We have a fun 5-Game New Year’s Day Slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. It is an all-day affair, kicking off with Mississippi State and Iowa at noon eastern and finishes wraps up with Texas and Georgia kicking at approximately 8:45.
The core plays and top GPP options are broken down below as we go game-by-game through the slate. The Vegas implied team total is in parentheses for each team.
Mississippi St. (24) vs. Iowa (17)
MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald ($6,900 DK, $10,200 FD)
Iowa RB Mekhi Sargent ($5,800 DK, $8,100 FD)
MSU RB Kylin Hill ($4,900 DK, $8,400 FD)
The Bulldogs are a ground and pound offense led by massive 6’5, 230-pound quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. He has a team-high 201 carries, 1,018 yards, and 15 rushing touchdowns. Fitzgerald was actually the third-leading rusher in the SEC this season. Mississippi St. averages just 23 pass attempts and 155 passing yards per game, so Fitzgerald needs to have a big game running the ball to find fantasy success. Fitzgerald has 30+ fantasy points in five of his last seven games (all except Alabama and LSU) and is one of the top overall plays on the slate.
Kylin Hill is the top option at running back but he has been extremely boom or bust with stretches where he is barely involved. Some of that is due to a lingering ankle injury. Hill has proven capable of big games when he does get touches. He has gone for 100+ rushing yards in all three of the games he carried 10 or more times. Hill is the cheapest starting running back on the slate, which makes him a strong GPP option given his proven upside.
Running back Mekhi Sargent emerged as the go-to option down the stretch for Iowa. He started the season slowly but had his two best games to close out the season, rushing for 173 yards and 1 touchdown against Nebraska and 121 yards and 2 touchdowns against Illinois. Mississippi State has a fantastic defense but has been more vulnerable on the ground (17th S&P) than through the air (2nd S&P). Given his favorable pricing, Sargent qualifies as a core play. The upside isn’t particularly high given Iowa’s 17-point implied team total but he should see 15-25 carries and handle the goal line work as well.
LSU (32.3) vs. UCF (25.3)
LSU RB Nick Brossette ($7,300 DK, $9,100 FD)
LSU WR Justin Jefferson ($6,000 DK, $8,500 FD)
LSU QB Joe Burrow ($7,500 DK, $9,000 FD)
UCF QB Darriel Mack Jr. ($8,200 DK, $8,800 FD)
UCF RB Greg McCrae ($7,400 DK, $8,700 FD)
LSU is the only team on the slate with an implied team total higher than their average points scored this season. If you take out the bizarre overtime shootout against Texas A&M, the team total of 32.25 is nearly a touchdown higher than the Tigers average, which makes this a prime spot to find value.
The top play in this game is lead back Nick Brossette. He has averaged 18.7 touches per game this season and leads the team with 14 touchdowns. UCF’s biggest weakness is run defense, where they are allowing a whopping 232.1 rushing yards per game at a 5.0 YPC clip. Brossette could see a few extra touches because backup Clyde Edwards-Helairehas missed time during bowl prep due to his involvement in a shooting. He was eventually cleared as the shooting was ruled to be in self-defense. Edwards-Helaire should be active but might be less involved than normal (12.0 touches per game). Third-stringer Lanard Fournette is minimum-priced on DraftKings and might be worth a shot in GPPs if you feel Edwards-Helaire might be out and that LSU can impose their will on the UCF defense.
UCF’s struggles against the run have been especially pronounced against dual-threat quarterbacks, allowing 157 rushing yards to David Pindell of Connecticut, 84 to Holton Ahlers of ECU, 90 to Zach Abey of Navy, and 86 to Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati. Joe Burrow makes for intriguing in GPPs because a rushing touchdown or two could make him the top point-per-dollar play at the position. He is tied for second on the team with 7 rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, he’s been priced up a bit (especially on DraftKings) following his monster 55-point fantasy day against Texas A&M.
Justin Jefferson is far and away the top target in the passing game. His 84 targets on the season are more than double anyone else and he had four touchdowns in SEC play. He is worth rostering in GPPs if you feel this game might turn into a shootout.
Quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. has rushed for 179 yards and 5 touchdowns in his two starts this season. With that kind of rushing upside, he has to be on the radar in GPPs. Mack hadn’t been very effective as a passer until he got hot in the second half of his last start against Memphis and he will likely struggle against an elite LSU pass defense (5th in S&P). Mack is a boom/bust play but his rushing ability and favorable price (especially on FanDuel) make him a solid GPP option.
