College Football Main Slate Breakdown: December 31

A game-by-game breakdown of college football games on the main slate for December 31st.



Slate Details


  • 5 game slate
  • Kickoff at 2:00 PM EST
  • 5 staggered kickoff times


  • 6 game slate
  • Kickoff at 12:00 PM EST
  • 6 staggered kickoff times
  • FanDuel-only game breakdown is at the end of the article


stanford vs. pittsburgh | Stanford -5, total: 52 | 2:00 PM EST kickoff



Bryce Love, Stanford’s (expected) star running back will be sitting out the team’s bowl game in preparation for the NFL Draft. This opens up the top spot on the depth chart for Cameron Scarlett to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s poor run defense. Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 71st overall against rushes, according to S&P+. The underlying numbers do not look much better, as they include a 118th-ranked defense in limiting explosive plays on the ground. Scarlett’s price has been adequately adjusted on DraftKings ($6,200), but on FanDuel where he costs just $8,000, Scarlett pairs the upside of a matchup with a porous Pittsburgh run defense with the floor of a bell-cow running back in Stanford’s pro-style system.


NOTE: Trenton Irwin is OUT for the bowl game. He does not have an injury designation on either site, but following an injury in the final game of the regular season, he will not play in Stanford’s bowl game.

Stanford’s passing attack was far more explosive this season than it has been in years past. KJ Costello has been more than competent and when a solid collegiate quarterback is equipped with weapons like JJ Arcega-Whiteside, some fun stat lines are in store. Arcega-Whiteside is one of the nation’s best red zone targets, as shown by his 14 touchdowns to date this season. His combination of upside by way of the end zone and safety through his impressive volume elsewhere on the field makes him one of the most underpriced options in the DraftKings player pool. On FanDuel, his $9,900 price tag is difficult to build around, and jamming him into lineups is far more difficult.

Elsewhere in the passing game, following the departure of Trenton Irwin, Michael Wilson is the most likely candidate to step into the Cardinal starting lineup. The young freshman has been Stanford’s most reliable option at receiver outside of Irwin and Arcega-Whiteside, and while options like Connor Wedington are unlikely to play in an effort to preserve their redshirts, Wilson has no such concerns. At near-minimum price on both sites, Michael Wilson does not need to assume the full target-share vacated by Trenton Irwin, at $3,500 on DraftKings and $4,900 on FanDuel, just a fraction of Irwin’s workload would be more than enough.


  • Without season-long contributors Bryce Love and Trenton Irwin, significant value has opened up in Stanford’s lineup.

  • At running back, Cameron Scarlett is an underpriced option on FanDuel, but he is not quite as enticing at his DraftKings price.

  • JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s high-volume role in Stanford’s offense, accompanied by his nose for the end zone makes him one of the highest upside options on DraftKings, where his price is substantially lower than on FanDuel.

  • Michael Wilson will almost certainly be on the field for the bulk of Stanford’s bowl game without Trenton Irwin. At his bargain-bin price, he will not need much opportunity to reach value.



Marquise Ffrench may not be a flashy play this weekend, but at just $4,000 on DraftKings and $7,000 on FanDuel, his role in Pittsburgh’s offense is poised to far exceed that of a low-priced player like this. In the final two games of the regular season, Ffrench registered 8 targets in each, and against Stanford’s 95th-ranked pass defense, this bowl game will be the perfect opportunity for the junior to springboard himself into a productive final season. Pittsburgh’s offense plays at a snail’s pace, as does Stanford’s, so possession and play counts will likely be uninspiring. Exercise caution plugging Ffrench into either cash-game or GPP lineups, but he is far and away the most enticing option in a cheap Pittsburgh offense.


  • Pittsburgh’s offense has been underwhelming all season. The backfield is a true time-share between Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, and the team’s quarterback is perfectly mediocre.

