October 20 CFB DFS Picks: Pax Some Lynch for the Week
Welcome to Tuesday’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 10/10/15)
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
1. Paxton Lynch, Memphis
2. Jared Goff, Cal
3. Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
4. Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State
5. Josh Rosen, UCLA
1. Paul Perkins, UCLA
2. Matt Breida, Georgia Southern
3. Elijah McGuire, UL Lafayette
4. Jahad Thomas, Temple
5. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
1. Kenny Lawler, Cal
2. Hunter Sharp, Utah State
3. Josh Atkinson, Tulsa
4. Anthony Miller, Memphis
5. Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa
**Receivers ranked 2-5 all project similarly and can be considered interchangeable.
1. Stephen Anderson, Cal
2. Alan Cross, Memphis
3. Wyatt Houston, Utah State
UL Lafayette @ Arkansas State
Game Total: 62
ULL Team Total: 27
Arkansas State Total: 35
Game Spread: Arkansas State -8
ULL vs. Arkansas State will be overlooked because of the potential scoring in games like Cal vs. UCLA and Tulsa vs. Memphis, but we recommend taking a hard look at players from this game. ULL is going to want to slow down Arkansas State’s up-tempo offense (38th in adjusted pace in 2015), and they’re going to do it with the running game. Elijah McGuire is the guy for the Ragin’ Cajuns, averaging six yards per carry and 18.5 touches per game. Last season, this same matchup produced a 55-40 game and eight total rushing touchdowns for ULL. McGuire scored four times in that game with 265 yards on 19 touches. In 2013, he ran 10 times for 110 yards against Arkansas State. This game pits a bad Arkansas State run defense (90th ranked rushing S&P+) against a great ULL run game (7th ranked rushing S&P+). With that being said, McGuire has the potential for 30 touches and should be considered one of the top running backs in the slate. ULL has two near identical receivers in terms of pricing that we’re considering solid punt play options. Gabe Fuselier is a cash option across the board at the receiver position due to his consistent targets (9/9/8 in last three games), but lacks upside due to matchup (Ark. State 29th ranked passing S&P+). Al Riles saw 11 targets last game against Texas State – and boy did he do damage with them (9/98/1). Unfortunately, he saw only four and five in the two games prior, making him a tournament play only this week. There are other receivers we’ll talk about that we’d rather use in cash games around the same price (Trevon Brown & Darius Powe).
Fredi Knighten’s return from injury has opened up the Arkansas State offense and allows them to move at the fast pace they love. Knighten is a high-usage player that averaged 49.5 touches per game in 2014. With an injury slowing him down in 2015, that number has dropped to 36 touches per game. We expect to see that number increase and it should start with this game against ULL. Knighten gets an average matchup against the pass, but the best matchup against the run in this slate, with ULL ranked 118th in rushing S&P+ this season. Knighten is a core play at quarterback on DraftKings’ Tuesday through Thursday slate due to his high floor and affordable price. Michael Gordon suffered a minor knee injury that slowed him down last week against South Alabama, which is the reason why he saw just six carries. He should be good to go in this great matchup against ULL, but will be spreading the carries around with Knighten returning and the backup running back, Warren Wand, impressing last week. The matchup and cost of Gordon this week makes for an elite tournament play. Arkansas State’s passing game features Tres Houston as a very intriguing tournament punt play on DraftKings. The 6’2 senior has a knack for finding the end zone (four of 12 catches in 2015 have gone for touchdowns), but is only averaging 4.33 targets per Knighten start this season. Houston is best suited on DraftKings where his near minimum price allows for more flexibility within your lineup.
