Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 4.
Start These Quarterbacks:
BJ Daniels, USF (UTEP)
It’s hard to argue with his production over the last two weekends. Daniels has topped 350 yards in each of the last two games and has accounted for six total touchdowns. He is not running the ball nearly as much and has become a more efficient passer: 58 percent last fall vs. 71 percent over his last two games. South Florida has scored 107 points in those games as the entire offense should be squarely on the fantasy radar this Saturday.
James Vandenberg, Iowa (UL-Monroe)
It is hard to argue with consistency, and Vandenberg has proven he can produce in short order. He has topped 20 fantasy points in each of his three starts this year with a juicy 32.96 effort last weekend. UL-Monore ranks 89th in pass efficiency defense and hasn’t held an FBS passer under 200 yards yet this season. Vandenberg has also rushed for two scores this season.
MarQuies Gray, Minnesota (North Dakota State)
The dynamic athlete has taken the Gophers offense by storm over the last two weeks. He has rushed for 281 net yards while passing for 374 yards. Jerry Kill is finally starting to use his athletic skills to their fullest potential, and North Dakota State should pose no threat. Especially for a team that desperately needs to keep positive momentum as Big Ten play starts.
Sean Renfree, Duke (Tulane)
The talented junior finally put it all together last weekend – and on the road in the ACC no less. Renfree set a school record with 40 completions to go with his 359 yards and three total scores. Tulane allowed 241 yards and three scores to Tulsa’s G.J. Kinne two weeks ago and will not have the horses to slow down Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner.
Trent Steelman, Army (at Ball State)
The West Point signal-caller is entering his 29th career start under center and is guiding the nation’s No. 2 rushing offense. Steelman has rushed for 265 yards and six touchdowns over the last two games, and Ball State is ranked 95th in total defense thus far. Expect that triple option to keep rolling along this weekend.
Derek Carr, Fresno State (at Idaho)
Carr is slowly developing into one of the WAC’s top passers. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 235 yards and two more touchdowns last weekend. And with how bad the Bulldogs defense has played – 97th in rushing, 85th in total defense and 100th in scoring – Carr should have plenty of reasons to throw deep into the second half.
John Brantley, Florida (at Kentucky)
Brantley is no fantasy stud, but he is showing signs of developing. He played very well against Tennessee, throwing for 213 yards and two scores on 61 percent passing. He is also taking care of the football. He has gone two games in a row without throwing an interception for the first time since September 18 of last season. The Wildcats surrendered three passing scores to Louisville last weekend and haven’t beaten Florida since 1986.
Deep QB Plays:
JJ McDermott, SMU (at Memphis)
Jacory Harris, Miami (Kansas State)
Edward Wright-Baker, Indiana (North Texas)
Bench These Quarterbacks:
Geno Smith, West Virginia (LSU)
Did anyone see the Mississippi State-LSU tilt last Thursday? The Dallas Cowboys O-Line of the early '90s would’ve had a tough time slowing down those Bayou Bengals. And did I mention that the Tigers have two lockdown cornerbacks? Smith will throw a lot, but how effective he will be with zero running game remains to be seen. Stay away.
Tyler Hansen, Colorado (at Ohio State)
Despite struggling mightily against the Miami Hurricanes rushing attack, Ohio State still held Jacory Harris to only 123 yards passing and forced two interceptions. And without Nate Solder leading the way, the Buffaloes have struggled to run the football (103rd in the nation). As the Buckeyes return home, fantasy GMs can bet THE OSU will play fired-up football.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Florida State)
Boyd turned in one of the most impressive performances on any field in all of college football last week in the second half against Auburn. But this isn’t Auburn Boyd will be facing this weekend. The Noles’ front seven is deep, talented and extremely athletic. Florida State held Landry Jones to 199 yards, a TD and two INTs and the Sooners to 300 yards of total offense. It wasn’t the defense’s fault they fell to the Sooners. Look for Clemson to come back to earth after the emotionally draining win over the Tigers last weekend.
