Welcome to the 2014 Bowl Season! I’ve planned a schedule of getting these rankings to you in enough time to put up lineups and in what should be the correct slates, so hopefully this helps us all win a little money. In this first article you’ll be looking at Saturday slate action plus another slate that should be Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday games only. Best of luck in this first week of what should be bowl madness!
1. Keenan Reynolds, Navy – Reynolds is red hot and always has the potential for a huge game. I like Reynolds against this San Diego State defense on not a normal amount of bowl prep time. With only two weeks to plan for this Navy rushing attack, I’m not sure they can slow down a guy who has rushed for 100+ yards in six of ten games in 2014. SDSU did face an Air Force team that has some similarities to Navy a few weeks ago, but they aren’t exactly the same. SDSU held Air Force to just 140 rushing yards, but their quarterback and offense is nowhere near the same talent as Keenan Reynolds.
2. Rakeem Cato, Marshall – Cato has been throwing it like he was in 2013 in recent weeks with four straight games of 37+ attempts. I think he makes that five times in a row in his last game of his collegiate career. He’s putting up big numbers going fo 15 TDs during that stretch with rushing yards to add to it. When teams threw it 37+ times against Northern Illinois this season, they gave up 322, 397, 244, and 346 yards. The numbers points to an above average matchup for him and if teams like UNLV and Northwestern and chuck it for a ton of yards against them then so can Cato.
3. Driphus Jackson, Rice – Jackson has been a pretty consistent average quarterback in 2014, but has six TDs in his last two games and over 550 passing yards on 62 attempts. I suspect he puts up numbers somewhere close to those averages with the matchup he has against Fresno State. It’s also nice he ran for 300+ yards on the season. Fresno State gave up a 29:9 TD to INT ratio during the regular season with eight multi-TD games. Their yards/attempt of 8.6 is brutal ranking them 123rd on the season. You’re going to have to go cheaper somewhere here and I think Jackson is that guy.
4. Brian Burrell, Fresno State – Burrell is another cap relief guy, but he hasn’t been that good lately. He does has a 332-yard performance in his last game, but has multiple games of less than 200 yards. Against Rice, I think him and Harper get it going and make them valuable plays. Rice ranks 107th in yards/attempt (7.8) and they had a 27:7 TD to INT ratio in 2014. You’re not going to be able to go all studs at quarterback and Burrell is definitely an option with a great matchup. He does have four games of 3+ passing TDs.
MONDAY/TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY RUNNING BACKS
1. Donnell Pumphrey, SDSU – Pumphrey has been great in 2014 and there have been very little times where he’s been a bust. He has nine games of 100+ yards and 19 TDs. With a big price tag, you have to look for big games and he has done that with six games of multi-TD production. Navy ranks 98th in yards per game and they’ve given up a 4.90ypc on the season. It’s tough going against an offense like Navy’s ball control, but they’ve given up plenty of yardage as it is and Pumphrey is a legitimate running option. Only one time this season has Navy given up less than 4ypc in 2014.
2. Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan – Rawls has had one of the oddest 2014 seasons, missing three games and getting three carries twice. He’s also had 25+ carries four times in his eight games. When he gets 25+ carries he has rushed for 121, 155, 229, and 270 yards. In the last four games, Western Kentucky has given up three games of 5ypc or worse and seen rushing TDs. They have also given up multi-TD games on the ground in every game but one this season. Rawls is a great pick overall.
3. Devon Johnson, Marshall – Johnson has had unbelievable yards/carry averages in 2014 even with any amount of carries that he gets. It’s hard to believe that Johnson doesn’t get 15-20 carries in the bowl game even with Cato throwing it 35+ times. He’s actually received 20 carries twice in the last four games and Cato has thrown 37+ times in those games. An injury slowed him down in the last two games, but he should be well recovered in time for the bowl game. He had over two weeks to recover from an injury that limited his action in early December.
4. Leon Allen, Western Kentucky – Allen is a super hit or miss player that gets PPR production to help limit that bust. His rushing game has been so hot/cold it’s hilarious. The guy has 582 rushing yards in games against Army and Marshall with five total TDs. That production is 39% of his rushing yards in just two games. Central Michigan gave up a stout 3.65ypc during the regular season, but has had their bad games in 2014. They gave up huge numbers to Syracuse and Toledo early on in the season, so a team like Western Kentucky will need to run a lot to get Allen his big numbers.
