College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 10/18/19
Week 8 provides us a rare chance to watch a national title contender on a Friday night, as the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. As a result, you'll want to make sure you slide at least a couple Buckeyes into your lineup, as they carry the highest implied total of the night at 39 points.
In this preview, I'll break down the Friday slate into three categories based on FanDuel's prices: players to build around, value plays, and players to avoid.
Players to build around are more expensive, but their ceiling is high enough that you should consider prioritizing them in your lineup. Value plays are cheaper options who usually come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the expensive stars. Players to avoid are guys you might normally consider at their price tag, but who have a tough matchup this week and are unlikely to live up to their usual expectations.
All references to betting totals and spreads are from the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Players to Build Around
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State ($11,000) vs. Northwestern -- This is one of the biggest price tags you'll see all season, but on this particular slate filled with wildly inconsistent quarterbacks, it will be difficult to avoid Justin Fields. Through Ohio State's first six games, Fields has reached at least 25 points in each one. Northwestern is allowing just 11 fantasy points per game to opposing starting quarterbacks, but they haven't faced anyone close to Fields' caliber. Michigan State's Brian Lewerke -- arguably the most talented quarterback the Wildcats have faced -- put up 22 fantasy points, which should give you enough confidence to expect another dominant game from Fields.
QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh ($8,800) vs. Syracuse -- Kenny Pickett has been reasonably productive this season (17.6 fantasy points per game versus FBS opponents) despite having already faced three top-50 pass defenses (UCF, Penn State, Virginia). If Pickett can produce against those defenses, Syracuse's 111th-ranked pass defense shouldn't pose much of a threat. One of the reasons Pickett has been a reliable fantasy option is Pittsburgh's tendency to throw in the red zone. According to Sports Info Solutions, Pitt quarterbacks drop back to pass on 68.8 percent of their red zone plays, the second highest rate in the nation.
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State ($9,800) vs. Northwestern -- Northwestern is known for its defense, but the Wildcats have been vulnerable against talented running backs this year. In three of Northwestern's five games, an opposing running back has reached at least 20 fantasy points. J.K. Dobbins has also eclipsed the 20-point mark three times this season and scored at least 15 in every game. The only risk to playing Dobbins is the possibility Ohio State tries to lighten his load with the Wisconsin Badgers on the horizon in Week 9.
WR Maurice Ffrench, Pittsburgh ($8,500) vs. Syracuse -- According to Sports Info Solutions, Maurice Ffrench is tied for fourth in the nation with 70 targets and leads Pitt with a 27.3 percent target share. The majority of Ffrench's workload comes from the slot, which makes him less of a big-play threat -- he's averaging just 5.7 yards per target -- but it also gives him a reliable workload. Ffrench has at least seven receptions in each of his last five games.
WR Taysir Mack, Pittsburgh ($8,000) vs. Syracuse -- Taysir Mack trails Ffrench by just one target and boasts a strong target share of 27 percent. While Ffrench sees the shorter targets from the slot, Mack lines up wide and gets more opportunities downfield, which gives him the potential for more big plays. Mack has generated a team-high nine receptions of 20 or more yards, compared to just two for Ffrench. Syracuse's defense has allowed 20 or more yards on 10.3 percent of opponents' drop backs this season, which ranks 46th out of 65 Power 5 schools. Mack's role makes him slightly less of a sure thing than Ffrench, but against Syracuse's weak defense, Mack also has a higher ceiling.
RB Charles Williams, UNLV ($7,900) vs. Fresno State -- UNLV is a run-first team, as they demonstrated last week against Vanderbilt with 53 rushing attempts against just 16 passes. The Rebels are 16-point underdogs against Fresno State, so they probably can't recreate such a heavy workload for Charles Williams, but they'll certainly try. Williams has topped the 20-point mark twice this season, both in UNLV blowout losses, so he's already proven capable of producing in a less-than-ideal game script. Fresno's run defense ranks 64th in the country, but it has also allowed 15 or more fantasy points to a running back in three out of five games. Of the six starting running backs on this slate, Williams is the second cheapest, making him a good value in this spot.
WR Emoryie Edwards, Fresno State ($7,500) vs. UNLV -- Emoryie Edwards missed the start of the season with a foot injury, but since making his debut, he leads Fresno State with a 24 percent target share and is averaging 10.2 yards per target. UNLV's defense has been vulnerable to the pass this season, allowing three receivers to reach at least 20 fantasy points.
RB Master Teague, Ohio State ($7,000) vs. Northwestern -- Dobbins is entrenched as the starter in Ohio State's backfield, but Master Teague has still been given 10 or more touches in five of six games. He's also reached 15 or more fantasy points twice (versus Nebraska and Indiana). As previously mentioned, there's a chance Ohio State tries to lighten Dobbins' workload with a huge game against Wisconsin on deck, so it's reasonable to guess Teague will see a decent workload against Northwestern.
WR Riley Lees, Northwestern, ($6,600) vs. Ohio State -- The Buckeyes rank third in the nation in pass defense, so it's tough to trust any Northwestern receiver in this matchup. If you're looking to plug in someone from the bargain bin, however, Riley Lees looks like a strong option. Over the past two games, Lees has seen 21 targets, according to Sports Info Solutions. The Wildcats are likely to be trailing throughout the game, forcing them to throw often, which could lead to another good workload for Lees.
Players to Avoid
WR Trishton Jackson, Syracuse ($9,100) vs. Pittsburgh -- The most expensive receiver on the slate draws one of the toughest opponents of his season. Trishton Jackson has three games over 20 fantasy points, but they came against three terrible defenses: Western Michigan (88th in pass defense), North Carolina State (97th) and Maryland (113th). In two games against top-50 pass defenses, Jackson posted just 6.2 fantasy points combined. Pitt ranks 41st in pass defense, but more importantly, Jackson will likely be matched up with cornerback Damarri Mathis. According to Sports Info Solutions, Mathis has allowed just 7 receptions on 28 targets (25 percent) while allowing 3.4 yards per target.
Ohio State's Receivers vs. Northwestern -- The Buckeyes are loaded with talent at receiver, but good luck guessing who's going to emerge as the go-to target in any given week. Through six games, five different Ohio State receivers have led the team in fantasy points, and no one has eclipsed the 20 mark. You could throw a dart at any one of them and hope for a big game, but there doesn't appear to be any pattern to help us guess who is next in line. Here's a breakdown of their leading receivers this season:
|Week||Leading Receiver||Opp||Fantasy Pts|
|Week 1||Jeremy Rucket||FAU||17.8|
|Week 2||K.J. Hill||CIN||15.7|
|Week 3||Chris Olave||IND||14.5|
|Week 4||Chris Olave||M-OH||16.5|
|Week 5||Austin Mack||NEB||14.1|
|Week 6||Binjimen Victor||MSU||15.4|
Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.