December 19 CFB DFS Picks: Anu Bowl Season to Arbuckle Up For
Welcome to Saturday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “RealestChrisKay” and “TheNumbersGuy.” Each week we break down the largest college football slates to give you the best top, value, and cheap plays based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
If there’s something you’d like to see added or have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Rankings are out of a possible 128 schools
**Advanced statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders (updated as of 12/5/15)
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
Arizona vs New Mexico – New Mexico Bowl
Arizona Team Total: 37
Def. Rushing S&P+: 66
Def. Passing S&P+: 123
Def. IsoPPP+: 117
New Mexico Team Total: 27
Def. Rushing S&P+: 91
Def. Passing S&P+: 113
Def. IsoPPP+: 116
Looking at this game, you would never think that these two teams are the worst defenses of the slate, but such is the case. They both rank in the 100’s in overall defense and they’re even worse against the pass. Unfortunately for us, both teams struggle to be effective through the air. Arizona ranks 61st offensively through the air while New Mexico ranks 104th with only 17.3 attempts per game. Let’s take a deeper look into Arizona’s offense and then hit on the few New Mexico options we like.
Arizona has struggled mightily in the injury department, losing their top two quarterbacks and starting running at one point in the season. Word is that Anu Solomon has been cleared to play and has taken first team reps recently, so we’re going to assume he’ll be the guy come Saturday (continue to monitor his health). Solomon is a guy we love targeting in great matchups and this is definitely one we want to take advantage of. He’s been fairly efficient in 2015 (62.7%, 18 TDs, four INTs) and has great value on FanDuel where he’s significantly cheaper than the other great quarterback options. We rank him below quarterbacks like Kenny Potter and Nick Arbuckle on DraftKings due to similar pricing, but where you can save significant salary, we like Solomon in this prime matchup. As for receivers Solomon can throw to, there’s only one we feel great about in all formats: Cayleb Jones. Jones hasn’t necessarily put up the numbers we wanted to see week in and week out, but his cheap price tag allows us to play off of the great matchup he has. At 6’3, Jones has at least two inches on every defensive back New Mexico can throw at him and we fully expect him to take advantage of his size against the Lobos. Johnny Jackson is another receiver we are looking at from Arizona, but he’s best served for tournaments on FanDuel. He has put up nice catch totals in his last five games (27), but they haven’t come with significant yardage (278 yards) or touchdowns (one). If you’re playing Jackson then you’re taking advantage of his minimum price tag on FanDuel, which allows for more flexibility. Jared Baker is stepping into the starting running back role following the recent announcement that Nick Wilson is expected to miss Saturday’s game (undisclosed reasons). Baker has been very effective in 2015 when given the chance (5.8 yards per carry, seven total touchdowns). With Wilson being the top running back most of this season, Baker’s price has remained pretty cheap. With Anu Solomon, we expect this UNM defense will be forced into defending the pass just as much as the run, something recent opponents haven’t had to do against Arizona. His matchup and game script (10 point favorites) are both very attractive, making him a great option across the board.
When it comes to New Mexico’s offense, it is fairly tough to get a gauge on what the heck they’re trying to do. They run a triple option attack that has featured two quarterbacks at times, causing us to rely on players from this team as tournament only options when their games are included on various sites. This will continue to be the case this weekend when they face a very bad Arizona defense. Previous game logs and recent reports point towards Lamar Jordan leading the team completely as the starting quarterback on Saturday, but he isn’t priced low enough on any site to make him cash viable. He’s more of a tournament option where we can take advantage of the team’s rushing usage (41.47 carries per game). With Arizona only having two-plus weeks to practice against the triple option, we love Jordan’s upside in this matchup. For tournaments he’s certainly usable on all sites, but on DraftKings it is more beneficial to use him where he can attain the rushing bonus. UNM has a projected team total of 27 and it all starts with the quarterback in this style of offense. Jhurell Pressley is the one running back we want to target in this offense because of his ability to find the end zone (11 touchdowns, six over his last three games). He is one of three players on the team to average over 10 carries per game (Jordan and Gipson being the other two), which increases his risk in cash games. Pressley is the leader in yards per carry, touchdowns, and carries this season (of those with more than 15 carries on the season). Pressley is a guy we’re targeting more in tournaments on DraftKings because of the large roster format, but also because Joe Williams and Jalin Moore are priced similarly to him on FanDuel.
