Welcome back to the College Football Rundown. The goal of this article is to highlight players listed on the cheat sheet in a more in-depth fashion, including some tricks and tips to help better you as a player.
Jalen Hurts, OU (DK: $9,000 | FD: $11,500)
These first two plays in this write up were just inevitable with a game total of 75. These two teams met twice last season, with game one totaling 93 points and game two 66. Of course, we don’t use last season callbacks much in CFB but aside from a new Oklahoma offense, these two defenses feel very similar. Hurts has proven he can do it all for the Sooners, averaging 44 fantasy points per game, which already includes 14 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns. We have grown used to dynamic Oklahoma offenses over the past few years, but the usage of Hurts is surpassing the likes of Mayfield and Murray. This can be highlighted in the lack of a running game that the Sooners are deploying. This isn’t saying that the running game is bad by any means, but Hurts’ dynamic ability with his legs has opened up multiple looks on the field and has certainly stolen some carries along the way. As DFS players we want as much rushing upside as we can get and we will still get it out of Hurts against Texas, but I think where the matchup will really open up is in the passing game as Texas has struggled mightily, allowing over 325 yards per game passing. The simple truth is this, Hurts should be priced higher than he is on DraftKings and unlike most games that Oklahoma has played this year, this one should remain close enough to see a full game out of each side.
Sam Ehlinger, TEX (DK: $8,400 | FD: $10,800)
Speaking of the other side, we can not overlook the Texas side of the ball in this rivalry. Last year against Oklahoma, Ehlinger put up his two biggest fantasy performances of the year to the tune of 314 yards passing and two touchdowns, while adding 72 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in game one. Then in game two adding 349 yards passing and two touchdowns while again adding two on the ground on 42 yards. Ehlinger has been no slouch to this point in the season himself, with 17 passing touchdowns already on the year despite not having top receiver Colin Johnson for the last three weeks. My one issue here is I am not sure the $600 price drop is enough to make me want to go excessive on Ehlinger over Hurts. I think this is a great GPP strategy to be contrarian, but if you were to remove price tags here and you were given a 1-1 choice, the majority is going to go Hurts. The other side of this is is a full game stack, deploying both quarterbacks which I am on board for as this game has a 10 point higher game total than any other game on the slate. It is hard to discuss at length about good quarterbacks and why you should play them. I think even the casual reader knows that Hurts or Ehlinger is in a positive game script and a positive matchup. Deploying one (or both) of these two is about as easy of a starting point you can get, but with such high prices you will need to sacrifice the rest of your lineup for them.
Jayden Daniels, ASU (DK: $6,200 | FD: $8,800)
If you are a day one reader of this article or exist inside of our Discord you know I labeled Jayden Daniels as my top “hype” freshman of 2019. Daniels won the Arizona State job out of the gates and despite some freshman jitters has looked pretty solid on the field. Daniels entered Arizona State as the nation’s number-two ranked dual-threat quarterback and though he hasn’t taken over a game with his legs yet you can see the upside in his game logs. Daniels had his best game with his legs last week against California when he took 12 carries for 84 yards. I, personally, think it is a great sign that a dual-threat quarterback isn’t attempting 20 rushes a game. It tells me that he as a player has trust in his arm and doesn’t need to over-rely on his legs. Of course, there is the counter side to that, where I also wish a running quarterback would just pound the rock and get me multiple touchdowns on the ground per game. On the season, Daniels only has one rushing touchdown and that was back in week one. This is all a very roundabout way of saying I love Daniels this weekend against Washington State. Daniels has faced some tough defenses in the past few weeks, including Michigan State and Cal. Now he gets a defense that is allowing 444 yards of total offense a game and over 30 points. I am not calling this THE breakout game for Jayden Daniels, but a mid-season home game, against a team with a very shaky defense, with fresh legs off of a bye week has all the makings of a smash spot and at a very steep discount on DK.
Tyrrell Pigrome, UMD (DK: $5,400 | FD: N/A)
With Josh Jackson anticipated to miss Saturday’s contest, Maryland will turn to junior Tyrrell Pigrome. Pigrome won the starting job for Maryland in 2017 but tore his ACL causing him to miss the season. Pigrome in his own right is a dual-threat quarterback who through limited work has been pretty hit or miss but does have the luxury of system experience. I, however, want to throw every preconceived notion out the door. I want this play to be looked at as if the quarterback’s name was Joe Smith and it was his first-ever career start. Joe Smith is a relatively unknown player. He has rushing upside but doesn’t use it a ton. He has arm strength but it is a little inconsistent and with this being his first start we don’t know a ton about him. However, Joe Smith is only $5,400 on DraftKings and is facing one of the worst defenses in the nation. A defense that is giving up over 450 yards per game and 33 points. Not to mention, it is a team with a new quarterback themselves. Would you play Joe Smith? I think the answer from a lot of us is yes we would, and we didn’t really know anything about Joe Smith. Now replace Joe Smith with Tyrrell Pigrome and would you play him? The answer doesn’t change because the name doesn’t matter, in this case, the price and the matchup matter. The only thing I hate here is the fact that this is a road game for Maryland, but all-in-all Pigrome is one of the best superflex options on this entire slate and a Hurts/Pigrome combo is what likely will lead my cash teams this week.
