Welcome back to another week of college football! DraftKings is offering a 3-game slate beginning Thursday, 9/24, and concluding Friday, 9/25. The short slates are sometimes the best to play because if you can find an overlooked player it gives you a real edge against the rest of the field.
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Cincinnati @ Memphis (-9.5) — O/U: 67
You can expect this game to be the most-targeted for the slate. If you’re feeling contrarian and decide to fade most players from this game, it could give you a leg up on the competition. That isn’t necessarily a recommendation to fade the game, just an idea to think about.
QB: Gunner Kiel ($8,600) is expected to miss this game with a head injury he suffered vs. Miami (OH), forcing the Bearcats to turn to true freshman Hayden Moore ($6,200) who has struggled in limited action this season. He’s completed just 53.6% (15/28) of his passes, throwing 2 INT’s and a single TD. Moore did add a TD on the ground last weekend but isn’t known for his running ability. I personally think Cincinnati will struggle with Moore at the helm, with Memphis bringing pressure all night. However, on such a short slate, you could certainly take a chance on Moore and the Bearcat offense that has the 5th most passing attempts in FBS this season, but I do expect the Bearcats to try to rely on the running game a bit more with Kiel out.
RB: There’s been a pretty even split in carries between Tion Green ($4,800) and Hosey Williams ($5,500) with Green averaging 16.3 carries-per-game and Williams averaging 14.6 carrries-per-game. To make matters even more difficult, sophomore Mike Boone ($5,900) has added 23 carries of his own and has been explosive, averaging 9.6 YPC, and taking 3 of those into the end zone. The good news for Green / Williams owners is that Boone did leave the game vs. Miami (OH) with an ankle injury and is questionable for Thursday’s game. If Boone is indeed out, Green and Williams are both in play, as they have combined for 93 carries, 473 yards, and 4 TD’s. If Boone is out, I’d roll with Green over Williams but I also don’t have an issue with rostering both. If Boone DOES play, the only option I’d consider is Green who has more upside. In this instance, I’d expect Boone to be limited, and Green being the primary beneficiary.
WR: If you thought the RB situation was complex, the WR situation is even worse. Four different receivers have 10 or more receptions: Shaq Washington ($5,400) — 17/166/1 TD, Chris Moore ($4,700) — 10/162/1 TD, Alex Chisum ($3,900) — 13/135/1 TD, Max Morrison ($3,700) — 10/128, and the player with the most receiving yardage Johnny Holton ($4,200) — 8/167/2 TD’s. Oh, and we also have arguably the best big-play receiver, Mekale McKay ($4,600) who compiled 44 catches for 725 yards and 8 TD’s last season. McKay did miss last weekend’s game due to an undisclosed injury, but a UC spokesman did say he was held out for “precautionary reasons.” I expect him to play on Thursday.
SO, where do we go from here? Honestly, you could go any which way and I wouldn’t fault you. Taking price into consideration, this is how I’d rank them in a GPP format: Chisum, McKay, Holton, Washington, Moore, Morrison. Ignoring price and looking at upside alone, I’d go: McKay, Washington, Moore, Holton, Chisum, Morrison.
QB: Paxton Lynch ($9,000) should be in for a nice game, but he’s certainly not worth the price tag, especially on such a small slate. He’s averaged 22.8 FPPG (fantasy points per-game) and should not be considered on Thursday. Memphis ranks 4th in the nation with 162 rushing attempts and should be able to rely heavily on the ground game in this one.
RB: Reading Lynch’s description would lead you to think you may be able to target a RB or even two RB’s from the Tigers, but I’m not sure you should do that. FOUR different backs have 26 or more attempts with the most attempts by a single back being 36 by Jarvis Cooper ($4,700). Each of these four backs have at least two touchdowns and average between 13.0-14.4 FPS. Sam Craft ($5,700) is the RB who is leading with 14.4 but is actually a “WR” on DraftKings. Regardless, none of these options should be considered on the evening as their ceilings are simply too limited.
WR: Finally, some clarity. Mose Frazier ($6,600) is the clear-cut #1 option at wide-receiver and should see plenty of targets vs. Cincinnati. Frazier currently leads the team in receptions (17), yardage (232), and is tied for the most TD’s (2). He’s averaged 21.2 FPPG so far this season and is a near must-play for the short slate.
Boise State (-2.5) @ Virginia — O/U: 49.5
The Broncos come into this one at 2-1, coming off of a 52-0 win at home against Idaho State. The Cavaliers are also coming off of a home win, although they struggled to escape William & Mary 35-29. Virginia has not had it easy to start the season, facing UCLA and Notre Dame back-to-back.
QB: With Ryan Finley out 8 weeks with a broken ankle, the Broncos will go with a two-quarterback system with Thomas Stuart ($5,900) and Brett Rypien ($5,500) sharing the duties on Thursday. That makes the situation easy to avoid for DFS. Stuart has higher upside with his mobility, but I won’t be taking the risk with other solid options at the position.
