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Phil’s Week 9 College Fantasy Picks

Last week was another excellent week for my players of the week. I will grade it 7-2-1 and that means the last 5 weeks the record is 24-8-3 which pretty great for making mostly surprise picks! First a review of last week’s picks.

First a recap of last week’s selections and I grade them win, loss or push.


MY PICKS: Daryll Clark, Penn St, Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan, Bo Levi Mitchell, SMU and Landry Jones, Oklahoma.
Daryll Clark, Penn St-Clark threw for 230 (59%) with 4 TD’s while also rushing for 30 yards in a 35-10 win over Michigan. WIN

Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan – LeFevour threw for just 147 yards with 2 TD’s but totaled 128 rush yards (5.8) in a 24-10 win over Bowling Green. 275 YARDS and 2 TD’s=WIN

Bo Levi Mitchell, SMU – Mitchell was knocked out with a shoulder injury late in the 1Q of the 38-15 loss to Houston and hit 5 of 9 for 40 yds before the injury. Loss.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma-Jones threw for 252 yards (68%) with 2 TD’s in a 35-13 win over #25 Kansas. WIN

Top Honorable Mention performances:

Thaddeus Lewis, Duke-Lewis threw for 371 yards (70%) with 2 TD’s in a 17-13 win over Maryland.

Levi Brown, Troy-Brown threw for 469 yards (61%) with 1 TD while also rushing for another TD in a 50-26 win over North Texas.

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame-Clausen threw for 246 yards with 2 TD’s in a 20-16 win vs Boston College which was a huge turnaround for him after throwing 4 int in a 17-0 loss to BC in ‘08.

Colt McCoy, Texas-McCoy threw for 369 yards (84%) with 3 TD’s in a 41-7 stomping of Missouri.

Stephen Garcia, South Carolina-Garcia threw for 312 yds and 2 TD’s in a 14-10 win over Vanderbilt. Vandy was only allowing 134 pass ypg prior to last week’s game.


MY PICKS: Jahvid Best, Cal
Best ran for 159 yards (12.2) with 2 TD’s while also grabbing a 27 yard reception that went for a TD in a 49-17 win over Washington St. WIN

Top Honorable Mentions:

Evan Royster, Penn St-Royster rushed for 100 yards (5.0) and also grabbed 2 receptions (12.0) but had no TD’s in a 35-10 win over Michigan.

Darius Marshall, Marshall - Marshall ran for 133 yards (5.2) with a TD in a 27-7 win over UAB.


MY PICKS: DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss and Randall Cobb, Kentucky
DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss – Brown (PS#7) caught 4 receptions (10.3) with 2 of those going for TD’s in a 43-6 win over Tulane. WIN

Randall Cobb, Kentucky-As I said before, this guy is a game-changing player no matter what position he’s playing. While he only had 4 receptions (6.8) he hit 2-4 passing (46 yards), had 41 rush yards (13.7) with 1 TD AND had a 73 yard punt return touchdown. In my book – that’s a WIN.

Top Honorable Mentions:

Top Honorable Mentions:

Antonio Brown, Central Michigan-Brown grabbed 5 receptions (13.6) with 1 TD and also rushed for 42 yards (7.0) with another TD in a 24-10 win over Bowling Green.

Ryan Whalen, Stanford – Whalen had 7 receptions (13.3) in a 33-14 win over Arizona St.


MY PICKS: Notre Dame and South Carolina
Notre Dame vs Boston College- A week after giving up 501 yards, ND held Boston College to 349 yards including just 70 rush (2.4) in a 20-16 win. The Irish defense forced FIVE TURNOVERS and after coming in allowing 25.5 ppg and facing a BC team that was averaging 30.9 ppg on offense, ND held BC to 16 pts. WIN.

South Carolina
vs Vanderbilt-South Carolina held Vandy to 273 total yards in a 14-10 win. The SC defense allowed 141 rush yds (3.9) to a Vandy team that was averaging 180 rush ypg (4.3) prior. Push.

Top Honorable Mention Selections:
Ohio St vs Minnesota-OSU held Minnesota to just 286 yards in a 38-7 win.

Boise St vs Hawaii-Boise held Hawaii to just 306 yards in a 54-9 blowout. Hawaii was averaging 443 yds per game prior to last week’s game.

Oklahoma vs Kansas-Oklahoma held Kansas to 305 yards including 81 on the ground (2.6) in a 35-13 win. Kansas came in averaging 503 ypg and 38.8 ppg and was held 34% below their season scoring average and 39% below their season yardage average.

