This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We head to Week 9 with a bevy of games anticipating similar scores on the whole. Topping the charts this week is Oklahoma-Texas Tech and Auburn-Ole Miss at 66.5, with Notre Dame-North Carolina (62.5), Baylor-Texas (61.5), Pitt-Miami (61.0) and Ohio State-Penn State (61.0) all checking in within a five-point range. When we turn to team implied scores, we find Oklahoma leading the pack at 43, while Ohio State (39.75) ranks second and Pitt (35.25) checks in third. There are a total of 11 teams with implied scores of 30 or above this week. In terms of biggest spreads, Oklahoma (-19.5) and Ohio State (-18.5) again lead the way, while Georgia (-14.0) rounds out the double-digit favorites on the slate. Pitt (-9.5), Clemson (-9.5) and Nebraska (-7.5) are the only other team teams favored by more than a touchdown.
In terms of weather, we can look for the following potential impacts (subject to change):
Miami at Pitt Panthers : Strong chance of rain throughout the game.
Purdue at Nebraska Cornhuskers : Wind hovering around 10 mph all game could have a slight impact on passing games.
Florida State at Clemson : Slight chance for much of the contest, sits around 25 percent chance.
Florida at Georgia : Wind around 16 mph in the first half could lead to larger lean on ground games.
Zander Horvath, Purdue - Game-time call this week. Hasn't played since Sept. 11 but could be the lead back when healthy and is a good pass catcher.
Caleb Hood, North Carolina - Hasn't played since Sept. 25 but could be to backup if available. Has played in four games so he could still redshirt if he isn't looking at a return in the near future.
Kendall Milton, Georgia - Set to miss multiple weeks due to a knee injury.
Chris Tyree, Notre Dame - Got some kickoff team work in practice, which may signal his return after sitting last week.
Master Teague III, Ohio State - Hopeful to return this weekend, which could dilute the carries for the other back ever so slightly. Teague still behind in the pecking order.
Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh - Game-time decision Saturday.
Braylon Sanders, Ole Miss - Status unclear due to a lower-body issue that has kept him sidelined recently.
Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss - Still out with a foot injury with no clear timetable for return.
Joseph Ngata, Clemson - Expected to play against Florida State.
Mike Woods, Oklahoma - Coach is hopeful he will return this week.
Jermaine Burton, Georgia - Hoping for a larger role this week after playing just two snaps last game. Notably had a bye last week to rest up.
Josh Ali, Kentucky - Will play Saturday but may not be at 100 percent.
E.J. Williams, Clemson - Expected to play against Florida State.
Mario Williams, Oklahoma - Coach hopes to have him back in business this week.
Arian Smith, Georgia - Has a pain tolerance issue with his leg contusion but has been taking about half the reps with the second-team offense in practice this week. Hasn't played since Week 2.
Frank Ladson, Clemson - Underwent groin surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
JD Spielman, TCU - Has decided to retire from football.
Chase Rogers, Ole Miss - Status for Saturday is unclear at this point.
Garrett Miller, Purdue - His status is unclear after missing out last week.
Clay Cundiff, Wisconsin - Has participated in practice this week.
Braden Galloway, Clemson - Has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
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Week 9 Plays
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State ($10,800) vs. Penn State
Stroud takes on a Penn State defense that allows the second-lowest yards per attempt (5.5) and fewer than one passing touchdown per contest on the year. Why, do you ask, am I then recommending Stroud here? This certainly doesn't appear like and may not be the safest of picks at the top of the board, but I'm counting out low usage rate to result in the potential to reap some rewards, and the underlying numbers suggest Penn State's pass defense may not be quite as lockdown as the surface numbers would make it seem. The Nittany Lions have faced just one opponent so far in 2021 (Auburn) ranked higher than 78th in passing overall. Four of the six Penn State FBS challengers sit 99th or worse in passing yards per game and the majority of opponents they face average around one passing touchdown or fewer per game. Now we look at Stroud. In his two healthy home games -- Stroud was dealing with a shoulder issue versus Tulsa and missed the next week as a result -- we find that the signal-caller has thrown for more than 400 yards in each of them and a combined 8:1 TD:INT ratio, turning in 30-plus FD points in each. That seems to suggest Stroud is typically more comfortable on home turf, which will be the case Saturday.