MONDAY/TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Tommy Shuler, Marshall – Shuler had four TDs in his last six games and has really been playing like the Shuler we saw in 2013. He has caught 35 passes in his last four games going along with the theme of Marshall passing more. This should continue against Northern Illinois as they’ve really given up big yardage to teams who pass 35+ times. This will be the case when they face off.
2. Josh Harper, Fresno State – Harper has himself a great matchup against Rice and their 123rd ranked yards/attempt in 2014. He has 65+ receiving yards in four straight game and 31 catches in his last four games. He’s coming off his second best game of the season when he went for 10/131/0 against Boise State on the sixth. His quarterback only has two TD passes in the last two games, but he does have himself a prime matchup. If you like Burrell then you have to like Harper. If you want to take advantage of the matchup, but not take too much risk then roll with Harper.
3. Jordan Taylor, Rice – Taylor has been extremely productive in his last six games, but you wouldn’t really know about it because of who he plays for. Rice isn’t a big time school, but Taylor has been pretty good time since the beginning of October. In his last six games, Taylor has three 100+ yard games, four TDs, and 41 catches. For a guy with those kinds of stats, you have to like him in this matchup. Fresno State ranks 123rd in yards/attempt, which is an alarming ranking.
4. Titus Davis, Central Michigan – Davis is an interesting player to look at for this slate of action. He has seven TDs in his last five games and five total games of 100+ receiving yards. Throw together some great games and the fact that Western Kentucky has been awful against the pass and you get an enticing player in Davis. Davis is a low catch total guy for the most part, but he should still be a great option with this kind of defense he’s going against. Western Kentucky ranks 117th in yards/game and 124th in yards/attempt.
MONDAY/TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY TIGHT ENDS
1. Marshall TEs – McManus and Frohnapfel both have put up respectable numbers in 2014 with 24 and 35 catches. Combined they have ten TDs on the season (five each). It is really a toss up between who has the better game, so I would probably go with who is cheaper. McManus had two TDs in the last game while Frohnapfel had two TDs two games ago.
1. Cody Fajardo, Nevada – It’s really hard not to like Fajardo in a one day slate of games. He’s been super consistent this season (30+ points in 8 games this season) and it’s because of his dual threat ability. He’s a more talented runner than passer, but has stepped it up in recent weeks in the passing game. He has six TDs through the air in his last three games and even threw for 275 against Air Force. His passing numbers are slightly skewed because of lack of attempts, but that’s just the way it is. You pick him for his running game. Fajardo has rushed for 100+ yards in four of the last five games. ULL is giving up 4.12 ypc and has allowed 21 rushing TDs on the season.
2. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State – Grayson is only a passer, but his top receiver and pushed him into fantasy relevance this season. In his last three games Grayson has thrown for ten TDs and just one INT. He’s done it on 46 passes and he’s done it on 29 passes in recent weeks, so the talent is definitely there when he has the matchup. This weekend he has the matchup. Utah has allowed eight games of multiple TDs through the air and ranks in the 90s when it comes to passing yardage per game.
3. Travis Wilson, Utah – Travis Wilson looked brutal this season, but picked it up at the end and really redeemed himself. He has double digit points in the last six games and on a small slate this is the cheapest I’d want to go on Saturday. His matchup against Colorado State is average as they rank in the 60s in yards per game. Wilson does give you some running ability, but only enough to negate an INT or two. If we’re lucky we get a rushing TD. What we need is passing stats from him. He threw for 297 against Oregon and 311 against Colorado in recent weeks, so that’s encouraging. We’re also getting solid usage with 28+ attempts in four straight games.
4. Kale Pearson, Air Force – Keep an eye on this play because he might not be going on Saturday. This ranking is really for the Air Force quarterback against a defense that hasn’t seen their style of offense this season. Pearson can throw it a little bit putting up seven TDs in his last four games, but he might be out with an ankle injury against Western Michigan. His backup, Nate Romine, ran for 61 yards and a TD filling in and made no mistakes with zero INTs. With the amount of running Air Force does and their top running back out, I really would consider one of these two guys from Air Force.
SATURDAY RUNNING BACKS
1. Elijah McGuire, ULL – I talked about McGuire last week in a free article, but pretty much I love his ability to have huge games. Against a defense like Nevada, I think it’s possible he goes HAM again. Nevada is giving up 4.83ypc and ranks 81st in rushing yards allowed per game. McGuire has six games of 30+ fantasy points and although he has limited touches, he makes the most of them. He’s a solid PPR machine too, catching 40 passes on the season. He splits time with Alonzo Harris, but you want McGuire’s electric running ability, not Harris.
