The Week 3 main slate on FanDuel has moved from a 3:30 ET lock to a 12:00 ET lock due to two of the games on the slate (Georgia Southern at Clemson and Middle Tennessee State at Georgia) switching start times due to Hurricane Florence. The West Virginia at NC State game was canceled altogether, making this now a 10-game slate.
The slate should be a high-scoring one. It features five games with totals over 63 points. Houston at Texas Tech (71 total), Missouri at Purdue (65.5 total), and Boise St. at Oklahoma St. (63.5 total) stand out because the games should be both high-scoring and very competitive. Mississippi at Alabama (71 total) and San Jose St. at Oregon (69 total) also standout as games in which there should be points galore, though the possibility of the games getting out of hand could limit how much of the Alabama and Oregon starters we see in the second halves.
Note: The teams are sorted by playability score, which is primarily based on implied team total but also adjusted for blowout risk and expected pace of play. Home teams are listed in bold.
D’Eriq King, Houston ($10,000) King stands out as the top play on the slate at quarterback due to his dual-threat ability. King hasn’t posted huge rushing yardage totals but the former wide receiver is a dangerous runner in the red zone. He has 11 rushing touchdowns in 12 games over the last two seasons and is a solid bet to run one in against Texas Tech on Saturday. King has thrown the ball well this season, averaging 288 yards and 3.5 passing touchdowns per game.
New offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has brought the Baylor scheme to Houston. The Cougars play fast and try to hit deep passes early and often. Houston and Texas Tech sets up as the most likely shootout on the slate (71-point game total) and it should be incredibly competitive as well (Houston is favored by 1 point).
Drew Lock, Missouri ($10,300) Lock is the highest-priced player on the slate but worth paying up for in what will be his first real test of the season at Purdue. After a monster 2017 season (3,964 passing yards and 45 touchdowns), he has picked up where he left off with 687 passing yards and 9 touchdowns through two games. The Tigers are 6.5-point road favorites with a solid implied team total of 36 points. Purdue is reeling a bit after an embarrassing home loss to Eastern Michigan dropped them to 0-2 and has looked vulnerable defensively this season. The Boilermakers have given up over 400 yards per game to the mediocre offenses of Northwestern and Eastern Michigan, which doesn’t bode well with Missouri (averaging 577 yards per game offensively) coming to town. Missouri has talked openly of the desire to avenge an ugly 35-3 defeat at the hands of Purdue last season and won’t hesitate to run up the score if they can.
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech ($8,600) The slate is absolutely loaded with strong quarterback options in the $9,300 to $10,300 range. While you can’t go wrong with any of the top passers, Bowman stands out from the crowd due to his lower salary and the very low risk of a blowout in a toss-up game against Houston. The true freshman stepped in to replace McLane Carter in the opener against Mississippi when the veteran starter went down with an ankle injury. In his first collegiate action, Bowman completed 29-of-49 passes for 273 yards and acquitted himself well. Bowman looked even better in his second start against Lamar. He completed 22-of-25 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns while playing only the first half. Bowman has thrown the ball 74 times in less than six quarters of action so far and it is fair to expect 50 passing attempts on Saturday in the fastest-paced game on the slate. The Red Raiders will be looking to get the ball out quickly and to use wide receiver screens as an extension of the running game.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($9,800) Tagovailoa is an elite talent with a deep stable of speedy pass catchers and a tasty matchup against a vulnerable Mississippi defense. The Crimson Tide have a 46-point team total and should have little trouble scoring against the Rebels. Tagovailoa could have a monster fantasy game, especially if the talented Mississippi offense can put some points on the board. He does come with slightly more risk than the core plays though. First, Tagovailoa continues to share time with Jalen Hurts and won’t be an every-down player. Second, there is a very real chance this game gets out of hand. Alabama is favored by 21 and blew the doors off of Ole Miss last year in a 66-3 blowout.
Brett Rypien, Boise St. ($9,800) Rypien has quietly been one of the best quarterbacks in the nation through two games with a passer rating of 214.5. In a likely shootout at Oklahoma St., Rypien could have a big game.
Taylor Cornelius, Oklahoma St. ($9,300) The surprisingly athletic big man with a rocket arm matches up against a tough Boise St. defense that returns 10-of-11 starters from last season. If the Broncos focus on taking running back Justice Hill out of the game, Cornelius and a deep group of receiving weapons could have a big day.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin ($10,100) Taylor is the top play on the slate and a must for cash games. In his last 12 appearances, Taylor has rushed for 125+ yards 10 times. Through two games this season, he has averaged 199 rushing yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game. Taylor is a future 1st-round back running behind the best offensive line in the country. We should also get a full four quarters from Taylor against BYU. Wisconsin is a solid 21.5-point home favorite but should be good enough to keep it interesting for most of the game. The only real case against Taylor in tournaments is that he is going to be rostered on something like 50% of all GPP entries.
Karan Higdon, Michigan ($9,400) Michigan is a massive 36-point home favorite against SMU. In last week’s blowout win over Western Michigan, Higdon carried 13 times for 156 yards and 1 touchdown (all in the first half). He should have an easy time racking up yardage against a mediocre SMU defense that gave up 239 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns to TCU last week. Higdon is one of the safest plays on the slate. 100+ yards and at least one touchdown is probable. He has some upside as well but a truly monster game probably isn’t in the cards because Higdon may not see the ball much in the second half if Michigan puts the game out of reach early again. Plus, Higdon is not as involved as a receiver as some of the other top options (Ward, Swift, etc.).