Florida vs Mississippi St-Florida allowed just 237 total yards to Miss St including 92 rushing (2.6).


WASHINGTON – Washington had a 10-3 first down edge and a 163-25 yd edge but actually trailed 8-3 as they had two 1st and goals result in 3 points and then allowed a blocked punt for a TD. The Ducks took over from there. Loss.

Now on to my surprise picks for Week 8

Here are my picks for week 9:

QUARTERBACKS (Four picks this week):

MY PICKS: Ryan Lindley, San Diego St, Ryan Mallett, Arkansas, Christian Ponder, Florida St and Seth Doege, Texas Tech

Ryan Lindley, San Diego St

Lindley at first struggled to learn new HC Hoke and OC Borges’ offense, but the light bulb has come on the last two weeks. Last week he threw for a career high 6 TD’s and a career high 459 yds completing 67% of his passes in San Diego St’s 42-28 upset of Colorado St. This week SDSt takes on New Mexico which has become the MWC’s punching bag and is #109 in my pass defense rankings allowing 252 pass ypg (63%) with a 17-4 ratio. Lindley is only averaging 270 pass ypg (55.5%) with a 17-10 ratio for the season but should have a monster second half of the year and my computer predicts that he will throw for 313 yds this week.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas

Arkansas is off back-to-back losses and is desperate for a win. Eastern Michigan comes in winless, but does boast the #1 pass defense in the NCAA allowing just 124 pass ypg (50%) with a 7-6 ratio. Mallett has faced some tough defenses including #1 Florida and #2 Alabama and is still averaging 271 pass ypg (52%) with a 15-3 ratio. With top RB Michael Smith a little banged up, Arkansas will rely on their potent pass offense and will want a feel-good win for the home crowd. I predict Mallett will have a 300+ yd game against the nation’s #1 pass D which qualifies as a surprise pick.

Christian Ponder, Florida St

Ponder has been the team’s most consistent player in an erratic season for the Seminoles. He led the big comeback vs North Carolina last week and is now up to #9 in the NCAA’s pass efficiency rankings throwing for 311 ypg (70%) with a 12-1 ratio. In fact the QB has gone 6 straight games without throwing an interception and he leads the nation’s starting QB’s with the lowest interception %. My computer calls for Ponder to throw for 350 yds vs an NC State defense which is #100 in the NCAA’s pass efficiency defense rankings allowing 215 ypg (64%) with a 13-4 ratio. Picking anyone from a troubled FSU team is a surprise pick, but Ponder is having a great season despite FSU’s woes.

Seth Doege, Texas Tech

Doege (PS#28) is certainly a surprise pick as he is Texas Tech’s 3rd string QB who came off the bench last week vs Texas A&M after starting QB Potts struggled. Second string QB Sheffield is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Doege hit 18 of 25 (72%) for 146 yds and also saw some action vs Kansas St but is only averaging 105 pass ypg (73%) with a 1-0 ratio on the year. Fans were shouting “No More Potts!” after Potts threw int #2 in the end zone last week and Doege came in and led the team to 2 TD’s. HC Leach only said that the QB starter will be a gametime decision, but all signs seem to point towards Doege getting the start. If Doege makes his first career start this week, it will be at home vs a Kansas D that is allowing 247 pass ypg (63%) with a 10-6 ratio ranking #65 in my pass defense rankings.

Honorable Mentions:

Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M-Prior to the season there’s few outside of the Aggies’ locker room who would’ve predicted that Johnson would lead the Big 12 in total offense at midseason. In fact Johnson was probably the Big 12 South’s most anonymous QB coming into the year but he’s averaging almost 338 ypg while accounting for a conference leading 17 TD’s. This week he takes on an Iowa St defense which feasted on EIGHT Nebraska turnovers to beat the Huskers in Lincoln for the first time since 1977. In that game Nebraska coughed the ball up 4 times inside the ISU 5 yard line! After a rough patch in which A&M lost 3 straight, Johnson must be filled with confidence after accounting for 309 yds and 2 TD’s in the Aggies’ improbable upset in Lubbock. My computer calls for Johnson to carve up a Cyclones’ defense with 353 pass yds and keep in mind they are allowing 413 ypg vs BCS foes this season.

Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP-Here’s a guy whose stats look very poor, but I expect him to have a big game this week. Vittatoe is only averaging 215 pass ypg (52%) with a 6-9 ratio this year, but this week takes on UAB at home. UAB is #112 in my pass D rankings allowing a whopping 314 pass ypg (66%) with a 17-5 ratio this year. In CUSA play, Vittatoe is averaging 289 ypg (53%) with a 5-4 ratio, so this should be another productive game.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma-Jones is a PS#3 redshirt freshman who probably would have only seen limited duty this year if Bradford had stayed healthy. Instead he’s Oklahoma’s starter and is only averaging 195 ypg (61%) with a 13-6 ratio. This week is his 5th start and he’s facing a Kansas St team that ranks #29 in my pass D rankings allowing 227 ypg (54%) with a 16-11 ratio. My computer predicts that he will throw for 333 yds this week and I think he will improve every week.

Juice Williams, Illinois
-This selection seems improbable given Williams’ play this year but last season vs the Wolverines, Juice set a Michigan Stadium record with 431 total yds. Although he has been benched at times this season for his 3 season backup Eddie McGee and then last week redshirt freshman Jacob Charest, Zook has said that he may go to a 2 QB system with Williams and Charest vs the Wolverines. At 1-6 this is Illinois’ last gasp for a turnaround and potential bowl berth so expect to see everything but the kitchen sink thrown at a Wolves’ defense which is allowing 32 ppg and 427 ypg vs BCS opponents this year.

Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic-Just like in ‘08, Smith heats up as the weather gets cooler. The Owls have amazingly increased the amount of points they’ve scored every week this season from 3, 16, 25, 28, 44 to 51. Versus Sun Belt opponents this year Smith is averaging 338 ypg (58%) with a 9-0 ratio and he hasn’t thrown an interception in 4 games. Last year Smith threw for 359 yds and 4 TD’s vs Middle Tennessee. Middle Tennessee leads the conference in pass defense but my computer calls for Smith to throw for 323 yds as the Owls try to burrow their way back into the postseason picture.

Sean Canfield, Oregon St-Canfield is way off the national radar, but is quietly having a good season averaging 248 pass ypg (68%) with an 11-4 ratio. This week he takes on a top-notch UCLA defense that ranks #15 in my pass D rankings allowing just 180 ypg (55%) with an 8-12 ratio. The Beavers are tough to beat at home and my computer predicts that Canfield will throw for 260 yds vs the #15 pass defense and that would be a surprise!

RUNNING BACKS (Two picks this week):

MY PICKS: Charles Scott, LSU and Donald Buckram, UTEP

Charles Scott, LSU

Prior to the year, Scott was hailed as one of the top returning RB’s in the country, but hasn’t lived up to the high expectations with just 347 rush yds (4.1) and 2 TD in 7 games (49.6 rush ypg). LSU’s offense including Scott and sophomore QB Jefferson have come under fire this year for slow starts, and the offense will be able to break out of its funk this week facing a Tulane defense allowing 196 rush ypg (4.6). Scott rushed for 114 yds and 1 TD last year vs Tulane, and I expect Scott to get his first 100+ game of the season (95 yds vs Georgia was prior high) this week, and for a back averaging only 49.6 ypg that would be a surprise.

Donald Buckram, UTEP

You’re probably saying “WHO?”. Buckram has 783 rush yds (6.4) and 8 TD’s on the season. This week he is at home facing a UAB defense that has allowed 168 ypg rush (4.4) on the road. UTEP has become more of a running team this year, as they run the ball 46% of the time & Buckram accounts for 86% of the team’s net rush yards. He is avg 214 ypg (7.4) with 6 TD’s in his last 2 home games, both against CUSA foes. Buckram should have another big day against a mediocre (at best) defensive team.

Honorable Mentions:

DaJuane Collins/Morgan Williams, Toledo-This duo usually takes a backseat to the superb passing game at Toledo, but Collins has 651 rush yds (6.1) with 7 TD’s and Williams has 214 rush yds (4.9) and together they average 117.1 rush ypg. Last year vs Miami (OH), Williams set a Toledo record with 330 yds (11.8), and this year Miami is allowing 177.1 rush ypg (4.8) which is 95th in the country. While some might think it’s no surprise to pick against Miami’s struggling defense, picking a pair of RB’s on a pass-happy team is a surprise.

Roy Helu, Nebraska- Helu had a tough game last week with just 5 carries for 24 yds as he was benched for losing 2 fumbles which was part of a mind-boggling 8 turnovers for the Big Red in their loss to Iowa St. With a QB controversy swirling look for the Huskers to go back to their roots taking on a Baylor defense which is allowing 184 rush ypg (4.3) and for Helu to redeem himself after last week’s gaffes. Going from the bench to one of the top players of the week is a surprise!