Others to consider: Tua Tagovailoa, ALA | Brock Purdy, ISU
Jonathan Taylor, WISC (DK: $8,800 | FD: $10,400)
I am not sure if people will actually think that Michigan State’s defense is strong enough to limit Jonathan Taylor, but if you do then you can move on to the next person. I think we saw similar matchups against Michigan and Northwestern, a game in which Taylor ran for a minimum of 23 times, cleared 115 yards in each (203 against Michigan) and found the endzone in both. I would realistically say that the Northwestern game is Taylor’s floor at this point and that was still a 25 points performance. Wisconsin has played five games on the season and has given up 29 total points. This matters because Wisconsin also leads the entire nation in time of possession at 37:28. So you have arguably the best running back in the nation and you have the ball more than any other team in the nation. Everything lines up for Taylor to continue this trend. Michigan State is not a good offense, they have seen two of their top rushers from last season transfer out of the program and Brian Lewerke has a completion percentage of 58%. I don’t think we need to worry about Taylor’s skill much here, that will shine through, but all the other variables add up to an undeniable positive game script for Taylor and the Badgers.
Eno Benjamin, ASU (DK: $7,500 | FD: $9,600)
This is a play in a similar vein to Jayden Daniels as the matchup and freshness make for an enticing play this week. Benjamin has over 20 carries in four-of-five games on the year, including 29 two weeks ago against Cal. Benjamin has six touchdowns over the last three games and was a top-five fantasy scoring running back in 2018. Washington State is currently giving up 179 yards per game on the ground and that hasn’t necessarily been against top-tier talent. We have to remember that Benjamin was a $9,000 priced running back to start this season and not much has really changed to drop his price to this level. There is no fear of the matchup here and the volume alone will take Benjamin over 100 yards. I don’t know if I am comfortable playing Daniels and Benjamin together, but I will have a piece of each across several lineups.
Travis Etienne, CLEM (DK: $7,100 | FD: $9,100)
I know for a fact that I am not alone in calling Travis Etienne the most frustrating fantasy player of 2019 so far. Etienne hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards rushing since week one when he broke 200 yards. Luckily, Etienne has found the endzone the last two weeks which essentially bailed this play out of being a total bust for the fourth time in a row. But we have to think about it realistically and that reality is that Etienne is still one of the most talented running backs in college football. We have a $2,300 discount from his opening day price and maybe in a bad matchup we would fade this and wait until he looks right, but against a porous Florida State defense I don’t think we can just let Etienne slide by because he isn’t having freak games every week. If you want to fade this pick I would never argue that and I don’t think you can trust this enough for cash games, but we all know that at any moment Etienne can go 75 to the house and then on the next possession do it all over again. Clemson is the highest totaled team on this slate at 43, which is even more than Oklahoma at 42.
Trey Sermon, OU (DK: $5,500 | FD: $8,800)
I mentioned earlier that Jalen Hurts has taken away the Sooner running game a bit which is still true, but if Sermon is the only healthy running back then we need to consider him again at his price. Kennedy Brooks was slated to come back last weekend but was held out against Kansas. Sermon ended up rushing for 71 yards and a touchdown while also catching a touchdown. Though Kansas kept this game close for like 15 minutes, in reality, it wasn’t ever close, which again lead to Sermon not receiving a full game workload. We can expect a much more competitive game against Texas this week which shouldn’t limit Sermon’s field time. Oklahoma has also been a big hitter team, busting out several long touchdowns which again, hurts Sermon’s bottom line volume. I feel way better about this pick as a core pick if Kennedy Brooks is out again. Regardless, Brooks won’t be at full strength which shouldn’t threaten Sermon’s workload in the end. I think Sermon is touchdown dependant to reach his peak value, but in a six-touchdown team total, I would be shocked if Sermon didn’t find one.
