4 games on DraftKings
5 games on FanDuel
12:00 PM EST kickoff
South Carolina vs. Virginia | South Carolina -5.5, total: 53.5
Virginia’s dual-threat quarterback offers a solid combination of a rushing and passing floor that is incredibly valuable in cash games. Bryce Perkins has run for at least 73 yards in each of his previous three outings, and there is no reason to expect a change any time soon on that front. Perkins has quietly been an elite fantasy quarterback this season, but his price has always lagged behind the production. On DraftKings he has posted 27.7 points per game this season and entering the final game of the season against South Carolina, Perkins is the top option behind his more expensive counterparts in the Alabama vs. Oklahoma matchup.
Olamide Zaccheaus is listed as a running back on DraftKings, but for all intents and purposes, he is a wide receiver. Zaccheaus has been targeted 11 times per game by Perkins over the team’s last three games, good for the highest number on the slate. Typically, in NFL DFS the optimal strategy in cash games is to roster three running backs- two in the running back slots and one in the flex position. In college football DFS, however, this strategy is not as effective. There are far more time-share situations in collegiate backfields, and when there is a dominant running back, he is typically extremely expensive. Effectively rostering a fourth (or maybe fifth depending on the flex position) wide receiver is a viable option on this slate and will likely be extremely popular.
South Carolina’s number one wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, will not be playing in the team’s bowl game as he prepares for the NFL draft. Bryan Edwards has been an elite secondary option in the passing game all season for Jake Bentley under center. This matchup with Virginia is the perfect opportunity for Edwards to step into a significantly larger role in the offense and produce an impressive stat line. While South Carolina has not played a game without Samuel this season, Jake Bentley will likely rely upon his most familiar option through the air, leading to a potentially monster day for Edwards.
Michigan vs. Florida | Michigan -6.5, total: 51.5
As Michigan’s starting running back, Karan Higdon, has opted to sit out the team’s bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, the Wolverines will turn to Chris Evans as their starting running back. The matchup against the Florida Gators will certainly be a tough one but in coach Jim Harbaugh’s run-heavy offense the sheer volume that Evans is primed for trumps the difficult matchup. Neither FanDuel nor DraftKings has heavily adjusted Evans’ price leading up to the bowl game, affording players the opportunity to lock in the floor and ceiling of a player expected to get around 20 touches throughout the game.
Feleipe Franks should strictly be considered in GPPs come Saturday afternoon. Franks’ floor is about as low as they come on this slate, but the makings of a ceiling-game are there for Florida’s quarterback. Michigan’s defense has been strong all year long, especially in the front-seven where the Wolverines sported one of the best pass rushes in the nation. That front-seven, however, was loaded with NFL talent and two key components, Devin Bush and Rashan Gary have elected to sit out the bowl game in preparation for the NFL draft. While the bowl game will serve as an opportunity for the next set of young stars to make themselves known on Michigan’s defense, expecting similar production immediately would be foolish. Franks will surely be one of the least-rostered quarterbacks on the slate, but a depleted Michigan defense could lead to an unexpectedly stellar showing in the final game of this 2018 season for the Gators’ signal-caller.
Notre Dame vs. Clemson | Clemson -12.5, total: 55
This game is a particularly interesting one to breakdown. Both teams sport top-notch defenses, and it also features Clemson's top-10 offense. In this clash of defensive juggernauts, Tee Higgins stands out above the rest as the top option for his given price. Higgins' role in Clemson's offense grew throughout the season, especially with Trevor Lawrence under center. Higgins' suppressed price is likely in reaction to the tough matchup with Notre Dame's secondary, but Higgins' increased volume (7.67 targets per game over the last three games of the regular season) should make up for this difficult matchup.