James Franklin, Missouri (at Oklahoma)
The most impressive unit of Week Three was easily the Sooners defense. They held Florida State to 27 yards rushing on 26 attempts and played such a physical brand of football that E.J. Manuel left the game early. Franklin has proven his dual-threat capabilities very quickly, but he has also made some mistakes and could take a pounding this weekend. And you can bet those Sooners haven’t forgotten what happened in Columbia last season.
Brynn Renner vs. Tevin Washington (North Carolina at Georgia Tech)
Time of possession should play a huge factor in this game as both teams have played efficient football on offense. But the defenses should not be overlooked. Tech held Jordan Webb to 148 yards and no scores last week and completely controlled the clock (try 50 att., 602 yards rushing). Renner has been supremely efficient, but no Tech opposing quarterback has topped 180 yards passing thus far. Look for the Jackets to run, run, run and run some more.
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio (at Rutgers)
The Scarlet Knights rank first in the nation in tackles for a loss, third in sacks, is tied for first in turnover margin and has had two weeks to prepare for Ohio. All things that do not add up to fantasy success. Bryn Renner did throw for 273 yards against Rutgers, but also tossed three picks and only one touchdown. Tettleton hasn’t faced a team (NM State, Gardner-Webb, Marshall) that even comes close to the level of player he will face in Piscataway.
Start These Running Backs:
Darrell Scott, USF (UTEP)
The former Colorado Buffalo had the best game of his career last weekend against Florida A&M. The talented junior is finally realizing his potential and will only look to build upon his 230-yard, 4-TD performance last week. The Miners gave up 114 yards and two scores to SMU’s Zach Line at home two weeks ago. Expect big things from all Bulls this weekend.
Kevin Parks, Virginia (Southern Miss)
All signs are pointing to the record-breaking prep star becoming the workhorse for UVa despite his size (5-foot-8). But he is a thickly built 195 pounds, and it appears that Mike London likes him (14 att., 98 yards last week) more than Perry Jones (8 att., 39 yards) in short-yardage, goal-line and tough-yard situations. Southern Miss is good enough to keep it close, but not good enough to stop K.P.
Matthew Tucker, TCU (Portland State)
Waymon James is another Frog to keep an eye on as well in this one-sided affair. With Ed Wesley still nursing an injury, Tucker and James appear to be in for the lion’s share of the carries against the lowly Vikings. Tucker has 31 carries for 161 yards and four TDs in the last two games, while James has 24 carries for 144 yards and one TD over that span. Both could be very useful this weekend.
Andre Williams, Boston College (UMass)
Boston College is 0-3 and is arguably the most desperate team in the nation. They will not mess around with the Minutemen, and Williams is their best option on offense. Expect a heavy dose of the bruiser who has scored three times in as many games and has three 100-yard games in his last six contests.
Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State (Central Michigan)
Larry Caper is another Spartan to keep en eye on as well in this one-sided affair. Bell is leading the team with three touchdowns, and starter Edwin Baker may not be needed in the second half. Look for the burly Bell to get plenty of touches in this game (he has only four fewer carries than Baker thus far in 2011).
Michael Hayes, Bryce Beall, Houston (Georgia State)
Just when you think you have a backfield all figured out? Beall actually got one more carry (11 to 10) than Hayes last week, but Hayes still got the most touches of any Houston back (13). Beall got two fourth-quarter goal-line carries and scored both times, so both options could produce this weekend against Georgia State.
Bench These Running Backs:
Andre Ellington, Clemson (Florida State)
With the aggrevated hamstring injury – and a penchant for getting banged up – staying away from the Clemson bell cow would be smart this weekend. The sledding will tough for all parties involved with the Tigers offense as Florida State’s defense is downright nasty. And they are angry after last week’s defeat. The Noles are fifth in total defense and are allowing only 77 yards rushing after holding Oklahoma to 300 total yards last week.
Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas (at Alabama)
I am not sure why Wingo even needs to be on this list. Bama is ranked fourth in rushing defense (55 ypg), second in pass efficiency defense (62.6 QB rating), third in total defense (170 ypg) and second in scoring defense (6.0 ppg). Enough said?
Henry Josey, Missouri (at Oklahoma)
Yes, Josey posted the No. 1 rushing total of 2011 last weekend (263 yards). And he will be a sneaky good play – in two weeks after Missouri plays Oklahoma and rests up on the bye. Oklahoma’s defense held Florida State to 27 rushing yards on 26 carries and was one of the most impressive units on any side of the ball Saturday.
Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (at Pitt)
It will be hard to bench a player who is off to such a great start, but the Panthers have been rather stingy on the ground. They allowed 86 yards on 23 carries to Marcus Coker last weekend. They held Maine to 37 yards rushing in Week 2 and held fantasy stud Brandon Oliver of Buffalo to 3.2 yards per carry on 35 attempts in Week 1. Lower the upside for Wood this weekend.
Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech (at Mississippi State)
The Bulldogs of the SEC have far superior talent to that of the Bulldogs of the WAC. Dan Mullen has his defense playing low, hard and fundamentally sound football. LSU was able to plod away and gain 148 yards rushing, but needed 38 carries and never reached the end zone. Mississippi State has also had an extra two days to prepare for a team that had its heart ripped out in the fourth quarter by Houston.
Mike Ball, Nevada (at Texas Tech)
Tech’s defensive numbers against the run were skewed by an odd situation against Texas State – who ran the option to the tune of 50 rushing attempts in Week 1 despite losing 50-10. Tech totally dominated New Mexico on the road last weekend and will prove to everyone this weekend that it is one of the most improved teams in the nation. The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, struggled mightily to score 17 points against San Jose State. Also, Athlon fantasy guru Steven Lassan owns Ball and is not playing him – that should cover it!
Rodney Stewart, Colorado (at Ohio State)
A Nate Solder-less offensive line has found rushing yards tough to come by in 2011. On 61 carries against the likes of Hawaii, Colorado State and Cal, Stewart has managed only 3.6 yards per carry and has failed to reach the end zone. Against an angry Ohio State team in the Horseshoe, I cannot recommend putting Stewart in the lineup.
Brandon Oliver, Buffalo (UConn)
Bernard Pierce vs Davin Meggett, Maryland (Temple)
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (Missouri)
Montee Ball, Wisconsin (South Dakota)
Waiver Wire Wide Receivers:
Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State (Central Arkansas)
Was still targeted against Virginia Tech and Illinois, but was a monster against Memphis.
Emory Blake, Auburn (FAU)
Has scored in all three games this season and should be in store for a fourth against FAU.
Kevin Dorsey, Maryland (Temple)
Is averaging 8.5 receptions per game through two contests. Will be used heavily again this weekend.
Phillip Payne, UNLV (Southern Utah)
Finally showed up last weekend, and the Rebs’ all-time leading receiver should benefit from the poor match-up.
Sterling Griffin, USF (UTEP)
Is averaging nearly seven catches per game and is facing UTEP with Daniels on a roll.
Nick Toon, Wisconsin (South Dakota)
Posted 12 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns over his last two. Easy match-up.
Top DEF/ST Spot Starts:
1. South Florida (UTEP)
2. Florida (at Kentucky)
3. South Carolina (Vanderbilt)
4. Wisconsin (South Dakota)
5. Penn State (Eastern Michigan)
6. Florida International (UL-Lafayette)
7. Michigan State (Central Michigan)
8. Maryland (Temple)
9. Georgia (at Ole Miss)
10. UConn (at Buffalo)
11. Mississippi State (Louisiana Tech)
12. Illinois (Western Michigan)