October 29 CFB DFS Picks: Action Jackson
Welcome to Thursday’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 10/24/15)
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
1. Trevone Boykin (TCU)
2. Skyler Howard (WVU)
3. Marquise Williams (UNC)
4. Zach Terrell (WMU)
5. Tyler Jones (Texas State)
1. Royce Freeman (Oregon)
2. Matt Breida (Georgia Southern)
3. Darius Jackson (EMU)
4. Qadree Ollison (Pitt)
5. Demario Richard (ASU)
1. Josh Doctson (TCU)
2. Daniel Braverman (WMU)
3. Corey Davis (WMU)
4. Tyler Boyd (Pitt)
5. Shelton Gibson (WVU)
1. Matt Weiser (Buffalo)
2. Kody Kohl (Arizona State)
3. J.P. Holtz (Pitt)
North Carolina at Pitt
Game Total: 52
UNC Team Total: 27
Pitt Team Total: 25
Game Spread: UNC -2
The game between Pitt and UNC pits together two teams that play at a dreadfully slow pace (both rank in the bottom 15 in adjusted pace), while possessing above average run offenses and bad run defenses. Because of this, we’re going to primarily focus on the running game for each offense, with only a few receiving options. The Pitt offense is based mainly around two players: Qadree Ollison and Tyler Boyd. Ollison is a freshman running back that has impressed since the injury to James Conner in week one. He has a touchdown in six of seven games this season, but has shown limited upside since the week one win against Youngstown State, averaging only 4.46 yards per carry. The low total (25) and lack of explosiveness limit Ollison’s upside, making him a reasonable fade in tournaments. However, his matchup is about as good as it gets facing the 116th ranked rushing S&P+ defense. At this price point, we consider Ollison a great cash game option on all three sites even if the ceiling is capped. Tyler Boyd’s best value comes on DraftKings due to PPR scoring, but he still remains a great option on FanDuel and Fantasy Aces due to how much the passing game relies on him (39% of team targets). He isn’t a threat to reach the 100-yard bonus (one for seven in this department in 2015), but has three touchdowns in his last three games. At the end of the day, Boyd is the highest floor of any receiver besides Josh Doctson and Daniel Braverman, making him a great cash game option.
North Carolina’s Marquise Williams possesses the most upside of any quarterback not named Trevone Boykin, which gives him great value in tournaments. If you use him, you’ll be paying 81% of Boykin’s price tag on DraftKings and 80% on FanDuel. Yet you’ll still get the 50-point upside that Boykin gives you. The chances of it happening are obviously less than Boykin due to his game log, matchup (Pitt is the 7th ranked passing S&P+ defense), and pace of play in this game, but hey, that’s why he comes at a discount! Elijah Hood has been a very productive running back even though he’s seen limited touches in recent weeks. In four of his last five games, he’s put up 18+ Fantasy points on DraftKings even though he’s only averaging 15.4 touches per game. Hood has made up for the lack of touches with his ability to find the end zone in those games (six touchdowns) and his high yard per carry average (6.37). With the potential for a good game script (UNC -3), we should see Hood inch his touches up closer to 20. Hood is best used in cash games this week.
Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan
Game Total: 70
WMU Team Total: 45
EMU Team Total: 25
Game Spread: WMU -20
Unlike the UNC/Pitt game we discussed above, there are plenty of options in this game between in-state rivals. Western Michigan has an above average offense (47th ranked offensive rushing S&P+/37th offensive passing S&P+ rankings) and not surprisingly, many offensive weapons to choose from. Zach Terrell is extremely efficient with his passes, throwing 10 touchdowns in his last 74 attempts (13.5%), a rate that would put him as one of the best in pass attempts per touchdown. His matchup is slightly below average (EMU ranks as the 49th passing S&P+ defense), but Western Michigan will throw it enough to get Terrell his points in this game. The running back carries seem to be split between to Jamauri Bogan and Jarvion Franklin, but only the former is an option for us this week. Bogan has produced much more recently with 28 carries, 219 yards, and three touchdowns in his last two games (28/136/1 for Franklin). Bogan has the matchup to have another big game with the Eastern Michigan defense ranking dead last in rushing S&P+ this season. The split carries and similar pricing to other great running back options limit his usage to tournaments on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces, but Bogan should be a staple of large entry tournaments on Thursday. Daniel Braverman is one of the safest wide receiver options in all of college football, recording double-digit catch games five times and 100+ receiving yards six times in seven games this season. With Terrell’s efficiency being so high lately, Braverman, the short-yardage route runner, has benefited the most of all WMU receivers. During Terrell’s great three-game stretch, Braverman has averaged 8.3 catches, 109.3 yards, and 2.3 touchdowns per game. Braverman doesn’t project out to those kinds of numbers against Eastern Michigan, but even then he remains a high upside/high floor type player. While Braverman has been safer in 2015, Corey Davis was the go-to receiver for WMU last season (78/1,408/15). He’s number two on the team in targets (11.6 targets per game) with 30.8% market share. Braverman’s catch rate (46.91%) is much lower than Braverman’s, which can be explained by the longer routes Davis runs. Luckily for Davis, EMU’s IsoPPP+ ranking comes in at 118th and should be exploited by the WMU passing game. Look to utilize Davis in tournaments as his big play ability has a chance to shine in this game.
