Week 1 is in the books and there is a ton of ground to cover in the SEC. Let’s take a look at each game and some news we can use for DFS, starting with the featured game of Saturday’s primetime schedule.
Wisconsin @ Alabama
Game Recap: Alabama rolled over Wisconsin with an impressive 35-17 victory. For a team featuring new starters at key positions, they seemingly didn’t miss a beat. Alabama showed great balance between the passing and running game, with 264 yards through the air and 238 yards on the ground.
Key Players: Derrick Henry shined in his first game as lead back, carrying the ball 13 times for 147 yards and 3 TDs while also chipping in 2 catches for 12 yards. He needs to be on your radar on a weekly basis. Jake Coker was given the start at quarterback and played well, completing 15 of 21 for 213 yards and 1 TD. He has not officially been named the starter going forward, but the Tide will be in fine hands if he is given the nod on a permanent basis.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Kenyon Drake will fill Henry’s role from last year as RB2 and looked fantastic on Saturday. He carried the ball 10 times for 77 yards and 1 TD and added on 2 catches for 48 yards. Drake becomes a must-start in the event of injury to Henry and can be in consideration for RB2 or flex spot duty in the meantime. Cooper Bateman received time at quarterback and looked sharp, completing 7 of 8 for 51 yards. The quarterback battle does not appear to be over. Sophomore WRs Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart look to be the top two options in the passing game. Both players snagged 4 balls and Foster was the recipient of Coker’s TD pass.
Louisvile @ Auburn
Game Recap: While Auburn looked sloppy at times on offense, the defense put together a strong performance as they defeated Louisville 31-24. A shaky performance in the passing game was offset by a solid day on the ground, but overall an underwhelming offensive performance in relation to the expectations surrounding the offense.
Key Players: Jeremy Johnson struggled in his first game as starter, completing 11 of 21 for 137 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. He added on 11 yards and a TD on the ground. Johnson should be able to bounce back nicely in next week’s game against Jacksonville State. Peyton Barber was the most effective RB, carrying the ball 24 times for 115 yards and adding on 1 catch for 15 yards. Ricardo Louis thrived in a multi-purpose role with 75 combined yards and 2 TDs.
Key Injuries: RBs Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson were limited by injuries on Saturday. No word on the severity of the injuries.
Players to Watch: Johnson and star wideout D’haquille Williams will benefit from a game together against easier competition next week. Barber will be firmly in the mix for carries after Saturday’s strong performance and could seize control of the backfield if injuries cause the other backs to miss any time. Ricardo Louis is a solid WR2 and will benefit from the extra attention opposing defenses pay to Williams.
Arizona State @ Texas A&M
Game Recap: The Aggies overcame turnovers on offense and put together an overall strong performance in a decisive 38-17 victory over Arizona State. The already loaded group of wide receivers welcomed another member as freshman Christian Kirk stole the show.
Key Players: Kyle Allen threw for 198 yards, 2 TDs and an INT and also ran for a TD. He was surprisingly rotated with freshman Kyler Murray, who threw for 49 yards and an INT. Murray added on 69 rushing yards on 6 carries. Tra Carson had 105 total yards and 2 TDs and looks entrenched as the workhorse back. Freshman WR Christian Kirk burst onto the scene with 6 catches for 106 yards and a TD while also returning a punt 79 yards for a TD.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: The quarterback situation needs to be monitored. All signs pointed to it being Allen’s job going into the season but the rotation in the season opener shows that the competition may very well be alive. Carson should be a constant all year and a good weekly target for DFS outside of facing a top-tier rushing defense. The crowded group of wide receivers can be difficult to predict on a weekly basis. Josh Reynolds is probably the safest in terms of targets per game, but any of this talented group could break out on a week-to-week basis.
Louisiana Monroe @ Georgia
Game Recap: The Bulldogs rolled to a 51-14 victory behind an overwhelming ground game. The team ran for a combined 243 yards and 4 TDs and tacked on another 3 TDs through the air. This game was one of several that was impacted by weather this week and was halted with 9:54 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Key Players: The absolutely loaded Georgia backfield will be a headache for opponents all season. Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb did his damage with 120 yards and 2 TDs before giving way to Keith Marshall and Sony Michel. Marshall ran for 73 yards and 2 TDs while Michel had 120 total yards and a TD. Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert was solid behind center, throwing for 141 yards and 2 TDs. Malcolm Mitchell and Jeb Blazevich were the recipients of Lambert’s TDs.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Chubb will be dominant this season. The question will come down to whether his weekly price makes sense in terms of production. Marshall and Michel should be on the radar as RB2s or flex players, especially in games against overmatched opponents like ULM. Lambert should receive additional reps as he grows more comfortable in the offense. For now, he could make a good fit depending on matchup for 2QB sites.
