College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: National Championship Game
The college football season is down to its final game: Ohio State versus Alabama for the national title. Since it's the only game remaining, our DFS options are limited to the single-game slate, which features one MVP, whose points get multiplied by 1.5, and four flex positions. In this format you can select any combination of players, regardless of their position.
In this preview, I'll break down the top MVP candidates -- who should also be used in the flex slots if not selected as your MVP -- while also highlighting some flex options and some players you may want to avoid. All references to betting totals and spreads are from the FanDuel Sportsbook.
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama (16,000)
Since Jaylen Waddle's injury -- more on his status later -- DeVonta Smith has commanded a 37.4 percent non-garbage time target share. Ohio State's secondary has struggled this year and has given up at least 29 fantasy points to a wide receiver in three of seven games. In an expected shootout -- the total is set to 75.5 points -- Smith should be expected to do his usual damage.
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State ($15,500)
Justin Fields' season-high 42.6 fantasy points against Clemson should ease any concerns we may have had following his dreadful performance (6.1 points) against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. With Chris Olave and most of his offensive line back on the field last week, Fields and the Ohio State offense regained their dominant form and should be able to carry that over to the National Championship game. Alabama's defense has been strong, holding opposing quarterbacks 5.2 fantasy points below their season average, but it has also been exposed by the better quarterbacks on its schedule. Three quarterbacks -- Florida's Kyle Trask, Ole Miss's Matt Corral, and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond -- have topped 25 fantasy points against the Tide.
RB Najee Harris, Alabama ($14,500)
Najee Harris has proven to be matchup proof, so he needs to be mentioned here. With two 50-point outbursts on his resume, it's certainly worth chasing that ceiling with Harris as your MVP in a few lineups. It's worth mentioning, however, that Ohio State's run defense has been considerably stronger than its pass defense. No running back has reached 20 fantasy points against the Buckeyes, with Clemson's Travis Etienne setting the ceiling with his 17.6 points in the semifinals.
QB Mac Jones, Alabama ($13,500)
Mac Jones has typically been a better cash game than tournament play -- he's topped 30 fantasy points only 4 times in 12 games -- but in an expected shootout, he probably holds more value than usual. In the two games Alabama allowed over 30 points (versus Florida and Ole Miss), Jones threw for 835 yards and 7 touchdowns, proving he can put the offense on his back when needed. Smith, Fields, and Harris are likely to be the most common MVP selections, so Jones could also hold some value as a slight contrarian play.
WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State ($10,500)
If you want to fade the obvious MVP targets, Garrett Wilson looks like a good option. Wilson lined up in the slot on 75 percent of his targets, according to Sports Info Solutions, which is a position Alabama struggled to defense. The Tide defense has allowed 8.0 yards per target to receivers lined up in the slot, compared to 5.8 yards per target to receivers out wide.
RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State ($13,000)
Given his recent outburst -- 524 yards over his last two games -- this is still a surprisingly reasonable salary for Trey Sermon. According to Sports Info Solutions, Sermon has forced 20 broken tackles in his last two games. That skill set could cause issues for the Alabama defense, which has had some issues wrapping up the ball carrier this season. Alabama has a 12.8 percent missed/broken tackle rate, which ranked 9th in the SEC and 32nd among 65 Power Five schools, per Sports Info Solutions.
TE Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama ($8,500)
Sophomore tight end Jahleel Billingsley has taken on a larger role late in the year, with 15 of his 17 targets coming since Week 12. In that span, he's seen a 10.9 percent non-garbage time target share. Despite a relatively modest usage, Billingsley has been a big-play threat for Alabama, with 5 of his 16 receptions going for at least 20 yards. With double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games, Billingsley looks like a fairly safe option for both tournaments and cash games on this salary.
WR Jameson Williams, Ohio State ($7,500)
Jameson Williams has reached double-digit fantasy points only twice, but he's coming off a career-high 13.7 points against Clemson. While his floor is extremely low, he's always a candidate to exceed expectations based on his role in the offense. While the Buckeyes' passing game is funneled through Wilson and Olave, Williams is usually the third receiver on the field -- he played 56 percent of the snaps in the semifinals -- which means there's always a chance Fields finds him.
TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State ($7,000)
Jeremy Ruckert is second on the team with a 24 percent target share in the red zone, and five of his seven red-zone targets have resulted in touchdowns. With only eight non-red-zone targets, Ruckert is a touchdown-or-bust fantasy weapon, but in an expected shootout, it's worth chasing a touchdown with him on this reasonable salary.
Players to Avoid
WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama ($10,000)
After undergoing surgery on a broken ankle in October, Jaylen Waddle was surprisingly announced as a game-time decision earlier this week. The announcement is suspicious, partially because of the remarkable speed at which Waddle has apparently recovered, but also because Nick Saban is notoriously coy when it comes to discussing the status of his players. If Waddle were actually going to play, wouldn't Saban want to spring that on Ohio State at the last possible moment? Applying this logic, it reeks of Alabama's coaching staff planting a rumor in an attempt to waste Ohio State's time by forcing the coaches to prepare for another possible weapon. If Waddle is reasonably healthy, it would not be surprising if he takes the field as a decoy for a few plays. However, it's difficult to imagine a player who relies heavily on his after-catch playmaking skills having a significant role so soon after ankle surgery.
Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.