UCF spreads the ball around to a number of different pass catchers and given the tough matchup, none profile as anything more than long shot GPP plays.
Greg McCrae emerged down the stretch as the go-to guy in the backfield, rushing for 99+ yards and at least one touchdown in 5-of-6 games to end the season. The matchup is tough, which takes McCrae out of cash-game consideration, but UCF’s high-paced attack could present enough problems that McCrae could once again make an impact in GPPs.
Kentucky (20.3) vs. Penn St. (26.8)
PSU QB Trace McSorley ($8,700 DK, $9,500 FD)
UK RB Benny Snell ($8,400 DK, $10,100 FD)
PSU RB Miles Sanders ($7,100 DK, $9,300 FD
PSU WR Jahan Dotson ($3,600 DK, $5,500 FD)
Star running back Benny Snell has declared for the draft but is still participating in the bowl game. He has been a certified workhorse for the Wildcats this season, with 280 touches (23.3 per game). Penn State has a very good defense, ranking 11th in S&P but have been beatable on the ground (41st in S&P). Penn St. has given up some big rushing games when facing quality opponents (132 yards to Karan Higdon of Michigan and 185 to Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin). Given the relatively tough matchup and high prices, Snell is a GPP option.
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson is a dual-threat and priced fairly ($6,100 DK, $8,400 FD) but is only a long shot GPP play given Kentucky’s 20-point team total and Penn State’s 11th ranked pass defense. When he throws, Lynn Bowden ($6,700 DK, $7,900 FD) is the clear top target. In the run-heavy offense, Bowden has only scored double-digit fantasy points three times. However, he does have a pair of 20-point fantasy games so he is somewhat in play as a GPP option, especially on FanDuel.
Trace McSorley has had a down year as a passer, averaging just under 200 passing yards per game with 16 passing touchdowns. However, he also leads the team with 11 rushing touchdowns and the team has relied heavily on his rushing ability in big games. McSorley has four games with multiple rushing touchdowns, which makes him a top option in GPPs. He is priced down just enough that he is a borderline cash-game option as well despite the relatively tough matchup against Kentucky’s 21st-ranked defense.
Miles Sanders carries the load at running back for Penn St. Aside from a blowout against Michigan, Sanders has at least 14 carries in every game. Sanders also has 31 targets in the passing game this season. He is priced fairly and makes for a solid GPP option. He’d be in cash-game consideration if McSorley wasn’t featured so prominently as a runner in short yardage.
Jahan Dotson is the type of near-minimum priced WR3 option that opens up your roster construction on FanDuel. He comes with at least a modest floor given the price point, posting 20+ receiving yards in five straight games. The talented true freshman has elite speed and seems due to break a long play. KJ Hamler is Penn State’s top option in the passing game but hasn’t scored since Week 7, which makes him tough to justify as anything more than a long shot GPP play given his mid-tier pricing ($5,300 DK, $8,000 FD).
Washington (25.5) vs. Ohio St. (32)
UW RB Myles Gaskin ($7,900 DK, $10,000 FD)
UW TE Hunter Bryant ($3,800 DK, $7,200 FD)
OSU QB Dwayne Haskins ($10,500 DK and FD)
OSU WR Parris Campbell ($6,800 DK, $9,500 FD)
OSU RB Mike Weber ($5,400 DK, $8,000 FD)
OSU RB J.K. Dobbins ($7,000 DK, $8,800 FD)
Running back Myles Gaskin is a borderline core play facing an Ohio State defense that has given up a lot of long runs this season. However, given his pricing right near the top of the running back list and the fact Washington comes in as a touchdown underdog, he is probably best as a GPP option. Gaskin is locked into a heavy workload. The four-year starter has 20+ touches in four straight and has at least 15 touches in every game this season.
Quarterback Jake Browning is at a long shot GPP option given his pricing ($6,300 DK, $8,200 FD) but can’t be recommended as anything more than that. He has just 20 total touchdowns on the season. He’s had more than one passing touchdown just once since September and that was against the awful Oregon St. defense.