Damion Fletcher & Tory Harrison, Southern Miss -  This dynamic duo has combined to rush for 1,058 (5.6) & 12 TD’s. Fletcher gets more carries (128 to 62), but Harrison has proven to be more explosive, avg 7.4 ypc compared to 4.7 for Fletcher. Southern Miss is running the ball much more since they lost their starting QB Davis. In QB Young’s 3 starts, the Eagles are averaging 213 rush ypg (4.9) and have run the ball 66% of the time. This week they face a Houston defense that is #115 in the NCAA allowing 219 ypg rush (5.4) and has allowed over 300+ rush yds on 2 separate occasions. The Cougars have allowed at least 163 yds to every FBS opponent. My projections call for Southern Miss to accumulate 255 on the ground this week, so look for both RB’s to get close to the century mark as Southern Miss aims to keep Houston’s explosive offense off the field.

WIDE RECEIVERS (Three picks this week):

MY PICKS: Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss, Max Komar, Idaho and Damian Williams, USC

Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss

Prior to the year, McCluster was billed as “the next Percy Harvin” as he is a WR/RB/Wild Rebel QB and is a flat-out playmaker. He began the season with the flu and the entire offense was slow starting with QB Snead struggling off the bat and the Rebels found LT Oher difficult to replace. The last 2 weeks have been a different story however with the offense getting back on track and both Snead (332 yds) and McCluster (123 rush, 137 rec both career highs) had career days last week versus Arkansas. The Rebels have averaged 527 ypg and 39 ppg in the last 2 games. Last year McCluster had 131 total yds vs Auburn, but this year McCluster is only averaging 88.9 ypg (41 rush, 47.9 rec), so this still qualifies as a surprise pick.

Max Komar, Idaho

Surprising Idaho is 6-2 but is off a crushing 70-45 defeat at Nevada and looks to solidify a bowl bid with a win this week. They are facing Louisiana Tech at home and have a large home edge at the Kibbie Dome. Komar is having a solid season with 43 receptions for 674 yds (15.7) and 5 TD’s with three 100+ yd receiving games including 10 rec for 136 yds and 3 TD’s last week in their loss to Nevada. Louisiana Tech is allowing just 171 pass ypg (57%) with a 6-7 ratio which is #16 in the NCAA, but they are #99 in my pass D rankings because they haven’t faced a strong passing QB. My computer predicts that Idaho will throw for 270 yds vs LT this week and Komar should have another huge game against the #16 pass D in the NCAA which would qualify as a surprise pick.

Damian Williams, USC

Because of all the talent on USC, the Trojans spread the ball around and it’s tough to pick out a player who will have a big week. However, Williams has 34 receptions (more than double the next closest guy) for 525 yds (15.4) and also is averaging 18.0 on punt returns with 2 TD’s! Williams has three 100+ yd receiving games this year including 108 vs Notre Dame. This week the Trojans are in a must-win situation which is rare for them as they usually just coast into the Rose Bowl every year as the other Pac-10 teams beat up on each other. They face a better than expected Oregon team in Autzen Stadium which is never an easy place to play. Playmakers like Williams always shine in big games and I expect him to get his 4th 100 yd game this week and versus Oregon’s #5 pass defense (178 pass ypg allowed, 51%), that will be a surprise!

Honorable Mentions:

Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati-Gilyard is a key weapon in a Cincinnati offense which leads the Big East in passing and total offense. He also leads the conference is all-purpose yards per game as a dangerous returnman. This week he faces an Orange team which is home to the league’s other premier WR in Mike Williams who leads the conference in receiving yards per game. Gilyard will want to prove on the field who is the conference’s top wideout and should have a big day vs a Syracuse secondary which is #115 in the NCAA allowing 271 ypg (66%) with a 15-5 ratio.

Vincent Brown, San Diego St – Brown is one of the top WR’s in the country, but no one has heard of him. Brown has 45 receptions for 778 yds (17.3) with 6 TD’s and is averaging 111.1 rec ypg which is #6 in the NCAA. This week SDSt takes on a New Mexico team that ranks #109 in my pass D rankings allowing 252 pass ypg (63%) with a 17-4 ratio. SDSt is at home and this is a must-win if the Aztecs are thinking about the postseason.

DEFENSES (Two picks this week)

MY PICKS: Ohio St and Arkansas

OHIO ST vs New Mexico St

Yes, this is like shooting fish in a barrel but if you set the over/under on the amount of yards that the Aggies will have in this game at 100, I would still take the under as my computer calls for them to have 80. In fact the fewest yards given up this year by one FBS defense in a game vs another FBS team is by Texas who held UTEP to 53 yds on 51 plays in a 64-7 win. I think OSU has the potential to threaten that mark and notch their 3rd shutout of the season for the first time since ‘96.

