In the CFB Game Breakdown, Russell Clay looks at and evaluates the ten most DFS-friendly matchup for the Saturday slates.
Texas Tech vs West Virginia
Line: -8.5 West Virginia
It’s going to be tough to get away from Patrick Mahomes ($7,600) in the early slate. His price, recent performances and implied team total all point to him exceeding value. Stacking him with Jakeem Grant ($6,500) is a great cash game option, but isn’t absolutely necessary in tournaments. Ian Sadler ($4,100) is coming of a 29.2 DK point performance. While he’s unlikely to match that, he’s in line to have a significant role this week at a very reasonable price.
Skyler Howard ($7,500) has fallen off since his early season run against weaker opponents. Howard scored over 25 DK points in each of his first three games, he’s done that once since West Virginia has entered Big 12 play. If you want a piece of the passing game, Shelton Gibson ($5,500) is a nice value and solid tournament play. Gibson has six plays of 40 yards or more this year, and is always a threat to take it the distance.
Wendell Smallwood ($6,400) is the player to target on the West Virginia offense. His price is low compared to other running backs from this slate, and he has easily the best matchup. Texas Tech comes into this game allowing 270.7 rushing yards per game, which is 125th in the nation (Out of 128). Smallwood is an auto-play in cash games. While he normally doesn’t have a high ceiling, this matchup gives him reasonable tournament value.
Stanford vs Colorado
Line: +16 Colorado
Christian McCaffrey ($8,300) has established himself among the elite options at the running back position. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in six straight performances, three of those were over 150 yards. His price is steep, but his ceiling is immense and worth the cost in all formats.
A with a line this large is making me tread lightly on the already anemic Stanford passing game. Kevin Hogan ($6,600) has performed well this year in a football sense, but their offense is centered squarely around getting McCaffrey the ball. Austin Hooper ($3,700) is a decent punt play option in a tournament, but wouldn’t suggest trusting him in a cash game.
Nelson Spruce ($5,000) has a really nice role for his price, but unless you’re looking for a contrarian play, I’d stay away this week.
Arkansas vs Mississippi
Line: -10 Mississippi
It only took Chad Kelly ($6,700) five games to realize he had Laquon Treadwell ($6,700) as one of his receivers. Over the last four games, Treadwell has scored over 24 DK points in every game. He is securely in the driver’s seat of the Ole Miss passing game, and should be a mainstay in your cash game lineups. Kelly is a nice, cheaper option at quarterback for tournaments. Markell Pack ($3,000) is an interesting punt option. He hasn’t made a big play in a few games, but has gotten eight receptions over the last two games.
Alex Collins ($7,500) provides a nice floor in cash games this week. He’s gone over 24 DK points in five of the last six weeks. They played Alabama the one week he was under. Drew Morgan ($4,100) is set to play this weekend, and would be a nice value if he were healthy, but the injury risk keeps him to purely a tournament option this week.
Cincinnati vs Houston
Line: -9 Houston
Gunner Kiel ($7,100) and Greg Ward Jr. ($8,600) are both great, high-upside quarterback plays this week. Kiel is coming off a game where he completed all 15 of his passes and had five passing touchdowns. After missing and being limited in a few games, he’s been over 30 DK points in each of the last two games. Ward has been down statistically over the past few weeks, but the first six games of the season where he scored over 30 DK points each time represents a much larger sample size of who he is as a fantasy asset. Both are great tournament options.
Kenneth Farrow ($6,500) is once again a great hedging option for Greg Ward Jr.. Together they create a nice floor in cash games. Mike Boone ($4,200) is an intriguing NFL prospect, but I’m staying away from the Cincinnati running game as a whole again this week. The distribution of touches is simply too inconsistent.
Shaq Washington ($5,700) has provided a nice floor and ceiling with price considered over the last five week. If you’re putting Kiel in a lineup, Washington would be a really nice stacking option. A very similar situation for DeMarcus Ayers ($6,100), who represents a very high floor for his price. Stacking Ward, Farrow and Ayers is a real option in cash games this week.
TCU vs Oklahoma State
Line: +4.5 Oklahoma St
Trevone Boykin ($9,400) has scored over 40 DK points in each of his last six games. Boykin is matchup-proof and a terrific option even at a very expensive price. The last time Josh Doctson ($8,300) scored less than 34 DK points was week two. His price is slowly rising, but it’s still plausible to stack him with Boykin.
James Washington ($4,500) has three 100 receiving yard games in his last four, and has emerged as the top weapon in the Oklahoma State passing offense. Even with the confusion at quarterback right now, Washington is worth a spot in any lineup you can fit him.