While there isn’t much to get excited about in the Washington passing game, true sophomore tight end Hunter Bryant is an exception given his pricing. He suffered a knee injury in June that was thought to be season-ending. However, Bryant recovered enough to return in early November and has been the Huskies top receiver since returning. Ohio State has given up a lot of big plays in the middle of the field and Bryant should have favorable matchups against the Buckeyes linebackers and safeties.
Ohio State’s team total of 32 is third-highest on the slate but more than 11 points lower than the Buckeyes season average. Given that the key pieces of the offense are all priced up at their typical levels, it is hard to recommend any as anything but a GPP option.
Dwayne Haskins ended the season on fire with three straight games of 400+ total yards and 5 or more touchdowns. He put up huge numbers against a highly-touted Michigan defense, so we know the upside is there even in tough matchups. Washington boasts the #3 overall defense in S&P and ranks 6th nationally in allowing just 6.0 yards per passing attempt. The Huskies have a defense loaded with NFL talent, highlighted by first-round cornerback prospect Byron Murphy. Vegas only has Ohio State projected for about four touchdowns, so Haskins is best viewed as a top GPP option. His salary is easier to squeeze in on FanDuel, where he is more of a core play.
Ohio State’s high-flying pass offense spreads it around between a half dozen different receivers. There should be some touchdowns scored through the air, so all of the top receivers are in play in tournaments (Parris Campbell, KJ Hill, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, Chris Olave, and Binjimen Victor). Campbell has been by far the most consistently productive of the group (four or more catches in 11 of 12 games) and is a borderline core play. Playing primarily out of the slot, he shouldn’t see too much of Murphy in coverage.
Ohio State has alternately featured J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber in the running game. While Dobbins has been the top guy most of the way, Weber has averaged 19 touches per game over his last three (he sat out Week 12 with an injury) and provides more bang for the buck. Given the split in touches, both are GPP-only plays against an excellent Washington run defense.
Texas (22.8) vs. Georgia (35.3)
UGA RB D’Andre Swift ($7,700 DK, $9,700 FD)
UGA RB Elijah Holyfield ($5,100 DK, $8,300 FD)
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger ($7,800 DK, $9,700 FD)
Texas WR Collin Johnson ($6,200 DK, $8,600 FD)
Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey ($6,600 DK, $9,300 FD)
UGA QB Jake Fromm ($6,500 DK, $8,700 FD)
Sam Ehlinger is the Texas offense. In addition to throwing for 25 touchdowns, he has also rushed for 13 (65% market share of team rushing touchdowns). Even with Texas only projected for about three touchdowns, odds are high enough that all of them come through Ehlinger to make him worthy of core play status on the slate. Ehlinger’s rushing ability is key to his fantasy prospects because Georgia ranks just 57th against the run. His price is especially attractive on DraftKings. With Ehlinger vulturing nearly all of the touchdowns and a committee approach to the backfield, we can ignore the Longhorns running backs.
Ehlinger’s top two targets, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson have both seen over 100 targets this season. Georgia’s pass defense is elite (3rd in S&P) so both are GPP-only plays this week. However, given how large a share of targets both see and the fact Texas is likely to be trailing most of the way (12-point underdogs), there is enough to feel comfortable rostering one of the two in tournaments.
The Bulldogs have a dominant rushing game. They rank 7th nationally at 6.0 yards per carry and are averaging 249.4 rushing yards per game. Texas has a solid run defense but will be tested severely by Georgia’s talented offensive line and elite pair of running backs. After battling injuries early in the season, D’Andre Swift has rounded into form down the stretch. He destroyed Kentucky and Auburn’s highly-ranked run defenses in back-to-back weeks to open November, posting 30+ fantasy points in both games. Even in a brutal matchup in the SEC Championship game against Alabama, Swift still put up 30+ fantasy points with 138 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Arguably the most talented back in the nation, Swift is a core play even though he is splitting carries with Elijah Holyfield. Given the price discount on Holyfield, he too profiles as a core play this week. In Georgia’s last four non-blowouts, he has at least 14 carries in each game. An extremely talented play in his own right, Holyfield should see enough touches to make good on his salary given that the Bulldogs average 42 rushing attempts per game.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm is an early-round NFL talent and the Bulldogs are loaded at wide receiver as well. However, Georgia is attempting fewer than 25 passes per game this season so the volume might not be there. Fromm does hold some GPP appeal given his price point (especially on DraftKings) but would need Ehlinger and the Texas offense to put up enough points to force Georgia into an aggressive game plan.
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