Eastern Michigan has a great matchup against Western Michigan (107th rushing S&P+/104th passing S&P+/102nd IsoPPP+), but only gives us two options in this slate. The EMU rushing attack is ranked 26th in rushing S&P+ offensively, giving them a great matchup against the WMU run defense. Darius Jackson is running like a high-end running back this year – producing 26 Fantasy points per game. Despite the success, Jackson is only the 10th highest price running back on DraftKings. He’s averaging the kind of touches you want out of a top running back choice (20.25 per game), providing him with a very safe floor in this matchup. The game script is less than ideal (WMU -20), but blowouts have yet to deter his production this season. Eastern Michigan has lost each of their last five games by 20 points or more. In those games, Jackson has scored in every one of them (seven in total) and has rushed for over 100 yards four times. Jackson is one of our top plays of the slate and his discounted price on DraftKings makes him a core play in all formats there. The second option when it comes to EMU running backs is Shaq Vann. He’s a solid PPR threat (21 catches in 2015) and averages 9.5 carries per game. He’s been extremely effective with his limited carries (6.3 yards per carry/five touchdowns) this season. We prefer his price on DraftKings where he’s a smart handcuff to Darius Jackson at a near minimum price.
Texas State at Georgia Southern
Game Total: 72
Texas State Team Total: 25.5
Georgia Southern Team Total: 46.5
Game Spread: Georgia Southern -21
Tyler Jones has the projected team success (Georgia Southern has a high 46.5 team total), the usage (42.3 touches per game), and the price ($4,700 on DraftKings) to make for a great QB2 on two quarterback sites. He’s seen as high as 46 and as low as 14 pass attempts this season, but it’s his rushing ability that keeps him a great cash play. Of his 42.3 touches per game, 11.5 have come on the ground in 2015. Jones has had a rushing touchdown in every game but one this season making him the right QB2 for those trying to pair Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson together on DraftKings. Texas State’s starting running back, Robert Lowe, has seen his usage fluctuate a good bit this season, but in his last game against South Alabama he carried the ball 30 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to last week, Lowe was averaging just 10.7 touches per game. That kind of inconsistency is bad for cash games, but as we saw in his last game against South Alabama, there is enough upside to warrant using Lowe in tournaments. C.J. Best is Jones’ favorite target (7.5 targets per game), but like Lowe, has some inconsistency in his usage. Best has two games with 10+ targets (11 and 15), and three other games with 5-7 targets. While the targets are scattered, he’s still managed 5.6 catches and 50.8 yards per game in FBS play in 2015. Ryan Carden is our preferred choice at the tight end position because of his near minimum price. He’s been used in large amounts (five+ targets against Houston, Southern Miss, and FSU – all of which were blowouts) and allows us to fit in Trevone Boykin or Josh Doctson into our FanDuel lineups comfortably.
Like we discussed last week, Kevin Ellison is at the head of this Georgia Southern triple option attack with Matt Breida and Alfred “LA” Ramsby as the top two running backs. We’re looking at the running backs in this slate, as the Texas State run defense ranks 102nd. It’s a great matchup for Georgia Southern because their strength is the run game (25th in rushing S&P+). Matt Breida struggled against App State last weekend, but should bounce back strong in this game. He had rushed for 100+ yards in five straight games before last week’s game, with 11 touchdowns over that span. Breida’s going to have low ownership due to Royce Freeman being priced similarly, but he has the better of the two matchups, making him an elite tournament option. LA Ramsby did fairly well with his nine carries last week (58 yards, one touchdown). With a better matchup and likely a positive game script for Georgia Southern, we suspect Ramsby sees double digit carries, leading to an even better fantasy day against Texas State.
