College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: 12/29/18 Main Slate
It's officially bowl season in college football! We've had many weeks come and go, but this week should be fun both on the field and on the daily fantasy slate.
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 hit the lobby each week to see the full array of slates and contests being offered.
As for the basics, your roster consists of a quarterback slot, two running back slots, three wide receiver slots (which also includes tight ends) and one super flex slot. In the flex, you can insert one player from any position, including quarterbacks.
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 as many slates as possible in the lead-up to the College Football Playoff. This week, we are breaking down Saturday's main slate, which locks at 12:00 p.m. EST and consists of five games, including both College Football Playoff semifinals.
Who should we be targeting in what matchups this week in college football?
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,500): Don't let Murray's illness keep you away. He's going to play -- and plus, no one else on this slate has the same type of sky-high potential as he's shown from his quarterback position. The most recent Heisman Trophy winner has averaged 35.9 FanDuel points on the year with six games of at least 40 FanDuel points, one in which he put up 51.78 with seven total touchdowns. He throws the ball 26.2 pass attempts and 9.5 rushing attempts per game, which he's turned into 40 passing touchdowns and another 11 on the ground. Alabama's defense is elite, and it will give Oklahoma some issues. However, they've been susceptible to the big play, as shown by an IsoPPP+ that ranks 72nd in the country, according to Football Outsiders. And if you live on narrative street, this very well could be Murray's final football game of his career, so look for him to go out with a bang.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($10,200): Unlike Murray, Tagovailoa's status was in a lot more question coming into the last week to two weeks. His right ankle injury could have kept him out of this one, but he's going to give it a go even if he is 80-85%, as he said he was just two days ago. With a few more days under his belt, it wouldn't be surprising if Tua is closer to 100% come kickoff -- and if that's the case he's all systems go. The sophomore quarterback is second to Murray in adjusted yards per attempt and passer rating, while he comes in with a 40-point game of his own and two more of at least 30. About 25 should be his baseline against one of the weaker defenses he's faced this year; OU sits 89th as a unit and 91st against the pass alone. You will most likely have to choose between the two quarterbacks in this game, and for me the clear nod goes to Murray. But stacking the two with a low-end punt at wideout is in play and would likely get you exposure to 75% of the 77 points the oddsmakers expect to be scored here. In the case you have a few bucks to throw away in a tournament, or if Tua is limited for any reason Jalen Hurts ($8,000) becomes a must as the head of this offense.
Ty Gangi, Nevada ($9,200): I can't see much of a reason to pivot from the two top vote-getters for the Heisman, but if you're in tournaments only it's understandable. Dipping down to Gangi can help fit in higher-end wideouts and a stud back, while still getting a guy averaging 21.4 FanDuel points -- 2.6 fewer than Tua (albeit with injuries). Nevada's 28.75 total is fifth overall on the slate and second outside of the two College Football Playoff games. Their opponent, Arkansas State is just 65th in defense, giving Gangi extra upside. He already has three rushing scores on the year, which have helped him to two performances of at least 32.98 FanDuel points this season.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,000): If you're paying up big at back, Etienne's it. Running matchups aren't great at the top, and while his isn't the obvious smash spot either, his workload and production speak for themselves. Not only does the sophomore have two touchdowns in three straight, but he's averaging 22.3 FanDuel points on 13.5 carries a game. On six occasions he's gone off for 25-plus FanDuel points, twice 34. Clemson has second-highest total (34.5) as 12.5-point favorites against Notre Dame. If and when they grab the lead, they'll rely on Etienne to get them to the title game.
Chris Evans, Michigan ($8,800): With usual starter Karan Higdon opting to sit in preservation of his draft status, it will be Evans getting the start in the Michigan backfield. That's been a productive spot this year, too, as Higdon and Evans combined for 1,581 yards on 298 carries during the regular season. Now, Evans should get a big piece of Higdon's 20-plus carries a game. And he'll add that to his receiving role, to which he's hauled in 17 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown this year. Against Florida, Big Blue is a six-point favorite with an implied total of 28.5. So long as the script isn't flipped, Evans should eat versus a Gators defense ranked much lower against the run (47th) than the pass (28th).
Josh Jacobs, Alabama ($8,700): Quietly been surely junior Josh Jacobs has been the Tide's best fantasy back this year. Though he's just third on the team in carries -- behind Damien Harris and Najee Harris -- he's averaged over five yards per carry en route to 495 yards and a team-high 11 scores on the ground. Furthermore, he's added two through the air, where he's turned 15 catches into 171 yards -- five short of Damien Harris on three fewer catches. He's been especially effective down the stretch, totaling 273 yards across the team's last four games against non-Citadel teams. He has two 20-point games in the last three, and against tough competition like Georgia and Mississippi State. Facing an OU defense ranked outside the top 50 against the rush, Jacobs should pay off his price tag once again.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma ($9,600): You'll notice a theme here, and that's stacking wideouts with the quarterbacks we want to target. That's usually the case, but especially true for a short slate with concentrated opportunity, given the top-end defenses involved. And while "Hollywood" Brown says he's not 100%, he expects to play and has been pushing himself in practice. Again, he's had the benefit of an extra two days off, which should be enough for him to overcome the lower leg issue that he's been recovering from. It might even be smoke-and-mirrors in an effort to shift attention to others on the offense. But there's really no reason to expect 'Bama to not blanket him with coverage. The standout junior has turned 75 catches into 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, after going over 1,000 and for 7 scores a year ago. If you buy 'Bama shutting him down, though, teammate CeeDee Lamb ($8,600) is just fine, too.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama ($8,500): Most people look at Jeudy as a true number-one, but the truth is he and Ruggs should be looked at as equals -- at least for DFS purposes. Though the former leads the team with 59 catches and over 1,000 yards, Ruggs has just two fewer touchdowns (10) on 17 fewer catches and in 1 fewer game. The talented sophomore has averaged 17.2 yards per catch, and in recent weeks he's been the guy, posting four straight weeks of at least 100 yards or a score prior to the Georgia game. Jaylen Waddle ($7,300) is similar in that he's a big-play threat that's touchdown dependent, but the Sooners are just 68th in IsoPPP+ and 81st in defensive back havoc rate.
Kaleb Fossum, Nevada ($7,400): For the Wolfpack, the masses will likely look to McLane Mannix as the stacking option, but it's been Fossum who's led the team with 68 catches for 728 yards and a touchdown. That lone touchdown -- on nine red zone targets -- sticks out and yells regression. That's particularly true if Nevada racks up the points, as they should here. Arkansas State is 40th against the pass and 109th in IsoPPP+, so Fossum could find his ceiling (22.2 FanDuel points against Toledo) just in time.
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.