FanDuel Saturday early lineup
Quarterback- Christian Hackenberg, Penn State vs Indiana ($6,300)
Analysis: And with that, I've scared off half my readers. Hackenberg started out the season about as poorly as possible in a miserable 103-yard passing performance that saw him sacked 10 times by Temple. Things have slowly—very slowly—improved since then, peaking with a 296-yard, three-touchdown performance against San Diego State two weeks ago. He leveled off against Army with another sub-200-yard passing game on Saturday, but weather factored into the sloppiness and Hack turned in a turnover-free effort for the second straight week nonetheless. But if you don't want to bet on Hackenberg, fair enough. Would you care to bet against Indiana's defense? We just saw Cardale Jones and his Buckeye buddies roll for over 500 total yards against the Hoosiers, who are currently allowing 337 yards per game through the air, second worst in the country. The Nittany Lions might not have the offensive firepower of Ohio State, but Indiana's defense has been porous against everybody.
Alternate- Cardale Jones, Ohio State vs Maryland ($7,900). Despite the fact that Jones has finished with fewer than 200 yards passing in three of Ohio State's five games this season, I remain confident in his talent, if not his results. HC Urban Meyer has been hinting that the 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior is just a few mechanical tweaks away from hitting more consistently on his passes, particularly the deep bombs that we all fell in love with last postseason. He'll play host to a Randy Edsall defense that's surrendered several big passing days this season, most recently in the form of WVU QB Skyler Howard's four touchdown performance on September 26. J.T. Barrett ($7,900) does continue to lurk the Ohio State sideline, but if Meyer isn't starting him a week into October, you wonder if he'll do it at any point this season. Barring apocalyptic results from Cardale, of course.
Option I wouldn't touch with my worst enemy's lineup- Anu Solomon, Arizona vs Oregon State ($8,300). Solomon's currently working his way through a concussion and is being labeled questionable for Saturday's contest with Oregon State. That's bad enough, but factor in a Beavers defense that boasts a Top-15 pass defense (153 yards per game) and the equation becomes too filled with variables. If Solomon can't go, we'll see Jerrard Randall ($7,800). Randall's passing is erratic (just 44.7% completions), but he's also rushed for 404 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries. His ability to tote the rock makes him intriguing if Solomon can't play, but I feel uneasy about a quarterback who has yet to prove that he can make defenses pay through the air. I made that mistake with Oregon State's own Seth Collins against Michigan just a few weeks ago. Or let's peek in on Texas QB Jerrod Heard ($7,000), who famously took a flamethrower to Cals' defense. Less famously, he then plummeted back to earth with 167 passing yards in losses to Oklahoma State and TCU. That's passing yards from both games, combined.
Running Back- Shock Linwood, Baylor @ Kansas ($8,100)
Analysis: Poor, poor Jayhawks. Basketball season can't start soon enough, no doubt. But in this frozen moment of time, they will be forced to watch Baylor light the field on fire. For his part, Linwood's been a beast of a bear. After a quiet opener against SMU that saw him log just eight carries for 75 yards, he's produced escalating yardage totals in each game, with 130 yards against Lamar, 158 against Rice and a masterful 221 against Texas Tech on Saturday. KU's allowing an average of 251.5 yards on the ground. The only real concern—as it is with every notable name on the Baylor offense—is that a big lead might lead HC Art Briles to rest his cubs for much of the second half.
Running Back- Jordan Canzeri, Iowa vs Illinois ($5,800)
Analysis: Canzeri's averaging exactly five yards a carry in the kind of “He's an Iowa Running Back” mold that tends to tumble out of the Hawkeye program every few years. Don't let the lack of sexy cloud your vision here. Now that he's lead back over LeShun Daniels, Canzeri's posted rushing totals of at least 100 yards in three of his last four games. Even in last weekend's devolution of offensive football between Iowa and Wisconsin, the senior still turned 26 carries into 125 yards. He's also scored eight touchdowns. Illinois' defense has held opponents to just 127.2 rushing yards per contest on average, but I like Canzeri to benefit from Iowa's Borg-like attempts to make every game look exactly the same.
Alternate- Nick Chubb, Georgia @ Tennessee ($8,500). While Alabama thumped Georgia over the weekend, Chubb still managed to bust out for 146 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run. Tide backers would be quick to point out that if the 83-yard TD magically disappeared, the numbers would look less solid. Which is like comparing lunches on the playground and telling the other kid, “Yeah, but if you just didn't have that brownie.” Regardless, Chubb gets a chance to scrub the embarrassing loss from his system against a Volunteer squad that just surrendered 154 yards and two touchdowns to Arkansas' Alex Collins.
Option I wouldn't touch with my worst enemy's lineup- C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame vs Navy ($8,500). Prosise has posted some bonkers numbers through five games with 650 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He ran for a season-low 50 yards against Clemson on Saturday, though, and Navy's defense is allowing 147 yards rushing per game on average. I don't love the mach-up and would much rather roll with Chubb at an identical price. To paraphrase Marge Simpson: Like flying a kite at night, there's something unsettling about Notre Dame's offense that I just can't put my finger on.