Buffalo at Miami (OH)
Game Total: 52
Buffalo Team Total: 30
Miami (OH) Team Total: 22
Game Spread: Buffalo -8
Joe Licata has some appeal as a QB2 this Thursday and it all comes from his usage. He’s averaging 34.7 passing attempts and 226.7 yards per game. Those numbers won’t impress you in a high-end quarterback, but we’re looking at him mainly on DraftKings as a secondary option to Tyler Jones. Miami (OH) is a great matchup for both the passing and running game (both ranked in the bottom 40 in S&P+ metrics). The running backs have some appeal from Buffalo, but Anthone Taylor (usual starter) is currently questionable and Jordan Johnson is priced higher or the same as options like Ollison, Jackson, and Smallwood, making both non-options for us. The two options in the passing game we like are Ron Willoughby (wide receiver) and Matt Weiser (tight end). With multiple options surrounding Willoughby’s price on DraftKings, he is better suited for FanDuel where he’s close to minimum price. He garners nine targets per game for Buffalo and represents a great pivot option from David Sills, the receiver from West Virginia. Matt Weiser is the top tight end in terms of projected points, but is priced too high to use in cash games. Instead, he makes for an interesting option in tournaments. He is averaging seven targets per game, and has shown the capability of posting a huge game (10/131/1 against Nevada in week four). The matchup is great, but we are looking at punting the tight end position in cash games, allowing for more roster flexibility on FanDuel and DraftKings. Weiser’s price on Fantasy Aces is close to or the same as the other top tight end options making him a great option there.
Miami (OH) ranks in the bottom 20 in rushing and passing S&P+ this season, so not surprisingly we’re looking to fade this offense. Buffalo is a bottom 20 defense, but there’s no consistency within this Miami (OH) offense. Sam Martin has shown flashes of brilliance, but is only averaging three receptions per game. Billy Bahl has started at quarterback for them recently, but is completing just 42.6% of his passes in 2015 with two touchdowns to 10 interceptions. It’s best to stay away from his offense and look elsewhere instead.
West Virginia at TCU
Game Total: 74
West Virginia Team Total: 30
TCU Team Total: 44
Game Spread: TCU -14
West Virginia’s offense ranks 27th in rushing S&P+ and 15th in passing S&P+, so the options are plentiful going against TCU’s young defense. Skyler Howard is our favorite non-Boykin quarterback option on FanDuel because of the pace of the game (both are top 15 in adjusted pace this season) and matchup (TCU ranks 60th in passing S&P+). West Virginia is going to have to keep up with TCU all game, so this game should easily have the best pace of any in this slate. West Virginia utilizes two running backs (Wendell Smallwood/Rushel Shell), but only Smallwood intrigues us this week. He’s a great pass catcher out of the backfield (three catches per game) and is averaging 16.8 rushing attempts per game in 2015. Smallwood’s rushing numbers have been surprisingly great this season (6.7 yards per carry). With a great chance at 20+ touches, we think Smallwood is one of the safest running backs available on DraftKings. His matchup (TCU ranks 70th in rushing S&P+ against the run) gives him the upside needed in tournament play in this slate as well. Shelton Gibson has emerged as the top wide out for this West Virginia team, but he only averages 6.8 targets per game. He leads the team with six touchdowns on 23 catches. West Virginia spreads the ball around too much to consider Gibson in tournaments, but he’s a great cash option nonetheless. He should see an increase in targets with the pace being high and West Virginia likely playing from behind in the second half. David Sills is the kind of player that can help win you a tournament on Thursday. We say this because he’s easy to pass over when examining the slate and we have yet to hear a whole lot of chatter on him, which will likely mean a low ownership percentage. He’s the new “Z” receiver for this offense, replacing Jovon Durante at the position. Durante hadn’t done much in recent weeks (8/83/1 total in last four games), so it’s no shock to see Sills replace him. Sills is a freshman quarterback turned receiver that found success in his first game receiving significant playing time. He was targeted eight times in the Baylor game last weekend, catching two passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. His routes in that game were typically deep down the field, which has been a weakness of TCU’s pass defense in 2015. They’re ranked 79th in IsoPPP+ this season. They’re tied for 11th in most 30+ yard passing plays and 6th in most 40+ yard passing plays allowed this season with 16 and nine respectively. Sills is best used in tournaments, but because of his price we find him viable in cash games as well.
