October 24 CFB DFS Early Slate: Let us Falking Re-Ward You
Welcome to the Saturday Early Slate 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 email@example.com.
*Rankings are out of a possible 128 schools
**Advanced statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
Greg Ward Jr. (Houston at UCF) and Seth Russell (Baylor vs Iowa State) represent our top two options for the early slate. Both are very expensive, but they give you a high floor with productivity, even when games turn into blowouts.
Greg Ward Jr. is having a fantastic season, but nobody outside of fantasy college football knows about it. He’s averaging 254 yards and 1.5 touchdowns through the air this season, but his rushing stats make him an elite option week in and week out. His 105 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game rank him amongst the best runners in the country, yet he’s Houston’s quarterback. Ward has an optimal matchup through the air (UCF ranks 105th in passing S&P+/98th IsoPPP+) making him our favorite at the position, especially since he provides some salary relief when compared to Russell.
Seth Russell is coming off an amazing performance against West Virginia where he totaled six touchdowns and 540 total yards (hitting both bonuses on DraftKings). He saw his highest usage of the season (47 touches) and took advantage of his opportunities (63.2 DraftKings Fantasy points). Russell now faces an Iowa State team that is a 37-point underdog. In Baylor’s four games where they are 33-point favorites or better, Russell has averaged 36.05 DraftKings Fantasy points per game. Due to the skills and offensive style of Baylor, there are a very limited number of defenses that would scare us off of Russell – Iowa State is not one of them. Their passing S&P+ headed into this game is 58th.
Next In Line:
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma vs Texas Tech) and Luke Falk (Washington State at Arizona) are the two closest quarterbacks to our top plays. We’re going to target these two on sites where the price tag is more realistic for lineup construction. For instance, on FanDuel you can save over $1,000 by going with one of these two over Russell or Ward.
Baker Mayfield has a chance at showing off his incredible upside (six touchdowns, 572 total yards vs Tulsa) when Oklahoma faces off against Texas Tech. With both teams moving at an above average pace (both rank in top 50 in adjusted pace), Mayfield will have plenty of snaps to take advantage of an average pass defense (60th ranked passing S&P+). The rushing matchup is better for the Sooners, but they are lacking production out of their top two running backs, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon (combined 4.63 yards per carry). Mayfield does have risk due to his dwindling pass attempts (26.7 pass attempts per game in last three games), but their team total sits at 44 points. This team total is hard to ignore when Mayfield has an 82% market share of offensive touchdowns. Also, it’s tough to ignore the situation surrounding Mayfield’s transfer from Texas Tech to Oklahoma. He felt slighted when he left the school and will have extra motivation in this matchup against his former team (Hat tip to Jason Baumgardner, the producer of The Perfect Lineup documentary, for making us aware of how important this game is to Mayfield).
Luke Falk has the very best matchup amongst all quarterbacks this week, so this might be the week to pull the trigger on him over the three previously mentioned quarterbacks. The pace of this Washington State vs. Arizona game will be very up-tempo (both ranked in the top 30 in adjusted pace), which should give us the potential for a 65+ passing attempt performance (something he has done twice). His high usage (54.2 attempts per game) provides a safe floor, especially considering he’s facing the fourth worst defense against the pass this season and a bottom 20 team when it comes to IsoPPP+. Falk has been extremely efficient in 2015, throwing 21 touchdowns to just four interceptions and has even added three rushing touchdowns in his last four games.
Value quarterback options are slim in this slate, with only one player we feel confident about: Jerrod Heard (Texas vs Kansas State). Against Kansas State he faces an average run (67th ranked rushing S&P+) and slightly above average pass defense (46th ranked passing S&P+). Remember, his best usage comes from his rushing ability. He has averaged 19 carries for 87.3 yards per game in 2015. While he has struggled to perform in two of his four starts this season, his competition has been very stiff. He has faced the #11 (Oklahoma), #20 (Oklahoma State), #28 (TCU), and #78 (Cal) ranked passing S&P+ defenses. In those four starts, Heard is averaging 38.8 touches per game. Texas has a projected team total of 28 points against KSU and they’ll need Heard to reach that number.
