October 31 CFB DFS Early Slate: Matt Davis, Your Must Start Mustang
Welcome to Saturday’s 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 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
With no Trevone Boykin or Seth Russell in this slate, Matt Davis (SMU vs Tulsa) takes over as the top play of the early slate. Davis has so many great things going for him against Tulsa that he completely bypasses some of the big names and high priced options. Davis’ matchup is as good as it gets facing Tulsa’s 91st ranked passing S&P+ defense. Both teams play at a fast pace (Tulsa ranks 1st/SMU 30th in adjusted pace) and want to push the tempo of the game. Everyone is going to want as much exposure as possible in this game and the best guy to get that exposure with is Davis. He has a ridiculous 76.9% market share of SMU’s offensive touchdowns in 2015. With all of this being said, it’s clear to us that Davis should be the first guy you put in your lineup no matter what the format.
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Dane Evans (Tulsa at SMU) is the other quarterback in this game and would also be listed as a top option if it were not for some shaky play in recent games. Evans is not the running threat that Davis is, but he’s going to throw it around 40 times per game (averaging 39.7 passing attempts per game in 2015). Evans’ lone issue in Fantasy point production is his ability to find the end zone. He has just a 53.3% market share of Tulsa’s offensive touchdowns, which is very low for a DFS quarterback. There’s reason to believe this number is on the way up though. Zack Langer, the team’s starting running back, did not play last game and his status is uncertain for the SMU game. He has 11 touchdowns this season leaving just three other touchdowns that did not involve Evans or Langer. Evans was involved in four of the five touchdowns scored against Memphis last week without Langer. That is the kind of market share we expect to continue with Langer likely out this week.
Deshaun Watson (Clemson at NC State) is a risky, but very talented option this weekend against N.C. State. The risk comes from his average matchup (N.C. State ranks 55th in passing S&P+) and lack of usage in 2015 (36.1 touches per game), but he’s been extremely efficient in those limited touches. He is completing 69.3% of passes while averaging 5.2 yards per carry in 2015. The upside with this play is there though. Watson has exceeded value multiple times in his short career. Against Boston College two weeks ago he threw for 420 yards and four total touchdowns. In five starts in 2014, Watson recorded three games of four plus touchdowns (14 total touchdowns in those three games). We are starting to see Watson become explosive again on the ground with a couple of long runs over the last four games, (38 and 63 yards) while finding the end zone three times. Watson is an elite tournament option come Saturday afternoon.
Perry Hills (Maryland at Iowa) has been a monster since returning to the starting gig in week six. He has run it 51 times in those two games while attempting 55 passes. With that kind of usage it’s hard to ignore him on two quarterback sites. Iowa comes into this game with the ninth ranked defensive S&P+, but this doesn’t deter us. His usage limits his risk, and he’s been successful against top defenses in recent weeks. Hills has recorded 59.82 total DraftKings Fantasy points against the 11th and 32nd ranked defensive S&P+ teams in his last two games.
Tommy Armstrong was seen in a boot early this week, which makes Ryker Fyfe (Nebraska at Purdue) an extremely valuable option on DraftKings. His matchup is a great one going up against the 87th ranked passing S&P+ defense, Purdue. With that great matchup and an extremely low price on DraftKings, we consider him a core value play on that site. He’s likely to have a high ownership level in tournaments though because of that low price. This might cause us to move to Hills as our quarterback two in tournament formats. *Make sure to follow Tommy Armstrong’s injury status all week long.
Additional notes: Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma at Kansas) has the benefit of facing Kansas this weekend, but so do both of his talented running backs. We think Mayfield could easily have a huge game against the 112th passing S&P+ defense, but we fear he might have his touchdowns limited due to Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon’s likely success. For this reason, he’s strictly a tournament option for us. Brandon Doughty (WKU at ODU) is an elite Fantasy quarterback who is only available on FanDuel this weekend. He has thrown for 325 yards and three touchdowns in each of his last six games, including against LSU last weekend. Old Dominion is a below average defense ranking in the 90s in every S&P+ metric. Shuler Bentley (ODU vs WKU) started the season as the starter in this ODU offense, but struggled mightily. He comes back as the starter with David Washington out for this game due to injury. Bentley has a plus matchup (WKU ranks 108th in passing S&P+), but does have risk due to those early season struggles. Austin Appleby (Purdue vs Nebraska) could be back from injury this week to face Nebraska and if he does we love him in cash games. Nebraska’s pass defense has been weak in 2015 (78th passing S&P+), which should make for an easier transition back to starting. We love Appleby’s involvement in the run game (12 carries or more in every start), and passing attempt numbers (36.7 per game). He doesn’t rank above Hills or Fyfe, but gives us a pivot option from those two quarterbacks.