Temple @ East Carolina
Game Total: 53
Temple Team Total: 25
ECU Team Total: 28
Game Spread: ECU -3
When looking at the six games in the all-week FanDuel slate, this Temple vs. ECU game looks like the fifth most appealing game. This is caused by Temple’s great defense (top 35 in both rushing/passing S&P+), slow tempo (89th in adjusted pace), and lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The game total of 53 is ranked fifth out of six games. Temple’s lone offensive player to target is Jahad Thomas. Thomas’ usage (26.7 touches per game) and 50% market share of touchdowns (11 of 22) means he won’t affected by a low total or slow pace. Thomas has the highest price of all players involved on DraftKings’ Tuesday through Thursday slate and FanDuel’s all-week slate, making him a tournament option only.
East Carolina has some nice offensive talent, but they face the toughest defense in this slate and have questions surrounding the quarterback position. Isaiah Jones is ECU’s top receiver, but his value is dependent on Blake Kemp starting at quarterback. ECU is not going to disclose the starter before kick off, eliminating Jones from cash game contention. Jones’ performance in a tough matchup earlier this season (14/135/1 against Florida) shows us that he does have value in tournaments. Trevon Brown has emerged as a receiver that hasn’t needed a particular quarterback under center to be successful. In his four games this season, he has three touchdowns and a fourth that was called back against Tulsa. Brown’s stock is trending up, being targeted 19 times in the last two games compared to just nine targets in his first two games of the season. The salary relief provided by Brown makes him a core play in all formats. Bryce Williams’ big frame in the slot has been a safety net for both Kemp and Summers this season. Like Brown, Williams is also seeing his targets increase over time. He has generated two of his three highest target totals in the last two ECU games. Williams can be avoided on FanDuel due to size of roster, but on DraftKings he is another great near minimum option in cash games.
Georgia Southern @ Appalachian State
Game Total: 62.5
Georgia Southern Team Total: 28
App State Team Total: 33.5
Game Spread: App State -5.5
Georgia Southern’s shotgun option attack is one of the most unique offenses in college football. They spread around 56 rushes per game, mainly to three running backs and their quarterback. Kevin Ellison, the quarterback, has seen a slight decrease in overall usage generated in 2015 (20.75) compared to 2014 (25). This limited usage would typically be a red flag, but because of the size of the slate and his pure rushing ability (8.7 yards per carry), we consider him a solid cash game option. Matt Breida is the star running back for the Mountaineers averaging 14.2 carries per game and 10.3 yards per carry. While he garners 25% of the team’s carries, he produces 38% of the team’s rushing touchdowns. Alfred “LA” Ramsby averages 11.3 carries per game at a 5.5-yards per carry clip. His six touchdowns (four in last two games) ranks second on the team. Ramsby’s best value comes on DraftKings, where you’ll pay 51% of Breida’s cost for about 80% of his carries. Wesley Fields is the third and final running back receiving significant carries. His 9.3 carries per game ranks third amongst running backs on the team. His six yards per carry and five touchdowns in the last four games is impressive, but there is risk with this play. Fields is essentially Breida’s backup, so his opportunities will always be limited unless the game becomes a blowout.
Appalachian State’s offense is so spread out that there are only two legitimate options to choose from: Marcus Cox and Taylor Lamb. Lamb is pretty comparable to Seth Russell in that he has a high TD to pass attempt rate. In 2015, Russell’s TD to attempt percentage is (16.6%), while Lamb’s sits at 12.7%. There are only four quarterbacks in the FBS (seven touchdown pass minimum) who have thrown a touchdown on 10% of their attempts or better this season. In order, they are: Russell, Lamb, Trevone Boykin, and Baker Mayfield. Both Mayfield and Boykin’s TD per attempt rate are exactly at 10%. Lamb would be considered a top play at the position, but his low usage (19.7 passes/4.3 carries per game) creates some risk. Appalachian State will have to be effective through the air with a tough run matchup for Marcus Cox (Georgia Southern ranks 29th in rushing S&P+). Lamb against the 111th ranked passing S&P+ defense is definitely one to target in this particular slate. Marcus Cox has a lot of talent (5.9 yards per carry), but falls victim to the offense’s proclivity to spread the ball around so much. He only has five touchdowns on the season even though he’s averaging 114.5 yards per game. Like we said before, his matchup is difficult, which makes him a tournament play for us.