Travis Etienne grades as the top running back on this slate, but at this price it will be difficult to build around him in cash games. Throughout the season, the optimal strategy in cash games has proven to be rostering two quarterbacks as the quarterback and super-flex options. However, on a small slate like this filled with defensive powerhouses, a contrarian play of Travis Etienne in the super-flex position will provide for unique options elsewhere. Notre Dame's secondary is the clear strength of the team, as they rank in the top-10 in S&P+ allowed on passing plays, the front-seven lags behind slightly. Notre Dame ranks 35th in marginal efficiency allowed on rushing plays this season, and Travis Etienne has proven himself to be one of, if not, the best running back(s) in the nation. He is always an option, but the gymnastics required to fit him into a lineup this weekend will likely require him to either fill the super-flex position, or be paired with a cheap quarterback in super-flex (Felipe Franks, maybe?)
Chase Claypool is the lone option from Notre Dame to consider on this slate, and it is largely due to his increased role in the offense along with his price. Over the last four games, Claypool has eclipsed nine targets twice, and as double-digit underdogs, the Fighting Irish will likely need to throw the ball all over the field to catch up in this semifinal game. The matchup is brutal, there are no two ways around it (Clemson ranks 1st in the nation in defensive S&P+,) but if he continues to play a prominent role in the offense he is a great option to pay off his price tag on either site.
Alabama vs. Oklahoma | Alabama -13.5, total: 77
Tua Tagovailoa is reportedly operating at about 80 or 85 percent right now, but in a matchup with Oklahoma’s poor defense, that may not matter. Tua’s price has dropped significantly since the beginning of the season, and in the matchup projected to amass over 20 more points than any other game on the slate, he will likely be the most popular option at quarterback on the slate. Oklahoma’s defensive struggles have been well-documented this season, just as Alabama’s prolific offense has. While there are concerns regarding how Tua’s surgically-repaired ankle will hold up, Oklahoma’s 93rd-ranked pass rush should not pose a significant threat to Alabama’s star quarterback. In cash games, Tua Tagovailoa is the building-block quarterback that almost everyone will flock towards. In GPPs, the concerns regarding his workload in this game are justified- if Alabama dominates this game from the start, Nick Saban may opt to preserve the health of his quarterback and insert Jalen Hurts into the game. It could end up being another three-quarter performance from Tua Tagovailoa, but three quarters should be more than enough for cash games.
Josh Jacobs may be from Oklahoma, but this week he lives on Narrative Street. Jacobs was not a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school until Nick Saban got ahold of his highlight tape. Saban saw the highlights and immediately assumed he would have to battle schools like Oklahoma to get him on campus. Shockingly, Jacobs was only a three-star recruit at the time that Saban offered him a scholarship. It is no secret that Jacobs felt spurned by his hometown school, and that should mean some added motivation for this game. Jacobs is one of the most impressive runners in the nation and is rarely taken down by the first defender. A multi-touchdown performance is not unreasonable to expect in this matchup against one of the nation’s weaker defenses, especially when there is a strong chance that Josh Jacobs is running a bit angrier this week than he typically does.
Irv Smith, Jr.
Irv Smith, Jr., Alabama’s tight end, is arguably the best tight end in all of college football. Stacking a quarterback with one of his primary pass-catchers has been one of the sharpest roster constructions in all formats this season, and Irv Smith, Jr. is the cheapest way to get exposure to Alabama’s wide receiving corps. Alabama’s wide receivers have been priced-up for this expectedly high-scoring affair, but Smith, Jr. has not. On a slate devoid of viable salary-savers, there may not be a better option than Irv Smith, Jr. when paired with Tua Tagovailoa. He will likely be one of the least-rostered options at wide receiver on the day, but the upside of connecting with Tua on one of his many expected touchdowns is massive. One play could feasibly reach value for Irv Smith, Jr., and in a high-scoring affair like this, that may be a risk worth taking in any format.
Note: While Oklahoma sports the most prolific offense in all of college football, the team has not faced a defense of Alabama's caliber. The players have been discounted slightly, but not enough. The likes of Marquise Brown, Kennedy Brooks, and others are still far too expensive to warrant consideration in cash games. The masses will likely fade these players as well, and for that reason, Oklahoma's offensive pieces not mentioned here warrant consideration in GPPs strictly as leverage plays. After all, the game is forecasted to total 77 points, and Oklahoma has to account for some of that.