Jeremy McNichols’ (Boise State at UNLV) numbers are mind-blowing. He’s scored 16 times this season, caught five passes or more in four of seven games, and has averaged 22.9 touches per game on the season. What’s great about McNichols is how much better he (and the team) is getting at running the ball in recent weeks. He’s recorded three straight 100-plus yard rushing games after averaging 68.3 yards per game over the first four games of the season. McNichols faces the 94th rushing S&P+ defense come Saturday, making him an elite play on the one site he’s available: DraftKings.
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You can’t think of Samaje Perine (Oklahoma at Kansas) without thinking of his epic 34/427/5 game last season. Well, that game happened against the Kansas Jayhawks, his opponent this week. Perine’s coming off two of his best games of the season and is trending in the right direction. This is perfect timing considering Kansas is still terrible against the run (112th in rushing S&P+). Perine is still the main back in this offense outrushing Joe Mixon’s 16 carries by seven last week. He’s usable in all formats.
With Dalvin Cook ruled out for the game against Syracuse, Jonathan Vickers (FSU vs Syracuse) and Jacques Patrick (FSU vs Syracuse) will see the majority of the carries on Saturday. Vickers saw the first carries after Dalvin Cook was injured in the past, but Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has been talking up Patrick this week. He’s been quoted as saying, “Thought Vickers did a nice job, but Jacques, he’s ready.” Patrick saw first team carries in practice most the week, but nothing has been made official as to who will be the starter. We’re willing to take what little risk there is on Patrick due to his near minimum price and great matchup. FSU is facing the 100th ranked rushing S&P+ defense Saturday, a great matchup for Patrick in what could be his first start.
Soso Jamabo (UCLA vs Colorado) should get the start this week (keep an eye on Paul Perkins’ knee injury) and if he does then he becomes a great mid-range option on FanDuel and Fantasy Aces. Colorado is a bad defense all the way around (98th in defensive S&P+), but are at their worst against the run (113th rushing S&P+). Combine this with the fact that both teams rank in the top 35 in adjusted pace and we love Soso in all formats. He was one of the top recruits coming into this year and has shown it with his 5.9 yards per carry in 2015.
Tre Madden was out last game and has been limited in practice, which should mean Ronald Jones II (USC at Cal) gets another start at running back (keep an eye on Tre Madden’s status for Saturday). As long as he’s the starter, he’s priced criminally low in this matchup. Cal has gotten beaten up in recent weeks against the run. They have allowed three rushing touchdowns and 4.72 yards per carry over their last two games combined (UCLA/Utah). Jones has been an electric runner for USC (7.7 yards per carry), so seeing another 15 carries should mean a nice floor for him.
Additional notes: Anthony Wales (WKU at ODU) and Ray Lawry (ODU vs WKU) will be facing each other in what should be a high scoring affair on Saturday. Each of these two are averaging over six yards per carry on the season, while Lawry has been super impressive rushing for over 160 yards four time. In Wales’ three games where he was full strength, he rushed for 6.88 yards per carry and scored four times. Terrell Newby (Nebraska at Purdue) is a tournament only play for us on Saturday. He has had games with a low amount of touches, but has had 15 or more touches in each of the last three games. With his matchup (Purdue ranks 106th in rushing S&P+) and high likelihood of having a brand new quarterback, there’s very good reason to believe he can have a huge game. Ervin Philips (Syracuse at FSU) is a smaller back that is used a lot in the Syracuse passing game. He’s a great near minimum salary option on PPR formats because of this. He’s been targeted 20 times over his last three games, resulting in 15 catches. He’ll be used plenty on screens and check downs against a great run defense and above average passing defense. Joe Mixon (Oklahoma at Kansas) is seeing the kind of carries (15.5) and targets (2.5) you really like to see over the last two weeks, making him a viable tournament option. Those numbers are a little lower than we’d like to see, but his matchup against Kansas this weekend is top notch. He’ll see less carries than Perine, but he should do plenty with them. Mixon is averaging six yards per carry in 2015.
Keyarris Garrett (Tulsa at SMU) gave us doubts earlier in the week, but everything is shaping out for him to have a second straight huge game in a row. Our main concern was that he wasn’t producing (19 catches) the way he should compared to his targets (48) in the three games before the Memphis game. Well, we see a lot of the Memphis game in this SMU game. We suspect it’ll be high flying with little to no defense involved. What has pushed us over the edge in how much we like Garrett is the fact that Josh Atkinson, the number two receiver, is very likely to be out to go along with the top running back. This should not only keep his targets up, but give him more productivity around the end zone. Garrett has the same floor as Juju Smith-Schuster, who we’ll talk about in a moment, with the upside going into the 50s in PPR formats.
