College football season has returned to the absolute chaos that fans have grown to love over the years. It may have taken a few weeks for the true madness that is college football conference play to really kick into high-gear, but it is here nonetheless. As teams enter the home-stretch of their respective seasons, some teams are looking ahead to their matchups with in-state and in-conference rivals in the upcoming weeks, while others have their sites set on something much bigger: the College Football Playoff. However, from now through January, every game matters and slip-ups like Ohio State had last week are unacceptable for teams with such high aspirations. Fans often forget that the budding stars on the television are just mostly just 19 to 22 year old kids who, without experience, do not realize that anything really can happen any given Saturday under the bright lights. This week's DraftKings main slate features a handful of games involving playoff-hopefuls, and these performances against middle-of-the-road teams within their conferences do not offer much opportunity for a season-defining victory, but rather more than enough opportunity for a season-defining defeat. It may not be flashy, but at the end of the day, teams like Oklahoma, Clemson, and Georgia can ill-afford any further slip-ups this late the season.
Listed here are the most notable games for DFS purposes. In green are games with the highest projected totals, according to betting markets, and in red are the games with the lowest projected totals on the slate. Try to avoid using too many players in any single lineup from the game(s) in red. On the other hand, the game(s) in green should provide enough points and fantasy points across the board to make multiple pieces on each team viable for fantasy lineups
- SOUTH FLORIDA @ HOUSTON | HOUSTON (-7), GAME TOTAL; 75
- GEORGIA @ FLORIDA (NEUTRAL SITE) | GEORGIA (-6.5), GAME TOTAL: 52
- IOWA @ PENN STATE | PENN STATE (-6.5), GAME TOTAL: 52
D’Eriq King for Houston is one of the nation’s premier dual-threat quarterbacks. This week, he and the Houston Cougars take on the Southern Florida Bulls in a clash of two of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference. This game is expected to total a whopping 75 points between the teams, the highest total on the slate. King, as such an incredible running threat, is involved in practically every Houston touchdown in some way, shape, or form. King has totaled four-times as many rushing touchdowns as Houston’s second-leading scorer on the ground. Couple that ability carrying the ball with his 23-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and King is one of the most electric fantasy players in the nation. On this slate, he’s the top option at quarterback.
Unfortunately for TCU fans, the team’s starter, Shawn Robinson, went down last week with a season-ending shoulder injury. Michael Collins is going to kick off his campaign as the starting quarterback with one of the most favorable matchups in the Big 12: Kansas. Kansas’ history as the bottom-feeder of the Big 12 is well documented, and this season has done little to contradict that notion. Following two wins against atrocious teams, Kansas has picked up right where they left off in previous seasons: getting stomped by Big 12 competition. Even without elite talent, Michael Collins and the TCU offense should get rolling in this matchup against the 92nd ranked defense in the nation, according to S&P+, which will mean plenty of fantasy production to go around. At just $7,300, Collins will not break the bank and he provides a solid option as QB2 in lineups.
Last week against NC State was the first glimpse of Trevor Lawrence as a comfortable starting quarterback at the collegiate ranks. And if that is just the tip of the iceberg, fans across the ACC (and possibly the nation) should be shaking in their boots. As stated in previous weeks’ write-ups, Lawrence is one of the most talented freshmen in the nation at any position. His price has reflected his production rather than his talent-level, which gives advanced CFB DFS players a significant edge. The gamelogs may not be pretty, but Lawrence is surrounded by talent at every position on offense, and he has been put in an incredible position to succeed. For $8,200, Lawrence falls right in the mid-range between the aforementioned D’Eriq King and Michael Collins, and while he is certainly not one of the safest plays on the slate, in GPPs, Trevor Lawrence has one of the highest ceilings in this price range.
Pooka Williams Jr
Pooka Williams Jr has made an impact for the Kansas Jayhawks, even if it is not felt in the win/loss record, the likes of which few players have matched in recent memory for the program. Williams has recorded over 9.5 highlight yards per carry. This statistic measures how many yards the running back creates on his own on a play where he is given an opportunity by his offensive line to make a play. Simply put, when the offensive line does its job at the most basic level, Pooka WIlliams Jr has created about 9.5 yards per carry. This mark is one of the highest in the nation, especially amongst running backs who have totaled over 100 carries throughout the season. This week, Williams Jr and the Jayhawks match up with the TCU Horned Frogs, and while their chances of winning the game are not exactly the best, Williams Jr is still in a position to have himself a great game. TCU’s rush defense ranks 82nd in the nation in S&P+ allowed, which certainly goes against everything that head coach Gary Patterson has attempted to build his program around. In Week 9 of the college football season, Pooka Williams Jr for $5,900 is a viable option for a mid-priced running back in any format.
