College Football Main Slate Breakdown: December 15

A game-by-game breakdown of the first DFS slate of bowl season for both FanDuel and DraftKings

Slate Details

5 games locking on FanDuel and DraftKings at 1:30 PM EST with late swap available

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette || SPREAD: Tulane (-3), TOTAL: 59

1:30 PM EST

Tulane

Quarterback: Justin McMillan

Justin McMillan, an LSU transfer at quarterback, took over for the Tulane Green Wave in Week 9 and led the team to a 4-1 ending to the season. McMillan offers some upside with dual-threat capabilities. Over those final five games of the season, McMillan topped 45 rushing yards in three starts. Facing off against Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense ranks last on this slate in overall defense and passing defense, which certainly bodes well for a big day for McMillan through the air as well. Louisiana-Lafayette ranks 111th in the nation (out of 129 teams) in overall S&P+ allowed on defense and 113th in S&P+ allowed through the air.

McMillan is an option in cash games and GPPs and he is underpriced on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Justin McMillan deserves to be priced in the same range as the other top-end options on the slate because of both his upside and matchup in this bowl game.

Wide Receiver: Terren Encalade

Terren Encalade is the second wide receiver on Tulane’s depth chart behind Darnell Mooney, but his price is far more enticing on both sites. Encalade has recorded 8 games of 6 or more targets this season, which is a level of consistency unmatched by any other option through the air for the Tulane Green Wave. As mentioned above with Justin McMillan, the matchup could not be better on this slate for the Tulane passing game. Facing off with one of the nation’s worst secondaries is the perfect time for Encalade (potentially stacked with McMillan to maximize the ceiling of the play) to cash in on his consistent workload in the Green Wave’s aerial attack.

Encalade’s price on both sites makes him a solid value play for all formats this weekend. Stacking Encalade with McMillan, especially in GPPs, will likely be a contrarian way to get exposure to one of the highest-upside duos on the slate.

Utah State vs. North Texas || SPREAD: Utah State (-7.5), TOTAL: 68

2:00 PM EST

Utah State

Quarterback: Jordan Love

It is tough to go wrong with either starting quarterback in this game with the highest expected total on the slate by nearly 10 points. Jordan Love, however, ultimately will be the sharper play at the quarterback position. Love has posted multiple games with over 40 points this season, a feat that no other quarterback on the slate has accomplished just once. Love will be quite popular amongst the sharpest college football DFS players as he quarterbacks the heaviest favorite in the game with the highest projected total on the slate. North Texas’ 82nd ranked secondary has not instilled fear into opposing quarterbacks, and a highly successful college quarterback such as Jordan Love will likely send his corps of senior wide receivers out with a bang this bowl season.

Jordan Love is rightly priced as one of the most expensive quarterbacks on the slate. In the lone projected shootout on this initial slate of bowl season, exposure to this game will be the sharp move for cash games, and Love is the best way to get that exposure.

Wide Receiver: Ron’quavion Tarver

Ron’quavion Tarver is clearly Jordan Love’s favorite target through the air. Over the last three games, Tarver has averaged 8 targets per game, good for the fourth-highest total on the entire slate. Throughout the season, stacking a quarterback with a wide receiver has proven to be one of the sharpest and most successful strategies in both cash games and GPPs. Bowl season, especially on smaller slates such as this one, will be no different. Tarver will be a pricey stacking piece, but almost all of the viable players in this game will be quite expensive.

Ron’quavion Tarver alone is viable in all formats this weekend, especially when he is stacked with Jordan Love in the same lineup. While stacking those two will be extremely expensive, it offers a great opportunity to differentiate in GPPs with cheap pieces elsewhere.

North Texas

Wide Receiver: Rico Bussey, Jr.

Rico Bussey, Jr. is officially listed as Questionable on both FanDuel and DraftKings. However, there has been no news to suggest that his availability is actually in doubt come Saturday afternoon’s game. Much like Ron’quavion Tarver, Rico Bussey, Jr. is North Texas’ clear-cut #1 receiver, coincidentally averaging the exact same 8 targets per game over his last three games. Bussey, Jr.’s aforementioned injury designation may certainly impact his popularity on this slate. Typically, players prefer to take a safer option and steer clear of players who may not play, regardless of the sport or the slate. This slate is no different, and Bussey, Jr. is the primary player impacted. This offers a significant opportunity to leverage GPP lineups against the field, as he will likely be less-rostered than he otherwise would, or rather should, be. Another viable strategies in GPPs may be to stack Bussey, Jr. with the opposing Utah State players in hopes that this game reaches, and potentially exceeds, the expected offensive production level.