California @ UCLA
Game Total: 66
Cal Team Total: 31.5
UCLA Team Total: 34.5
Game Spread: UCLA -3
California at UCLA has the makings of a very high scoring and competitive game Thursday night. The total of 66 is the second highest of the full mid-week slate on FanDuel, and the highest total for DraftKings’ Tuesday through Thursday slate. Jared Goff wasn’t used a whole lot in the first two games of the season because of the matchup (Grambling State vs. SDSU), but has been used plenty since then. In his last four games, Goff has averaged 42.3 attempts per game for an astonishing 8.76 yards per attempt. On DraftKings where they have the yardage bonus, Goff has been a stud. He is averaging just under three touchdowns per game to go along with the DraftKings’ bonus in five of six games this season. UCLA’s defensive stats are misleading and DFS players should recognize that UCLA’s best defensive player is now out for the year. Myles Jack, a future NFL first rounder, was the key force behind UCLA’s defense that gave up just 14 points per game when healthy. Since that injury, UCLA has given up 124 points, or 41.33 points per game. Whether it’s because of Jack’s injury or the stiffer competition, we don’t care. Jack is out for the season making Goff a very safe play on Thursday night. Kenny Lawler is Goff’s favorite target, catching 57.8% of the 45 passes thrown his way in the last four games. 16 of those 45 targets have come from inside the red zone. Lawler was kept out of the end zone last game, but prior to that, he had five touchdowns in his first three games. With UCLA struggling mightily lately, Lawler projects to have one of his best games of the season on Thursday night. Stephen Anderson is technically a tight end, but is used as a receiver in this offense. His usage has ramped up in recent games, making him a viable option on DraftKings and the top tight end on FanDuel. After being targeted just four times in the first two games, he’s seeing 7.25 targets per game and converting 68.9% of them. Darius Powe makes for an interesting punt option on DraftKings. He as four catches per game in his last three and is priced at just $3,000. Mixing that with his recent usage (6.33 targets per game in his last three) and great matchup, it’s easy to see why Powe makes a viable punt option.
Josh Rosen struggled in his last game (Stanford), but used mop up time to reach 325 yards and three touchdowns. Those are great numbers, but he threw two interceptions and completed only 52.4% of his passes. This matchup should allow for the freshman to have a nice bounce back game. Cal’s defense is below average, ranking 98th against the run and 78th against the pass by S&P+ metrics. His 35 attempts per game with the team’s 34.5 projected points makes Rosen a cash game option this week. Paul Perkins is our top running back on the slate with good reason. He’s a high usage running back (20.8 touches per game) with a knack for finding the end zone (eight touchdowns on the season). Perkins’ price is more affordable than guys like Thomas and Breida with just as much – if not more potential – coming into this slate. Jordan Payton is a very good receiver for UCLA with a mid-range price that is best suited for cash games. He’s averaging 8.7 targets per game in 2015 and is an integral component of one of the highest totals on the slate. While he rarely reaches the 100-yard mark, he has a touchdown in four of the last five games. Thomas Duarte has been a big receiver for Rosen and the Bruins in recent weeks, catching 15 passes with four going for touchdown in his last three games. His targets are also trending up – going from six, to nine, to 11 targets in the last three games. We love Duarte as a low-range option in all formats and are excited to see if he can reach his potential in a great matchup with the possibility of double-digit targets.
