Notre Dame football is undefeated heading into a huge game against Stanford in week five. This will be the first matchup between two Top-10 teams in South Bend since 2005.
You would be hard-pressed to find an Irish fan in a bad mood this week. Notre Dame football is 4-0 heading into a primetime matchup against one of their California rivals, the Stanford Cardinal.
After watching his offense struggle a couple of weeks in a row, head coach Brian Kelly made the decision to start Ian Book at quarterback in week four. The move paid off. Book led the Irish to a road victory in which the offense tallied 566 total yards and scored 56 points.
Notre Dame’s performance last week had a significant impact on the fantasy value of some of their players moving forward. Here are a handful of Irish players I think will play well this week.
Alize Mack (TE)
After a slow start to the season, Mack had one of the best games of his college career last week. He matched his previous single-game high in receptions and set a new single-game high in receiving yards. What is even more promising is that his previous single-game high in receptions was last season against North Carolina, a game that Ian Book also started.
Mack and Book appear to be on the same page — no pun intended. As long as Book is starting at quarterback, Mack’s ceiling is raised. Expectations for Mack’s production this weekend might be curbed since Cole Kmet is set to return to action. However, we don’t know how much playing time Kmet will get in his first game after recovering from a high ankle sprain.
I think Mack will be targeted often against Stanford and score his first touchdown since November of last year.
Ian Book (QB)
Ian Book burst onto the scene last weekend when he was named the starting quarterback before Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest. He threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 43 yards and three touchdowns.
While I do not think his final stat line will look exactly the same this week, I am confident that he will have a good game. The Stanford defense is vulnerable to a solid passing attack. They are currently ranked 84th in passing yards per game allowed.
I think the Notre Dame offense will be able to establish the run and stay balanced against Stanford. Despite not having the same speed and agility as Brandon Wimbush, Book is still a threat to run the ball. In addition to that, running back Dexter Williams is returning to action this week after a three game suspension. I think the offense will again look like a well-oiled machine, and I think Book will have a solid performance.
Justin Yoon (K)
Due to the success of the offense, Yoon did not attempt a field goal this past weekend. However, he still had a decent fantasy performance, as he was a perfect 8 of 8 on point after attempts.
The Notre Dame offense with Ian Book at the helm was impressive. They should continue to move the ball effectively against a Stanford defense that is not as stout as it has been in past years. Stanford’s defense is better than Wake Forest’s defense, though. So I think it is safe to assume that they will be able to stop a couple of Notre Dame drives and force field goal attempts. I think Yoon has a chance to score double-digit points in fantasy football this week.
Jafar Armstrong (RB)
This one was a tough call. Armstrong has played very well after converting to running back this past offseason. Also, his background as a receiver makes him even more valuable in fantasy leagues with point per reception (PPR) scoring.
Two main factors led me to the conclusion to sit Armstrong this week. First, the decision to start Ian Book at quarterback last week breathed new life into the Irish passing attack. While Armstrong is involved in the passing game, so are the other running backs on the roster. Second (and probably more significant), the return of Dexter Williams this week creates some uncertainty regarding the workload of Notre Dame’s running backs.
Notre Dame Defense (DST)
This was yet another tough call. While we can agree that Notre Dame likely has one of the top 15 defenses in the country, in fantasy football, it is all about matchups. I have said it before and I will say it a thousand more times: stream defenses in fantasy football.
Through four weeks, the Stanford offense is averaging 29 points per game. That number might not seem impressive, but they have played some quality opponents. With a good quarterback and some big receiving targets, the Cardinal can score on any defense.
I think the Notre Dame defense will be able to make enough plays to help the Irish win the game on Saturday, but I do not think they will have a performance that translates to a solid day in college fantasy football.