Additional notes: Last week, we said that Anu Solomon (Arizona vs Washington State) has been an extremely effective passer in games against lesser competition (70th ranked passing S&P+ or worse). After last week’s performance against Colorado, we now see his TD:INT move to 34 touchdowns to just three interceptions. While Texas Tech is slightly above average (59th ranked passing S&P+), it’s not quite high enough to scare us off of Solomon. Our cash game strategy on DraftKings is to roster one of Russell/Ward and then go with a 5k option, so this leaves Solomon to tournaments across the industry where we are fading the big boys. Nate Peterman (Pitt at Syracuse) has started four games this season, recording eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. His usage isn’t all that great (22.3 attempts per game), but with a star receiver (Tyler Boyd), he’s become very effective in the red zone. These two have hooked up on eight off 11 targets for four touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. We’re willing to look past his low usage because he has completed 60% of his passes in every start this season and faces the 118th ranked passing S&P+ defense. He has limited upside, but is a safe play on DraftKings where it helps you land a stud quarterback. Nate Sudfeld (Indiana at Michigan State) came out guns blazing against Rutgers last week and ended the game with 464 passing yards and five total touchdowns. While Peterman is a low-usage quarterback with a great matchup, Sudfeld is quite the opposite. He faces an above average pass defense (47th ranked passing S&P+), but should easily eclipse his 31.5 attempts per game average. Michael Brewer (Virginia Tech vs Duke) has officially been named the starter for Saturday’s game against Duke after attempting four passes against Miami last week. While he has a tough matchup against the Blue Devils (7th ranked S&P+), he was successful in his limited action against Ohio State, the third ranked passing S&P+ defense, earlier this season. In that game, Brewer threw two touchdown passes on 11 of 16 passing before he was injured.
Derrick Henry (Alabama at Tennessee) is by far our top running back in the slate coming off his best game of the season (34/236/2). While the matchup against Tennessee is slightly below average (UT ranks 42nd in rushing S&P+), Henry is going to be running early and often and could see 30+ carries once again. Kenyan Drake, Henry’s backup, left last game with a thigh injury and could see limited action against UT. Realistically, we’re looking at about 27 carries (his conference attempt average) due to offensive style and game script (Bama is a 15-point favorite). Henry is best served on FanDuel and DraftDay where there is enough value to pair him with an top quarterback.
Next In Line:
Nick Wilson’s (Arizona at Washington State) injury status will have a material impact on fantasy lineups this weekend. With a matchup against Washington State (101st ranked rushing S&P+), it’s easy to see why. Wilson should run all over Washington State, but if he’s not available, then Jared Baker (Arizona at Washington State) will be in our lineups. Baker is cheaper than Wilson across the industry and is coming off a game in which he combined for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Both are more than capable of being top performers by week’s end, so keep an eye on Wilson’s injury. Wilson suited up, but did not play last week. Our expectations are that he’ll draw the start this week.
Wayne Gallman (Clemson at Miami) has stood out to us all week long as the top value play. His numbers won’t blow you away at first glance (18.3 touches, 100.2 yards, .83 touchdowns per game), but his price compared to usage means high upside against Miami. Miami’s run defense ranks 93rd in the country by S&P+ metrics. They’ve also given up big chunks of yardage in recent weeks: Travon McMillian (5.9 yards per carry), Dalvin Cook (10.1), Tion Green/Hosey Williams (6.54), and Terrell Newby (5.9). Gallman struggled to make it four straight games of 100-plus rushing yards, but that can be blamed on the fact that Boston College’s run defense is one of the best in the nation. We look for Gallman to bounce back in a big way this weekend against the Hurricanes.
Saquon Barkley (Penn State at Maryland) had injury issues before last game, but has squashed any concerns we had by rushing for 194 yards on 26 carries. This isn’t his first impressive game of the year with big games against Rutgers (21/195/2) and Buffalo (12/115/1). Penn State goes on the road as six point favorites, so the game script plays right into Barkley’s hands. They’re projected to score 27 points and Barkley has been able to find the end zone, sans the tough Ohio State game. He has averaged 7.5 yards per carry in each of his last four games – two of which were against top 50 rushing S&P+ defenses. Like Ohio State and SDSU, Maryland is a top 50 rushing S&P+ defense (50).
