The College Football Rundown – DraftKings & Fanduel CFB DFS – December 18, 2021

The College Football Rundown – DraftKings & Fanduel CFB DFS – December 18, 2021

We get our first slate of Bowl action this Saturday with five games on tap. Since we are likely to get smaller slates, I am going to just go game by game with some of my preferred plays, rather than highlight individual plays. You can find my cheat sheet at the bottom of this article.

UTEP vs. Fresno State (-11/51.5)

The Fresno State offense was looking a little worrisome a few weeks ago when Jake Haener announced he was transferring to Washington. However, some potential transfer issues and maybe a change of heart has actually kept Haener as a Bulldog and he is now slated to return for 2022 and potentially play in the Bowl Game. Why do I say potentially? Well, a starter hasn’t been officially named yet. With an interim head coach and the Haener “drama” of sorts, it is too hard to exactly say if he is starting or not mostly due to the fact of the secrecy around the decision. It would seem odd to just not announce your 3,800 – 32 touchdown quarterback as the starter. As of now, I am treading lightly here as I think there is a little risk and maybe a “punishment” for the transfer drama. If Haener does not start, that hurts the receivers here, though Jalen Cropper is really my only true interest here. I think Josh Kelly can be used as salary relief, though he has had an inconsistent season. Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims have learned to co-exist in the backfield as they are each splitting work in the backfield in not only the rushing game but the passing game as well. That being said, Rivers still has a usage edge here and a pretty favorable DraftKings price.

On the other side of the ball, there isn’t a ton to love about UTEP. UTEP hasn’t won a bowl game in over 50 years and has only been in one recently – being back in 2014. Gavin Hardison at quarterback has improved dramatically from last season, but even with his low price tag I still don’t consider him viable outside of a deep dart throw. While Hardison needs just 34 yards to break 3,000 on the year, his 17/12 TD/INT numbers are pretty uninspiring. Mix that with almost no mobility and we are looking at a chunk yardage QB rather than anything else. That being said, the receiver game here is where UTEP has value in Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett. Cowing is our big-play guy, catching 67 passes for 1,330 yards and eight touchdowns this year. While Garrett has been quieter with just 49 catches for 659 and four touchdowns. That being said, Garrett is just $4,700 on DraftKings and a strong salary saver. I don’t have much interest in the UTEP running game as Awatt and Hankins will share work and the Fresno State rush defense has been the stronger aspect this year.

Core Plays: Jacob Cowing

Secondary Plays: Ronnie Rivers, Jalen Cropper (if Haener starts), Jake Haener (if announced as a starter), Justin Garrett

UAB vs. BYU (-6/54.5)

On paper, UAB comes into this game as one of the better defenses in the country, though we need to factor in the CUSA schedule here and not get too far ahead of the 21 points per game they are allowing. BYU also enters this game relatively healthy which is only notable as it feels like every week they have been missing a key player. That being said, BYU will likely be without #2 wide receiver Neil Pau’u who is currently doubtful for this game but they will get back Gunner Romney who has missed five weeks this season with an undisclosed injury. Puka Nacua becomes one of the better price-adjusted plays on this slate at just $4,900. Nacua has 27 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games played and a touchdown in four straight. On the UAB side, the big news is DeWayne McBride is a “full-go” for the bowl game, as McBride had 561 rushing yards and eight touchdowns over the last four games of the season and with one of those games being cut short by injury. There isn’t much to talk about in the UAB passing game – Dylan Hopkins is attempting around 20 passes a game and most go to the combination of Prince, Shropshire, and Johnson-Sanders. Prince is the red zone target, while Shropshire is a deep threat option who really is only featured specifically that way. This is highlighted by having just 25 catches on the year but 683 yards – 27 yards per reception. It can be fun to target a guy like this, but just know looking at a game under five fantasy points is a real option. That being said his price allows the dart throw. Ultimately here, the running game is the target – Tyler Allgeier should command the BYU offense here as he has 1,404 yards and 20 touchdowns on the year. Jaren Hall is a mobile quarterback but has only rushed for more than 40 yards in two games all year. Hall is settling in as a pocket passer more and a stack with him and Romney is in play here. It is tough to nail down the pace this game will be played at, but I think BYU is a far better team here and I like them to cover the -6 spread.