Others to consider: Max Borghi, WSU | Zach Charbonnet, MICH | Kylin Hill, MSST | Deon Jackson, DUKE
Jerry Jeudy, ALA (DK: $7,600 | FD: $10,100) – Devonta Smith, ALA (DK: $6,500 | FD: $9,700)
As a “tout” of sorts, I don’t think it is wise to ever admit defeat, but I can be as transparent as absolutely possible in regards to Alabama and that truth is this. I have no idea what I am doing with Alabama. I have never felt such a deep frustration in DFS towards a single team before. When Devonta Smith went off for 8-136-2 against South Carolina I was on Jerry Jeudy, who went 6-68. When Henry Ruggs went for 4-148-2 against Southern Miss I was on Devonta Smith who went 2-26. And when Devonta Smith went 11-274-5 (seriously, wtf) I was on Najee Harris and Jerry Jeudy. It is the same message I see somewhere in Discord or Twitter weekly: “Why do we play anyone besides Alabama receivers?” And though there is a smidge of merit in that question the answer is obvious. When a team has as much talent as Alabama does (and outside the outliers of 274 yard, five-touchdown games) the ball can go any which way. Teams can’t cover Ruggs, Smith, Jeudy. It is just a matter of which one lands the big play. If Alabama ever played a close game where the volume was more concentrated maybe we could say play three Alabama wide-outs, but that hasn’t happened yet. I know people who are still chasing Jaylen Waddle week. He is the only receiver to not get his and at a depressed price it is tempting week after week and you know what? He is likely going to have his moment too. I think my point is this, if you have a system where you have hit the correct Alabama wide receiver week to week outside of just giving each percentage in MME, then I would love to know what I am missing. Ruggs has practiced recently and though he carries a Q on DK, I would be shocked to see him sit. As I type this, Ruggs is probably the guy you will get at the lowest percentage but carries the most risk. As for Jeudy and Smith, I expect Smith to be very high owned due to his price and people chasing his last performance. I still believe that Jeudy is the most talented pure receiver on the team. Texas A&M is no pushover as they have only allowed 18 points per game and under 300 yards. But that stat is actually why I like Alabama this week as they are still projected for 39 points and may go more under-the-radar than normal, just good luck locking down the correct ones as they have proven they are GPP plays.
CeeDee Lamb, OU (DK: $7,200 | FD: $9,300)
Lamb coming off of a 46.5 fantasy performance two weeks ago shut all the chasers down last week with a two reception, 25-yard performance, though he did find the end zone. I wrote him up as a recommended pick and stick to my guns, as Lamb is the leading receiver on the most dynamic offense in college football. We should get a version of Lamb way closer to what we saw against Texas Tech than what we saw against Kansas. If anything, Lamb’s down performance last week dropped his price $800 which is a nice salary saver for us this week. Hurts completed a pass to 13 different receivers against Kansas, which is a trend that is a pure outlier. Oklahoma is projected for six touchdowns and it is hard to believe his top target won’t be involved against a team allowing 325 yards passing per game. Oklahoma receiver number two, Charleston Rambo, only has three catches over his last two contests. I think he is a top tournament play, but carries more risk than I would have liked. I will stick with safety here and pencil in Lamb as a cash play.
Tee Higgins, CLEM (DK: $6,300 | FD: $8,900)
Higgins quietly has 22 catches for 505 yards on the season while being the top option on the second-ranked team in the nation. Clemson carries the highest total on the board this weekend and after a scary win against UNC I think it is all systems go for the Tigers. Higgins hasn’t been fully unleashed yet due to several blowouts, but in a close game last week reeled in six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. I don’t necessarily see this game against Florida State staying competitive, but again, Clemson now has something to prove again after a one-point win over UNC. Higgins is as consistent as they come and this soft price point is just begging you to play him.
David Bell, PUR (DK: $4,700 | FD: N/A)
There is going to be a considerable risk here, but with no Rondale Moore there is going to be value in the Purdue receiving corp. Purdue was never able to get anything going last week against Penn State, but have a more favorable matchup at home this week against Maryland. Two weeks ago David Bell had 14 targets and looks to be a big part of the Purdue passing game going forward. Jackson Anthrop led Purdue in targets last week with eight, though most were very short routes out of the backfield. At just $4,300 I think there is value in Anthrop as well. We don’t know for certain who will start for Purdue at quarterback this week, but regardless, if Purdue wants to win they will have to do it through the air.
Others to consider: All Texas WR | Brandon Aiyuk, ASU | Deshaunte Jones, ISU | TJ Simmons, WV (if Sam James is out)
My projections are now live on FantasyCruncher and will be available for every slate all season for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Though this content is free I encourage you to take your game to the next level by considering a subscription to FC Premium. If you are a lower stakes player, FC Lite gets you all the tools that Premium does, just with a lower lineup crunch cap. I will post the link below for anyone interested. I will be in Discord chat (something that comes with a subscription) before lock of all slates if you have questions. You can also reach out to me on Twitter @iKezims