TCU’s offense is the primary focus of our lineups, but it’ll cost a good bit of coin to fit these players in. Trevone Boykin is our top quarterback of the slate and an overall core play. He’s the most expensive player on the board on all sites, but his previous performance and usage is that good. Boykin is averaging 47.5 DraftKings Fantasy points in his last five contests. This provides us with the highest floor of anyone in this slate. Boykin has 32 total touchdowns on the season and uses his legs quite well (62.9 rushing yards per game). While the matchup is very tough (WVU ranks 5th in rushing S&P+ and 11th in passing S&P+ this season), this didn’t seem to hurt Seth Russell and the Baylor Bears a few games ago. In fact, Russell combined for over 500 yards and six touchdowns against West Virginia. Aaron Green has struggled to provide consistency and his price limits his prospects in cash games, but we do love him for tournaments. His game last week against Iowa State will certainly scare people off of him, but you can’t forget his upside. Green has scored all nine of his touchdowns in four games. West Virginia’s run defense is extremely talented and has only allowed one running back to run for 100 plus yards in 2015, so we consider him a high risk-high reward play. Shock Linwood has been one of the most consistent running backs in college football and was held to 84 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries against this defense. If you’re not fitting Boykin into your lineups Thursday then Josh Doctson must be added to your lineup. In his last five games, he’s averaging 9.6/182.4/2.2. We compared Boykin’s upside to Russell’s earlier, so we’ll do the same with Doctson and Corey Coleman, Baylor’s top receiver. In that Baylor/West Virginia game, Coleman caught 10 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. With the potential for a tight back-and-forth game Thursday night, Doctson’s upside has to be comparable to what Coleman did a few weeks back. Kolby Listenbee saw regular action last game out against Iowa State and rewarded those who used him. He caught six passes for 101 yards and one touchdown in that game. Listenbee was targeted eight times and should see the same kind of usage in this matchup. Before getting injured, he was considered the second receiver on the team lining up on the opposite side of Doctson. If Boykin has the kind of game we expect him to then Listenbee will surely reach value with his very low prices on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces.
Oregon at Arizona State
Game Total: 66
Oregon Team Total: 32
Arizona State Team Total: 34
Game Spread: Arizona State -2
This game is projected to be the most competitive in this slate (two point spread), and it features two defensive units that have regressed quite a bit this season. The Sun Devils have been average defensively (ranked 62nd in overall S&P+), while the Ducks have taken an even bigger step backwards (ranked 89th in overall S&P+). Offensively, these two teams like to go fast (Oregon is ranked eight in adjusted pace; Arizona State is ranked 28th). This combination of average to below average defenses and a high pace environment from an offensive standpoint is certainly appealing in DFS. Unfortunately, most of our recommendations here will be directed towards tournaments. For example, we love Royce Freeman‘s skills (6.6 yards per carry) and added responsibilities (averaging 29 offensive touches in his last three games; averaged 19.5 touches in the first four games of the season) in an offense that hasn’t found consistency at the quarterback position. We believe that with Vernon Adams Jr. back, the Ducks passing offense will finally have some continuity, but Freeman will continue to have a big role (saw 27 carries in his last game, even with Adams Jr. back). Arizona State’s defense has been better against the run (ranked 18th in S&P+) than the pass (ranked 47th in S&P+), but we see Freeman making up for this matchup with the amount of opportunities he’s receiving. You’re going to have to pay high prices for his services in both FanDuel and DraftKings, but that shouldn’t keep you away in tournaments. Darren Carrington is a very strong value play on DraftKings at $4,000. In his first game back from suspension, Carrington had five catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Carrington has been an explosive receiver for the Ducks (19.7 yards per reception in 11 career collegiate games), and he might be able to carve out more opportunities in this offense since Byron Marshall won’t play again this season. A lot of his value is tied to his big play abilities, so we aren’t expecting a high catch rate (it should hover around 55 percent). Ultimately, the cheap price tags on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces make him a worthwhile investment across all formats. Carrington is priced more aggressively on FanDuel, which makes him a better target for tournaments on that site.
From the Sun Devils side of things, we’re only interested in Mike Bercovici and Demario Richard for tournaments. Bercovici’s production has been anything but linear. Take for example his last four games, where he generated the following DFS performances (4.9, 33.4, 27.6, 6.8). The matchup against the Ducks is appealing, but Bercovici’s up and down production makes him an unreliable cash game option. Use him in tournaments. Richard said he’s 100 percent ready to play this week, and he should go back to seeing a decent amount of opportunities (averaging around 20 offensive touches this season). Oregon has been awful against the run (ranked 104th in S&P+), so this matchup could boost Richard’s efficiency. Richard’s price point isn’t very compelling, but a return to a nice role in this offense in a great matchup makes him a fine option for tournaments.