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Devy Primer: Week 9 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jeff Bell | @4WhomJBellTolls | Featured Writer
Oct 29, 2021
Brock Purdy

Brock Purdy led Iowa St. in ending Oklahoma St.’s undefeated start.

Week Eight’s highlight was Oklahoma St suffering their first loss of the season to Iowa St. Elsewhere, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, and Oregon survived upset attempts to keep their playoff hopes alive. Week nine allows the Big Ten East to take center stage, with Penn St at Ohio St and Michigan at Michigan State.  Meanwhile, the SEC features Georgia vs. Florida in their rivalry game, and Ole Miss travels to Auburn with the loser likely eliminated in the SEC West race.  Kevin Coleman, Christian Williams, Jeff Bell, & C.J. Lang guides you through the Week Nine action.

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Favorite Storylines

Conference Championship Roundup (Jeff)

Conference championship races have taken a back seat in the playoff era, but it has proven a necessary step for all but four playoff teams (Ohio St in 2016, Alabama in 2017, and Notre Dame in 2018 and 2020). In the past couple of weeks, we have seen natural tightening within conference races.  First, Georgia all but clinched the SEC East with a win over Kentucky.  Last weekend, Pitt cleared a roadblock with a win over Clemson and stood two games clear in the ACC Coastal.  This weekend the Big Ten East will go a long way towards deciding their race, with Ohio St. hosting Penn St. and Michigan traveling to Michigan State.  Meanwhile, Ole Miss will go to Auburn in a de facto elimination game for that loser.  As the calendar flips to November and the vast majority of races undecided, the stage stands primed for a mad dash to the finish.

Dawgs, Tide, Sooners…Bearcats??? (CJ)

The last time Cincinnati lost to an unranked team was October 20th, 2018. It was an overtime loss at Temple. Since that day, the Bearcats have gone 32-5 with losses to only #11 UCF, #5 Ohio State, #18 Memphis, #17 Memphis (AAC Title Game), and #9 Georgia (Peach Bowl). So, when naysayers wonder why Cincinnati is ranked #2 in the nation, there is not much argument. After being with Ohio State for 14 years, including as the defensive coordinator for their 2014 National Championship, Luke Fickell became the head coach at Cincinnati in 2017. In his first season, they went 4-8. Since 2018, the Bearcats have gone 38-6, posting the best record in that span of any Group of Five schools. They have been a fixture in the AP Top 25 since 2018, standing 2-1 in bowl games, with their lone loss being that of the Peach Bowl. Cincy has a strong chance this year of being in the College Football playoff. No Group of Five teams has been within earshot of a National Championship in a minute. The last Group of Five teams to win a National Championship was the 1984 BYU Cougars. This era is a historic run by the Bearcats, but with only one more ranked opponent on their schedule (#19 SMU- November 20th), can the Bearcats remain in the Top 4 in the CFP voting? I think most of us college football fans certainly hope so!

Harrison Bailey in the Portal (Christian)

Harrison Bailey has long been a favorite of mine as a 2023 quarterback prospect to watch. His arm talent is undeniable, and he hasn’t been given a fair shake at Tennessee. Since spring, he has been third on the QB depth chart, and he has finally decided to enter the transfer portal. Bailey possesses a big, accurate arm and can make throws to any area of the field. He struggles outside of the structure, but he could be a college football superstar if given the opportunity and correct scheme. Ole Miss and Georgia have to be pretty high on his radar, as both will be looking for new quarterbacks following the 2021 season (Georgia less so with Brock Vandagriff waiting for his chance). LSU, Auburn, and Alabama all offered Bailey when he was a recruit back in 2020. No matter where he lands, Harrison Bailey is a name to watch in 2022 and beyond.

USC Coaching Search Continues (Kevin)

The USC coaching search is one of the fascinating searches we have had in a while. They need to hit this hire out of the park this season. This moment is program-changing. Ed Orgeron’s leaving LSU opened up another marquee job, and we will see them both compete for candidates. Some would argue that LSU is the better job, but in my opinion, USC is still a top-five program in the country. There have been rumors of James Franklin, Luke Fickell, Matt Campbell, Mike Tomlin, and even Jeff Fisher. While most of those candidates aren’t in the running, it shows you just how absurd this coaching search will be. In my opinion, there is no perfect candidate for USC, but there is no reason they should hire James Franklin. That’s about as lateral as a move you can make. USC needs to think outside the box for its next move and hire the right coach. Or we could be looking at the fall of USC ultimately. 

Player Spotlights

Quarterbacks

Brock Purdy (SR – Iowa State) 6’1, 220 lbs

Brock Purdy has quietly improved throughout the 2021 season. The former highly-regarded quarterback struggled for much of 2020 and this year, but his emergence is noteworthy. Purdy is currently completing over 75% of his passes, posting his second-best career rating (in four years), and averaging a respectable 8.7 yards per attempt. This week, he gets a West Virginia team that struggles to stop passing attacks, ranking 96th in total passing yards per game. Brock Purdy probably won’t be much at the NFL level, but if he wants to be on a roster next fall, he could stand to have an impressive performance this week.

