College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: 12/22/18 Main Slate
It's officially bowl season in college football! We've had many weeks come and go, but this week should be fun both on the field and on the daily fantasy slate.
College football DFS? Yes, you heard that right. And in case you're unfamiliar with how it works, you can check out the rules and scoring on FanDuel, where you can hit the lobby each week to see the full array of slates and contests being offered.
As for the basics, your roster consists of a quarterback slot, two running back slots, three wide receiver slots (which also includes tight ends) and one super flex slot. In the flex, you can insert one player from any position, including quarterbacks.
Here, our goal is to help you field a roster full of fantasy goodness, and in true numberFire fashion, we'll use our in-house projections as well as betting totals and advanced statistics to tackle as many slates as possible in the lead-up to the College Football Playoff. This week, we are breaking down Saturday's main slate, which locks at 12:00 p.m. EST and consists of four games. To open the day, Memphis and Wake Forest fight it out in the Jared Birmingham Bowl down in Alabama.
Who should we be targeting in what matchups this week in college football?
Cole McDonald, Hawaii ($10,300): Cole McDonald's floor is higher than anyone else on this mini slate of games. Not only has he exceeded 20 FanDuel points in all but three games, but he's thrown 30 or more passes in all but one while rushing at least six times in every game. His ability to complement his passing with his running has brought his season average to 28.3 FanDuel points per game. At home, where Hawaii will play their bowl game, he's put together a 147.3 quarterback rating for the year, per Sports Reference, while throwing for 297.5 yards and 3.3 touchdowns per game. He added 147 yards and another touchdown on the ground in those six games. For their tilt with Louisiana Tech, the Warriors are one-point favorites with a 31.0 implied total. That's enough to warrant exposure against Football Outsiders' 47th-ranked defense (49th against the pass).
Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army ($9,300): Hopkins is listed as a running back, but in Army's option attack he's basically a running back that throws the ball a few times, too. He's thrown for just 956 yards and 6 touchdowns, but he's taken 197 rushes for 852 yards and 12 touchdowns. And when he does throw, it's often down the field, as he averages 10.5 adjusted yards per attempt -- with a 157.9 rating to boot. His Knights are five-point favorites over Houston, and as such have a 32.5-implied total that trails only Memphis and Wake. To make matters better, the Cougars are 65th in run defense and will be without stud defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who will sit this one out as he looks to the NFL.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest ($8,400): At first glance, the Demon Deacons' 35.0-point implied total seems really high for a team that finished the year outside the top 50 offensively, including a 92nd-ranked passing attack by S&P+. However, Wake finished the year averaging 32.5 points a game after hanging 59 on Duke the last time they took the field. Newman and company have the ability, particularly against a Memphis defense that enters their bowl game 75th in defense and 96th in passing S&P+ as a unit. Since taking over for the injured Sam Hartman, the sophomore has amassed 766 total yards and 8 scores in 3 games. In two, he exceeded 28 FanDuel points. If he does that here, it could help take down a tournament on such a small slate.
Patrick Taylor, Jr., Memphis ($10,200): Star running back Darrell Henderson won't play in the team's bowl game in order to preserve his draft status. But that won't stop us from targeting a Tigers' runner, with Taylor filling the belllcow role. He should absorb a lot of Henderson's 16.5 carries a game, and that's after averaging 13.7 himself in 13 games. On that workload, he was able to surpass the 1,000-yard mark with 15 touchdowns on the ground and another through the air. We should look at his 16.5-FanDuel-point average as the bare minimum as he projects to get 25-plus touches and the opportunity for a monster game against Wake, who finished this year 49th against the run and 73rd in isolated points per play.
B.J. Smith, Troy ($8,900): With a 49.5 over/under, Buffalo/Troy isn't a place for fans of offense. Troy plays at a slow pace and are one-point 'dogs in the Dollar General Bowl -- yes, it's a thing -- despite finishing five spots higher in the S&P+ ranks. Either way, this one will be close and Troy will have the opportunity to stick to the run against a Bulls defense that's been gashed to an 80th-ranked S&P+ at defending it. Smith led Troy with 198 carries during the regular season and was able to go over 1,000 yards on a 5.5 per-carry average. He got into the end zone 12 times, doing so two times on four separate occasions. Ignore the slate-low implied total (24.25) and bank on Smith getting a score or two.
Darnell Woolfolk, Army ($8,100): Alongside his quarterback, Woolfolk makes for a top point-per-dollar play on this slate. As we know the Knights pass the ball just one time for every 8.3 runs. That's to the direct benefit of the senior, who has totaled 14 rushing scores for a second straight year. In averaging 17.5 carries a game and 4.2 yards per carry, he yielded 12.5 FanDuel points a game. But we're looking for much more than that against that weak and depleted Houston front. After all, Woolfolk's already enjoyed two games of 21-plus FanDuel points, so why not go out with a bang?
Wide Receiver/Tight End
John Ursua, Hawaii ($9,900): Ursua is your guy to stack with McDonald and build lineups around. There's really no way around it, as the junior's commanded 22.73% of the team's total targets and a conference-best 8.59% of Hawaii's red zone targets, according to NCAA Savant. He's turned all those targets into 1,343 yards and 16 touchdowns for the season, 11 of which came in the matter of five games. If you'd like to pivot in tournaments, though, Wake receiver Greg Dortch ($9,500) is an elite talent. He's currently questionable due to a finger, but if he's in there he's a good candidate to stack with Newman, having hauled in 89 catches for over 1,000 yards and 8 scores.
Damonte Coxie, Memphis ($8,600): For Memphis, the emphasis is obviously on the run game. But being contrarian and rostering their lead back and receiver isn't out of the question. Despite some inconsistent and inefficient quarterback play, Coxie has managed 66 catches for 1,104 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's averaged 16.7 yards per catch in garnering over 24% of the targets, and his 15 red zone targets were good for third in the American conference. If you pair Coxie with Taylor, you're increasing your already high chances of getting in on Memphis' five or so touchdowns, based on their implied total.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest ($7,900): If Dortch is in, Surratt isn't as great of a play. At this price, you could still go there, but the floor is certainly limited. The upside of eight-plus catches -- which he's done twice this season -- could lead to a 15-to-20 FanDuel point outing if the team's number-one is or isn't there. He can be coupled with Newman on the cheap versus a Memphis team that's earned a 95th-place ranking on passing downs this year.
Brett Oswalt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Brett Oswalt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username BRO14THEKID. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.