Week 5: Starts and Sits – Sit or Start

In this column, we’ll be running through our favorite and least favorite matchups for the upcoming college football fantasy week. This should be viewed as gauge of just how confident we are in a given player against the opposition. While these recommendations can be used to help weigh starts and sits, they should be viewed as contextual information more than a strict, absolute guide.


Proceed with confidence

Hawaii QB Cole McDonald at San Jose State — Oh dear, hide the children, this could be painful to watch. McDonald’s worst — repeat worst — performance this season was when he threw for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Army two weekends ago. That’s the only game out of four in which he’s failed to throw for at least three touchdowns. He’s thrown for at least four in three contests. Etc etc and onward to the end of time. Now he faces what might be the nation’s worst pass defense, one which has given up 400-plus passing yards in two of three games, to UC Davis’ Jake Maier and Washington State’s Gardner Minshew. In a fun little oddity, the only passer who they’ve held under 400 yards passing? That would be potential No. 1 draft pick Justin Herbert.

Memphis QB Brady White at Tulane (Friday, Sept. 28) — Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins just threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns against the Green Wave, the second big aerial performance we’ve seen against Willie Fritz’s boys since the start of the campaign. Wake Forest freshman Sam Hartman likewise found success. We’ll roll the dice on White to follow in Haskins’ footsteps. Now, he’s been somewhat erratic this season, with a pair of five-touchdown games (against Mercer and Georgia State), a two-touchdown game (against South Alabama on Saturday) and a no-touchdown game (against Navy). So we’re talking about a range of disparate outcomes. That’s a gamble we’re willing to take given the height of the upside and the opponent.

Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin vs. Oregon State — Hey, speaking of guys with large statistical gaps in their game logs, Mr. Eno Benjamin! Benjamin rushed for 131 yards in ASU’s opener against UTSA, then a combined 48 yards against Michigan State and San Diego State before snapping out of the temporary stupor with a 104-yard, one-touchdown performance versus Washington over the weekend. That’s impressive given the opponent, though we’d like a bit of consistency. He’s got a palatable opponent against which to start building toward a nice season, here, as the Beavers are fresh off allowing Arizona’s J.J. Taylor to dance across their spine for 284 yards rushing on Saturday. Mike Weber, J.K. Dobbins and Nevada’s Toa Taua have all turned in nice games against the Beavers, albeit none quite as brilliant as that of Taylor on Saturday.

Pitt RB Qadree Ollison at UCF — Unlike Benjamin, who has been by turns good and forgettable, Ollison has come through with the consistency of a metronome, rushing for at least 70 yards in all four of the Panthers’ games to date, while topping out at 119 yards and a touchdown against Penn State in Week 2. The Knights won’t halt his progress on Saturday. UCF gave up multiple big games to FAU runners this past Friday, with Devin Singletary motoring his way to 131 yards and three touchdowns and Kerrith Whyte rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries. UCF ranks 119th in the FBS on a per game average against the run.

Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside at Notre Dame — For us, Arcega-Whiteside has become an autostart, and that goes even on the road, against No. 8 Notre Dame. While he has not topped 100 yards receiving since Stanford opened the season with a win over San Diego State, Arcega-Whiteside has caught at least two touchdowns in three of four games this season (he failed to catch a touchdown against USC in Week 2). Notre Dame does boast a respectable defense, one which has allowed just one 100-yard receiver this season in Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney, but again, the appeal with Arcega-Whiteside comes in his ability to create separation at the goalline rather than the expectation of pure volume.

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch vs. Rice — Love this spot for Dortch, who had his first subpar game of the campaign with a six-catch, 56-yard performance against Notre Dame on Saturday. He had caught at least seven passes and topped 90 yards in each of his previous three games. Expect a return to those levels for Saturday. The Owls have allowed a 100-yard receiver in three of four games this season, with Southern Miss’ De’Michael Harris falling just short with 99 yards over the weekend. Our only real concern, here, is whether Sam Hartman’s steady slide is going to take Dortch with him. Hartman opened throwing for 378 yards and two touchdowns against Tulane, but has seen his yardage totals fall off every week since, bottoming out (you would think) against Notre Dame, when he passed for just 110 yards. Rice is a perfect get-right opponent for Hartman, and we expect Dortch to benefit likewise.

Georgia State WR Penny Hart vs. Louisiana-Monroe — Hart started out the campaign in flat fashion, failing to top 55 yards receiving in any of his first three games, two of which saw him under 50 yards completely. He finally showed signs of life with five catches for 91 yards against Western Michigan on Saturday. Another soft opponent coming, now, in the Warhawks. Louisiana-Monroe ranks 128th against the pass on average and has allowed a 100-yard receiver in two of four games this season. We like Hart to match or surpass what he put up against the Broncos over the weekend. He’s topped 1,000 yards receiving in each of his healthy seasons to date (only two games played in 2016).

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