Sam Hartman (RS COVID SO – Wake Forest) 6’1, 208 lbs

Sam Hartman has been one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in 2021. He ranks 11th in yards, 10th in touchdowns, has thrown just three interceptions and ranks 5th in QBR. After never eclipsing a 60% completion rate in his first three seasons, Hartman is completing 65% of his passes and doing it while averaging 9.7 yards per attempt – his career-best. Hartman has a few years of eligibility left, but if he continues to build on his excellent performances, there’s a chance he will declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. He has every opportunity to do just that against Duke, a team that struggles mightily to stop the pass.

Running Backs

Abram Smith (SR – Baylor) 5’11”, 221 lbs

When Baylor meets Texas on Saturday, the Texas backfield is the center of attention as everyone has eyes on Bijan Robinson.  But the back on the opposite sideline has deserved his fair share of attention.  Smith has averaged an outstanding 7.5 yards per rush on his way to 785 yards and ten touchdowns.  No back over 100 attempts has averaged a higher ypc rate.  Smith converted to linebacker this year and has proven to be a load at 221, running with intent while still displaying breakaway speed.  Given the position switch, he came into this season off the devy radar, but he is on pace to force his way into the mix in a weak RB class.  Baylor still has Oklahoma on the schedule and controls their destiny in the race for the Big 12 championship.  Smith is a name to watch through the end of this season into the draft process.

Blake Corum (SO – Michigan) 5’8″, 200 lbs

Corum has been the main driver for one of the year’s best stories, Michigan’s 7-0 start and 6th overall ranking. Corum has held up to a heavy workload in averaging just under 20 touches per game despite his stature.  He stands 21st in the nation at 729 rushing yards and has scored 10 TDs.  Corum needs to build his body to play a regular role at the NFL level, and his most likely path is through the passing game, where he’s provided value in a low-volume offense. “Bouncy” is a word to describe his run style as he does a great job with quick feet and shrinking his strike zone.  Michigan St. presents his most significant challenge of the season, with a 31st ranked rush defense.  But in a spotlight game, Corum has the opportunity to shoot his way into stardom.

Wide Receivers

Jayden Reed (JR – Michigan St) 6’0″, 185 lbs

Michigan State is lining up against Rival Michigan this weekend, and Jayden Reed is the true X-factor in the game. Reed started his career at Western Michigan before transferring to Michigan State in 2019. After sitting a year, he has performed well with the Spartans, and this season he’s well on his way to putting up career numbers. He currently has 27 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns. Reed has been proven to be a big-play threat averaging twenty yards per reception this year, and has an elite work ethic. Reed has improved his game every season and is one of the reasons the Spartans are undefeated. As a prospect, he has excellent footwork and route running. Reed is also a return specialist, having scored two touchdowns. He’s slowly making his way into draft circles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets drafted next season if he declares. 

Garrett Wilson (JR – Ohio State) 6’0″, 188 lbs

Wilson is the type of player who has gone under the radar this season. He has quietly put up 36 receptions for 605 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the Buckeyes in all receiving categories in an offense loaded with receiver talent. As a prospect, Wilson’s ability to go up for the ball at its highest point and bring it down is what shines through on his tape. He’s had multiple catches this year where he exhibited this skill and made you jump out of your seat. On his 50/50 balls, he shows good technique and incredible eye discipline to bring down the ball. His hands are also exceptional. He is one of the best route runners in college football and uses his hips well to separate defensive backs. His release off the line is also impressive. In Ohio State’s quick-tempo offense, Wilson excels at one-cut routes and comeback routes. After the catch, he’s a threat to break away from the defense using his speed and acceleration. Wilson is in a position to be the first wide receiver off the board in next year’s draft. That’s how special he is. 

Tight Ends

Derrick Deese, Jr. (SR- San Jose State) 6’4, 235 lbs

Deese Jr. leads the Spartans in receiving with 31 receptions and 553 yards. He has the 2nd most receiving yards of any tight end in the nation and has already eclipsed his combined receiving totals from the past two seasons. Over his past four games, Deese Jr. has averaged six catches for 100 yards, which is a fantasy player’s dream for a tight end. He only has three touchdowns on the year, but he has improved in his route running, speed, and contested catch ability in all areas of his game. Since NFL teams are often running two tight end sets, there could be a place for Deese Jr. on an NFL roster. His father was a 13-year NFL veteran and offensive tackle who won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, so he does have an NFL bloodline. It is not looking good for San Jose State to make a bowl game, so hopefully, we will get a chance to see Deese Jr. shine in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. 