Additional notes: We consider Alex Collins (Arkansas vs Auburn) the biggest tournament option of all running backs in this slate. He’s underpriced on DraftKings according to his talent (5.5 yards per carry) and potential usage Saturday. In his three games before the very tough Alabama defense, Collins averaged 27 carries and 158.3 yards per game. Now he’ll face an average run defense (59) and he’s fresh off a bye week. We expect low ownership levels from him on Saturday. Taquan Mizzell (UVA at UNC) is an extremely unique running back in that he only averages 11 rushing attempts per game, yet averages 22.6 DraftKings Fantasy points per contest. This is because of his usage through the air (5.8 touches/7.7 targets per game). He’s a safe option in all formats going up against a UNC defense that ranks 117th against the run and 86th against the pass. L.J. Scott (Michigan State vs Indiana) had a very tough matchup last weekend against Michigan, but still found the end zone twice. Sure, 8/18/2 isn’t exactly what anyone would call a good game, but it continued to show Michigan State’s reliance on Scott inside the red zone. He has two touchdowns in three straight games, but only 35 carries. He’s an elite tournament option because of his ability to find the end zone. If Michigan State ups his usage, we could see the same type of breakout game from Scott we saw against Purdue three games ago (18/146/2). Indiana ranks 97 in rushing S&P+ so far this season. Kareem Hunt (Toledo at UMass) and Qadree Ollison (Pitt at Syracuse) have shown to be productive running backs in their careers and have great matchups this weekend, but they do carry some risk. While Hunt has seen a lack of carries in 2016 due to a nagging injury, Ollison and the Pitt offense rank fifth worst in adjusted pace. Both see sporadic numbers in carries, therefore they represent pivot options from similarly priced running backs like Scott, Mizzell, Gallman, and Barkley. Alvin Kamara (Tennessee at Alabama) has the kind of low price that we don’t mind putting into cash lineups on DraftKings. The matchup is tough (Alabama has a top five defense in all S&P+ metrics), but his price is low ($3,300), and his usage is surprisingly high for a backup. Kamara is second on the team with 3.8 targets per game and has received seven carries in three of the last four games. Jalen Hurd has had the flu this week, which could give Kamara a few more touches than he typically might see. Our one stipulation with using Kamara is that you use him as your secondary near minimum option, and that you roster a stud quarterback like Ward or Russell as a result. Keith Harrington/Gerard Wicks (Washington State at Arizona) are two running back options from Washington State, but we like them more for their receiving potential. Washington State doesn’t run it a whole lot, but what they do is throw it to their backs on a pretty consistent basis. In fact, these two average 10 total targets per game. Wicks has seen eight targets in three of his last five games, while Harrington has been targeted times in three of his last five games. These are best used in PPR scoring sites like DraftKings for salary relief.
By now, you’re probably sick of us talking about Corey Coleman (Baylor vs Iowa State) as the top play at the wide receiver position, but it’s not our fault. He’s consistently underpriced with above average matchups every single week. Here are a few stats that show how amazing Coleman currently is and then we’ll move on.
1. Coleman catches a touchdown pass on 39% of receptions (16 TDs of 41 catches).
2. He has five straight games of two or more touchdowns catches.
3. He has more touchdown catches than 111 FBS schools.
4. He has more TOTAL touchdowns than 16 FBS schools.
Next In Line:
Roger Lewis (BGSU at Kent State) has been a star performer in five of his six games in 2015, going for an average of 7.7/145.7/1.3 on the season. He’s only seeing eight to 11 targets per game in his last three, but has caught an amazing 87.5%, 72.7%, and 90.1% of passes thrown his way. He’s extremely efficient with his touches, which is great news against a Kent State defense that is actually not that bad. They rank 58th in passing S&P+ and 53rd in IsoPPP+, two big metrics we look at for a big play receiver like Lewis. We consider him a strong tournament play only on DraftKings due to our cash game strategy of spending on at least one quarterback this weekend.
While Lewis is a strong tournament play at this position, Tajae Sharpe (UMass vs Toledo) is a strong cash game option this Saturday. We say this because of his 17.7 targets per game (37.7 % of team targets). This 37.7% number ranks him first in FBS, which is an astonishing feat. While the matchup is just average (Toledo ranks 51st in passing S&P+), the pace should be above average since both teams are ranked in the top 40 in adjusted pace. His upside is limited due to having just two touchdowns catches on the season and a team total of just 24, but we love the high floor he possesses every week in PPR scoring.
Dom Williams (Washington State at Arizona) finds himself with a slightly above average price across the industry and it’s one we’re looking to take advantage of in this matchup against Arizona. We expect a fast pace game and the matchup is great (fourth worst passing S&P+). With the Cougars offense, the volume is always there. In Williams’ last three games, he’s been getting called upon more than ever (38 total targets). With Falk’s projected volume of passes sitting around 60, Williams’ 22% target rate in his last three games equates to about 13 targets. With this kind of floor, he’s a safe option with big upside on all sites.
