With daily fantasy football so popular, it was only a matter of time before it translated to the college level.
FanDuel offers college football daily fantasy contests now in most states, and there's a twist on the NFL ruleset. You select a quarterback, two running backs, three wideouts (which can include tight ends), and a "SuperFLEX" that can be any of those positions.
Finding target data for pass-catchers in college can be difficult, so finding out which players are on the field and getting work can make all the difference. Naturally, there are also more lopsided outcomes in college, so balance game scripts appropriately! Your running back's monstrous first half could lead to a bagel in the second.
Thanksgiving weekend is great for football because we get two days of pro football and two days of college. It ends Saturday, and this is arguably the best college slate of the year. Elite rivalries are on tap, and that's -- of course -- headlined by the defacto title-elimination game in Columbus.
Note: All stats are from PFF.com. All tables are sortable by any category.
|W Virginia||Oklahoma St||+8.5||62.5||35.5||27|
|Mich State||Penn State||-19.5||52.5||16.5||36|
I wish I could tell you that Saturday's elite matchups were the games to stack, but I can't.
The best daily fantasy contest is a meaningless affair between Central Florida and South Florida. That total is broaching 70. Tennessee and Vanderbilt also don't have much to play for, but those are two up-tempo offenses with a 64.5-point total.
There are two complete cross-off games for me. Georgia and Alabama are gigantic favorites where the anemic offenses of Georgia Tech and Auburn shouldn't get hardly anything going against elite defenses. Starters simply won't have two halves to work in those games.
Defensive Matchups and Rankings
Note: Higher numbers are easier matchups for the opposing team. Lower numbers are better rankings and tougher matchups.
|Team||Defensive Passing YardsPer Attempt Rank (FBS)||Defensive Rushing YardsPer Attempt Rank (FBS)|
The worst overall defense in FBS might be South Florida. They're bottom three in yards per attempt (YPA) allowed against both phases. Vanderbilt, Kansas, Southern Cal, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia are other defenses in this slate that have really struggled against both the pass and rush, as well.
There are elite defenses, though. I mentioned Alabama and Georgia, but Michigan and Ohio State absolutely headline this slate in terms of handicapping the daily fantasy potential of each other. Penn State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oregon State, and Iowa State are others that are above average facing both phases.
Teams we'd ideally like to target on the ground include South Carolina, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Oklahoma. On the contrary, we'd rather target passing attacks versus Tennessee, Oregon, and Louisiana State.
Again, as much as I'd like to go straight to Heisman contenders on the slate, John Rhys Plumlee ($11,000) is the clear top option here.
USF's defense is absolutely atrocious, and Plumlee is a dual-threat quarterback averaging 77.7 rushing yards on the ground this year. His lone path to failure would be his running backs taking all of the scores.
The reality is Caleb Williams ($12,200) and Bo Nix ($11,500) are in brutal matchups with top-30 pass defenses -- and solid opposing running games. They could be watching more of Saturday's contests than usual.
The opportunity cost -- beyond salary -- of those two is pretty staggering, as well. We've also got Will Howard ($10,600) against the Jayhawks' swiss-cheese-like defense, and Spencer Sanders ($10,800) gets to attack the Mountaineers' 127th-ranked pass defense (in terms of YPA).
On the other side of Howard, Jalon Daniels ($9,200) returned last week with a modest 17.4 FanDuel points against a tough Texas defense. K-State's defense should be an easier test.
Joe Milton III ($9,500) has been solid enough in relief duty of Hendon Hooker to believe in him against the Commodores' weak pass defense. I think Mike Wright ($8,300) -- despite the salary bump -- also works for a second week in a row as a value plug. He's run for 54.9 yards per contest this year.
Two other value plays on this slate include Garret Greene ($8,500), who has been exceptional since taking over for West Virginia, and dual-threat gunslinger Donovan Smith ($8,600) should be safe for a modest day assuming Behren Morton sits due to an ankle injury.