Wide Receiver- Corey Coleman, Baylor @ Kansas ($8,600)
Analysis: Last season, Coleman scored 11 touchdowns. Through four games in 2015, he's scored 11 touchdowns. It's been that kind of a year for the 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, who has caught at least three touchdowns in each of his last three games. And like offensive friend Shock Linwood, Coleman gets the joy of facing a Kansas defense that's surrendering 40 PPG. HC Art Briles' Bears haven't scored fewer than 56 in a game this season. Until somebody proves that they can slow Baylor, Coleman, Linwood and Seth Russell ($9,800) should all continue to provide DFS gold.
Wide Receiver- Tajae Sharpe, UMass @ Bowling Green ($6,800)
Analysis: Sharpe might have just one touchdown grab on the season, but he's been a consistent yardage provider. Through four games, he's caught 45 passes for 536 yards and a touchdown. His non-touchdown numbers rank up there with the best in the game, as his reception total is good for second in all of the FBS land and his receiving yardage is good for seventh. The touchdowns should theoretically come with the volume. This is as good a week as any to cross your fingers on Sharpe finding the end zone. Bowling Green's pass defense remains one of the worst units in all of that same FBS land. They're allowing a whopping 294.60 yards passing per contest. Sharpe's got a good match-up, a good price and some great numbers to back it all up.
Wide Receiver- Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma @ Texas ($7,400)
Analysis: 7-142-2, 8-77-0, 6-79-2, 4-69-0, 6-138-4. Oh, sorry, I didn't see you come in. I was just reciting receiving lines posted against Texas this season, as I sometimes do in my free time. The Longhorns' passing defense is a mess-in-progress and has allowed multiple huge games to opposing receivers. Sweet, right? Now for the bad news. While Oklahoma's offense has been downright impressive at times, Shepard's own numbers have been curiously quiet. He had just two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown against West Virginia on Saturday, squandering some of the faith he might have been building with his eight-catch, 144-yard drubbing of Tulsa a week before the Sooners' bye. That was his only game this season with more than 100 yards receiving. The two games prior to that Tulsa affair are fine (10 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns combined), if relatively unspectacular. I think Shepard shakes himself out of his little stupor on Saturday. The Longhorns have proven incapable of defending the pass to any sort of competent degree this season, while Oklahoma's been gelling in interesting ways.
Alternate- Jay Lee, Baylor @ Kansas ($6,200). If you don't feel like forking over the $8,600 for Corey Coleman but still want a piece of the metaphorical pie that is the Baylor offense, Lee makes for a nice target. He hasn't put up video game numbers like Coleman, but there's no shame in being a normal human. Lee has at least 70 yards receiving in all four of Baylor's games this season. This includes contests against Lamar and Texas Tech with 111 and 120 yards receiving, respectively. While the 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior is unlikely to hit the highs of several of Baylor's bigger baddies, he's a sneaky option for the price.
Option I wouldn't touch with my worst enemy's lineup- Ricky Jones, Indiana @ Penn State ($5,800). At just $5,800, Jones isn't priced horribly, but I would stay away. This season, he's caught 21 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns. Three of his five games have brought in 56 receiving yards or fewer. The Nittany Lions' have been a very tough defense to score against this season, allowing just 15.80 PPG and a meager 159.40 yards passing on average. Jones' value takes an additional hit if QB Nate Sudfeld (ankle) is unable to play.
Tight End- George Kittle, Iowa vs Illinois ($2,000)
Analysis: OK, maybe I just wanted somebody named Kittle in my lineup. With a paltry $2,000 left in the Fan Duel wallet after slotting in my lineup, I'm opting for the 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end who has caught touchdowns in each of the past two weeks. That being said, Kittle's yet to catch more than two passes in a game. Poor wallets call for dollar store measures, though, and Iowa's offensive limitations could allow a few Red Zone opportunities for Kittle this weekend.
Alternate- Mark Andrews, Oklahoma @ Texas ($3,000). Andrews has caught eight passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns this season, with the trio of scores coming in his last two games. As a freshman, his numbers will likely wobble with promise throughout the year. The 6-foot-6, 247 pound youngster is averaging 19.3 YPC and like Sterling Shepard, should be licking his chops to face a Texas secondary that would have issues covering a baby with a blanket.
Option I wouldn't touch with my worst enemy's lineup- Rodney Mills, UMass @ Bowling Green ($3,100). A leg injury kept Mills on the bench over the last two weeks, which makes me weary in and of itself. He doesn't carry an exorbitant price tag and if he does suit up, BG makes for a nice match-up. I would prefer to see him acclimate to action before throwing him into the lineup. All of his production this season (five catches, 105 yards, two touchdowns) came against Temple in a Week 2 loss. Groovy numbers, but we have no context for them. Even if you're fine rolling with Mills right off the injury bat, make sure to check his status prior to kickoff. There's nothing worse than when the timer locks and you're forced to roll with a limited squad.