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Juju Smith-Schuster (USC at Cal) is as steady as they get for the Trojans. He’s received nine targets or more in each of the last six games with 100-plus receiving yards in five of them. He’s easily Cody Kessler’s top target, getting targeted 29.5% of the team’s market share. Meanwhile, the second ranked receiver sees just 8.9% of targets. If it wasn’t for some limited practices in recent days, he’d be listed as a top play. Instead, he’s listed as a number two to Garrett. If you saw Josh Rosen play last week then you saw him light up this Cal defense that ranks 92nd in passing S&P+. Juju is a guy that will have some “limited” upside in the range of 40-50, but has put up 28 or more DraftKings Fantasy points in five of the last six games.
Christian Kirk (Texas A&M vs South Carolina) has seen some limited production in recent weeks, but we’re putting that on the great defenses he has faced (Ole Miss, Alabama, and Mississippi State). As a freshman, Kirk is being thrown at more than anyone else in this Texas A&M passing attack, which is quite impressive. He’s averaging 9.6 targets per game, which is 3.5 than the next best receiver (Josh Reynolds). Kirk’s production should be the best it’s been in recent weeks, going up against South Carolina’s 62nd ranked passing S&P+ defense.
Courtland Sutton (SMU vs Tulsa) is the top receiver on this SMU offense and honestly he’s their lone threat outside of Matt Davis, the quarterback. He’s averaging 8.9 targets per game, which is 4.9 more than the second receiver. He has seven touchdowns on the season, one more than every other receiver combined (six). Sutton is the clear player to target in this offense besides Davis and he comes with a great price tag.
Justin Hobbs (Tulsa at SMU) isn’t the most talented receiver, but is going to be pushed into a great situation. Josh Atkinson will likely be out pushing Hobbs into the number two role in this passing attack that has Evans throwing it 37.9 times per game. The matchup is as good as it gets against SMU, making Hobbs a great play in all formats.
Additional notes: Taywan Taylor (WKU at ODU) and Jared Dangerfield (WKU at ODU) are two elite plays, but in different formats come Saturday. Taylor is as good as it gets when it comes to receiver options, but like Dangerfield, is only available on FanDuel in this slate. He has touchdown catches in seven straight games with five of those games also including 100-plus receiving yards. Taylor is a top option in all formats. Jared Dangerfield on the other hand sees his potential capped by the multiple options in this passing attack, but is extremely safe from week-to-week. We say this because he’s targeted plenty (9.3 times per game) and has a touchdown in five of his last six games. He’s a PPR monster, averaging eight catches per game over his last five contests. Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss at Auburn) has seen plenty of production in his last three games after struggling in his first five games. 51% of his 2015 yardage has come in those last three games, an amazing feat. The matchup against Auburn is just average, but he’s worth a look in tournaments. He’s just priced too closely to the other top options in this slate to consider him at the top of all receivers. Don’t look now, but we have a Wisconsin receiver garnering 10-plus targets per game this season. Alex Erickson (Wisconsin vs Rutgers) is averaging 10.6 targets per game and catching 61.2% of passes thrown his way. With the Wisconsin running backs being banged up, the receivers have been very productive and Erickson has led the way. He’s recorded 26 catches over the last three games and has been consistent with his yardage, recording 85-plus yards in all three of those games. His upside is limited because of the pace and style of play Wisconsin brings to the field, but is great for cash games. Erickson will be facing the fourth worst passing S&P+ defense on Saturday. Steve Ishmael’s (Syracuse at FSU) price is trending up and rightfully so. He’s emerged over the last three games, catching a touchdown in each of of them. Ishamel’s numbers have been much better in recent weeks and with good reason; 34 of his 42 targets have come in the last four games. Syracuse is passing a whole lot more over the last month and it’s not even close. They’re averaging 31.25 passing attempts per game over the last four compared to just 17.7 attempts over the first three games of the season.
Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin vs Rutgers) is one of the most active tight ends in the country averaging 4.5 catches over his last four games. Those are low numbers in the grand scheme of things, but the tight end pool is limited and Fumagalli won’t cost an arm and a leg. We’ve already talked about how this is an elite matchup for the Wisconsin passing game, and Fumagalli is the only tight end that has 10-plus target potential. Against Nebraska a few weeks ago he was targeted 12 times.
Tim Gorski (WKU at ODU) is filling in for Tyler Higbee and poses as a great option on FanDuel because of how cheap he is. The offense is going to be consistent due to Doughty’s effectiveness and Higbee has averaged 4.9 targets per game this season. If Gorski can see those kinds of targets against a bad ODU defense then he’s a great near punt option.
Additional notes: Stephen Anderson (Cal vs USC) is the second most targeted player on the Cal team, seeing 5.7 targets per game in 2015. Those targets have translated to some great numbers over the last three weeks (5.3/68/0). He’s a very safe play across the board and while he’s not our first option at tight end due to price, we would feel safe about using him if we have a little extra salary. He’s best used on Fantasy Aces where he’s priced very similarly to all of the other tight ends listed on the quick cards.