BYU vs Utah – Las Vegas Bowl
BYU Team Total: 25.5
Def. Rushing S&P+: 77
Def. Passing S&P+: 45
Def. IsoPPP+: 50
Utah Team Total: 28
Def. Rushing S&P+: 4
Def. Passing S&P+: 28
Def. IsoPPP+: 10
The “Holy War” is a game we’re not mad about avoiding all together, but there is one player we definitely want to target: Joe Williams. Williams has taken over the running back duties from Devontae Booker after his season ending injury and has filled in quite nicely. Booker averaged 30.5 touches per game when healthy, while Williams has averaged 32 touches per game in his two starts. While the numbers have been great, but not extraordinary for Williams in his two starts (5.13 yards per carry), he is seeing so many touches that it’s difficult to ignore him in cash games. On DraftKings, he is priced similarly to many good running back options, but it’s his usage and the offense’s reliance upon him that makes him the best cash game option. On FanDuel, we love Williams in all formats considering his price is so cheap ($6,000). We will have large amounts of exposure to him on FanDuel with that kind of price tag.
As for why we’re avoiding all other options in this game, it’s quite simple. The game has the lowest total of the slate (53.5) and both defenses rank inside the top 35 in defensive S&P+. BYU’s above average passing attack is negated by a Utah defense that ranks 28th against the pass (fourth against the run, for what it’s worth). Conversely, Utah just doesn’t pass the football enough (28 times per game) to warrant usage of anyone in their passing game. Travis Wilson has some value due to his rushing usage (11.4 rushing attempts per game), but his price is simply too high to warrant using on any site this weekend.
Ohio vs Appalachian State – Camellia Bowl
Ohio Team Total: 23
Def. Rushing S&P+: 67
Def. Passing S&P+: 48
Def. IsoPPP+: 66
App State Team Total: 31
Def. Rushing S&P+: 47
Def. Passing S&P+: 60
Def. IsoPPP+: 31
If you’re a Division 1 offensive coordinator, Ohio’s offense is nothing to be jealous of, as they rank just 69th in overall S&P+, 125th in rushing S&P+, and 42nd in passing S&P+. Head coach, Frank Solich, has stated that all relevant players will be healthy. That means guys like Vick, Sprague, Patterson, and White will be good to play in this bowl game – but we don’t think that helps us in DFS. Derrius Vick will be the starter in this matchup, but doesn’t possess the overall talent to warrant usage. Daz’Mond Patterson’s return only hurts A.J. Ouellette’s value. Finally, the receivers will simply have too difficult of a matchup to warrant high levels of usage against App State. Sebastian Smith has been great, averaging 8.8 targets and 62.8 yards per game in 2015, but we’re not big fans of him because of his price tag and matchup. App State ranks as an above average defense and Ohio has the lowest team total of the slate (23). Jordan Reid has been the value receiver in the offense, and even though he has been targeted just 16 times over the last three games, he has come through with 12 catches, 229 yards, and four touchdowns. His price has steadily risen from near minimum over the past few weeks, making him a low-end option on all sites. We prefer Reid’s recent production to Smith’s (11/179/2) as well as the salary relief Reid provides on all sites. Papi White is a versatile player used in all sorts of ways in the Ohio offense. He has been banged up for most of the second half of the season, but has plenty of upside when healthy. He’s averaging 17.1 yards per catch on the year (17 catches) to go along with 25 rushes for 146 rushing yards. He’s just the kind of spark plug this offense will need against App State on Saturday. He’s a pure tournament play only and has value on both FanDuel and DraftKings due to his minimum price. Make sure to keep an eye on his health as the week progresses.
Like Ohio, App State has only one position that we’re really targeting this weekend. The Mountaineers run a basic offense, somehow passing just 22.6 times per game. This lack of usage limits all upside in the air attack, and considering how much Taylor Lamb spreads the ball around (no receiver over 4.5 targets per game), it’s hard to like anyone in the passing game. Instead, we’re huge fans of their two running backs, Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore. Cox has been an elite running back recently, producing on the ground and through the air. Over the last five weeks, his lowest DraftKings Fantasy points total is 17, with seven total touchdowns and 23.6 touches per game during that stretch. Moore has seen a major uptick in usage recently (18 carries per game over his last three) and has been great with those touches (eight yards per carry). Moore has an extremely cheap price tag on DraftKings, making him viable in all formats, but his mid-range tag on FanDuel leaves him best served as a tournament option.