Zack Kuntz (RS SO- Old Dominion) 6’8, 245 lbs

Zack Kuntz is a graduate transfer from Penn State. The redshirt sophomore has 36 catches, 381 yards, and two TDs on the year. In FBS, Kuntz has the 2nd most receptions and 9th most receiving yards of any other TE. Among tight ends in C-USA, Kuntz and UAB’s Gerrit Prince are #1 and #2 in most receiving categories. Growing up outside Penn State in Pennsylvania, he was a 4-star recruit and the 4th highest ranked TE in the 2018 recruiting class. He was mainly a special team player during his two years at Penn State because Pat Freiermuth was not giving up that TE1 position on the Nittany Lions. Kuntz currently has almost a 30% share of ODU’s offense and has the 3rd highest dominator rating in the nation amongst TEs (31.2%). Outside of a blowout victory vs. FCS Hampton, the Monarch’s are 0-6 in this season, so it may take the East-West Shrine Game or the Reese’s Senior Bowl for Kuntz to show why he should be an NFL draft pick in 2023.

Games Of The Week

#20 Penn State at #5 Ohio State (-19.5)

The Nittany Lions will be traveling to The Big House – or instead, The Horseshoe – this weekend to face off against the conference rival Buckeyes in a matchup that looked much more intriguing about three weeks ago. Penn State is coming off back-to-back defeats to Iowa and Illinois, and these two teams couldn’t be trending in opposite directions more egregiously. Sean Clifford and company have failed to produce offensively, while CJ Stroud and company have been the most dynamic offense in the country over the last few weeks. Stroud currently sits at 16th in yards, 6th in touchdowns, and 1st in QBR despite missing an entire game with a shoulder injury. CJ Stroud could very well be the best quarterback in the nation right now, and accompanying him in the offensive backfield is fellow freshman stud TreVeyon Henderson. Henderson is averaging over 8 yards per carry and has scored 14 total touchdowns in just seven games. TreVeyon Henderson could very well be the best running back in the nation. The line here reflects the trends of these two teams, and it could still prove to be generous to Penn State. Coming off of two emotional losses, it’s plausible that the Nittany Lions come out swinging. It’s not probable, though.

#1 Georgia (-14) at Florida 

Florida 44, Georgia 28. That was the score of last season’s game between these two teams, and it seems shocking to remember that result. Georgia is hands down the best team in college football right now, and to think of them losing this Saturday’s World’s Largest Cocktail Party game vs. the 4-3 Gators seems unfathomable. But this has been a crazy year in college football. We said the same thing a few weeks ago when we thought Texas A&M didn’t stand a chance vs. #1 Alabama, and we were wrong. Anything is possible, but let’s add some SEC statistical data to this contest. Outside of total yards/game, where Florida ranks higher than Georgia, the Dawgs beat out the Gators in almost all other categories. Georgia spouts the #1 total defense in the nation, holding opponents to under 210 yards/game, and they have given up a ridiculous five total TDs this season to opponents. In seven games played, they have only allowed FIVE TDs! That does not bode well for Florida’s offense who has completed 65% of their passes but has almost as many INTs thrown (12) as TDs (16). The Gators also have a -7 Turnover ratio. Going up against the #1 defense in the nation, they will have to play a perfect game.

On the other side, Georgia has been doing this all without their NFL-caliber QB in J.T. Daniels, sidelined with a lat muscle injury. Senior QB Stetson Bennett has filled in admirably, throwing for a 69% completion rate, 996 yards, 11 TDs, and 2 INTs, and more importantly, zero losses. Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart has indicated a high probability of Daniels starting for the first time this week since a 62-0 defeat of Vanderbilt on September 20th. Daniels is 7-0 as a starter for Georgia and can take that offense to another level. Georgia’s defense will almost single-handedly win this game, but with Daniels potentially playing, the closest this game could be will be during the kickoff. The Dawgs will make a statement in Jacksonville this Saturday to not only win this rivalry game but to walk away as the 2021 SEC East Champions. 

#6 Michigan (-4) at #8 Michigan State 

Man, as a Wolverines fan, I am beyond excited for this matchup. Anytime these two teams play, it’s great for college football. Both rank in the top ten, and this matchup has massive ramifications for both teams. This game will come down to who’s defense can control the line of scrimmage and whichever team makes fewer mistakes. Michigan State has had problems with penalties, 3rd down conversions, and ranks last in first downs allowed. If Michigan can control the ball and their passing offense gives them anything, Michigan should win this game by a touchdown; but if Michigan turns the ball over, it could be a long game for the Wolverines. Still, I expect the Wolverines to come out of this game with a W. 

#10 Ole Miss at #18 Auburn (-3) 

Alabama has long controlled the SEC West and this year looks to be no different.  But if there is a team who could take the spot from them, it will be the winner of this game.  Both teams stand with one loss in the SEC, though Ole Miss is behind the eight ball with a loss in the pocket to Alabama Auburn controls their destiny in the division with the Iron Bowl still to go. QB Matt Corral leads Ole Miss into the game with the 7th best scoring offense at 41.9 ppg, though two straight 31 point outings have brought that average down.  Auburn presents an intriguing stylistic matchup; they have built their season on the 36th ranked rush offense led by RB Tank Bigsby and complemented by the 28th ranked scoring defense.  Given the Tigers home-field advantage, this game lands around a pick ’em, but Auburn has a great recipe to control the clock and win.  War Eagle to cover and continue towards a looming Iron Bowl matchup. 

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