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska ($10,200) vs. Purdue
There aren't many sure bets atop the board this week, so I'll go with another quarterback whose matchup doesn't look good on paper but may be much better than it appears. The Boilers have held opposing quarterbacks to single-digit FD scoring in five of the seven games they have played so far, but that fails to account for the fact that six of their seven opponents thus far (all but Notre Dame) sport passing offenses that check in 97th or worse overall. Nebraska, under Martinez's direction, ranks 35th at 266.4 passing yards per game, the best passing game the Boilers will have faced so far this year. Martinez also sports a pretty safe floor (seven of eight games with 24 or more FD points) and a ceiling (35.08 FD points) that leaves plenty of value on the table. Purdue has also yet to be tasked with containing a mobile quarterback and Martinez is just that, running for 420 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Wisconsin gashed the Purdue defense for nearly 300 rushing yards last week and it wouldn't be surprising to see Martinez break off a solid run or two this week.
GPP Dart: Henry Colombi, Texas Tech ($7,400) at Oklahoma
Colombi is one of the two GPP plays I'm featuring this week. This is the case where the matchup in Oklahoma is a bit too juicy to pass up. Not only did Jason Bean throw for his second-highest total on the season last week (246 yards), but the three previous opposing quarterbacks threw for more than 1,000 yards combined and 12 touchdowns. Colombi's game scripts for much of the season haven't called for the need to pass it early and often, but that seems likely to be the case this week as 19-point underdogs versus the Sooners. Colombi has shown he has the means to put up some points in a big game, coming in partway into the loss to Texas earlier this season for an injured Tyler Shough to throw for 324 yards and a trio of scores. He also threw for 344 yards against TCU earlier this month, so there is some upside to be had in this one.
Uiagalelei has far underdelivered on what was expected from him this season, but this may finally be a matchup for him to show something. Florida State has surrendered a slate-worst 26.6 FD points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, including three of the top four efforts of the season in the last three games versus power-five opponents (North Carolina, Syracuse and Louisville). Each of the last six opposing quarterbacks has run for at least 31 yards and the last four have run for a combined 382 yards and five touchdowns. While Uiagalelei has just three rushing scores to his name this season, he did rush for a pair of scores in his only two starts last year and has run for 46 or more yards in four games in 2021. The Clemson offense also seems in line for some much-needed reinforcement in the passing attack. Both Joseph Ngata (COVID-19 protocols) and E.J. Williams are expected back this week to join Justyn Ross versus a Seminoles defense allowing 7.5 yards per pass attempt, 247.3 passing yards per contest and 2.2 passing scores per game. The combination of both factors could make the starting quarterback an intriguing option if you're looking to go against the grain, though we don't have much to pull from yet on Phommachanh.
Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State ($9,900) vs. TCU
Vaughn is a multi-faceted running back who frequently gets involved in the passing attack, reeling in 20 passes over the last three contests alone. While opposing running FBS running backs have drawn just 3.6 targets per game over six contests, they've still turned in just over eight yards per target, and Vaughn is certainly a back who will draw more than his fair share. He also stands a decent chance to run all over a defense that has allowed at least 164 rushing yards to each of the last five opposing backs. For the season, FBS backs have run for 1,118 yards on 194 attempts (5.8 YPC) and 14 touchdowns against the Horned Frogs, which bodes well for a big effort from Vaughn, who sports a 52 percent carry share on the year and 55 percent over the last three games. That number is much greater yet when excluding quarterback Skylar Thompson from the mix.
Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma ($9,200) vs. Texas Tech
I recommended Brooks a week ago at the same salary and he didn't really disappoint, turning in his third consecutive effort of at least 21 points. He should be on track to continue that trend this week versus a Texas Tech defense that has allowed 12 rushing scores over eight contests. However, when we shift to just power-five opponents (which also happen to just be conference opponents), The Red Raiders have allotted opposing backs 856 rushing yards and 11 rushing scores over just five games. That plays into the hand of Brooks in a game where the Sooners are favored by double digits. He's also essentially taken control of the backfield, handling 20-plus carries in each of the last three contests. There is enough value to squeeze out again at this salary to warrant consideration again.