2. Travis Greene, BGSU – Greene might not put up the huge numbers of some of these other running backs, but I’m a huge fan of his price. He was banged up at one point in the season, but came back strong in his two games since returning. He rushed for 264 yards and two TDs in those games on just 32 carries.
3. Shayne Davern/DJ Johnson, Air Force – With Jacobi Owens, these are the two running backs you want on your roster. Both rushed for double digit carries last game and had a TD. Davern has been ahead of Johnson all season on the depth chart, so he’s the safer pick, but Johnson will be low owned and costs less. Air Force runs 60+ times a game and if Pearson/Romine run it 25 total times then you’re looking at 35 touches between these two and a random guy. Western Michigan has given up 5.75ypc in four different games this season on the ground. They can be run on when good running teams face them and Air Force is certainly one of them.
4. Dee Hart, Colorado State – Hart and McGuire are going to be jockeying for the people looking to spend money on running back. They differ in price by just $100 on DraftKings, so if I had to guess then people roll with Hart over McGuire. I think Hart has huge potential as we saw with him against New Mexico (20/230/5), but Rashad Higgins could steal his thunder quite easily. Hart has rushed for 100+ yards in four straight games and is finally getting main running back carry numbers. He has rushed 20+ times in three of his last four games. Before that stretch, he had rushed for 20+ carries just twice. Utah has a solid running defense, but they’ve struggled in recent weeks giving up 5ypc or worse in four of the last five games.
SATURDAY WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Rashard Higgins, Colorado State – If you can somehow manage to fit in Higgins then I think it’s something you do. The receivers Saturday are pretty thin and if you’re not spending on Higgins then I suggest going cheap at the position. Lately he’s been unstoppable going for 140+ yards in seven straight games with 13 TDs. Four different times he had 10+ catches. Utah’s pass defense is pretty below average and without looking at any other numbers than yardage allowed per game, I know it’s enough to roster Higgins if possible. When a guy has this much talent, you stop him only when you have a defense like 2013’s Michigan State defense or with a top corner and Utah doesn’t have either of those.
2. Kaelin Clay, Utah – Clay has emerged in recent weeks to be a legitimate target for Wilson and the Utah offense. He caught ten passes last game with two TDs and has three TDs in his last three games. He has dud potential like against Arizona or Arizona State, but with Dres Anderson out he has stepped up his game. With no real guys that excite me at this position, I like this price tag for Clay. Colorado State’s stats are a little skewed due to games against Boston College, Air Force, and New Mexico. Those three teams combined to pass just 44 times.
3. Shavarez Smith, South Alabama – Smith is another low-end receiver with real potential. BGSU’s defense is weak against the pass ranking third worst in the country. Their yards/attempt isn’t that bad (6.9), but both things allow me to like South Alabama’s top receiver instead of his quarterback (especially at his price). Smith has been really productive in his last two games putting up lines of 6/80/2 and 5/82/0 for a cheap price. Smith had a great start to 2014 going for double digits in six of the first eight games, but had a bad stretch there after. It’s nice to see Smith bounce back in his last two games and makes me feel more confident about using him Saturday.
4. Gehrig Dieter, BGSU – Dieter is my super cheap receiver pick and I think it’s worth rostering a guy like him to get some stud quarterbacks and running backs. He has gone for 55+ yards in the last four games, but only has one TD. James Knapke has really killed his production, but if Dieter can average four catches and 55 yards you’re looking at just under ten fantasy points. The great thing is he has done about that in each of his last four games. South Alabama actually gives up a worse yards/attempt than BGSU at 7.0 yards/attempt compared to BGSU’s 6.9.
SATURDAY TIGHT ENDS
1. Westlee Tonga, Utah – Like Wilson, Tonga has really gotten it together in recent weeks. He has a TD in three of the last four weeks and is honestly the only fantasy relevant tight end this Saturday. He has the best potential for double digits. His matchup is average, but when it comes to yards/attempt, it’s just as good as if he was going against South Alabama or BGSU.
2. Wes Saxton, South Alabama – Saxton gets the matchup against BGSU, which can be seen as amazing or just above average depending on what stat you’re looking at. With a small slate and limited tight ends to begin with, you have to try and gain every edge you can. USA will pass more than some of these other teams and he’s caught five passes in the last two weeks. Maybe he finds the end zone for us or breaks a long one.
SATURDAY DraftKings LINE UP #1
SATURDAY DraftKings LINE UP #2
SATURDAY FanDuel LINE UP