September 17 CFB DFS Picks: Super Demario
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 email@example.com.
*Rankings are out of a possible 128 schools
**Advanced statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
Clemson @ Louisville
Spread: Clemson -6
The Louisville defense was one of the most intriguing situations to watch here in early weeks for two reasons:
- The loss of all four starting defensive backs.
- The matchups they had in the first two games.
Going into the week one matchup against Auburn, we considered Louisville to be a tough matchup for Auburn’s offense due to the Louisville front seven being so strong in 2014 (31st in havoc rate) and the core of that front seven returning. Auburn struggled to get the offense rolling and they threw three interceptions. Last weekend though, Houston was much more efficient than Auburn, completing nearly 66% of passes and throwing three touchdowns to just one interception. The yards per attempt number was still low (6.7), but Houston doesn’t have what we would consider to be a strong receiving core to make big plays for Greg Ward Jr. (the Houston quarterback).
The Clemson offense doesn’t have this problem. Even with Mike Williams out, Artavis Scott and Charone Peake should be great on the outside against the Cards secondary. Peake is a fifth year senior with bad numbers over the course of his career, but he posted a great 4/86/2 line against Appalachian State last week. Scott is the superstar receiver for the Tigers and he’s a consistent threat each and every week. In both games this season, he has caught six passes for mid-70s yardage and one touchdown. With those two games being blowouts, we expect Scott’s floor to be 6/70/1 and his upside to be extremely attractive. Therefore, at his price across the industry, we consider him to be a core play on every site. Peake also has a great price and will be a core play in cash games on FanDuel and DraftKings where he provides salary relief. The Tigers’ quarterback has thrown for five touchdowns against considerably lesser opponents. And while Clemson faces a step up in defensive competition this week in Louisville, we still believe the Cardinals’ secondary can be exposed. Deshaun Watson is a better passing version of Greg Ward Jr., who just last week lit the UofL secondary on fire for three touchdown passes, despite the lack of possessing any real receiving threats. With Watson rushing nine times against App State, we are also confident about his rushing potential and usage. This is Clemson’s first ACC game of the season and we don’t’ expect Watson to be held back at all. He has completed 77% of his passes for 9.21 yards per attempt. For these reasons, the Tigers’ gunslinger is our favorite quarterback of the slate.
It’s hard to recommend Louisville players in this matchup considering the way Clemson played defense last season and how they’ve performed thus far in 2015. They ranked number one or two in every defensive statistic we track (def S&P+, passing S&P+, rushing S&P+, and IsoPPP+) last season and have allowed just four yards per attempt in 2015. While their opponents haven’t been the best (Wofford and App State), their dominance gives us great pause when considering UofL players. We are considering almost every UofL player as a GPP option, but like the following as our favorites: Kyle Bolin/Lamar Jackson (whoever starts at QB), Brandon Radcliff, Micky Crum and Ja’Quay Savage. Bolin was very good replacing Jackson at quarterback and is extremely cheap in this matchup. Bolin is a cash option on DraftKings due to the two-quarterback format and the fact that he provides salary relief. Radcliff saw his touches go down from game one (18) to game two (11), but that was due to lack of rushing attempts in game two. In game one he ran it 17 of the 48 total UofL rushes (35.4%). In game two, he ran it 10 of the 26 total rushes (38.5%). Those near identical percentages tell us he’s not a guy to pay up for and certainly one we can’t rely on. If Bolin is the quarterback, expect Radcliff’s numbers to go up a tick due to Bolin’s lack of rushing ability. Crum had an unimpressive game one (2/19/0), but led the team in receiving in game two (6/103/1). Two of those catches and 30 of those yards came from Jackson’s arm, so there could be some real chemistry brewing with Bolin (4/73/1 from Bolin). It’s hard to pay up for a tight end in this slate, but Crum would make for a great tournament option. Lastly, Savage has a better price tag on DraftKings than other sites and the format (two flex positions) pushes him towards being a cash option on that site.
Idaho State @ Boise State
Idaho State (NA)
Boise State (NA)
This game isn’t available on FanDuel, but on DraftKings, targeting Boise State in tournaments is a viable route. Idaho State was one of the better FCS schools last season (8-2 in FCS play). Unfortunately for them, they didn’t’ carry over that success into FBS play. They allowed 40 plus points to both Utah and Utah State – two FBS teams that aren’t known for putting up gaudy offensive statistics.
There’s upside here for Boise State players, but we’re not fans of their high asking prices relative to their current production. If you must roster Broncos’ players, target quarterback Ryan Finley, workhorse running back Jeremy McNichols and number one receiver Shane William-Rhodes. Out of those three, our main target is McNichols. He has been used as a bell cow running back, generating at least 20 touches in each of the first two games this season. He’s also produced like a true workhorse back, accumulating five touchdowns in those two games. The game script should also favor McNichols, as Boise will look to run the ball once the game is out of reach.