UTEP @ Arkansas
Game Recap: Arkansas dismantled UTEP 48-13, but surprisingly it wasn’t the team’s potent running game that was the story of the day. New offensive coordinator Dan Enos unleashed an aerial assault that yielded 308 yards and 4 TDs, providing plenty of food for thought for future opponents.
Key Players: Brandon Allen was an extremely efficient 14 of 18 while connecting with six different receivers. The senior led the Razorbacks to TDs on each of their first four drives of the game. Keon Hatcher was the preferred target as he caught 6 passes for 106 yards and 2 TDs. Although the ground game was outshined by Allen’s stellar day, Alex Collins and company gained 182 yards and ran in 2 TDs.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Allen and Hatcher could be an intriguing duo for DFS this season based on the matchup. Prior to Saturday’s game, tight end Hunter Henry was the first thought to pair up with Allen. Henry was relatively quiet on Saturday with 2 catches for 42 yards, but remains in consideration weekly as one of the top tight ends in the country and for DFS purposes. Perhaps the air show from the Razorbacks will cause the sites to depress Collins’ price for future weeks. If so, there could be some great opportunities to buy low on a back that accumulates yardage and has a great shot at finding the end zone on a weekly basis.
louisiana lafayette @ Kentucky
Game Recap: Kentucky needed a late TD to overtake ULL 40-33 on Saturday. The offense was expected to show improvement this season and got off to a good start with a nice balance between the passing and running game.
Key Players: Patrick Towles put forth a solid effortby throwing for 257 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, but will look to improve on his completion percentage as he completed only 16 of 34. He spread the ball around well with 3 different receivers scoring touchdowns and 7 receivers targeted overall. Stanley Williams had an electrifying 75-yard touchdown run en route to a 135 yard day. Garrett Johnson led receivers with 5 catches for 85 yards and 1 TD.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Towles was expected to take a leap forward this season and got off to a good start on Saturday. He played very well in the first half but was a little shaky in the second. He closed the game out on a high note with a 58-yard game winning drive capped off by a Mikel Horton 12-yard touchdown run. Stanley Williams was explosive and is the key to the Wildcats offense. He will be a great target for DFS in the right matchup. Johnson looks to be the top choice to pair up with Towles for DFS and could make for a good low cost receiver individually in certain weeks.
Mississippi State @ Southern Mississippi
Game Recap: Mississippi State overcame a slow start and came on strong in the second half to defeat Southern Mississippi 34-16. A halftime score of 14-10 in favor of Mississippi State quickly became 21-10 after Dak Prescott led the team on a 9 play, 95-yard touchdown drive.
Key Players: Prescott contributed through the air and on the ground, throwing for 237 yards and 2 TDs and adding on another TD and 72 yards rushing. Brandon Holloway led all running backs with 51 yards on 7 carries and also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD. Top wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson had a quiet night with only 1 reception for 42 yards.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Prescott is one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the nation. Weekly consideration for Prescott comes down to pricing. The backfield was pretty jumbled, with 3 RBs topping 30 yards rushing. Ashton Shumpert fumbled a sure TD on the opening drive. Holloway could push for time after his solid play on Saturday night. Wilson will remain the top target for Prescott, but Fred Ross is now on the radar after his 5 receptions for 75 yards.
New Mexico State @ Florida
Game Recap: Florida routed New Mexico State 61-13 on Saturday behind a very impressive offensive performance. The team had over 600 yards of total offense and 8 TDs on the evening.
Key Players: The passing game shined on Saturday. Unfortunately for DFS purposes, there were two different quarterbacks racking up the stats. Florida quarterbacks combined for 382 yards and 4 TDs. Treon Harris and Will Grier both threw for 2 TDs with Grier adding another on the ground. Kelvin Taylor paced RBs with 54 yards and a TD, while three different receivers accounted for the TDs in the passing game.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: The offense looked very strong on Saturday, but outside of Taylor it may be hard to pinpoint who to target in the early part of the season. Both QBs are expected to play again in the team’s next game against East Carolina. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was thought to be one of the Gators top threats this season, but has apparently been demoted to third string. We’ll have to wait and see whether a clear WR1 emerges.