UCLA vs Oregon State
Line: +17 Oregon State
Josh Rosen ($6,800) and Thomas Duarte ($5,000) were two of the bigger letdowns last week, combining for a total of 21 DK points. However, It’s not all doom and gloom for that combo, I like them this week to turn things around and shift back towards the pace they were on the previous three weeks. They settle in as a nice contrarian stack that will be low owned because of other options available and last week.
Paul Perkins ($6,900) comes at a nice discount this week, and is someone worthy of both tournament and cash lineups. He put up over 150 total yards and two touchdowns on just 16 touches last week.
Jordan Villamin ($3,900) is a nice punt play at the wide receiver position. The big play threat for Oregon state only needs one or two big plays to hit value, and even in a tough matchup, has the physical tools to deal with the high caliber UCLA defense.
Iowa State vs Oklahoma
Line: -25 Oklahoma
Once again I will bring up the name Mike Warren ($5,600). The matchup isn’t great, but he’s gotten over 20 touches in each of the last six weeks, including 62 over the last two. Touchdowns haven’t been commonplace for him so far this year, but he doesn’t need them at his current price. Warren is a nice cash game option, and also warrants a look in tournaments.
As we talked about earlier, Texas Tech is arguably the worst run defense in the nation, this is something to take into account when looking at Oklahoma’s running back production over the past few weeks. It appears Samaje Perine ($7,000) has finally gotten back on track as a feature back with the fantasy points he’s scored, but with only 11 carries last week, I’m still weary of using a significant amount of bankroll on him. Joe Mixon ($5,900) is a nice hedge off of Perine, but even his price is inflated after two weeks ago.
Baker Mayfield ($8,000) has been extremely inconsistent over the last four weeks. He has two games over 34 DK points in that span, and two under 18. For that reason, he’s strictly a tournament play this week, however, based on the inflated prices and seasonal totals of the running game, he’s become a nice contrarian play.
It’s tough to trust Sterling Shepard ($6,800) based on his sample size in 2015. We know the talent is there, and that he can handle the volume based on his 2014 season, but a week after he posted season highs in both receptions and yards, I’m skeptical he’ll even get the opportunity to match that production this week.
Navy vs Memphis
Line: -8 Memphis
Paxton Lynch ($9,000) and Keenan Reynolds ($7,500) are two of the nicer values at quarterback in the late slate, and give you two completely different price points to work with. If you’re looking to spend up at running back, Reynolds gives you a solid floor.
In a normal slate I would consider Lynch overpriced and without the high ceiling you need to feel comfortable using him, however in this slate specifically, he’s a solid fit, especially if you’re looking to stack him with Anthony Miller ($5,900) or Mose Frazier ($6,400).
LSU vs Alabama
Line: -6.5 Alabama
Leonard Fournette ($9,300) is a big topic of discussion this week as he’s going up against arguably the best run defense in the country. I wouldn’t say I’m fading him, but I think there’s other alternatives that give you easier paths to success. If I’m paying up for running back, Royce Freeman ($8,500) and Ezekiel Elliott ($8,400) present similar, if not higher upside than Fournette this week, and have much easier paths to success.
Malachi Dupre ($3,800) and Travin Dural ($4,000) present cheap pieces that are athletic and talented enough to be able to handle the step up in defensive competition. Dupre has scored four touchdowns in the last three weeks, including two against another tough SEC defense in Florida.
There’s no confusion on Alabama’s offense. The running game goes through Derrick Henry ($7,800) and the passing game goes through Calvin Ridley ($4,800). Henry presents a nice floor as a mid-range running back option. He’s scored over 22 DK points in all but two games. He’s also gotten at least one touchdown in every game this year. LSU hasn’t been the dominant secondary this year that their past would lead you to believe. They’ve given up 11 plays of 30 yards or more this year, and seven of them came in the past three weeks. If there’s a player to break a long reception on them, it’s going to be Ridley.
Arizona vs USC
Line: -19 USC
With Nick Wilson ($5,300) officially out for Week 10, Jared Baker ($4,800) presents a nice value at running back. He’s scored five touchdowns in the last three weeks and has gone over 100 rushing yards in two of the last four weeks. What makes Baker a good play is that there isn’t anyone behind him cutting into his role. Orlando Bradford is the only other running back with more than 30 carries this year and he’s gotten four in the last three weeks.
Cody Kessler ($7,300) is a hard avoid this week with Juju Smith-Schuster ($6,600) out. He wasn’t consistent with his star receiver in the game, so it’s tough to trust him now.
We’re on the cusp of seeing a true breakout from Ronald Jones ($4,200) every week. He flashes Jamaal Charles-ish speed, agility and breakaway ability, but USC seems set on keeping the running backs in a committee for this year. He may get a few more touches if the passing game struggles, but he simply can’t be counted on yet as a fantasy asset.