  • Marquise Ffrench’s late-season role in the offense is enough to warrant consideration as a punt-play in GPP lineups, but the risk in cash lineups may be too much to reasonably accept.

michigan state vs. oregon | oregon -2.5, total: 48 | 3:00 pm est kickoff



The 2018 season has been an interesting one for Michigan State running back LJ Scott. After four games, he went down with an undisclosed injury and planned to take advantage of this season’s new redshirt rules and save this year of eligibility. However, after a recent turn-of-heart, Scott has opted to forego his remaining year of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Scott will be playing for Michigan State in the team’s bowl game and in a paced-up matchup against a middling run defense, it is a great opportunity to impress NFL scouts one last time before the pads come off and interviews begin. The Oregon run defense was rarely tested by a running back as talented as LJ Scott this season, and even with their soft PAC 12 schedule, the Ducks enter bowl season with the 64th-ranked run defense, according to S&P+. After missing the preceding eight games, LJ Scott’s price has plummeted on both FanDuel and DraftKings. He is not guaranteed to step back onto the field and immediately assume the bell-cow role he left in Michigan State’s offense, but at such a low price, that is not necessary. Look for LJ Scott to be one of the most popular options on the slate at any position in all styles of contests.


The Michigan State offense has struggled mightily this season. The multiple quarterback changes from Brian Lewerke to Rocky Lombardi, and ultimately back to Lewerke encompass the true inconsistency this offense has experienced all season. One emerging option within the offense, however, is Darrell Stewart, Jr. Over the final two games of the regular season, Stewart, Jr. registered 9 and 11 targets, respectively. Throughout the season, Stewart, Jr. has been the most healthy, and subsequently most popular, wide receiver on the Michigan State roster, but he has been unable to convert these opportunities into touchdowns consistently. With just one touchdown throughout the regular season, look for Darrell Stewart, Jr. to take advantage of a matchup with an up-tempo team in Oregon that struggles on the back end (77th-ranked pass defense in the nation,) and potentially return to the end zone once again.


  • LJ Scott’s return from injury at a bottom-dollar price will make him one of, if not the, most popular option(s) on the slate at any position. Viable in all formats.

  • Darrell Stewart, Jr.’s volume through the passing game against a weak Oregon secondary is tough to pass up at his low price. Long streak of games without a trip to the end zone is ready to be broken.



Strictly in GPPs, Oregon’s primary running back, CJ Verdell, makes for one of the most intriguing units on the entire slate. Tony Brooks-James has been downgraded to OUT for the Ducks’ bowl game against the stout Michigan State run defense. Michigan State finished the regular season with the top-ranked run defense in the entire nation, according to S&P+, but a closer look into the schedule reveals that this title may have been given and not necessarily earned. Throughout the season, Michigan State dominated poor rushing attacks but struggled against more prolific running games. In the two most notable games against Ohio State and Penn State, Michigan State allowed a 100-yard rusher in each. Those two teams coincidentally run the most comparable offense to that of the Oregon Ducks of all teams Michigan State faced this season. Oregon will look to attack Michigan State in ways few teams are capable of, which makes for an intriguing GPP option. The field will likely see Michigan State’s number one rush defense and avoid the situation entirely. On New Year’s Eve, CJ Verdell may be the difference maker in a large-field tournament to surge a lineup to the top of the leaderboards.


  • CJ Verdell, Oregon’s primary running back, makes for an interesting option in tournaments. Michigan State’s top-ranked rush defense will scare most away, but they have not faced an offense like that of Oregon’s. Top-end running backs have also had multiple 100-yard days on the Spartans.

missouri vs. oklahoma state | missouri -9, total: 74 | 3:45 pm est kickoff


NOTE: Missouri’s offensive coordinator, Derek Dooley, refused to comment on the health of a few of Missouri’s key offensive weapons. The players in question are TE/WR Albert Okwuegbunam, RB Damarea Crockett, and WR Emmanuel Hall.


