With conference play beginning in earnest last weekend, the time to feed off lower-tier slags has come and gone. That means some of the players who got your Fantasy teams off to good starts may see their production decline against stiffer competition. However, there is also a flip side that will provide owners with an excellent opportunity to shake off the rust from a disappointing opening act, resulting in a significant rebound.
The final answer to the above question lay in how deep your league is. Those that play either conference-only or BCS (and independents) may find the depth of their respective waiver wires more barren than those that play in leagues that welcome the high-scoring likes of the MAC, Sun Belt or Conference USA. At this point in the season, though, it becomes less likely that you’ll find an impact player sitting alone like the cute redhead that just transferred into your office who also happens to like college football, documentaries and jazz music as well. (Oh, wait: those are my dating requirements. Carry on….nothing to see here).
Here’s a look at five guys who are available in at least 80 percent of leagues, yet can still deliver for you for the remainder of the season.
1) James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh – Those who thought his 23.9 Fantasy point game against New Mexico was a fluke had their doubts answered in last week’s 68-55 basketball-like shootout at Duke, where he totaled 23.3 points. The 6’2, 230-pound freshman has a grip on the starting job, so trust that coach Paul Chryst — the offensive coordinator behind Montee Ball’s record-setting 2011 season at Wisconsin — will feed Conner the ball, which makes him a good flex or RB2 the rest of the way.
2) Tre Mason, RB, Auburn – Relegated to second-fiddle early in the season, Mason seized the lead role despite the Tigers’ 35-21 loss at LSU, as he went 26-132-2 (26.5) in Death Valley. Auburn will continue to rely on the run, as their passing game ranks 88th among all FBS schools, which means he will trade places with freshman Corey Grant on the depth chart.
3) Bradley Marquez, WR, Texas Tech – Even though the Tyler Mayfield Express has lost a few members over the last couple of weeks, do know the Red Raiders will continue to throw the ball regardless as to who’s calling the snaps. That means Marquez makes for a good WR3/Flex. Despite just 17 receptions, Marquez has scored in all four games and has double-digit Fantasy production in three of those.
4) Sam B. Richardson, QB, Iowa State – Injuries have limited him to just two games, but his 49.7 Fantasy points are an intriguing option if you play in two QB leagues. The Cyclones will throw a lot in Big 12 play, which should translate into good numbers.
5) Shock Linwood, RB/WR, Baylor – Don’t expect the Bears to maintain their 69.7 points per game onrush, but don’t expect them to become deficient in the offensive-friendly Big 12. That means Linwood, a De’Anthony Thomas-like freak in training, will continue to see just enough touches to justify a flex role.
2nd and Five
1) Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: The man with the soap opera-like name has three straight impressive games under his belt, including last week’s 42.5 Fantasy point gem against Troy. The bar is higher now entering SEC play, yet he has enough big-play potential to make him intriguing.
2) Keith Price, QB, Washington: Forgotten after a mediocre 2012, Price is back in 2011 form and could put up bigger numbers in the wide-open Pac-12.
3) Robert Lowe, RB, Texas State: His 7-103-1 effort against Texas Tech may have given him the lead role, a huge plus considering the Bobcats like to run the ball and are entering Sun Belt play.
4) L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri: Dorial Green-Beckham gets the attention, but the 6’4 senior has also thrived for a Tigers team averaging 47 points per game.
5) Jordan Williams, WR, Ball State: He’s the third option on a Cardinals team that averages 336 passing yards per game; he could be a sleeper once Ball dives into MAC play.