San Jose State vs Georgia State – AutoNation Cure Bowl
San Jose State Team Total: 26.5
Def. Rushing S&P+: 111
Def. Passing S&P+: 55
Def. IsoPPP+: 96
Georgia State Team Total: 29.5
Def. Rushing S&P+: 38
Def. Passing S&P+: 88
Def. IsoPPP+: 47
Leave it to two teams that have barely been talked about all season to represent one of the best matchups of this slate. While the two don’t have outrageous team totals, this game should be very competitive, and will feature two quarterbacks who are red hot. Let’s start with San Jose State’s offensive personnel.
Kenny Potter, the SJSU quarterback, has been on another level over his last three games, totaling 11 touchdowns (nine through the air, two on the ground), while throwing for over 300 yards twice. As a full-time quarterback (split time with Joe Gray early on in 2015), Potter is averaging double digit carry numbers, making him an elite quarterback in cash games. It’s his ridiculous production recently that has pushed him to be a great option in all formats. Over his last five games, he has been very efficient through the air (completed 71% of passes, 11 touchdowns, two interceptions) and has added value on the ground (four touchdowns, 268 yards, 3.9 yards per carry). In the past, Georgia State has been a pushover when it comes to their defense, but this is not necessarily the case in 2015. They actually rank above average against the run, but do rank below average against the pass (cha-ching!). We’re huge fans of Potter on DraftKings where his price is lower than it should be, but on FanDuel we’ll limit our usage of Potter to strictly cash games. His price is so high on FanDuel that it inhibits flexibility of the roster when it comes to the flex positions. As we just stated, the Georgia State run defense is above average, which makes it tough to love a high-priced Tyler Ervin in this slate. At the beginning of the year Ervin was tearing it up, producing 30-plus DraftKings Fantasy points in five of his first six games. In his final six games, he produced two games of 30-plus Fantasy points, two games of less than 10 Fantasy points, and two games somewhere in between. Ervin is a huge usage player, averaging 25.7 touches per game, but has seen a decrease over the last three weeks (19.3 touches per game). While that usage has still been above average, his production has dipped as of late. Ervin is a tournament only player for us as a result of the quality cash game running backs priced around him (Williams and Dixon). His tournament appeal is high, as we expect other players who are similarly priced to likely be higher-owned.
SJSU has three receiving threats with value (Billy Freeman, Tim Crawley, and Hansell Wilson), but only one is a high-end target (Freeman). Freeman is their tight end, but that doesn’t keep him from generating the most targets (5.4 per game). He is priced fairly on DraftKings, where he’s just a cash game option. His production this season (47/581/6) is impressive for his position and he represents our favorite tight end to use on FanDuel where he’s viable in all formats. Tim Crawley and Hansell Wilson are both low-end options across the board, but are best served on FanDuel where they are near minimum price. Unless punting the position, we would not roster more than one of the three receiving targets for SJSU. Crawley is a more exciting receiver to target (four touchdowns over his last three games), while Wilson is more of a big play receiver (13.6 yards per catch compared to Crawley’s 10.9; Wilson has five carries for 101 yards on the season).
The Georgia State offense is based strictly around passing (38.9 passing attempts per game, highest of slate) and therefore is the focus for us on Saturday. Nick Arbuckle faces a slightly above average SJSU passing defense, but their havoc rate (accounts for sacks, tackles for loss, and turnovers forced) ranks 116th. This should allow Arbuckle to continue his dominant ways. During the four-game win streak that Georgia State is currently enjoying, he has completed 65.6% of passes (99/151) for 374 yards per game (9.9 yards per attempt). Those kind of numbers rank him in the elite quarterback category over a full season (Vernon Adams Jr. is the only quarterback with a higher YPA in 2015 – 10.2). Arbuckle is our favorite quarterback value on DraftKings and is ranked slightly behind Anu Solomon on FanDuel (cheaper option with better matchup). Penny Hart projects to be our favorite receiver of the slate, as he has been the main benefactor of Arbuckle’s dominance during the team’s four-game win streak. Hart has a touchdown in every game and has averaged 6.3 catches per game. He has eclipsed 100 yards twice during that stretch. With a price tag significantly lower than Trent Taylor on DraftKings, he’s an easy receiver option to target in all formats. On FanDuel, the decision is a little tougher, but we love his ability to find the end zone (eight touchdowns in 2015) and usage (7.8 targets, 5.9 receptions per game). Robert Davis sees more targets per game than Hart (8.2), but hasn’t put up the production that the freshman, Hart, has. Even then, Davis is a more than acceptable option in this offense. He has six touchdowns on the season and has also benefited from Arbuckle’s play over the last four games (three touchdowns). Davis has more value on FanDuel because of his $5,000 price tag and should be considered one of the best cash game receivers of the slate. Donovan Harden is the third option in this passing attack, receiving 5.3 targets per game. He’s more of a punt option on FanDuel for those that want to roster the next Georgia State player we will discuss: Keith Rucker. Rucker comes at a very high price tag on FanDuel and with good reason. Over his last five games, he has a game of 10 catches and 154 yards, two multi-touchdown games, and another game with a touchdown reception. Rucker should be used strictly in tournaments on FanDuel (unless Nick Wilson is named starter therefore creating huge salary relief), but has a near minimum price tag that warrants usage in all formats on DraftKings.