Tennessee-Martin @ Ole Miss
Game Recap: As expected, Ole Miss put forth a dominant effort and defeated Tennessee-Martin 76-3. Granted, the opponent was clearly outclassed but 662 total yards of offense and 10 TDs is still quite impressive.
Key Players: Chad Kelly showed a firm command of the offense while throwing for 211 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. He also ran for a 20-yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Jaylen Walton only had 3 carries but made the most of them, racking up 65 yards and 2 TDs. Five different receivers scored touchdowns. Cody Core led the receivers with 2 catches for 80 yards.
Key Injuries: Walton exited the game with concussion-like symptoms but appears to be ok.
Players to Watch: Kelly looks like a great fit for the offense and will be a factor for DFS throughout 2015. Stud wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was relatively quiet with 4 receptions for 44 yards, but we can expect his role to increase as the competition gets tougher. Cody Core is one of many talented receivers on the depth chart. We’ll have to see if a clear WR2 emerges. Walton looked great before exiting, but the Rebels have plenty of talent in the backfield as well if he misses any time.
Southeast Missouri State @ Missouri
Game Recap: Missouri blew past Southeast Missouri State 34-3 on Saturday. The defense was the star of the game for Missouri as they held their opponents to less than 200 yards of total offense.
Key Players: Maty Mauk started off strong with two first quarter touchdown drives. He finished the game with 181 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. The running game was quiet with a combined 88 yards coming from 6 different players. Tyler Hunt, J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown each found the end zone for the receivers.
Key Injuries: Russell Hansbrough exited in the 1st quarter with an ankle injury but did return for a play.
Players to Watch: Freshman quarterback Drew Lock saw some snaps and played well, completing 6 of 10 for 138 yards and 1 TD. Mauk’s job is secure but Lock is a name to keep in mind in the event of injury. Several receivers played well for the Tigers, but it’s best to hold off for DFS until a clear pecking order emerges. If Hansbrough misses any time due to injury, look for Ish Witter to pick up the slack. Witter led all backs with 33 yards on Saturday.
North Carolina @ South Carolina
Game Recap: South Carolina defeated North Carolina 17-13 in a game that featured less offensive fireworks than were anticipated. The defense was the bright spot for South Carolina, who will need to step it up on offense for their next game against Kentucky.
Key Players: Connor Mitch was lackluster, completing 9 of 22 for 122 yards and 1 TD. The 75-yard touchdown drive in the 2nd quarter was the highlight of the evening, capped off by a 9-yard pass to Pharoh Cooper. Gamecock running backs combined for 254 yards and 1 TD, led by Shon Carson with 75 yards. Cooper contributed 3 catches for 45 yards and added on another 20 yards rushing on 5 carries.
Key Injuries: Connor Mitch had a hip pointer after the game but should be ready for this week.
Players to Watch: First night in the offense, but Mitch will have to play better to hold the starting job all year. Cooper is a top-tier talent, but may disappoint in DFS this season if the quarterback play fails to improve. Shon Carson is a name to keep on the radar after ripping off 75 yards on only 4 carries. Lead back Brandon Wilds chipped in 51 yards on 14 carries.
Western Kentucky @ Vanderbilt
Game Recap: Vanderbilt hung tough all night but in the end was simply unable to close the deal. A failed two-point conversion in the final minute that would have tied the game allowed Western Kentucky to hang on for a 14-12 victory.
Key Players: It was a disappointing night for starting quarterback Johnny McCrary as he completed 18 of 34 for 217 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Both interceptions occurred in the end zone to add to the heartbreaking feeling of the opening night loss. Ralph Webb was solid in the backfield, carrying the ball 18 times for 70 yards plus snagging 3 receptions for 27 yards. Trent Sherfield was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 63 yards and the Commodores lone touchdown.
Key Injuries: None.
Players to Watch: Improved play from McCrary is a must, but Vanderbilt has some talent at the skill positions to work with. Ralph Webb looks like the real deal and will be an interesting play except against the really strong rushing defenses in conference play. Sherfield is a receiver to keep an eye on as the season progresses, as is Darrius Sims. He received touches out of the backfield, as a receiver and on returns.
McNeese State @ LSU
Game Recap: The game was cancelled due to lightning strikes in the area and will not be made up.