RB: Jeremy McNichols ($8,700) is the top back on the slate and is priced as such. McNichols has averaged 27.9 FPPG in his first 3 games, carrying the ball 54 times for 204 yards and leading the nation with 7 rushing TD’s alongside Alabama’s Derrick Henry. . McNichols is involved in the passing game as well, catching 8 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. His price makes it tough to fit other top options on the slate but he’s still the top option at RB regardless.
WR: With no consistency at the quarterback position and no clear #1 option in the passing game, I’ll be avoiding Boise State WR’s Friday. Thomas Sperbeck ($6,400) and Shane Williams-Rhodes ($6,300) have combined for 30 receptions and 213 yards but neither has found the end zone.
QB: Matt Johns ($6,300) is off to a really nice start this season, completing 66.7% of his passes for 790 yards and 6 TD’s. I like Johns in this instance due to his price. He should have 20-25 FPS and lead the Cavaliers to victory Friday night.
RB: Taquan Mizzell ($7,900) is my favorite play at his position, due to his work in the passing game. He does nice work in the running game, averaging 4.0 YPC on 39 carries, which is superior to the back Mizzell splits time with, Albert Reid ($3,300) who is averaging just 2.8 YPC on 24 carries. Mizzell does a ton of work in the passing game and is 2nd on the team with 17 receptions — good for 233 yards and 2 TD’s. The junior from Virginia Beach is a great alternative to Jeremy McNichols at an $800 discount.
WR: Even if you decide to roll with Mizzell, I would be comfortable with rolling with Canaan Severin ($4,500) on that same team. Severin is my favorite play at the WR position due to his price and 18.1 FPPG. He leads the Cavaliers in receptions (19) and yardage (264) and has a TD to go along with that. He’s a must-play for me on Friday.
Stanford (-15.5) @ Oregon State — O/U: N/A
Stanford has one of the toughest schedules in the country, although I imagine they weren’t expecting their first loss to come week 1 vs. Northwestern. Nonetheless, the Cardinal has rebounded nicely, defeating UCF 31-7, and then going to Pasadena and taking down USC 41-31. They’re avenging that week one loss nicely and should be in for another nice win vs. Oregon State.
QB: Kevin Hogan ($7,300) has certainly been a big part of the rebound since week 1, tossing for 620 yards, 5 TD’s, and no INT’s in just a two game span — averaging 25.9 fantasy points. But of course, just as he looks like a great option for the slate, he’s noted as questionable for Friday night’s game vs. the Beavers. If he cannot go, Keller Chryst ($5,400), a sophomore and #3 QB of the 2014 class, will get the start. Chryst’s price is low enough that if Hogan is indeed out, he almost becomes a must play. There are no elite QB”s in play, and if he can put him similar numbers to the other passers on the slate (20-25 FPS), then you’ve freed up quite a bit of salary. If he starts, he’ll be in my lineup.
RB: Christian McCaffery ($7,200) has seen his workload increase each game this season, carrying the ball 12 times in week 1, 20 times in week 2, and 26 times in week 3. As a result, he’s averaged over 21 FPS in the last two contests. McCaffery is a big part of the passing game, leading the team in receptions (12) for 119 yards and 1 TD. One fear with McCaffery is that his backup, Remound Wright ($4,900) took 2 TD’s away from him in goal-to-go situations. It looks as if Coach Shaw will stick to that plan, so if McCaffery is going to score, he may need to break one. Before the USC game, Wright had just 10 carries for 39 yards and 0 TD’s. Regardless, expect McCaffery to be a big part of the Cardinal offense on Friday.
WR: There’s really no one to trust in the Cardinal receiving group, as Hogan spreads the ball around a lot. However, if Chryst gets the start, there’s a chance he’ll try to find a receiver he can count on. That guy, I believe, could be Devon Cajuste ($4,300) who led the team in TD’s last season and was 2nd in yardage. He’s off to a slow start this season (8/84/1 TD) but I like him as a GPP sleeper on Friday.
QB: Seth Collins ($7,700) will more than likely be the highest-owned QB in GPP’s due to his price, and mobility–which increases his upside. Collins totaled 34.8 FPS last weekend, albeit vs. San Jose State, and is the team’s leading rusher with 44 carries for 294 yards (6.7 YPC) and 2 TD’s. He hasn’t looked all that great throwing the ball, but he”s not been terrible either (has 4 TD’s through the air). There’s no reason to fade Collins in my opinion, even vs. an above-average Stanford D.
RB: Storm Barrs-Woods ($6,000) is the #1 back but gives away too many carries to backup Chris Brown ($4,200) (35 to 24) and Seth Collins runs the ball enough to limit the upside of both backs. I won’t be using either of the two.
WR: No clear leader at WR has emerged between Victor Bolden ($5,000) and Jordan Villamin ($4,800) except for the fact that Bolden seems more involved in the offense, carrying the ball 13 times. Villamin leads in receptions (10), yardage (141), and receiving touchdowns (2), but honestly, if you’re wanting to go with a Beaver WR, I’d stack both and not take the risk of going one way or another. This isn’t an ideal matchup, but a Beaver mini-stack of Collins-Bolden-Villamin is not out of the question.
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