Drew Lock has endured more than his fair share of ups and downs this season. Lock entered this season as one of the favorites to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. At times he has looked like a quarterback with real promise and potential. At other times, he has looked clueless and like a late-round project for a team willing to teach him the tricks of the trade at the professional level for a few years. Luckily for Lock and his draft stock, this matchup with Oklahoma State forecasts as one of the highest-scoring games of bowl season. Lock is priced according to this favorable matchup, but his body of work in games where Missouri’s offense was firing on all cylinders speaks for itself. In the six non-blowout games that Missouri scored 38+ points, Lock scored at least 23.9 DraftKings points in all but one of them. Furthermore, in the three of those games against non-SEC opponents, Lock averaged a stunning 38.87 DraftKings points per game. The floor and ceiling are undeniable in this matchup, and he will likely be the highest-scoring quarterback on the slate.


Albert Okwuegbunam is one of the nation’s few fantasy-relevant tight ends, and his status is still unclear less-than 24 hours before kickoff. The lack of information from Missouri’s coaching staff makes the situation far more complicated than expected. If Okwuegbunam is unable to play, targets will surely be freed up for Missouri’s other primary receivers that are active. If Okwuegbunam is able to play, he will be a particularly interesting option if Emmanuel Hall is unable to play.

At this moment, Emmanuel Hall does not appear on any official or unofficial injury reports supplied by Missouri, but Alex Schiffer, a writer for the Kansas City Star, speculated that Hall may sit out for the bowl game. Hall entered the season as one of the premier wide receiver prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft, but a lingering lower-body injury has put a hamper on his typically gaudy numbers. Should Emmanuel Hall choose to rest for the Liberty Bowl and avoid injury, Jalen Knox and Johnathon Johnson stand to benefit the most. At just $4,000 on DraftKings and $5,800 on FanDuel, the salary-relief afforded by Jalen Knox will likely make him one of the sharpest plays on the slate without Hall and Okwuegbunam.

Overall, Oklahoma State’s secondary ranks 50th in the nation in S&P+ allowed, but its simultaneous ranking at 73rd in marginal efficiency allowed make for a spot to target in a game with such an astronomical total. With an implied team total of over 40 points, Missouri’s offense will likely be the focus of lineups in all formats, but in GPPs be wary of the popularity associated with such a high implied team total.


Damarea Crockett enters this game as a reported game-time-decision. Much like Albert Okwuegbunam and Emmanuel Hall, there has been little information regarding Crockett’s health in the weeks leading up to the bowl game. Expect news to break regarding Crockett’s status in the 60 minutes prior to kickoff (NOTE: this will be after lock, so late swap may be necessary.) Without Crockett, Larry Rountree III projects for another massive workload. In the season finale against Arkansas, Rountree carried the ball 29 times for 119 yards. While Rountree did not find the end zone in that SEC matchup, with 40 points expected out of the Tigers’ offense, it is tough to imagine Rountree closes in on 30 touches once again without making at least one stop in the end zone. Without Crockett, Larry Rountree III projects to be one of the highest scoring running backs on the entire slate as well as a better point-per-dollar option than those priced ahead of him.


  • Emmanuel Hall and Albert Okwuebunam are questionable for this game.

  • If just one of the two play the other becomes one of the best wide receiver options on the entire slate.

  • If both are inactive for the game, Jalen Knox is one of the sharpest plays on the slate at his discounted price.

  • Johnathon Johnson will be a slightly more expensive pivot away from Knox without Okwuegbunam and Hall.

  • Damarea Crockett is questionable for this game.

  • If Crockett is inactive for the game, Rountree is an elite option in cash games and GPPs.

  • If Crockett is active for the game, Rountree’s price is difficult to justify in a time-share.



In the game projected to total nearly 20 more points than the second-highest scoring game on the slate, both quarterbacks are top-end options in all formats. For Oklahoma State, Taylor Cornelius will need to throw the ball all over the field to keep pace in this BIG 12-style shootout. This game projects as a perfect game-script for an exceptionally pass-heavy attack from the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Missouri’s run defense is far stronger than the pass defense (7th and 67th in the nation, respectively, according to S&P+,) and as nine-point underdogs, the Cowboys will likely be playing catch-up all game long. Cornelius will see one of the highest-volume days passing on the entire slate and, with the strong receiving corps he is surrounded by, it has the potential to be a slate-breaking day for the Oklahoma State senior. Consider Cornelius in all formats, even stacked with Drew Lock in the same game.