Additional notes: It is important to start this section with Kody Cook (Kansas State at Texas). He’s taken plenty of snaps in recent weeks at quarterback for Kansas State and is amidst a quarterback battle with Joe Hubener. Hubener was terrible last game and could easily sit this one out in favor of Cook. If this is the case, Cook is a must play across the industry with his prices hovering just over minimum. With five targets last game against Oklahoma as a receiver, he’s a fine tournament option if nothing is announced regarding the quarterback situation by time of lock. Gabe Marks (Washington State at Arizona) and Aaron Bubridge (Michigan State vs Indiana) both have great matchups combined with great usage this season making them fine options in all formats this wekend. Both have 20+ catches and over 290 receiving yards in the last three games. Both are the most targeted players on their team at 11 targets per game. Marks has the better matchup, but Burbridge has the better team total (40). Feel confident rostering either or both Saturday. Tyler Boyd (Pitt at Syracuse) has many similarities to Marks and Burbridge like 20 catches in his last three games with an elite matchup against Syracuse (118th in passing S&P+). Boyd is also leading his team with targets at 9.5 per game. Consider him a pivot from Marks and Burbridge in cash games. Canaan Severin (UVA at UNC) and Nate Phillips (Arizona vs Washington State) are near minimum options worth discussing this week. They both have good matchups and are targeted at a high rate (Severin – 8.3, Phillips – 6.7) for their low cost. While Severin has a touchdown catch in three of his last four games, Phillips is coming off a 6/106/0 game against Colorado. Both are worth owning to some degree in cash games, especially in deeper roster formats like DraftKings and Fantasy Aces. Cayleb Jones (Arizona vs Washington State) is yet another player from this Arizona/Washington State to target, but like Phillips, he too is a cheaper option. Jones has yet to find the end zone since week one, but still remains the top red zone target for Arizona. He also leads the team in targets with 50 (7.1 per game). Jones has more upside than Nate Phillips, but with that comes a higher price tag. Steve Ishmael (Syracuse vs Pitt) has emerged as a reliable receiver in recent weeks and is the kind of near minimum receiver we’re looking for on DraftKings to fit in multiple high priced studs. He has seen an increased role in his last three games (24 targets) compared to his three previous games before that (eight), so of course has seen an increase in production. Ishmael has a touchdown in two straight games and four catches in his last three games. Artavis Scott (Clemson at Miami) is mentioned last at this position, but is certainly not a bad option come Saturday. He’s coming off his best game of the season, catching 10 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown in a tough matchup against Boston College. He has a very favorable matchup against Miami, who is in the bottom 40 in both rushing and passing S&P+ as well as IsoPPP+. While Scott did have a monster game last week, we consider him only usable in tournaments due to his limited yardage per game so far this season (73.8) and similar pricing to guys like Marks, Burbridge, and Boyd.
Rodney Mills (Massachusetts vs. Toledo) – Mills isn’t your typical tight end that needs red zone opportunities in order to realize their value. Mills is averaging 8.25 targets per game, and the only reason that he’s not second in this offense in market share of targets is because he missed two games this season. In the four games that he’s played this season, Mills has averaged 75 receiving yards and just under four receptions. One third of his targets (11 of 33) have come inside the red zone area, and he’s already producing touchdowns (two touchdowns through four games). Toledo (ranked eight in overall S&P+) represents a tough matchup for this Massachusetts offense, but there’s only a handful of tight ends with Mills’ opportunities and skill set around college football. Feel free to use Mills in all formats (including as a WR on DraftKings) on Saturday.
Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin at Illinois) – Unlike Rodney Mills, Fumagalli is your typical tight end. He needs red zone opportunities in order to realize his value, which makes him a volatile commodity. Keep in mind that almost every single tight end in college football is volatile since their value is attached to red zone opportunities, so we’re focusing mostly on prices. Thankfully, Fumagailli is minimum priced, which is exactly the type of price tag that we’re looking for a tight end in cash games. Give Fumagalli a look in cash games if you’re punting the position in order to create salary relief.
Additional tight end notes: The other tight end option that has appeal across all formats is Jordan Leggett (Clemson at Miami). Leggett is averaging around four targets per game, but he’s been productive (five touchdowns in six games this season). Miami represents a favorable matchup (ranked 93rd in passing S&P+) for this Clemson offense, so Leggett might have a few scoring chances around the red zone area.