Damien Harris, Alabama ($8,100) Harris has just 19 carries for 116 yards total on the season due to Alabama getting the backups plenty of work in the two blowout wins. Expect his workload to see a big jump this week. Harris surprised many by passing up the NFL—where he was expected to be a 2nd-round pick in the 2018 draft— to return for his senior season at Alabama. He should be the go-to guy in big games. The first true road game of the season should qualify, especially as Alabama will likely look to control the clock and keep the high-octane Ole Miss offense off of the field. Harris’ attractiveness this week also is due to his bargain salary, which comes in $2,000 below Jonathan Taylor’s and more than $1,000 below most of the other top backs on the slate. Rostering Harris as your RB2 makes is much easier to fit in a pair of elite quarterbacks without having to take too many risks at wide receiver.
Justice Hill, Oklahoma St. ($9,500) Oklahoma St. has a solid 33-point team total as narrow home favorites against Boise St. The Cowboys haven’t run blocked very well early in the season and Boise returns 10-of-11 starters on a defense that ranks top-5 nationally through two weeks. It could be tough sledding for Hill. On the other hand, Hill is a top talent who is expected to go in the early rounds of the NFL draft. Plus, it is possible Oklahoma St. can take the run game to a higher level in their first true test of the season. Hill is worth rolling the dice on in tournaments.
Tony Brooks-James, Oregon ($9,000) The senior had a career-high 21 carries last week against Portland St. and has emerged as the top back for Oregon. The Ducks are whopping 41.5-point home favorites against San Jose St. on Saturday and Brooks-James could have a huge game if they again feed him the ball. However, in a game which could be over by the second quarter, it is hard to bank on a big workload for any of the Oregon skill position players, making them all GPP-only upside plays.
Da’Leon Ward, Texas Tech ($8,800) Ward had a big opening game against Mississippi (95 total yards and 2 touchdowns) as the lead back for the Red Raiders. He sat out last week with an injury but all indications are that it wasn’t serious. In fact, Kingsbury indicated that Ward could have played against Lamar but he was held out to protect a tweaked groin in a game that Texas Tech won by 77 points. Ward will be needed in what is expected to be a dogfight against Houston. The reasonable salary and Ward’s involvement as a pass catcher in addition to his expected workload as a runner (15-20 carries) make him a strong tournament option.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia ($9,200) Swift may be the most talented running back in the country and at some point, he is going to post a huge fantasy score. With Georgia throwing more than in past years and not really tested yet, they haven’t had to lean heavily on Swift. As 32.5-point home favorites against Middle Tennessee State, it is again possible Swift won’t be needed much. He is certainly a risky play but Swift has the talent to go off if given the opportunity.
Alexander Mattison, Boise St. ($9,300) Mattison is the workhorse for the Boise St. offense and should see a heavy workload against a solid Oklahoma St. defense. In addition to being a physical runner between the tackles, Mattison is also a capable receiver (28-284-1 last season). With the Broncos opening as a slight road underdog, there are running backs who have an easier path to fantasy success this weekend but Mattison is still worth considering due to his talent and heavy expected workload.
Emanuel Hall, Missouri ($9,700) Hall is the top wide receiver play on the slate. He emerged midway through the 2017 season as one of the nation’s top deep threats and has been on a tear ever since. In his last nine games, he has topped 100 receiving yards 7 times and scored 11 touchdowns. Through two games this season, he has 14 catches for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns. At 6’3 and boasting sprinter speed, he is an impossible matchup for the Purdue secondary.
Marquez Stevenson, Houston ($9,700)Through two games, Stevenson has 303 total yards and 3 touchdowns. He has done so on just 10 touches (30.3 yards per touch) and has flashed elite speed and playmaking ability. The redshirt sophomore is inexperienced, having played in just four career games and has shown some inconsistency (missed a long touchdown last week due to a bad drop). Stevenson is in a great spot this week in what should be a high-paced shootout against Texas Tech. He should get a few more chances on deep balls in Kendal Briles’ free-wheeling offensive system and odds are good Stevenson again breaks loose for at least one touchdown.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama ($9,600) The Crimson Tide have had a pipeline of elite South Florida receivers with Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley. Jeudy is the next South Florida start to step in as the top target in the offense. Through two games as a true sophomore, Jeudy has been a star with 8 catches for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has done most of his damage early in games that quickly turned into blowouts. Against Mississippi, we could see a full four quarters from Jeudy and the Crimson Tide starters.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri ($6,700) The athletic tight end stands out as the safest bet under $7,000 on the slate. The redshirt sophomore has been a touchdown machine, with 12 touchdown catches in 11 career games. He has multiple touchdowns in four of his last seven games and is coming off of a solid 7-50-1 receiving performance against Wyoming last week.
A.J. Brown, Mississippi ($9,400) The future first-round pick has put up huge numbers but has been a bit of a “bumslayer,” posting big numbers against bad teams and much more modest numbers against the top teams in the SEC. For example, Alabama held him to one catch for six yards last season. The matchup makes him a tournament-only play but we know what Brown is capable of and he should see a lot of targets in a game where Mississippi will likely be playing from behind.
T.J Vasher, Texas Tech ($7,900) It is tough to count on any of the Red Raiders wide receivers because there are so many viable options. Vasher is the most experienced and arguably most talented of the group, however. He was suspended for the first quarter last week and is off to a slower than expected start, but could be leaned on more heavily in a shootout against Houston. The price is right to roll the dice and Vasher could have a breakout game.
Octavius Evans, Boise State ($6,000) For a low-priced GPP dart, Evans is intriguing. His bargain price tag allows you to fit in four or five of the elite, high-priced options on the slate and may make the risk worth the reward. The true sophomore has yet to see the field this season due to a hamstring injury but is expected to make his debut against Oklahoma St. on Saturday and is listed as a starter. After generating plenty of offseason hype, this could be the week Evans emerges as a top target in the Boise St. offense.
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