The talented Cyclones back continues to produce, regardless of the score, opponent, or anything else. David Montgomery has posted at least 20 DraftKings points in 3 straight games by accumulating at least 100 yards and 1 touchdown in each of those matchups. This weekend, Montgomery and the Iowa State Cyclones play host to a Texas Tech team that is not exactly known for its defense. David Montgomery is one of the most talented runners in the nation, as shown by his record for the most evaded tackles in a college football season since Pro Football Focus began tracking the statistic. This weekend, for a very reasonable price of $7,200, Montgomery is the perfect option in the middle ground between a bargain running back and the elite options around $9,000
Oklahoma's typical starter, Trey Sermon, went down with a knee injury that many people in and around the Oklahoma locker room feared may be season-ending. Fortunately, the prognosis seems to be a bit better than what was first thought. No announcement has been made regarding the official status of Sermon or his knee, which seems like a good sign for his long-term outlook. This week, however, the probable tag assigned to him in the DraftKings player pool may not be the most accurate assessment of the situation. As previously mentioned, there has been no official announcement regarding whether or not Trey Sermon will play this week, but following what was nearly an incredibly serious injury, it would come as no surprise if he were to get the week off. If Sermon does, in fact, sit out against Kansas State, Kennedy Brooks becomes an elite fantasy option for just $5,000. Oklahoma's offense is one of the most electric in the nation, and anybody who has watched just one of their games this season knows that. Kennedy Brooks getting the start in this prolific offense at home against a weak Kansas State defense is one of the best matchups on the slate. Sermon's availability certainly needs to be monitored as kickoff approaches, but if all holds true, Brooks will be one of the most rostered players on the entire slate in every format.
In the loaded USF-Houston matchup (for fantasy production), one player on South Florida’s roster stands out above the rest: Tyre McCants. Houston’s defense struggles mightily to defend the pass, which makes McCants the perfect candidate to post massive scoreline at the end of the day. McCants has approached double-digit targets in each of the last 3 games for USF, and against Houston, that volume may mean a monster fantasy day. McCants has recently emerged as Blake Barnett’s favorite option through the air, and in tournaments pivoting from King to Barnett for the USF stack is a great strategy. Expect Barnett to still be heavily rostered, but not at a rate approaching that of D’Eriq King. Tyre McCants should be one of the most-rostered receivers on the slate and he makes for a great building-block piece in either a cash or tournament lineup this weekend.
Amon Ra St. Brown
Amon Ra St. Brown, a freshman sensation with a name to match the unique skillset, has established himself as one of the best first-year wide receivers in the nation. St. Brown burst onto the scene in Week 1 with a massive 24-point performance in his college football debut against UNLV, but since then, he has been very hot and cold with his production. Playing alongside a freshman quarterback, J.T. Daniels, St. Brown and the USC offense as a whole have failed to consistently produce in every aspect of the offensive attack. Fortunately, this week against Arizona State, St. Brown and the Trojans have a fantastic chance to light up the scoreboard and keep the ball rolling following a 31-20 upset over Colorado. St. Brown is a very affordable option: at just $5,200, he provides much-needed salary relief along with a fantastic ceiling.
Leading up to Arizona State’s bye week, N’Keal Harry was hampered by an undisclosed injury, but Harry used that bye week to heal up and he started the second half of the season with a bang. In the first game after the bye week against Stanford, N’Keal Harry was targeted 14 times, hauling in 8 for 91 yards. Keep in mind, this was against one of the best defenses in the nation. N’Keal Harry is one of the top wide receivers in the nation, and he has caught the eye of scouts across the country. This week’s matchup against USC is far more favorable than the matchup against Stanford.
GAME STACK: usf @ houston
In Week 9 of the college football season, USF heads into Houston in a showdown of undefeated teams within the conference. Depending upon how the rest of the season shakes out, this may be a preview of the American Athletic Conference Championship, as both teams control their own destiny. Fortunately, there is very little defense expected in this clash of offensively-focused teams. For Houston, the aforementioned D'Eriq King is the top play, across all positions, on the slate. He truly does everything in this Houston offense and he is involved in nearly every scoring play for the team. He is equipped with multiple capable, but pricey, receiving options: Marquez Stevenson, Courtney Lark, and Keith Corbin are all viable options to stack with King, and they are priced as expected. Stevenson will likely receive the most targets of the bunch, and he is a big-play threat when he has the ball in his hands. Lark is an incredible red zone target with his size and strength, and Corbin is one of the best third options in any offense in the nation. Stacking one or more of these wide receivers with King will not be cheap, but it is a great strategy in GPPs. For USF, transfer quarterback Blake Barnett has finally found a home in an offense he can thrive in. Barnett was a five-star recruit coming into college (as a former Alabama commit,) and he can do a little bit of everything. He will throw the ball all over the field as well as add in a sprinkle of rushing production on a weekly basis. This season, Barnett has already ran for 7 touchdowns, a surprising number considering his counterpart in this matchup has amassed just 2 more. Barnett's two favorite targets through the air are Tyre McCants & Randall St. Felix. McCants' combination of floor and upside in this matchup has been addressed above in the wide receiver section, but St. Felix offers a much more tournament-viable option in this USF offense. St. Felix has not commanded the same number of targets as McCants in recent weeks, but he still has the ability to break loose at any moment. Just look to his 75-yard touchdown last time out for confirmation that he can stuff the stat sheet in a hurry. Jordan Cronkrite is the final player to keep an eye on in this matchup. Since a dud in his USF debut in Week 2 against Georgia Tech, Cronkrite has eclipsed 100-yards in every single game. He typically is not a threat through the air, but he makes up for that with consistent production and volume on the ground. In a lineup stacking this game, Cronkrite makes for a perfect pivot off of one of the high-priced receivers.