Bussey, Jr.’s target-share in North Texas’ offense keeps him in consideration for cash-games this weekend, but he should primarily be used in GPPs. A game stack including Bussey, Jr. will be extremely expensive. However, including Bussey, Jr. with any of the aforementioned Utah State options, or his own quarterback, Mason Fine, will provide elite exposure to the game projected to offer the most fantasy production on the slate.

Arizona State vs. Fresno State || SPREAD: Fresno State (-6), TOTAL: 53.5

3:30 PM EST

NOTE: N’Keal Harry, Arizona State’s best player and one of the best wide receivers in the nation, has elected to skip the team’s bowl game and begin his preparation for the 2019 NFL Draft. He is not included in the player pool on either site for this reason.

Fresno State

Quarterback: Marcus McMaryion

Marcus McMaryion has closed out his collegiate career with an incredible season for Fresno State by totalling 25 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. Going up against Arizona State affords McMaryion a fantastic opportunity to post gaudy numbers in his final game as a Bulldog. Arizona State’s defense has been picked apart by PAC 12 quarterbacks all season long, thanks to the 89th-ranked secondary in the nation, according to S&P+, coupled with the 77th ranked pass rush in the country. Fresno State is also one of the most pass-happy teams in the nation, ranking first in pass-rate on passing downs this season. The Bulldogs trust McMaryion when they are behind the chains, and he has not disappointed.

McMaryion will likely be one of the most-popular options in cash-games this week on DraftKings because of his reasonable price tag (he is far more expensive on FanDuel.) In GPPs, McMaryion’s ceiling is far lower than other quarterback options on the slate, in large part thanks to the sluggish pace that Fresno State plays at.

Running back: Ronnie Rivers

Ronnie Rivers has taken over as Fresno State’s #1 running back down the stretch this season. Jordan Mims held the job as the starter throughout the first-half of the season, but Rivers’ capabilities both on the ground and through the air have given him a leg up in the battle of the sophomores for the starting job. Rivers has found the end zone in every game since Week 7 against Wyoming. It is not a coincidence that Fresno State’s game against Wyoming was the last game in which Rivers did not total at least 10 total touches. Arizona State’s defense has struggled in all phases of the game this year. The Sun Devils sport the 92nd-ranked defense overall and the 99th-ranked rush-defense heading into the bowl game. There are reports that Herm Edwards plans on playing the team’s freshman and young players significantly more in the bowl game than they have throughout the season. While these fresh faces are not the same players that allowed PAC 12 teams to score at least 30 points in each of the final three games of the season, there is a reason they did not start: they did not earn starting positions. While the reasoning behind Edwards’ decision to get a glimpse into the future is understandable, it is highly unlikely to yield favorable results in the short-term.

Ronnie Rivers is one of the top options in cash-games on both sites on this slate. Rivers’ modest price tag, accompanied by his shocking consistency, is the perfect combination in cash games.

Wide receiver: KeeSean Johnson

KeeSean Johnson is one of the most reliable receivers in all of college football. At 10.67 targets per game over his last three, he is by far the most active receiver on the entire slate. Johnson is the elite security blanket that allows a veteran quarterback like Marcus McMaryion to finish off a collegiate career with just a three-interception season. Johnson's target-share in Fresno State's offense is astronomical, and that coupled with his 6'2" frame makes him an elite red zone option with elite touchdown upside every time out. KeeSean Johnson needs just seven receptions to reach 100 catches on the season, a feat rarely accomplished by collegiate receivers (just two players cleared that mark during the regular season.) It would be shocking to see him held below the century mark after all is said and done in this matchup.

KeeSean Johnson will surely be one of, if not the most, popular option(s) in all formats this weekend. His floor and ceiling are unmatched at any position on the slate and he is as close to a must-play as it will get on this slate in any format.

Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan || SPREAD: Georgia Southern (-3), TOTAL: 45

5:30 PM EST

Georgia Southern

Quarterback: Shai Werts

Georgia Southern is one of the few triple option teams left in Division I college football. Shai Werts is the maestro under center distributing the ball throughout one of the nation’s top-5 most run-heavy teams. Werts found the end zone a whopping 13 times on the ground this season and needs just 82 yards in the bowl game to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards this season. Eastern Michigan played against one triple option team this season: in Week 9 the Eagles allowed Army to score 37 points and run for nearly 300 yards on the day. Werts’ $5,000 price tag on DraftKings is the primary reason for the interest here. In the game with the lowest projected total on the day, significant exposure to this game is extremely risky, but when value presents itself, it cannot be ignored.