Arkansas State vs Louisiana Tech – New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State Team Total: 32.5
Def. Rushing S&P+: 72
Def. Passing S&P+: 31
Def. IsoPPP+: 59
Louisiana Tech Team Total: 34.5
Def. Rushing S&P+: 29
Def. Passing S&P+: 94
Def. IsoPPP+: 73
Arkansas State is going to have a tough time doing what they do best (running the football) against Louisiana Tech and their top 30-ranked run defense. Arkansas State is averaging 47.42 rush attempts per game (31st in rushing S&P+) in 2015. Because of the stout Louisiana Tech run defense, we expect Arkansas State’s passing numbers to go up. In the lone game where Fredi Knighten threw the rock over 30 times, he threw 42 times and ran 13 times (33.98 DraftKings Fantasy points). His next highest usage totals were 48 (29 passes/19 rushes; 29.36 Fantasy points), and 40 (29 passes/11 rushes; 43.2 Fantasy points). It’s this kind of production that makes him a great option with elite upside this weekend. When it comes to their rushing attack, Michael Gordon leads the way. He’s strictly a low-end tournament option in this slate because of the tough matchup and above average price tag. The high team total (32.5) and the fact that he recorded 20 rushing attempts during his last game means he’s a player with some upside. The receivers for this Arkansas State team look pretty boring at a glance, but this is because of their low passing attempts per game. We expect an uptick in passing attempts as we saw in Knighten’s games against Georgia State, UL-Monroe, and New Mexico State, where he aired it out 29, 29, and 42 times. Tres Houston was the largest benefactor in the passing game, reeling in five touchdowns on just 13 receptions. Those three games represent 49.1% of his receiving yards (279), 50% of his touchdowns (five), and 39.4% of catches (13) in 2015. Houston is a core value play on DraftKings and has shown to be worth the high price tag on FanDuel. Dijon Paschal is a near minimum price receiver worth targeting in all formats because of his production when Knighten throws more often. During the three games previously mentioned (Georgia State, New Mexico State, and UL-Monroe), Paschal’s numbers represented 50.6% of his receiving yards (265), 100% of his touchdowns (three), and 37% of his catches (10) in 2015. Darion Griswold, the Arkansas State tight end, is worth some exposure in multi-entry tournaments because of his near minimum price tag on FanDuel, but should be considered a punt option only.
Louisana Tech’s offense has a very nice matchup against Arkansas State Saturday, which explains their team total of 34.5. They are the 32nd ranked offensive S&P+ team going up against a slightly below average defense. While we think the Bulldogs quarterback, Jeff Driskel, has talent, it’s tough to love him against a team that struggles more against the run than the pass. At the end of the day, it’s likely Driskel plays the highest scoring game on Saturday where he will have seen plenty of usage (41.3 touches per game), so he has some value in tournaments. We favor using him on FanDuel over DraftKings due to his price differential compared to other quarterbacks. Trent Taylor is his top receiver, leading the team by a wide margin in all categories: receptions (89), receiving yards (1,133), touchdowns (eight), and targets per game (10.2). Taylor makes for a great option across the board, ranking just behind Hart and Houston. Carlos Henderson is an attractive tournament option that is utilized as a big play receiver in this offense (20.6 yards per catch). He has increased his production significantly over the last five games, catching five touchdowns during that span. His matchup is difficult, but his low price tag on DraftKings and big play potential means he’ll have value in cash games. However, his cost is simply too high on FanDuel to warrant using over our other top receivers in this slate. Kenneth Dixon comes into Saturday’s Bowl game with 22 touchdowns and 20.4 touches per game this season. Those numbers are more than acceptable, and with a great matchup, he possesses the most upside of all running backs in the slate. In week 10, Dixon ran for 195 yards and six touchdowns on just 22 carries. Those are the type of numbers that make him an explosive option in all formats and his reliance in the offense (44% market share of touchdowns) allows for cash game value week in and week out.