ARKANSAS vs Eastern Michigan

Arkansas’ defense hasn’t won any awards this year as they are allowing 420 ypg (#105 in the NCAA) and 27.4 ppg (#83). This week they take on the weakest FBS team that they have faced this year by far in Eastern Michigan. EM is 0-7 and is averaging just 265 total ypg (#119 in the NCAA) and 15.4 ppg (#114). Arkansas held #1 Florida to 23 pts (12 pts below their ssn avg) and my computer predicts Arkansas will hold EM to 8 pts and 233 total yds this week. Since Arkanas is off of back-to-back losses, I think the Hogs will have a strong focus for this game and EM won’t have a chance. I think a defense that allows about 50% of their season average allowed would qualify for a surprise pick.

Honorable Mentions:

LSU vs Tulane- LSU enters with my #8 rated defense, allowing just 304 ypg & 13.9 ppg against my #16 slate of opponents. The Tigers are allowing 127 ypg on the ground, but just 3.4 ypc. They are ranked #18 in my pass D rankings, allowing just 177 ypg (50.9) with a 6-10 ratio. This week they face a Tulane team that is struggling on offense with a rFr QB making just his 2nd career start. TU QB Griffin completed 21-33 for 158 yds in his first start last week at Southern Miss, but was sacked 6 times & turned the ball over 3 times (2 fumbles, 1 int) as his squad managed just 212 total yards. LSU has allowed 10 pts or less the last 3 years vs the Green Wave, and last year despite a spotty defense, LSU only allowed 163 yds to Tulane. My projections show LSU’s improved defense pitching a shutout & allowing just 155 total yds (25 rush). The Tigers will dominate their inferior opponent & don’t be surprised if they score a defensive touchdown.

Tennessee vs South Carolina-Tennessee has quietly built a stellar defense and comes in ranked #10 in the NCAA in total defense allowing just 269.7 ypg. The Vols held #1 Florida to 23 pts and 323 yds and #2 Alabama to 12 pts and 256 yds well below their season averages of 457 ypg (Florida) and 410 ypg (Alabama). This week the Vols take on a better-than-expected South Carolina team at home and the Gamecocks are averaging 366 ypg and 23 ppg and my computer predicts that the Vols will hold them to 265 total yds and 12 pts. Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin was excited to face Alabama last week because they run more of a pro-style offense that he’s used to facing and the Vols’ defense excelled. South Carolina is also more of a traditional offense (not spread) and it should be another solid outing by the Vols’ defense.

Utah vs Wyoming-The Utes’ defense has limited the Cowboys to just seven points the last two years combined. This year Wyoming has been shutout in two of their three road games. The Cowboys are starting a true freshman QB in Austyn Carta-Samuels who hit just 14 of 31 for 74 yds in his last road start. The Wyoming offense looked rattled at Air Force as they committed all ten of the team’s penalties. HC Christensen said that the crowd had a factor in all the false starts by the offensive line. This week the crowd will be much bigger and louder at Utah where they have had nine straight sell-outs. Meanwhile the Ute defense is giving up only 17.7 ppg (#22 in NCAA) and is #8 in pass defense giving up just 161 ypg. Utah FS Robert Johnson leads the MWC with 5 int and I look for him take advantage of the young QB staring down his receivers. My computer projects the Cowboys to have only 210 yards of offense and 9 points which is 118 yards and 10 points below their averages on the season, so that would be quite an accomplishment.

Boise St vs San Jose St-This might seem like a gimme picking the #12 defense in the NCAA (282 ypg allowed) against the #116 offense of San Jose St (287 ypg), but I expect Boise’s defense to have one of the strongest of the week, so I have to include them here. My computer predicts that San Jose St will have just 9 pts and 192 total yds, but with Boise trying to stay in the BCS mix, a shutout is certainly possible.


MY PICK: Colorado over Missouri

Colorado was thrashed last year by Mizzou 58-0 which snapped a 242 game scoring streak by the Buffaloes. CU won’t forget that as they prepare for a must-win game that could result in HC Hawkins losing his job if they lose. MU QB Gabbert isn’t 100% with an ankle injury and they have lost 3 in a row by an avg of 21.6 ppg. The Tigers haven’t been the same since Gabbert was injured and I think that CU will pull off a solid win to stay in the bowl mix and keep Hawkins at the helm.

PhilSteele.com is teaming up with CFFinsider.com & CollegeFootballGeek.com to bring you college fantasy football information every week this year. Check out CFFinsider’s Week 9 Rankings. Here are CollegeFootballGeek’s Weekly Waiver Report and their Sneaky Plays

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