rolling the dice here.

Iowa RB Ivory Kelly-Martin ($4,700) at Penn State -- Kelly-Martin has been hampered by injury this season, but the Hawkeyes coaching staff has not budged off their commitment to give him carries when healthy. He’s received at least 15 carries in three of the four games he’s played in this season, including a season-high 24 totes of the rock against Maryland on Saturday. He parlayed those into a season-best 98 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions are fresh off surrendering 138 yards rushing and two scores to Indiana’s Stevie Scott. So long as Kelly-Martin is healthy, he’s a more-than-viable play at this dirt-cheap price.

USC RB Aca’Cedric Ware ($4,200) vs. Arizona State -- Care to play USC running back roulette? All three of Ware, Vavae Malepeai ($4,400) and Stephen Carr ($3,600, yikes) are more than affordable. Malepeai has seven touchdowns on the year and is the best bet of the lot to find the end zone, but we prefer Ware due to his overall upside. He has not been a consistent chap, but does have showings of 173 yards and 100 yards against Arizona and UNLV, respectively. He’s put up a combined 85 yards in his other four games on DK, but you gotta be crossing your fingers on your Mega Millions tickets.


Wide Receiver

Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)

South Florida WR Tyre McCants ($6,000) at Houston -- McCants has the luxury of facing off with one of the worst pass defenses, with the Cougars ranked No. 109 in that metric on S&P+. On a per-game average, Houston is even worse. Like they can’t be any worse. They rank dead last in the country in surrendering 333.6 yards through the air. McCants has caught at last four passes in five of seven games this season. Expect him to receive plenty of room to work this weekend.

And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less):

Georgia WR Mecole Hardman ($5,000) vs. Florida -- We love rolling with Hardman, because he’s typically very affordable while also a threat to pop one a score deep in any given game. He opened the campaign scoring in four consecutive contests. Those scores have dried up of late -- he has not found the end zone in any of this last three games -- but we expect Georgia to come out firing in this one after having two weeks off to allow their loss to LSU to fester. Look for the team to get Hardman involved coming out of the bye week.

Arizona State WR Frank Darby ($5,000) at USC -- Darby has been a fantastic deep threat this season and is averaging 23.7 yards per catch, tops in the Pac-12. He’s been hot of late, too, having racked up 311 receiving yards over his last three games, with showings of 3-131-1 and 5-127 this month. USC offers middle-of-the-road opposition to the pass (No. 71 nationally) and this is a prime play if you’re not comfortable shelling out $8,100 for teammate N’Keal Harry.

Iowa WR (TE) T.J. Hockenson ($4,100) at Penn State -- Hockenson is not even the most well-recognized tight end on his own team (that would be Noah Fant), but he’s come through with some big games in his own right, especially over the last month. Two of his last four contests have seen him top 100 yards receiving. He’s averaging 14 FPP on DK, an absolute steal at this price. At his best this season, Hockenson caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns against Indiana two weekends ago. If you’re interested in rolling with Fant, by-the-by, he’s going for a very affordable $5,000. We prefer Hockenson at the discount. Fant is averaging 13.7 FPP, so at least on average, you’re actually getting an edge on both points and bankroll, here.

Mark Lindquist
Mark Lindquist holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa and writes baseball and college football for Rotoworld.com. He's currently working on a memoir about life, death, rock 'n' roll and his year teaching at a Chinese university. You can reach him on Twitter @markrlindquist.