CeeDee Lamb has played second-fiddle to Marquise "Hollywood" Brown all season long, but in this matchup, with Brown potentially operating at less-than 100 percent, it is CeeDee Lamb's time to shine. Brown suffered a lower-leg injury in the BIG 12 Championship game and has said that he intends to give it a go in this semifinal game, but does not know how healthy he will be come Saturday night. These comments may imply that Brown's presence on the field may be as a decoy for the Oklahoma offense to open up other receivers. With Alabama focused on limiting Oklahoma's premier big-play receiver, this may lead to (1) more opportunities for CeeDee Lamb, as he may eat into Brown's normal target share, and (2) better opportunities as Brown commands the full attention of defensive coordinators, which may lead to more open field for Lamb to work with. Fading Oklahoma's offense entirely because of the price is a dangerous game to play, and CeeDee Lamb grades as the best opportunity to get exposure to the prolific passing attack.
Kyler Murray checks in, unsurprisingly, as the most expensive player on the slate. This year's Heisman Trophy winner is arguably the most exciting player in college football, and on DraftKings this is just the second time that he has checked in under $10,000. This matchup will certainly limit Kyler Murray, but even a contained Kyler Murray may still be the highest-scoring player on the slate. Last season, Lincoln Riley's Sooners came out firing against Georgia in the first half, thanks in large part to strong preparation in the month leading up to the game. Ultimately, the game was lost after halftime adjustments by Kirby Smart and company outschemed Lincoln Riley and his staff. Oklahoma's offense has been one of the most innovative in the nation, and it is expected that Lincoln Riley learned from his mistakes in last season's Rose Bowl and the Sooners will be ready to fire on all cylinders for the entirety of the game. Rostering Kyler Murray in cash games is a vote of confidence in Lincoln Riley, and to this point he has done more than enough to earn that trust. It will be exceptionally difficult to fit Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray into the same lineup, but if stronger value plays open up between now and lock, it may be the optimal construction.
fanduel only: arkansas state vs. nevada | arkansas state -1.5, total: 57.5
Justice Hansen and the Arkansas State passing attack may fly under the radar on FanDuel with the far bigger names playing elsewhere, but the matchup is one of the best on the slate. Hansen is not a cheap option, but he provides a strong floor that is not found elsewhere on this short slate. Hansen has cleared 20 FanDuel points in seven of his last nine outings, and in the bowl game, he gets to go up against Nevada's 89th-ranked secondary in marginal efficiency allowed. He focuses the passing attack primarily on two wide receivers, so stacking Hansen with one of his top receivers will likely capture a large share of the receiving production.
Justin McInnis is Arkansas State's number two wide receiver, but throughout the season he has been targeted over seven times per game. FanDuel has priced him at just $7,500 for this short slate, and as stated throughout the article, there is not much to like when trying to save some salary on this slate. McInnis provides a far higher floor and ceiling of production than his comparably-priced counterparts. Just four games ago, McInnis was targeted a whopping 14 times. That volume is not going to be found elsewhere at this price, and stacking McInnis with Hansen is an affordable stack with strong upside.
Nevada Wide Receivers-
The transfer of McLane Mannix and Trevion Armstrong prior to the bowl game has left a significant hole at the wide receiver position for Nevada. With that said, however, it creates significant value opportunity for some of these cheaper wide receivers to step up in their place in this game. If there is a player who should benefit the most from the transfers it is Romeo Doubs who is the only receiver on Nevada who has the athleticism that will be missed by Mannix. The other beneficiary should be additional volume for Kaleb Fossum who is a possession slot receiver and while he does not possess the upside that Doubs does, he should be in a safe position to see a significant amount of volume go his way. Finally, if there is a dark horse candidate, it has to be Brendan O'Leary-Orange who at 6'4'' 210 pounds has had high expectations since he got to Nevada, but has dealt with injury and inconsistency throughout his first three seasons at Nevada.
Thanks all, and as always if you have any questions, fire away on Twitter to @ThaGreatZambino and I will certainly do my best to respond in a timely manner!
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