The process here is simple. Use Vegas lines to predict scores and game script. Use S&P+ to find where offenses will attack opposing defenses. And use Rotoworld blurbs to track news and depth chart changes. By doing these three things, we can build a quality player pool to build rosters with.
In this column, I’ll go team-by-team (going from the highest implied team total to the lowest) and write up the players who have the highest probability of 3x-ing their DraftKings salary. If I’m on the border of a player, then I write their name next to “Fringe Plays.” And if you don’t see the player listed, then you can assume I am fading them completely. If you want an explanation, please send me a message on Twitter (@Haydenwinks).
The link to the targets and the last three weeks data (data not including Week 14 since not all teams played): http://bit.ly/CFBtargets
1. Utah State 37.5 points (8-point favorite) vs. North Texas
UNT Def. S&P Rank: 48
UNT Def. Passing S&P Rank: 82
UNT Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 68
The Aggies have by far the highest expected team total on the slate and that’s largely because of QB Jordan Love ($10,200). In Thor Nystrom’s bowl preview, Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline mentioned Love as the best NFL prospect on Utah State and Love is only a sophomore. Love has also cleared 20 DK points in six of the last 10 games, including three games with at least 39 DK points. Love has the most upside on the slate and probably has the highest floor. But it’s hard to justify the insane price tag. If Love was let’s say $9,200, then I’d be all over him. Even with the high price tag, Love can still be sprinkled in tournaments if you’re building more than one lineup. … WR Ron’quavion Tarver ($7,400) is Love’s top target and is someone I mentioned as an NFL prospect in my NFL Prospect Playing in Bowl Games column. Tarver has the third most receptions (20) on the slate over the last three games and has been consistently targeted recently -- he has 9, 7, and 8 targets in the last three weeks. The Love and Tarver stack is by far the highest projected scoring stack, but both players are being priced up. Without a bunch of other stud receivers on the slate, it still makes some sense to be overweight on Tarver even at a more expensive price. … WR Jalen Greene ($5,100) was targeted 15 times in Week 13 (the most on the slate) but that is likely an outlier workload. In the two games prior, he was targeted just six and three times. The 15-target game does put him in tournament consideration, especially without a huge price tag. … WR/TE Dax Raymond ($4,400) is headed to the NFL, but it’s uncertain if he’s playing in the bowl or not. Usually players skip if they declare before the bowl game, but this could be the rare instance he does. If he’s out there, then he’s an okay option at best for tournaments but you absolutely need to search for news about his availability. … WR Aaren Vaughns ($4,300) has caught 11-of-16 targets for 187 yards and one touchdown over the last three weeks, which puts him on the radar for tournaments at his low price tag. … Fringe Plays: RB Gerold Bright ($7,600), RB Darwin Thompson ($7,300).
2. Tulane 31.25 points (3.5-point favorite) vs. Louisiana Lafayette
ULL Def. S&P Rank: 111 (worst on slate)
ULL Def. Passing S&P Rank: 113 (worst on slate)
ULL Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 78
QB Justin McMillan ($8,200) is coming off his best game of the season, and ULL shouldn’t pose much of a threat for the offense. McMillan still has a low floor, but he offers three-touchdown upside as a passer and has at least 45 rushing yards in three of the last five games, which makes him an okay at best tournament option on a smaller slate. … Over the last three weeks, WR Darnell Mooney ($6,600) has the second most yards (375) and tied for the most touchdowns (3) on the slate. Mooney now gets to match up against the worst passing defense on the slate, so he’s an obvious tournament option at a reasonable price. … WR Terren Encalade ($4,500) only has eight receptions in the last three weeks, but he’s averaging a solid 10 yards per target over that span making Encalade a target for tournaments. Encalade was also a player I listed in my NFL Prospects Playing in Bowl Games column. … WR Jabril Lewis ($3,600) has averaged five targets per game over the last three, but sits way down in the sub-$4k range. Lewis isn’t as talented as Encalade, but there is a $900 discount. Proceed with caution however. … RB Darius Bradwell ($6,500) has at least 13 DK points in all but two games since Week 5 and he should get there once again against ULL’s 78th-ranked rush defense. Bradwell doesn’t have too high of a ceiling since he doesn’t catch passes and doesn’t have any games with 20 carries, but the ceiling doesn’t have to be too high in a five-game slate. Bradwell is a tournament option with a decent shot at the 100-yard bonus. … Fringe Plays: RB Corey Dauphine ($4,300).