Paying $5,000 for Werts in either the quarterback or super-flex position is essentially adding another running back to a lineup with additional passing upside (10 passing touchdowns on the season.) He is a lower-ceiling option compared to the other quarterbacks on the slate, but that is to be expected for just $5,000. Werts is especially viable in cash-games because of the value and floor he affords lineups.

Eastern Michigan

Running back: Ian Eriksen

Ian Eriksen has taken over as Eastern Michigan’s starting running back over the final weeks of the season. Eriksen ran for at least 95 yards and one touchdown in both of the games he totaled at least 15 carries this season. Ian Eriksen, at this point, looks to be a fairly risky option, as Shaq Vann, the team’s original starter, may certainly re-emerge in EMU’s backfield over the weeks of practice in preparation for the bowl game. More on that front should reveal itself in the hours leading up to kick off. The risk here may be worth it, though. Eriksen is one of the few viable options to save salary at the running back position on this slate.

Eriksen is an obviously risky option, as shown by the fact that he just has two games of 15+ carries this season. One reason for optimism is that those games were the final two games of the season for Eastern Michigan. This article will be updated as news flows leading up to kickoff, and if Eriksen is set up for a significant workload, as expected, he will be a fantastic salary saver in both cash-games and GPPs.

Middle Tennessee State vs. Appalachian State || SPREAD: Appalachian State (-6.5), TOTAL: 47

9:00 PM EST

Appalachian State

Running back: Darrynton Evans

Since the injury to Appalachian State’s star running back, Jalin Moore, Darrynton Evans has been called upon to shoulder the load. He has certainly risen to the occasion with at least 100 yards or a touchdown in 7 out of 8 games. His workload at running back is one of the most reliable on a slate filled with committees. Middle Tennessee State’s run defense is a middle-of-the-road group (42nd in the nation, according to S&P+,) but the game flow will likely favor a run-heavy approach from Appalachian State. As nearly seven-point favorites, Appalachian State should rely upon Darrynton Evans to drain the clock and secure a victory for interim coach Mark Ivey. Evans is priced in the second-tier of running backs on this slate when his consistent workload is that of a top-tier running back.

The discount on Darrynton Evans makes him a safe option for cash-games as well as a high-upside option in GPPs. Evans’ workload will afford him plenty of opportunities to reach a GPP-level of value on a slate devoid of many quality running back options.

Wide receiver: Corey Sutton

Corey Sutton sits atop Appalachian State’s depth chart at wide receiver, and Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the Sun Belt’s top-four wide receivers this season. Sutton’s price on this slate is certainly low enough to warrant GPP consideration. In his last three outings, Sutton has cleared the 20-point threshold twice, but in the third game he managed just two receptions for 23 yards. Sutton embodies a boom-or-bust option at wide receiver and rostering him in cash is a supremely risky move. This is not a great matchup for Sutton, but on a small slate, it is tough to find high-upside options that may fly under the radar in particularly strong matchups.

Corey Sutton is one of the top GPP options at wide receiver on this slate. He is priced as a second or third-tier wide receiver with true WR1 upside. His ceiling of 20+ fantasy points is certainly in play this week and for this moderate price, he deserves consideration in a GPP bullet.

Middle Tennessee State

Running back: Tavares Thomas

Tavares Thomas, one of Middle Tennessee State’s many running backs, ranks in the top-11 on the slate in targets over the last three games. In each of these games, Thomas has recorded more targets than carries, and for that reason he should be considered a wide receiver rather than a running back. Thomas’ price reflects his lack of involvement in the running game, not his increased involvement in the team’s passing game. The involvement in the passing game is nothing exceptional (6.3 targets per game over the last three games,) but at this price it does not need to be anything astronomical to reach value. Thomas is a true punt on a slate filled with some elite high-priced options.

Tavares Thomas is one of the better options in the depths of the bargain bin this weekend. His ceiling is dependent upon his touchdown-upside, which has been missing over the last three weeks, but his floor is in the targets he commands in Middle Tennessee State’s offense. At this price, targets are far more useful than carries, and because of that Thomas is one of the better high-risk options to save some salary in any format.

As always, shoot over any questions to me on twitter @ThaGreatZambino and I will help out as best as I can! This article will be updated as applicable news comes in and I will tweet immediately following an update being made


More articles from Ryan Zamichieli

See all

More articles on: College

See all

More articles on: Daily FF

See all

More articles on: DraftKings

See all