The College Football Rundown – DraftKings & Fanduel CFB DFS – December 31, 2021
Welcome to the finale of the College Football season in respect to a four or more game slate. Below I will break down all four games on our CFB Semi-Final slate.
Wake Forest (-16/62.5) vs. Rutgers
Wake Forest finds themselves a new bowl opponent here than the one originally scheduled as Texas A&M had to drop out due to Covid related issues. So enter Rutgers, a team that went 5-7 on the year and a team that ended the year being outscored 68-16 and if we take away the 38-3 win over Indiana, that could be 120-19 in three combined losses to Wisconsin, Penn State, and Maryland. Rutgers hasn’t put up much of a fight against good teams this year and I am comfortable saying that Wake Forest sports a pretty strong offense off the arm of Sam Hartman. The Demon Deacons will be without Jaquarii Roberson who has declared for the NFL Draft, but will still have AT Perry and Taylor Morin leading the receiving core. The Wake running back room is crowded with Christian Beal-Smith, Justice Ellison, and Christian Turner and each is a dart throw at best. Our target here is the Wake passing game and Hartman to Perry is my favorite stack of the slate. The production to fill with no Roberson is hard to peg down as it has stretched from Donald Stewart, to Ke’Shawn Williams – that being said, Williams is listed as a starter on the depth chart.
On the Rutgers side, there isn’t much to discuss here. Quarterback Noah Verdell has only eclipsed 20 fantasy points one this year and didn’t pass for more than 100 yards in any of his final four games on the year. The backfield is shared between Aaron Young and Isaih Pacheco – Pacheco is the more appealing option here as he has been the volume back. With limited passing, the receivers are also limited, though Bo Melton does have 55 receptions for 618 yards on the year. He is a tournament play here who does see a large target share for this offense.
Core Plays: Sam Hartman, AT Perry
Secondary Plays: Taylor Morin, Ke’Shawn Williams, Bo Melton
Washington State (-7/57.5) vs. Central Michigan
Washington State was originally matched up with Miami, and Central Michigan with Boise State, but cancellations on each side have now pitted these two against each other. On the Washington State side, the Cougars will be without their top two running backs in Max Borghi and Deon Mcintosh, with Borghi to the NFL and Mcintosh injured. This likely turns the running back responsibilities to Wisconsin transfer Nakia Watson and redshirt sophomore Jouvensly Bazil who has just one carry in his career. So this tells me the Cougars are likely to lean on the passing game and the arm of Jayden De Laura. De Laura early in the season split time with Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano, but still ended up throwing for 2,751 yards and 23 touchdowns. It helps when you have a stacked wide receiving core, and Travell Harris and Calvin Jackson have been the leaders there all year with a combined 136 receptions for almost 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns. Each of these receivers carry a 25% target share in the offense and each is very in play against a passing defense that is allowing 260+ yards per game. With Jackson being slightly cheaper here on DraftKings, I lean his way.
While there is some interest in the Central Michigan passing game, the talk of the town is Lew Nichols. Nichols took 311 rushing attempts this year for 1,708 yards and 17 touchdowns – one of the best seasons by a running back that you have probably never heard of. Over Nichols last three games alone he has 119 rushing attempts and turned that into 628 yards. While the price is obviously high here, the volume speaks for itself. Washington State’s rush defense is nothing special – allowing 161 yards per game, but also not facing someone of this caliber. The passing game is led by Daniel Richardson, who threw for 2,392 yards and 23 touchdowns this year though he never attempted more than 27 passes in a game over the last four games of the year. As mentioned, when your running back is taking 40 carries per game, the passing game is going to shrink. Kalil Pimpleton and Jacorey Sullivan are the top two options here, with Dallas Dixon in the mix. Pimpleton has been the yardage guy this year, with 906 yards on 57 receptions. While Sullivan has just 604 yards on the year but 10 touchdowns. Dallas Dixon had a hot start to the season, but over his last five games played has just 10 receptions for around 150 yards total.