3. North Texas 29.5 points (8-point underdog) vs. Utah State
USU Def. S&P Rank: 34
USU Def. Passing S&P Rank: 43
USU Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 35
RB DeAndre Torrey ($9,300) has 3x-ed his current salary in five of the last six games. Even if Torrey manages just 20 DK points against a better defense, that should be enough to have a sweat in tournaments on a smaller slate. … WR Jalen Guyton ($5,300) has six, seven, and seven targets the last three games, and he’d be the favorite to lead the team in targets if Bussey isn’t playing. If Bussey does play, then Guyton is still an okay tournament option, but Guyton would be one of the best plays on the slate if Bussey misses. … WR Michael Lawrence ($3,900) is a nice salary-reliever after catching 13 passes over his last three weeks. Nobody cheaper than Lawrence has more receiving yards in recent weeks, but I like him more without Bussey. … Fringe Plays: QB Mason Fine ($9,600), WR Rico Bussey ($6,800) if he’s cleared to play.
4. Fresno State 28.75 points (4-point favorite) vs. Arizona State
ASU Def. S&P Rank: 92
ASU Def. Passing S&P Rank: 89
ASU Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 99 (worst on slate)
QB Marcus McMaryion ($7,400) is the narrative street play of the slate. This will be his final game at Fresno State and he’s been a quality starter for them for two seasons. McMaryion is a threat to get the 300-yard bonus against a poor Arizona State defense, and he has one of the most talented receivers on the slate to throw the ball too. McMaryion isn’t nearly as expensive as Love or Fine, so he’s a great pivot that comes with cash savings. … WR KeeSean Johnson ($7,500) has the highest projection among all receivers on the slate since he has the most targets, receptions, and receiving yards in the last three games. Johnson also doesn’t have a very difficult matchup, so he’s my favorite receiver on the slate. If you play cash, then Johnson is in play. … RB Ronnie Rivers ($6,200) has double-digit points in every game since Week 6 and he is playing the worst rushing defense on the slate. Rivers is a solid tournament option. … WR Derrion Grim ($3,000) is a low-floor punt play with 12 targets over the last three games. … Fringe Plays: WR/TE Jared Rice ($4,200), WR Jamire Jordan ($3,600), RB Jordan Mims ($3,800).
5. Appalachian State 28.75 points (7-point favorite) vs. Midd. Tenn. State
MTST Def. S&P Rank: 46
MTST Def. Passing S&P Rank: 41
MTST Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 42
RB Darrynton Evans ($7,700) has hit the 100-yard bonus in 6-of-8 games and he should have another game with positive game script (7-point favorites). Evans is also $1,600 cheaper than DeAndre Torrey despite having at least similar ceilings. Since Evans doesn’t catch many passes, I don’t plan on stacking Evans with Thomas, who is the next player up. … QB Zac Thomas ($6,300) has 3x-ed his current salary in four straight games and playing Thomas instead of Love or another expensive quarterback opens up nearly $4,000 in savings to help get to the reliable running backs and receivers on the slate. .... WR Corey Sutton ($4,800) has between five and nine targets in the last four weeks with a 14-232-3 receiving line over that span putting him square on the map in tournaments, especially in a Thomas stack. … WR Thomas Hennigan ($3,100) is a punt play after seeing 14 targets over the last four weeks at basically minimum price. In fact, Henningan led the team in targets three games ago and finished second in targets two games ago. Hennigan has done next to nothing with them, but volume at that price automatically puts you on the radar. … Fringe Plays: WR Dominique Heath ($3,200).
6. Louisiana Lafayette 27.75 points (3.5-point underdog) vs. Tulane
TUL Def. S&P Rank: 59
TUL Def. Passing S&P Rank: 65
TUL Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 37
RB Trey Ragas ($5,400) has back-to-back games with at least 16 carries and 115 yards, but Ragas can also catch passes making him a desirable game-flow independent tournament option. … RB Elijah Mitchell ($4,900) has at least 12 carries in the last four games and he has 15 touchdowns on the season. With Louisiana Lafayette expected to score three or four touchdowns, both Mitchell and Ragas have decent touchdown equity. If forced to choose between the two, I’d hesitantly take Mitchell and the $500. … WR JaMarcus Bradley ($4,500) has 20 targets in the last four weeks and Tulane’s passing defense is just average. Bradley is two games removed from a crazy three-touchdown performance, but he’s still just a dart throw receiver and a pretty forgettable one at that. … Fringe Plays: None.