Justice Hill will not be playing for Oklahoma State in the bowl game, which makes Chuba Hubbard a particularly interesting option. Earlier in the season, Hubbard had game-changing performances against the likes of West Virginia and Oklahoma, but neither of those teams compares to the run defense of Missouri. Missouri’s 7th-ranked run defense (according to S&P+) makes Hubbard a risky option in cash games, as this is a proven unit tested against SEC talent. Hubbard’s big-play capabilities both in the backfield and as a kick returner make him a viable option as a GPP candidate on this slate. His involvement in the passing game (5 and 6 targets in his two games he played the majority of snaps) make Hubbard an intriguing option to pair with Cornelius as a contrarian quarterback-running back stack. Chuba Hubbard will likely be a contrarian option for exposure to this high-scoring BIG 12 blast-from-the-past and in GPPs his low-floor and high-ceiling make him the epitome of what winning GPP lineups are made of.


Oklahoma State’s high-volume aerial attack has led to four (!) wide receivers averaging at least 7 targets over the team’s last 3 games. The tops amongst the group is second-team All American Tylan Wallace. Wallace has averaged a remarkable 14 targets per game over Oklahoma State’s las three games, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Wallace is the most expensive receiver on the slate, but his floor and upside are unmatched, especially in a high-scoring affair like this one is expected to be. He will likely be the most-rostered top-end wide receiver on the slate, and for good reason. No receiver has the safe and stable floor of production that Wallace has proven to have this season. Next in the Cowboys’ receiving corps are Tyron Johnson and Dillon Stoner. Tyron Johnson’s role has been fairly consistent throughout the season, the number two option to Wallace, and a reliable one at that. His five trips to the end zone rank second on the team to Wallace in the passing game, and for just $600 more than Stoner on DraftKings, his ceiling is considerably higher. However, if that $600 in savings allows for a far superior lineup construction elsewhere, Dillon Stoner is no slouch. Over the season’s final three games, Stoner totaled 9, 11, and 9 targets in each game, respectively. On FanDuel, Stoner is priced nearly $2,000 below Johnson, which is unthinkable. Target Stoner in cash-games on DraftKings and especially FanDuel, while Johnson is a superior cash-game option on DraftKings and a GPP option on both sites.


  • As 9-point underdogs, the passing attack will likely be out in full force for the bowl game against one of the SEC’s weaker secondaries.

  • Game stacking this game will be extremely popular in all formats and getting both quarterbacks into the same lineup provides an unmatched floor and ceiling on this slate.

  • Chuba Hubbard’s matchup makes him difficult to count on in cash-games, but his ceiling is exactly what is needed in GPP lineups.

  • All three OKST wide receivers are viable on either site, with Wallace ranking as the top option on the entire slate. Johnson’s floor and ceiling make him an underrated number two option, and Dillon Stoner’s recent emergence makes him one of FanDuel’s biggest pricing errors on the slate.

northwestern vs. utah | Utah -7, total: 46 | 7:00 pm est kickoff



Flynn Nagel is not expected to play for the Wildcats after suffering an injury late in the regular season. In his absence, Bennett Skowronek once again projects to be the number one wide receiver for Clayton Thorson. On DraftKings, Skowronek checks in below $4,000 and warrants consideration in both cash-games and GPPs. Skowronek saw 8 targets in the BIG 10 Championship game without Nagel in the lineup, which offers a strong floor for such a cheap player. His target-share within the offense coupled with his size at 6’4” tall make him a strong red-zone target as well, leading to potential touchdown equity. The floor will be low against a strong Utah defense that ranks 30th in the nation against the pass, but that is to be expected out of a sub-$4,000 receiver on DraftKings.


  • Northwestern’s slow-paced offense and matchup with one of the nation’s stronger defenses make it tough to find fantasy-viable options throughout the roster.

  • Bennett Skowronek’s increased role in the offense without Flynn Nagel make for one of the stronger salary-saving options on the slate, but aside from that, there is not much to like.