Florida State @ Boston College
Florida State (29)
Boston College (20.5)
Boston College represents a tough matchup on the ground for Florida State. Since 2014, tailbacks have rushed for an average of 2.8 yards per carry against Boston College (best in FBS). This season, Boston College returns 89 percent of their defensive line and lost just two linebackers from their front seven. There’s a reasonable chance that the Golden Eagles’ rushing defense becomes even more dominant in 2015. On the offensive side of the football for FSU, we realize that it’s early, but Dalvin Cook is already putting up Heisman-like numbers. Through two games, he has accumulated over 50 touches and has averaged 8.6 yards per carry (five touchdowns in that timespan). There’s not much proven depth at the running back position for the Seminoles, and even though Cook’s asking price is a bit high on every site, he’s worthy of consideration across all formats.
While the matchup might be problematic on the ground for the Seminoles, that won’t be the case through the air. Boston College ranked 69th in Def. Passing S&P+ in 2014, and in 2015, the losses are heavy across their entire secondary (losing 142 combined starts). This is a very favorable matchup for Everett Golson and the receiving corps for FSU. Our favorite cash game targets are Travis Rudolph and Jesus Wilson. Rudolph (14 targets) and Wilson (nine targets) have been Golson’s top targeted receivers in the first two games of the 2015 campaign. If the site you’re playing on requires you to roster a tight end, Ryan Izzo is a fine cash game option. It’s also worth noting that Rizzo is minimally priced on DraftKings, which could help your financial flexibility at other positions (he’s a worthy punt option on that site as well). Boston College number one running back Jon Hilliman hasn’t shown a very good skill set (229 carries at the collegiate level/four yards per carry) but he did produce an average of one touchdown per game in 2014. At a mid-tier asking price, Hilliman is worthy of cash game consideration due to positional scarcity. Everett Golson is our third ranked quarterback (behind Deshaun Watson and Mike Bercovici) and represents a fine alternative in cash games.
New Mexico @ Arizona State
New Mexico (18.5)
Arizona State (46.5)
Arizona State is by far our top ranked offense on this slate. The Sun Devils have the highest team total by a wide margin, 46 points (the next highest team total on this slate is Clemson, 30 points). Our number one core play on Thursday evening is Demario Richard. He has been solid from a skill perspective in 2015 (4.7 yards per carry), but the usage at a position that lacks value in this specific context is what makes him a phenomenal play. Richard is averaging approximately 23 offensive touches per game and backup Kalen Ballage is sidelined the foreseeable future. With no one to take carries away, Richard is a true bell cow running back for a team with the highest team total on the slate. As if his context wasn’t enough, a favorable game script is expected (Arizona State is favored by 28 points) against a porous defense (New Mexico ranked 119th in Def. S&P+/116th in IsoPPP+ in 2014). While Dalvin Cook from FSU is certainly more skilled, his context isn’t nearly as good as Richard’s. On a slate with scarcity at the running back position, Richard should be your number one priority in cash games.
Arizona State doesn’t only have a great opportunity on the ground. The matchup against New Mexico is also favorable through the air. The Lobos ranked 118th in Def. Passing S&P+ in 2014 and their defensive backs weren’t active (ranked 103rd in DB Havoc Rate). We prefer Deshaun Watson due to his dual threat abilities and better overall skills, but Sun Devils’ quarterback Mike Bercovici is a viable alternative in cash games.The best way to capture Bercovici’s potential touchdown upside in this matchup is to target his cheap receivers. Senior Devin Lucien has been his favorite target with 15 this season. He hasn’t been productive over the course of his collegiate career, but relative to his cheap price point around the industry and his opportunities on this team, Lucien makes for a nice option in just about every format available. Lucien is also second on the Sun Devils in Red Zone targets (six; D.J. Foster has seven), which gives him scoring upside in this particular matchup. Tight end Kody Kohl has four red zone targets (nine overall targets) this season. He’s a good cash game play, even on sites where he has wide receiver eligibility. While he’s touchdown dependent (like almost every tight end in the country), his cheap price tag gives you financial flexibility at other positions and provides you with cheap exposure to the highest team total on the slate. D.J. Foster is the number one receiver for ASU and he has been Bercovici’s favorite red zone target this season. On a site like FanDuel where it’s easy to fit him into your lineup, Foster is a player you should strongly consider in every format.
This matchup isn’t any good for New Mexico (Arizona State ranked 38th in Def. Rushing S&P+ in 2014), but their top running back Teriyon Gipson is a viable salary relief option on DraftKings. He’s coming back from a meniscus tear in his knee and his recovery appears to be going well, as he averaged 7.9 yards per carry in nine rushing attempts vs. Tulsa (also scored a touchdown). Gipson is talented (5.6 yards per carry over his collegiate career) and in this same matchup last season, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry (14 carries) and generated four receptions for 63 yards and a score (for what it’s worth, New Mexico ended up losing the game 58-23). The running back position doesn’t have any mid-tier values that give us a warm and fuzzy feeling, and Gipson has a low price ($4,500). We’d rather pay a lower asking price for the lesser skilled Gipson than paying a higher price for Boston College’s running back, Jon Hilliman. If you’re looking for cheap upside at the wide receiver position, Lobos’ top target Dameon Gamblin is minimally priced on FanDuel and he’s explosive (16 yards per reception this season). New Mexico will likely have to throw more than they’re used to at some point during this game, so Gamblin should be in line for more opportunities.