It's odd to not have a five-digit salary with a back on such a large slate, but Deuce Vaughn ($9,700) is a worthy lead guy. He's toted the ball at least 19 times in four straight entering this solid matchup with KU.
LSU's 32nd-ranked rush defense is too strong for me to consider a limited Devon Achane ($9,500) at his salary. Achane is dealing with a foot issue. I'd rather turn to Eric Gray ($9,400) who has emerged in the Sooners' running back committee for 63.0% of the carries in the past three weeks.
"The Game" will require "a wait" on these backfields. The status of Blake Corum ($9,000) is affecting this game's potential competitiveness as much as his viability. Backup Donovan Edwards ($6,500) is also banged up for UM, and the same could be said for Ohio State's Miyan Williams ($8,300) and Tre'Veyon Henderson ($7,100). If both sit, Dallan Hayden ($6,500) is a free square even in this brutal matchup; he logged 27 carries last week without them.
Injuries litter the top of the player pool, but Ray Davis ($8,000) is probably the next spot down from Vaughn and Gray. He's amassed 60.6% of Vandy's total carries in the past three weeks.
Isaiah Bowser ($7,800) is a decent stack with Plumlee to try and ensure pieces of every UCF score -- and there could be plenty of them. Bowser has logged 44 carries in the past three games to 36 for RJ Harvey ($5,800), so Harvey might be a better dart for the daring. On the other side, Brian Battle ($7,500) got 19 totes for the Bulls last week.
USC's new starting running back is Austin Jones ($7,600). He'll be popular following 31.7 FanDuel points against UCLA, but Notre Dame's stingy run defense will be a different test. The Trojans still spread the ball around plenty at all levels, too.
Opposite Jones, Audric Estime ($7,400) and Logan Diggs ($6,500) have too good of a matchup to ignore their clear split in the Irish backfield. Diggs got 15 carries to Estime's 11 last week, but that's alternated without a predictable pattern all year. I'm leaning toward Estime for popularity purposes.
I'm really fading a good chunk of the top of wideout's pool -- which I almost never plan to do.
Jalin Hyatt ($9,800) has a crazy salary with Hendon Hooker no longer under center. We don't even know for certain the offense will be close to its same level. Beyond him, Jordan Addison ($9,500) still commanded just 18.5% of USC's targets in the past two weeks, and Marvin Harrison Jr. ($9,400) has the toughest matchup in the country with Michigan.
In a game where it's easy to believe the Cyclones will cover (since Texas Christian never makes anything easy), Xavier Hutchinson ($9,000) has an unmatched workload on this slate. He's seen 35.6% of Iowa State's targets this year, including 12.6 per contest in his past three.
If Xavier Weaver ($8,500) is healthy, he's a phenomenal bring-back option with Plumlee, scoring a 32.7% target share this year. He's a definite question mark to play, though, which would bring Jimmy Horn Jr. ($6,300) into play for a second straight week. Of course, Ryan O'Keefe ($8,100) pairs well with his quarterback, Plumlee, given his 27.8% share this season, too.
The two best target shares on this slate beyond Hutchinson belong to Will Sheppard ($7,800) of Vanderbilt and Notre Dame's Michael Mayer ($7,500). Those two offenses run the ball over 54.5% of the time, so the salary discount is appropriate. However, both are facing weak pass defenses and are fully viable.
Without Corum, I truly believe Michigan will significantly increase its pass rate, so say hello to Ronnie Bell ($6,600). Bell's 26.8% share just hasn't had much volume this year.
Marvin Mims ($7,500) is the clear top option for Oklahoma, and Myles Price ($5,900) has been a favorite of Smith this year. Price saw a team-best six targets last week, too. Other value wideouts with at least 10 targets last week also include Cedric Tillman ($8,000), Brennan Presley ($6,700), and Kris Hutson ($5,900) in an otherwise-muddy Oregon Ducks target tree.