Utah’s quarterback situation is a bit murky- Tyler Huntley has been the team’s starter throughout the season, and he has posted a respectable 20.8 DraftKings points per game. Unfortunately, due to a late-season injury, he was unable to play for the Utes in the PAC 12 Championship game. In his absence, Jason Shelley understandably struggled against the Washington Huskies’ elite secondary. Huntley is likely going to be available for this game, but whether or not he will start is still unclear. Luckily, both Huntley and Shelley are priced equally on DraftKings, and late swap can be utilized to solve this problem. Should Huntley start, he ranks as the fourth-best option at quarterback on the slate, but he is far cheaper than the three ranking ahead of him. Should Huntley be unable to start for Utah, Shelley is a far riskier option at quarterback. Rostering either one of Utah’s quarterbacks accompanies the risk of being forced into a late-swap onto Shelley, and is only a viable option for risk-tolerant cash-game players and GPP players. Regardless of who starts, one constant will be Northwestern’s sub-par secondary. The Wildcats’ defense ranks 75th in S&P+ allowed on passing plays and 96th in marginal efficiency allowed on passing plays. The savings offered by rostering Huntley or Shelley coupled with the matchup with one of the nation’s weakest power-five defenses make this matchup one to keep an eye on and consider in GPP lineups.


Britain Covey, Utah’s number one wide receiver, will be inactive for the team’s bowl game. In his absence in the PAC 12 Championship, Jaylen Dixon emerged as the team’s potential wide receiver of the future. The freshman speedster was targeted seven times in the PAC 12 Championship game, and at just $4,500 on DraftKings and $6,600 on FanDuel he is by far the best piece to stack with a Utah quarterback. Dixon is unlikely to dominate any jump-ball situations at just 5’9”, but his catch-rate as the number one option through the air forecasts to be strong enough to reach value at his low price tag.


  • Utah’s quarterback situation is quite sticky and confusing. Should information come out prior to lock that Tyler Huntley will be starting under center, he is viable in both cash-games and GPPs. Without any such information, this situation should be reserved for a salary-saving QB2 option in GPP lineups.

  • Freshman Jaylen Dixon is the number one option to stack alongside Huntley or Shelley on this slate. Even without the stack, at his low price and increased role, he is viable as a one-off option in cash lineups.

north carolina state vs. texas a&m | texas a&m-7, total: 56 | 7:30 PM est kickoff



North Carolina State’s number one wide receiver, Kelvin Harmon, has opted to sit out for the team’s bowl game in preparation for the NFL Draft. In this battle against the nation’s 81st-ranked pass defense according to S&P+, there are two clear beneficiaries of this absence. First, Jakobi Meyers has been one of the nation’s most prolific number two wide receivers in the nation, if it is even fair to call him that. Meyers totaled double-digit targets in seven straight games to finish the year. No other player on the slate enters bowl season with an active streak of 10+ target games longer than five games, which proves how impressive this level of consistent volume truly is. Without Harmon in the picture for the Wolfpack, expect Meyers to continue to shoulder one of the heaviest workloads in the nation and, if it is possible, potentially an even larger workload. Meyers has seen a significant price increase on both sites, and for that reason it is tough to justify rostering him in cash-games. The focus here should be as a differentiation-play in GPPs.

Emeka Emezie checks in at a far cheaper price-point on both sites and he is slated to play a significantly larger role in the offense without Harmon. Emezie was NC State’s number three wide receiver all season, but without Harmon he will be inserted into the starting lineup for the final game of his sophomore season. Throughout the season Emezie had just one game with 10+ targets but without such a key contributor (Harmon averaged 11.3 targets per game over the team’s final three games,) his role will certainly grow. His floor is not as high as Meyers’ because of the established role that Meyers has carved out in the offense over the duration of the season, but at this discount that is far less of a worry.


  • Jakobi Meyers has been priced up, but his already sizeable workload is likely to increase in this game. He is the GPP pivot to comparably priced receivers like Tylan Wallace.

  • Emeka Emezie is far cheaper on both sites and because of this, he is a strong option in cash-games as well as GPPs.



