College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 11/7/15
To be frankly honest, last week's slate wasn't anything to get too excited about. And unless you were all over Sean Maguire and the banged up Seminoles you probably weren't too excited about the outcome of your lineups either; I know I wasn't.
But that was last week, and that's an eternity ago in weekly fantasy games. Today is a new week with much more excitement on tap -- especially for daily fantasy purposes.
In this week's early slate (on FanDuel) alone, there are four games with an over/under of at least 66.5 points. As the day transitions into the late slate there are two more games with an over/under of at least 66.5 and two others at 61.0 or more points.
So, with an uptick in quality offenses and high-paced matchups, we're very likely to see not only a jump in scoring from a week ago but what I would expect to be one of the highest scoring weeks of the season. How can we get in on all these points?
Our in-house projections are here to help with that. These projections produce team-based statistics based on our algorithms, so this type of approach is logical, as the basic principles of any daily fantasy sport are to target high point projections and teams that are supposed to perform well offensively.
Let's get those points!
Early Slate - Greg Ward, Jr., Houston ($9,500)
With 15 games on the early slate schedule, there is no shortage of good to elite quarterback plays this week. For my money, I'm passing on Heisman hopefuls Deshaun Watson and Trevone Boykin in favor of a guy who should be getting respect as a Heisman candidate -- Greg Ward. As I've said in previous installments, Ward is the Houston offense. He's had his hand in 27 of the Cougars' 44 touchdowns so far this season, but recently he's had a couple of down weeks as he's failed to account for more than two touchdowns in either contest. That's good for us because not as many people will be on the Cougar quarterback. The joke's on them because, in the two games prior to this week's matchup with Cincinnati, Houston faced two teams with an average pace of just over 70 plays per game. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is fourth in the nation at 83.5 plays per game -- nearly four more than even the uptempo Houston offense. It's no wonder we project Ward and the Cougars to total over 450 yards of total offense on their way to an implied total of nearly 41 points.
Late Slate - Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma ($9,300)
The quarterback position is figuratively and literally night and day this week. For the evening games, there are a select few elite options and many more middle of the road to value options. This slate may be more cash friendly than tournament friendly, but either way, I'm going with Baker Mayfield. He draws a great matchup against a weak Iowa State defense that, over a three week span, saw Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor score 66, 45 and 45 points, respectively. Vegas expects the Sooners to do much of the same, with an implied total of 43 points. Now the Sooners may do a lot of work on the ground -- especially if this is blowout city after one half -- however, we project Mayfield and the Sooner offense to pass for over 280 yards and total over 480 yards of total offense. Regardless of whether or not this is a blowout, Mayfield will have his numbers.
Top Running Backs
Early - Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia ($6,700)
I couldn't care less if Smallwood shares carries with other Mountaineer backs this week because, at his price and in this matchup, he's a really great play here. This week, the Mountaineers face off against Texas Tech and their porous rush defense, which is giving up 5.68 adjusted yards per rush (fifth worst in the nation). According to our projections, that means big things for Smallwood and the West Virginia rushing offense -- as in nearly 200 yards rushing. Not only do we expect big production in terms of yardage, but Vegas gives West Virginia an implied total of 44 points in a shootout-style game with the highest over/under (80.0) on the slate. Smallwood should reach the endzone at least once in this one.
Late - Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State ($9,600)
Unlike the quarterback pool, the running back stock runs really deep at the top for this week's primetime games. Five of the nation's top running backs are poised to show off their stuff under the lights, but only two (Royce Freeman and Elliott) do I see in favorable matchups. If you got the cash, Elliott is my favorite play of them all. With recent and sudden suspension of dual-threat quarterback J.T. Barrett, I'd expect Elliott's workload to be incredibly heavy. Even though they aren't terrible against the run (4.06 rush yards allowed per play) the Golden Gophers should be terrified by that. The Buckeyes are 23-point favorites at home, which is a recipe for nearly 225 yards on the ground, according to our algorithms. That has Zeke written all over it.
Top Wide Receivers
Early - Shelton Gibson, West Virginia ($6,700) & Dom Williams, Washington State ($6,500)
As much as I expect the Mountaineers to take advantage of the Red Raiders' awful run defense, I can't help but think they'll be throwing it all over them as well. In such a high-scoring affair, against a potent Texas Tech offense, they might have to throw at times to stay ahead or build a bigger lead. Texas Tech isn't terrible against the pass, but they are susceptible to the big play -- and that's exactly what Gibson brings to the table. He's a burner so he could easily provide a long touchdown or two, which means big value at just $6,700.
Much like the Mountaineers, the Cougars should be doing a lot of passing and a lot of scoring this week (over/under of 67.0). Quarterback Luke Falk is averaging nearly 40 completions per game and over 400 yards per game in the Cougars' pass-first, pass-second, pass-third offense. Dom Williams is one of the main beneficiaries of this offensive attack, averaging 6 catches and 82 yards per game with 6 touchdowns on the year. This week should be no different as Washington State takes on Arizona State's lackluster pass defense, giving up 7.63 adjusted yards per pass on the season. With this matchup of strength versus weakness, we project the Cougars to throw for nearly 325 yards.
Late - Darren Carrington, Oregon ($7,400) & Kenny Lawler, California ($6,100)
In certain situations, I think it's a really smart play to target two teams' top wide receivers against one another -- and this is one of those situations. Oregon and Cal are set to meet up for a Pac-12 shootout in a game with an over/under of 76 points and a spread of a mere 4 points, so that's pretty much your ideal situation to implement this practice. For Oregon, Darren Carrington is the man. He has 5 catches -- 3 of which went for scores -- and over 100 yards in each of his two contests this year. Despite a moderate projection of 221 yards passing, Carrington should have at least one touchdown on his way to a big day as the Ducks sport an implied total of 40.
On the other side, Kenny Lawler's the name you want. Jared Goff is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and Lawler -- 42 catches and 9 touchdowns on the season -- is his number one target. He's looking to rebound this week after earning just 4.5 fantasy points a week ago, but Lawler has proven that he's capable of producing at a super high level. He has four games of 20-plus fantasy points among which he has three games with at least two trips to the end zone. California has an implied total of 36, so I have to figure one of maybe five touchdowns would be courtesy of Lawler's pass-catching ability.
Top Tight Ends
Early - C.J. Conrad, Kentucky ($2,300)
I know you're probably thinking I'm crazy for passing up all the good tight end options out there, but I really think you have punt at tight end in order to pay up everywhere else this week. With Conrad, you're saving $900 to $1,400 and getting a guy with 10 receptions in his last three games. Kentucky doesn't have many offensive weapons, and they're 14.5-point underdogs here, but they do have an implied total of 22 points, and we project them to pass for over 200 yards in order to try and keep up with the Bulldogs. Even if Conrad doesn't produce himself, you're getting better production at other positions as a result.
Late - Mark Andrews, Oklahoma ($3,200)
I'll be honest -- it feels like forever since I haven't punted at the tight end position. It feels weird, but I haven't been left much of a choice for this week's late games. Most tight ends with any kind of usage or production are at least $2,700, and I don't see any point in settling for anyone other than Andrews. Like I mentioned before, Oklahoma is going to put up points in bunches and do so through the air (at least early). Andrews has five touchdowns this year and is coming off a five-catch performance, so he's a great play, especially if you go with Mayfield at quarterback.