College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: National Championship Game
It's been a long road, but we've finally made it to this year's national championship game. And even though we only have a single game to choose from, daily fantasy football is still here for the rematch between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers.
College football DFS? Yes, you heard that right. And in case you're unfamiliar with how it works, you can check out the rules and scoring on FanDuel, where you can choose from tonight's single-game offerings. For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the usual main slate. Your MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial for daily fantasy success.
Here, our goal is to help you field a roster full of fantasy goodness, and in true numberFire fashion, we'll use our in-house projections as well as betting totals and advanced statistics to tackle the championship showdown out in Cali at Levi's Stadium.
Who should we be targeting in what matchups this week in college football?
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($16,000): Clemson is nowhere near a good matchup. Not only does their defense rank first overall, according to Football Outsiders' S&P+, but they're also fourth in pass defense. On average, they've allowed 182.1 passing yards and less than a single passing touchdown per game. However, they did allow at least 430 yards and 3 scores through the air to both South Carolina and Texas A&M, who finished the year 22nd and 27th, respectively, in passing offense. Behind Tua, Alabama ranks first in passing offense and second overall. If there's a team that's going to do damage to the Tigers it's them -- and their 31.75 implied total says as much . Plus, Clemson's going to be without stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence again, which should only help Alabama keep their quarterback clean. If they do can do that, Tagovailoa has unmatched upside in this game. Before putting up 29.62 FanDuel points in the national semifinal, Tua tallied three games over 30 FanDuel points with two more of at least 28, all the while throwing for three or more touchdowns in 8 of 14 contests.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson ($15,500): The "other" quarterback in this game is no pushover either. The less-experienced Lawrence doesn't have the keys to the car as much as his counterpart, but he was nearly as impressive last week, throwing for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns against Notre Dame's top-five defense. It was his fourth time throwing for over 300 yards, and he has two or more throwing scores in three of the last four games. He's also ran for 157 yards and a score this season. Now, Alabama's just outside the top 10 (12th) as a defense, 5th against the pass and 6th in front 7 havoc rate, making Lawrence more of a tournament option for your MVP slot.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($14,000): Bama's run defense is even better than their pass defense, finishing the year third and holding opponents to 121.1 yards, 6.1 first downs and 0.6 touchdowns per game on the ground. But both of these defenses are tough, so we can't just avoid everyone based on matchup. That's particularly the case with Etienne's role and workload in the Tigers' offense, as he's turned 201 total touches into 1,646 yards and 23 touchdowns in his sophomore season. And though Clemson isn't favored, the fact that they're just 5.5-point underdogs suggests that this should be close enough for them to keep a balanced attack. If Clemson's offensive line -- 10th in the nation in adjusted line yards -- is at their best, Etienne has shown the potential to go for 100 yards and a pair of scores.
Damien Harris, Alabama ($11,000): If you thought Alabama's defense was good against the run, Clemson is even better, ranking first by S&P+ and allowing over 150 rushing yards in only 3 of 14 games. They allowed just eight scores on the ground and held teams below the century mark on eight different occasions. That will certainly limit Harris' floor in terms of yardage, especially when you consider the near 50-50 carry split he's seeing alongside Joshua Jacobs. Nonetheless, the Tide showed that when they're in close it will be Harris getting the carries. Last week in the Orange Bowl, he rushed for two one-yard touchdowns against Oklahoma, giving him nine scores on the year behind an Alabama line averaging 3.17 adjusted line yards per carry -- second in college football. A big yardage total would be surprising, but Harris' role in the red zone is what makes him a great MVP option in tournament formats.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama ($12,500): With both sides willing to spread the love in the passing game, that's where all the value plays come in for this one-game slate. And sure, Jeudy isn't priced super low, but the volatility in his production -- along with the array of receiving weapons on the Alabama offense -- prevents him from being an MVP guy for that price. Don't get me wrong though; he's certainly worth stacking consideration with Tagovailoa. After all, his 63 receptions lead the team by 18, and they have amounted to 1,176 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had a moderate game -- 15.3 FanDuel points -- last time out and hasn't posted 20 or more since October 13. However, the potential is there, as he's had a touchdown in three straight and five-plus catches in four of the last six.
Justyn Ross, Clemson ($10,500): Unlike Jeudy, Ross didn't lead his team in receptions or receiving yards. However, he did tally 40 catches for 847 yards and an average of 21.2 yards per catch, leading all Tigers with multiple receptions. The electric freshman also scored eight touchdowns, two of which came last week against the Fighting Irish. Ross averaged 24.7 yards a catch with 6 catches for 148 yards in that one. He's a big-play threat, which is something Alabama's struggled with, having finished the year 50th in IsoPPP+ (isolated points per play, adjusted for opponent).
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama ($9,500): In case you haven't noticed, leaning toward the Tide -- most notably the passing offense -- appears to be the way to go. After Jeudy, there are two other receivers at or above $10,000, so Waddle is the fourth-most expensive of their pass catchers. That shouldn't be the case given his recent production and big-play potential. Before a poor 2-catch, 20-yard game against the Sooners, the star freshman had combined for 13 catches, 276 yards and 4 touchdowns in his previous three games. On the year, he averages 3.1 catches per game and 19.1 yards per catch, so his floor isn't all that bad. And as for the ceiling, Waddle has two games with two receiving touchdowns this year, and he's even added a score in the punt return game.
Devonta Smith, Alabama ($8,500): In case you're in need of even more salary relief, or if you're just looking to differentiate yourself more in tourneys, Devonta Smith has proven himself to be a lot more relevant than the price tag of 'Bama's fifth-best receiver. On 36 catches, he's gone for 628 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. But it's definitely worth noting that over the last six games he's racked up 19 catches for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's put up 15-plus FanDuel points in four games, including the most recent one in which he totaled 19.6 FanDuel points with over 100 yards and a score. The Tigers are just 53rd in defensive back havoc rate, which puts any and all of Tua's targets in play.
Brett Oswalt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Brett Oswalt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username BRO14THEKID. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.