Kellen Mond, Texas A&M’s dual-threat quarterback, has battled a difficult SEC schedule all season and still mustered nearly 24 DraftKings points per game. While this number is increased thanks to a 74-72 overtime thriller against LSU, he has been a capable quarterback all season. This bowl game against NC State should prove a bit of a reprieve from the daunting task that is facing SEC defenses week-in and week-out. NC State ranks 84th in the nation in S&P+ allowed on passing plays, and against the 71st-ranked schedule in the nation, that number may be a bit generous. Mond checks in one tier below the quarterbacks in the Missouri vs. Oklahoma State game, and he will likely be far less-rostered than either of those options. The savings associated with Mond compared to Drew Lock or Taylor Cornelius allow for high-ceiling skill players elsewhere, and on this slate that is a viable option in cash and GPP lineups.


  • Kellen Mond gets a significantly easier matchup than he has typically seen throughout the season. Unfortunately, with so many wide receiver options, no one player stands out above the rest to stack with MondEDIT: Jhamon Ausbon priced at just $3,900 on DraftKings is a viable option in all formats as a one-off option or stacked with Kellen Mond. Following his return from injury, he has shown a floor between 4 and 6 targets, which is perfectly acceptable at this price. $6,200 on FanDuel is far less enticing when there are other more impressive pieces at or below that same price.

  • Trayveon Williams, while he is one of the most talented running backs in the nation, is too expensive to warrant serious consideration.




Desmond Riddler enters the bowl game with a strong 19-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio along with 5 more rushing touchdowns. This matchup against one of the nation's poorest defenses (86th ranked in S&P+ allowed on passing plays) provides the young freshman with a prime opportunity to finish his first collegiate campaign on a high note. Cincinnati enters the game as six-point favorites, and they should have no problem ripping through Virginia Tech's terrible defense with a full month of preparation under their belts. He shockingly checks in under $9,000 on FanDuel, and he makes for one of the best value options alongside Tyler Huntley (if he starts) on Saturday.


Michael Warren II has been one of the nation's most active running backs this season, totaling 224 carries throughout the regular season. Virginia Tech's defense has somehow managed to be even worse against the run than they are against the pass this year. Sporting the 110th-ranked rush defense according to S&P+, Virginia Tech has little hope of stopping Warren II come Saturday afternoon. At $9,700, Warren II is the third-most expensive running back on the slate, but he grades as the number one overall option at the position. In FanDuel's half-point PPR scoring system, prioritizing running backs over wide receivers has proven to be the optimal strategy in cash-games as their touchdown equity is typically significantly higher. Consider building around Warren II in all formats, especially cash-games where his floor is unmatched by any skill position option on the slate.


Khalil Lewis has been Cincinnati's number one option through the air all season. Over the final three regular season games, he averaged 10.3 targets per game, and in FanDuel's scoring system where high-volume wide receivers are devalued, Lewis is fortunately discounted. At $8,800, his price could have reasonably been nearly $1,000 higher with his target-share in this offense along with his 9 touchdowns in the regular season. Coupling Lewis with Riddler will be one of the most underpriced and underrated quarterback-wide receiver stacks on the slate.


  • This is one of the best matchups on the slate. Virginia Tech's defense rates as one of the worst in the nation after playing an impressively-average schedule this regular season (63rd-ranked strength of schedule)
  • Target Cincinnati in all phases of the offense. Riddler is underpriced for this strong matchup, Warren II is one of the highest-volume running backs in the nation playing in the best matchup on the slate, and finally Khalil Lewis is one of the nation's most-targeted wide receivers with significant touchdown equity in this offense and matchup.


Fade. The team's offense is not prolific enough to overcome Cincinnati's strongly-rated defense. Cincinnati ranks 3rd in the nation in S&P+ allowed on rushing plays and ranks 1st in the nation in marginal efficiency allowed on passing plays. The prices simply are not low enough to target Virginia Tech.

Have any questions or just want to chat about the slate? Reach out on twitter @ThaGreatZambino and I will be more than happy to help with any and all questions leading up to lock! Good luck and Happy New Year!

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