Memphis @ Tulsa
Game Total: 75
Memphis Team Total: 43
Tulsa Team Total: 32
Game Spread: Tulsa +11
This game has the highest team total (75) and it features two offenses that go very fast (Tulsa is ranked first in adjusted pace; Memphis is ranked 11th) as well as two defensive units that struggle with explosiveness (both teams are ranked outside the top 100 in IsoPPP+). In other words, this is the game that you’re going to want to target in DFS. It all starts with Paxton Lynch for the Tigers’ offense. He’s the direct source to the highest team total on this slate (Memphis has a team total of 43 points), and it’s too easy to fit him on FanDuel. Lynch is having a career season, posting a 71.4 completion percentage and 9.6 yards per passing attempt to go along with 13 touchdowns to one interception. He’s accurate, explosive and despite not being a very good runner (2.3 yards per carry), he has scored 16 rushing touchdowns in 31 collegiate games (0.5 rushing touchdowns per game). Add to his skills the awesome usage in this offense (about 40 offensive touches per game) and a matchup against Tulsa’s awful passing defense (ranked 99th in S&P+), and it’s easy to see why Lynch is our number one ranked quarterback. Use him across all formats. While it’s easy to project Lynch as an option in all formats, his receivers and running backs should only be utilized in tournaments because their opportunities are more spread out. For example, in Memphis’ win against Ole Miss last week, six different players received a carry and 10 different wide receivers recorded a catch. Our favorite tournament wide receiver from the Memphis side is Anthony Miller (received 15 targets last game and leads Memphis in red zone targets with 11 this season). The Memphis running back that you should consider for tournaments is Sam Craft (five touchdowns in six games this season and his 58 carries are the second most in this offense). Craft isn’t very skilled (3.8 yards per carry), but the matchup and decent opportunities are enough to make him a relevant secondary tournament option. Tight End Alan Cross should be considered across all formats on FanDuel, and for obvious reasons (number one tight end that’s playing for the team with the highest total on this slate).
From the Tulsa side of things, we’re interested in their top two receiving options, Keyarris Garrett and Joshua Atkinson. This offense is designed to funnel the most opportunities to its top two receivers, and with Keevan Lucas out for the rest of the season, Atkinson has been featured heavily (12 targets in each of his last two games). Atkinson is not the only receiver that has benefited from Lucas’ absence. Here are Keyarris Garrett’s (number one receiver in this offense) targets since week three: (19, 16, 20 and 12). Garrett is heavily targeted in the red zone area (four red zone targets per game this season), but he hasn’t been able to cash in just yet (two touchdowns this season). He’s an outside receiver that runs deeper routes than Atkinson, so we understand why his catch rate (49 percent) would be a bit on the lower end. Still, the opportunities in a great matchup (Memphis is ranked 102nd in S&P+ against the pass and 107th in IsoPPP+) should be enough to consider him. Atkinson and Garrett are basically interchangeable in our wide receiver rankings, so feel free to target either one of these receivers in any format of your choosing. If Justin Hobbs (third wide receiver in this offense) is cheap on DraftKings, we don’t mind targeting him in cash games as well. The last options from Tulsa’s offense that deserves some consideration in multi-entry tournaments are quarterbacks Dane Evans (starting quarterback; his production has been a bit spotty as of late, but this matchup could help him get back on track) and Chad President (receives rushing opportunities in the red zone area; minimum priced).
Utah State @ San Diego State
Game Total: 46
Utah State Team Total: 25.5
San Diego State Team Total: 20.5
Game Spread: San Diego State +5
This game has very little appeal for DFS purposes (game total is 46 points; lowest on this slate). Two options that we’re targeting from the Utah State side are wide receiver Hunter Sharp and quarterback Kent Myers. Sharp is the number one wide receiver in this offense (28 percent market share of targets; seven targets per game this season) and his matchup is friendly (San Diego State’s passing defense is ranked 88th in S&P+). Sharp hasn’t been very explosive (12 yards per reception this season), but a 60 percent catch rate and a 0.75 touchdown rate gives him a fine floor. Give him a look in cash games on FanDuel. Sharp’s quarterback, Kent Myers, ranks just behind Josh Rosen in our quarterback rankings. Myers has upside due to his rushing abilities (11 carries per game; seven yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns in three games this season), but the matchup isn’t as friendly through the ground (San Diego State’s rushing defense is ranked 28th in S&P+). This might make Myers more of a throwing quarterback, which could affect his upside. Consider Myers for tournaments.