Core Plays: Tyler Allgeier, Puka Nacua

Secondary Plays: Jalen Hall, DeWayne McBride, Gunner Romney, Trea Shropshire

Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty (-9/58.5)

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis enters this slate as the highest projected owned and highest salaried quarterback but he will need to bounce back from some poor recent outings. Willis ended the season with a game against ULL in which he completed just 41% of his passes for 162 yards. He also ran 20 times for just 28 yards. While ULL is one of the nation’s best defenses, you still expect more from a guy who was hoping for a day one draft grade. Liberty’s last game was against Army and a 15 point loss, in which the completion percentage remained poor at just 52%. I highlight these bad performances because even with the poor on paper numbers, Willis still managed 27.9 fantasy points against Army and 16 against ULL. Overall, Willis still passed for 2,626 yards and 24 touchdowns, but also 12 interceptions. He also ended with 820 rush yards and 11 touchdowns which is where the fantasy production shines through. There is nothing to talk about in the running back room for Liberty as no running back broke 500 yards on the season and while Willis has weapons in the passing game, there is no favorite. Often weeks we see a rotation of production between Douglas, Daniels, Shaa, and Stubbs. Douglas led the room with 679 yards, with Daniels at 590. The thing to note is Daniels has five weeks under five fantasy points and four over 18. Douglas has been consistent but has been held under 11 fantasy points in the last five weeks. Essentially stating that if you are looking for a high floor, Willis is the only real option here.

Eastern Michigan comes into this game pretty slow on offense recently, which isn’t how their season has gone. Quarterback Ben Bryant has struggled as of late, being neutralized by both Western Michigan and Central Michigan, holding him to under 8 fantasy points in each contest. This is disappointing because the Eastern Michigan pass catchers have had pretty big years with Hassa Beydoun (86-929-4), Tanner Knue (28-307 in just four weeks of action), and Dylan Drummond (58-653-7). The production for Drummond has seen a considerable dip since Knue has re-entered the offense, while Beydoun is still averaging 9.6 targets per game and 28.8% of the team’s target share. The problem is, if your quarterback doesn’t have time to get you the ball, the target share doesn’t mean a bunch and that is what we have seen as an issue these past few weeks. Liberty’s pass defense is allowing just 176 yards per game and will be another big test for EMU here. The running game for EMU is split three ways between Evans, Hamilton, and Boone but this is not a run-first team. Whether or not the passing game for EMU really gets it going is hard to say, I personally lead towards no. However, I still think the EMU receivers are in play due to volume here. Beydoun is by far the most talented of the bunch and I am a firm believer that talent wins in the end. Malik Willis should have a lot opportunities against a poor defense here and while his price is high, he is the best quarterback on this slate.

Core Plays: Malik Willis, Hassan Beydoun

Secondary Plays: Tanner Knue, Dylan Drummond, DeMario Douglas, Kevin Shaa

Utah State vs. Oregon State (-7/67.5)

This is certainly the most interesting game on this slate as it features two teams with pretty strong offenses and pretty average defenses. We can see from the get-go here with the 67.5 game total here and while it favors Oregon State, Utah State ended the season on fire with big wins over New Mexico and San Diego State. A lot of this came on the arm of Logan Bonner who ended the season over his last two games throwing for 630 yards and nine total touchdowns. Bonner split some time with Andrew Peasley to start the year, but still managed to have 3,560 yards passing and 36 touchdowns. What helps Bonner is a three-headed receiver monster of Deven Thompkins, Brandon Bowling, and Derek Wright, who caught a combined 29 touchdowns this year – Thompkins and Bowling with nine each and Wright with 11. Thompkins put up video game numbers in a season you may never have even heard about him. Thompkins finished with 96 receptions for 1,589 yards and nine touchdowns which was good for 25.8 fantasy points per week. While those numbers are outstanding, he actually ended the year with just 19 catches and 148 yards over his final three games. When we look at this from a pricing standpoint, Bowling and Wright offer a bit better current value on their salaries if we factor in the last four games. Calvin Tyler remains the lead back here, though this is a pass-first offense. Tyler has 170 attempts for 764 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Elelyon Noa has cut into that a bit recently, as he has six or more carries in all but one game on the year. Noa is nothing more than a super-saving dart, while Tyler has a floor, but never really reaches a ceiling. We are going to focus on the passing game here.

The Oregon State offense is a little harder to pick apart here. Chance Nolan has been a good quarterback as of late and ended the season with 2,414 and 19 touchdowns. But there is no set-in-stone top receiver in this offense. Trevon Bradford is the best option with the best numbers but has just 13 receptions over his last four games. Behind Bradford, there is not an option with more than 25 receptions on the given season. The most consistent option has been running back BJ Baylor, who has 209 rushes for 1,259 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. While Oregon State is projected for 37 points here, I can’t exactly tell you where it is all coming from. Bradford is certainly in play here and actually draws one of the better matchups he has gotten this year. After that with such inconsistent receiver play, it is hard to nail down where this production is coming from.