7. Arizona State 24.75 points (4-point underdog) vs. Fresno State
FRES Def. S&P Rank: 9 (best on slate)
FRES Def. Passing S&P Rank: 13
FRES Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 5 (best on slate)
From a game-theory aspect, fading most of the Sun Devils sounds smart because Arizona State holds by far the most name value on the slate, so newbies will probably pick ASU players more than they should. Also, the smaller schools need bowl wins for recruiting and other financial reasons while Arizona State doesn’t need a Las Vegas Bowl win to change their program, so there’s less incentive for the Sun Devils to bust their butt and play their best players. But as you will see in a second, there are statistics that also point to fading the team. … Manny Wilkins isn’t expected to play the entire game with HC Herm Edwards mentioning QB Sterling-Cole as a player who will be designed plays for. Wilkins is an easy fade against this strong Fresno State defense, especially without a full complement of snaps and with N’Keal Harry skipping the game. … RB Eno Benjamin ($8,800) has been one of the best backs in the country this year, but Herm Edwards mentioned getting the other young backs opportunities in this game -- he named RB A.J. Carter ($3,000) specifically. Benjamin is the second most expensive back on the slate, so fading that price sounds appealing to me. But it’s a fade that comes with a ton of risk. Benjamin could erupt for 30+ DK points, which would burn all our money. Only fade Benjamin if you are comfortable with that scenario playing out. … WR Brandon Aiyuk ($4,600) tied for the team lead in targets (7) in the regular season finale and that’s with Harry on the field. Aiyuk isn’t priced as the number one ASU receiver, but he should be. Aiyuk is a fine tournament option at a reasonable price tag, even against a tough defense. … Fringe Plays: None.
8. Georgia Southern 24.5 points (1.5-point favorite) vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU Def. S&P Rank: 33
EMU Def. Passing S&P Rank: 21
EMU Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 60
QB Shai Werts ($5,000) has 5x-ed his current salary in two of three games and has 3x-ed this price in eight of 12 games. That should be enough evidence to know Werts is a strong play as a S-FLEX. … RB Wesley Fields ($7,100) has a 15-20 carry projection and has 3x-ed his current salary in three straight weeks. The problem is the Eastern Michigan defense (S&P+ No. 33) and the low implied team total (24.5 points). For those two reasons, I have Fields as worst options than the other elite running backs (minus Eno Benjamin) but anyone with that volume needs to be at least considered. … Fringe Plays: None.
9. Eastern Michigan 23 points (1.5-point underdog) vs. Georgia Southern
GSO Def. S&P Rank: 71
GSO Def. Passing S&P Rank: 68
GSO Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 48
One of the best sub-$4k receivers on the slate, WR Mathew Sexton ($3,700) has averaged 8.7 targets in his last three games. Sexton has struggled to produce on them -- he has only caught 12-of-26 targets over that span -- but that’s a ton of volume for a punt play. Sexton needs to be considered in tournaments. … RB Shaq Vann is the usual starter, but he’s been banged up and could miss the bowl game. If he does miss (check for news on Saturday), then RB Ian Eriksen ($3,900) would be a great punt play. Eriksen has 15 and 17 carries and four total touchdowns in the two games without Vann. That’s way too much volume and production to pass up if Vann sits. … Fringe Plays: WR Blake Banham ($4,700), RB Shaq Vann ($4,200) if he’s cleared to play.
10. Midd. Tenn. State 21.75 points (7-point underdog) vs. Appalachian State
APP Def. S&P Rank: 10
APP Def. Passing S&P Rank: 4 (best on slate)
APP Def. Rushing S&P Rank: 8
RB Tavares Thomas ($3,300) has the fourth most receptions on the slate over the last three weeks, and he gets a few carries per game. Thomas hasn’t been productive with them, however, and this Appalachian State defense is someone we should be avoiding if at all possible. Treat Thomas as a RB punt play. … Fringe Plays: RB Chaton Mobley ($4,600), WR Gatlin Casey ($4,100).