Zamir White, Georgia ($7,800) vs. Florida (neutral field)
As mentioned above, the Georgia-Florida game Saturday could feature some fairly strong winds, which could lead to some errant throws and a heavier reliance on the ground game. If that's the case, that works out well for White, who is typically the go-to guy in the rushing attack. White has turned in seven rushing scores over the last five games and has posted a pair of 19.9 point-plus point contests in the last three. The Gators have also proven vulnerable against the run this season, allowing 27.9 FD points per game, including 287 rushing yards and a trio of scores to Tyrion Davis-Price in the team's last contest. While White doesn't have quite the same stranglehold on the Bulldogs, the weather and game script both favor plenty of rush attempts and he sports a respectable 37 percent carry share over the last three games. Kendall Milton will also miss multiple weeks with a knee injury, offsetting the return of Kenny McIntosh, so there should be plenty of carries for White in this one.
With Kobe Pace sitting out this week, Shipley should shift into the clear lead role in his second game back from injury. The pair take on a Florida State defense that has held the last four opponents to well under season averages in rushing yards, so the matchup isn't quite as nice as the surface numbers (4.0 YPA, 166.2 rush YPG, 1.7 rush TDs per game) would make it appear, but the game script (Clemson -9.5) favors the Tigers keeping the ball on the ground a lot in the second half and Shipley should be a big part of that. Mafah is a bit more of a wild card but he now moves up to No. 2 on the depth chart and should receive his fair share of looks as well. Should he reach pay dirt once and toss in some yardage, Mafah would provide plenty of value at his salary.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Chris Olave, Ohio State ($9,200) vs. Penn State
Olave is coming off of a dud by his standards last week versus Indiana, turning in just two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown on four targets. The last time he finished in single digits in fantasy, he turned in two straight weeks of 26-plus efforts. That doesn't necessarily translate to Saturday's matchup versus Penn State, but Olave would still be the wide receiver I'm targeting to pair with Stroud if you are looking for upside at the wide receiver position. That being said, Garrett Wilson may be the safer play, posting 14.4 FD points or more in all but one game so far this season. However, his ceiling is lower than Olave's finishing with no more than 22.9 in a game thus far, so it may depend on the contest you are entering.
A typically ground-heavy team, the Panthers have taken to the air much more often this season behind the arm of senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, and Jordan Addison has been the primary target thus far. He has scored 16.9 or more in three of the last four games, including last week's win over Clemson that saw him leave prematurely due to a concussion. He's considered a game-time decision for this one, however, and there is some potential weather concerns, so his status and this game will be worth keeping an eye on. If he doesn't play, Taysir Mack should see additional snaps and looks as a result, and he's shown the upside to cross 20 points in a game. The pair get a solid matchup versus a Miami defense that has yielded a slate-high 42.0 points per game to opposing wide receivers this season, including 48.6 to NC State's wide receiver group last week.
Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky ($8.600) at Mississippi State
While Josh Ali is expected to return this week, he will quite possibly be operating at less than 100 percent and seems likely to be on a snap count. That should leave enough room for Robinson to be the main man yet again this week. Over the last four weeks, only three other layers are averaging more targets per game than Robinson. This is a matchup that's also ripe for the picking. The Bulldogs have yielded 40-plus points to four of seven opposing wide receiver groups so far and five of seven have 36-plus points, including a slate-high 11 passing scores. That shapes up well for Robinson, who has reached pay dirt as a receiver in each of the last three contests.
Tyquan Thornton, Baylor ($7,700) vs. Texas
Speaking of heavy target volumes and a good matchup, Thornton is another receiver that fits the bill in both regards. Thornton has averaged 10 targets per contest over the last three games and has turned it into 16 grabs for 323 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His target share over that span checks in fourth-highest on the slate (34.9 percent) and a matchup awaits versus Texas that has yielded seven passing scores to wide receivers over the past four games. This is also a bit under the radar because the surface numbers would suggest the Baylor backfield is the place to target. That may also be a viable option, but Abram Smith ($8,600) checks in at a considerably higher rate and there is a chance this could be a high-scoring contest.
GPP Dart: Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech ($7,500) vs. Oklahoma
Ezukanma hasn't experienced the same level of success out wide with Henry Colombi as he did when Tyler Shough was at the helm, but he has seen a slight resurgence over the last couple of contest. More importantly, the Red Raiders have been primarily in game scripts that have allowed them to lean much more heavily on the run, which may not be the case this week as 19-point underdogs versus the Sooners. It's worth noting that Ezukanma did draw 10 targets in Colombi's first game under center and has shown he can do well with that target share, racking up a pair of 21-plus point FD point showing to kick off the season. The matchup also fits well, as mentioned above in Colombi's section, so this could be a discount pairing to look into.