Core Plays: Logan Bonner, Brandon Bowling, BJ Baylor

Secondary Plays: Deven Thompkins, Derek Wright, Chance Nolan, Trevon Bradford

Louisiana Layfayette (-4/55) vs. Marshall

This is another game that should live on the ground mostly as only two wide receivers in this game are averaging over 10 fantasy points per contest on the year and that is Corey Gammage and Tarik Keaton from Marshall. When it comes to ULL the leading receiver on the team was Peter LeBlanc – both in terms of receptions and yardage. But LeBlanc is going to miss this game with an injury, so we could see a small bump to Kyren Lacy and Michael Jefferson. While Jefferson only has 15 receptions on the year, he does have 373 yards and four touchdowns. While the injury to LeBlanc shakes up the receivers a bit, the injury to starting running back Chris Smith will loom larger as Emani Bailey and Montrell Johnson will now command the backfield. Both of these guys have already been heavily involved this year and both are freshmen, setting up an interesting future for this backfield. Bailey is the more expensive option here, but also the one getting a bit more work. Bailey has 13 or more carries in each of his last three games and a touychdown in each as well. He also has six receptions over that stretch for 73 yards. Johnson saw some heavier work in the middle of the season but has taken a bit of a backseat when both Smith and Bailey were healthy. That being said, Johnson still had 784 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year and at just $4,000 on DraftKings he is a borderline core play here with Bailey.

On the Marshall side of the ball they are led by quarterback Grant Wells and freshmen running back Rasheen Ali. Ali has been an absolute bruiser this year, running 230 times for 1,241 yards and 21 (!) touchdowns. While ULL is only allowing 18.3 points per game, they are still allowing nearly 150 yards rushing on the ground. Wells has been a solid pocket passing quarterback this year, but with no rushing upside and a very high DFS price, he is almost out of my player pool by proxy. The $8,300 price tag on Wells for DraftKings is out of range for us and we are going to play Ali at $800 cheaper every time. Wells is nothing but a likely low-owned tournament option where you are hoping for 300+ yards and three passing touchdowns. Corey Gammage has been the reception leader for Marshall with 69 catches and 819 yards. But with Ali having 21 touchdowns on the year, Gammage has only found the end zone twice this year. There are five names in the Marshall passing attack that see consistent work and this is a situation where there are just too many mouths to feed to land on the guy who is going to break the slate.

Core Plays: Emani Bailey, Rasheen Ali

Secondary Plays: Montrell Johnson, Corey Gammage, Michael Jefferson

Cheat Sheet

Malik Willis
(8.7k / 28.75)
(11.3k / 27.12)
Tyler Allgeier
(8.6k / 21.15)
(10.5k / 19.01)
Deven Thompkins
(7.5k / 18.02)
(9.8k / 14.65)
Logan Bonner
(7.7k / 24.29)
(11k / 24.29)
Rasheen Ali
(7.5k / 18.01)
(9.8k / 18.01)
Hassan Beydoun
(6.6k / 14.64)
(7.9k / 12.64)
Jaren Hall
(7.3k / 0.00)
(9.8k / 0.00)
Jacob Cowing
(6.4k / 15.58)
(8.4k / 12.68)
Chance Nolan
(7k / 20.71)
(9k / 20.71)
B.J. Baylor
(6.7k / 16.58)
(8.8k / 14.90)
Brandon Bowling
(6.1k / 14.12)
(8.1k / 11.49)
Ronnie Rivers
(6.1k / 17.11)
(9.2k / 15.11)
Gunner Romney
(6k / 13.01)
(8k / 10.57)
Emani Bailey
(5.2k / 12.15)
(8k / 12.15)
Demario Douglas
(5.8k / 8.57)
(7.2k / 6.97)
Derek Wright
(5.7k / 11.83)
(8.2k / 9.62)
Trevon Bradford
(5.6k / 12.59)
(7.5k / 10.25)
Puka Nacua
(4.9k / 13.76)
(7.7k / 11.18)
Montrell Johnson
(4k / 8.94)
(6.7k / 8.03)
Justin Garrett
(4.7k / 9.34)
(6.1k / 7.60)
Trea Shropshire
(4.6k / 7.06)
(6.7k / 5.75)
Michael Jefferson
(4.3k / 7.05)
(6k / 5.72)

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. You can also reach out to me on Twitter @iKezims

About James Smizek

James is a Daily Fantasy Sports Veteran dating all the way back to his days of writing content on for contest tickets. James specializes in College Football - qualifying for the CFB World Championship in 2018, though you can find his content for NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR on FantasyCruncher. James also picked up some new tricks during the Covid/sports shutdown, carving out a niche in League of Legends, Rocket League, and Call of Duty eSports. A winner of multiple large field GPP's, James hopes his knowledge can help you take down the next one. James currently resides in Wisconsin and is a huge Wisconsin sports fan. If you have any questions you can reach out to him @iKezims on Twitter.

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