Core Plays: Calvin Jackson, Lew Nichols, Nakia Watson
Secondary Plays: Jordan De Laura, Travell Harris, Kalil Pimpleton, Jacorey Sullivan
Cincinnati vs. Alabama (-13/57.5)
When it comes to these two semi-final bowl games, the analysis to give I am realizing is going to be pretty short and boring. Alabama is a large favorite here but will be without start receiver John Metchie. That being said, they will be with other star receiver Jameson Williams and a pick-em of any of their other five-star recruit wide-outs to fill the void. Starting with Williams, the Ohio State transfer has caught 68 passes on the year for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns – so around 20% of all receptions from Williams are touchdowns. Against Georgia, he caught seven balls for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and with no Metchie, we can expect him to fill a volume role as well as his big-play role. In other words, despite price, Williams has absolute slate-breaking potential here. But who else on Alabama sees the uptick in receiving? Well, Slade Bolden should remain an option, though he has been an option all season with limited results. Ja’Corey Brooks is the most interesting as a five-star freshman who is going to be a name you eventually know in the coming years, though we could see his coming out party this week and he is listed as a starter on the depth chart. Brooks was the #2 rated WR and #27 overall in the 2021 class. The one thing is Alabama is deep and outside of Williams it is a bit of a guessing game as guys like Earle, Latu, Billingsley, and Hall should all have roles. Brooks is the most exciting name outside of Williams and his price is low enough where it is worth the tournament play in moderation. Brian Robinson will lead the backfield and while he didn’t have much running room against Georgia, he came out of the game healthy and that is what is more important. The rushing defense of Cincinnati is the weaker side of their defense, so I can see the running game being the top of the gameplan here.
On the Cinci side, Desmond Ridder is going to need to play the game of his life to get the upset here, as Cinci is 13-point underdogs. Ridder has thrown for over 3,100 yards on the year, though over his last five games he has under 28 attempts in four of them. I think Cinci will try to establish the run with Jerome Ford, who is interesting in himself as an Alabama transfer. Alabama coaching has even commented on Ford, acknowledging how much weight and size he has put on since he transferred away from Alabama. Five different receivers have over 24 receptions for the Bearcats, yet Alec Pierce is the only one over 32. Bama has an elite rush defense, so Ridder opening up the passing game is likely the path to victory. But with such inconsistency from the receivers on the year, it is hard to peg down how the volume goes outside of Pierce. A Ridder to Pierce stack likely is low owned on this slate, but even in a tough game, Cinci still has a 22.5 team total. Cinci finally gets their shot in the playoff, but their path to victory isn’t painted with a ton of fantasy upside. Most Bearcat players here fall as secondary tournament options, mostly due to their likely low ownership. This is obviously still a good team, but the world is waiting for them to be exposed.
Core Plays: Bryce Young, Jameson Williams, Brian Robinson
Secondary Plays: Desmond Ridder, Alec Pierce, Jerome Ford, Ja’Corey Brooks
Georgia (-7/45.5) vs. Michigan
Do you love defense? Great! this is the game for you. This is a matchup of the top defense in the nation in Georgia against a top ten in Michigan. With just a total of 45.5, this one isn’t screaming fantasy production and the issue is when we do see the production, it is from positions of depth. Michigan will ride Hassan Haskins but Blake Corum will also see work. On the Georgia side, it is hard to say who is the lead back now between Zamir White and James Cook – I personally view Cook as much more explosive. Kenny McIntosh will also work himself into the mix. The Michigan passing game has been pretty invisible all year and against an elite passing defense in Georgia, I don’t see a path to someone going absolutely crazy. On the Georgia side, we kind of have the same concept, though tight end Brock Bowers did see 16 targets against Alabama in the SEC title game and is the target leader in the passing game. While Bowers is a little expensive, I do view him as a near core play and someone who should be the focus of the offense. The pace of this game however, should be pretty slow. Ultimately, this game doesn’t offer us a ton in terms of huge fantasy upside and I will likely look elsewhere. With that being said, the ownership should also be down here.
Core Plays: Brock Bowers
Secondary Plays: Hassan Haskins, James Cook