The Week 4 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 10 games. In today’s slate breakdown, we will experiment with a different format. Please provide feedback on what you like and what you don’t (@hindery). The write-up will be broken down into two parts:
1. Slate overview: The first section will be a quick preview of the slate, with a brief listing and discussion of the top plays at each position along with some general lineup building strategy for the week. Hopefully, this section will be all you need to build strong cash and GPP lineups.
2. Team-by-Team Breakdown: The top teams on the slate will be broken down in greater detail by order of their playability score, which takes into account the team total, blowout risk, and pace. This section is a deep dive for those who really want to study and understand the slate.
Main Slate Overview
- Arizona’s Khalil Tate stands out as the top play given the expected shootout with Oregon State and his mid-tier price of $9,100.
- There are strong options priced over $10,000 if you can find the salary cap space. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and West Virginia’s Will Grier have favorable matchups and are elite talents in high-octane passing offenses. However, blowouts are a concern for all three, especially Tagovailoa and Haskins.
- There are some solid dual-threat options for $9,000 or less. Sam Ehlinger of Texas and Shawn Robinson of TCU probably need at least one rushing touchdown to put you in contention in GPPs but each has proven capable of producing on the ground.
- Oregon State’s Conor Blount stands out as far and away the top cheap option at just $7,000.
- Boston College’s AJ Dillon and Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson stand out as the top two options on the slate. Both should see extremely heavy workloads against bad run defenses in high-scoring games. Fitting one or both into your lineup will require some sacrifice elsewhere given their high salaries, however.
- The $8,000 to $9,200 range is chock full of talented backs who are worth considering in GPPs due to upside but who are tough to bank on since they are splitting carries on their own teams. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber of Ohio State, Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong of Notre Dame, D’Andre Swift of Georgia, Najee Harris of Alabama, Karan Higdon and Chris Evans of Michigan, and J.J. Taylor of Arizona top the list.
- In the sub-$8,000 range, Alabama’s Damien Harris and Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield stand out. Both are in timeshares but have upside on teams expected to score 40+ points. Matt Colburn of Wake Forest has a tough matchup against Notre Dame but comes at a fair price.
- Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Gary Jennings Jr. (West Virginia), Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon St.), Rondale Moore (Purdue), David Sills V (West Virginia), and Greg Dortch (Wake Forest) are the top options at wide receiver. However, each carries a salary of $9,000+ and it can be difficult to fit even one into a lineup this week.
- Paying up for top options at running back and quarterback is an attractive option this week. Thus, the sweet spot at wide receiver looks to be in the $7,000-$8,100 range. Shawn Poindexter (Arizona), Marcus Simms (West Virginia), Jalen Reagor (TCU), Tony Ellison (Arizona), Shun Brown (Arizona) and Austin Mack (Ohio State) are each solid options.
- There isn’t a slam dunk option under $7,000, but Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Terry Godwin (Georgia), Jalen Knox (Missouri) and Tommy Sweeney (Boston College) are each worth strong consideration given the lineup flexibility their salaries provide.
Quick Thoughts on Roster Construction
In cash games, paying up for Jemar Jefferson and AJ Dillon is the way to go. Khalil Tate is priced right at quarterback and has a strong matchup. The top two flex options are Conor Blount and Will Grier. Blount’s low salary may allow you to pay up for a legitimate WR1 like Gary Jennings. Rostering Grier and his slate-high salary forces you to roll the dice some of the cheaper wide receivers listed above but may be worth it given his high floor.
In GPPs, it makes sense to pick a few of the players listed below as core plays to build your teams around and then pick a few of the riskier, less-popular options listed as GPP-only to add some uniqueness to your roster. Tournament fields are small enough in college football you want to lock in some safer options and only gamble on a couple boom/bust options per lineup.
Note: Home teams are listed in bold above. Playability score combines team totals, blowout risk, and pace to help figure out which teams to focus most of our attention on. The team breakdowns below are ordered by playability score.
It looks like a dream spot for Arizona, favored by nearly a touchdown at Oregon State in a game with a total of over 75 points.
Quarterback Khalil Tate ($9,100) was one of the biggest fantasy stars in the nation in 2017. In his nine starts last year, Tate threw for 1,550 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 1,325 yards and another 12 scores. Against Oregon St. last year, Tate rushed for 206 yards and two TDs. However, Tate has been a bit of an enigma this season. He is a little bit banged up and playing in a new scheme under Kevin Sumlin, but that doesn’t fully explain his lack of rushing yardage (just 40 yards and 2 touchdowns). Tate looks hesitant to run even when there is plenty of space and he hasn’t looked like he has been giving full effort at times. Tate’s price is attractive because even if he doesn’t do anything with his legs, he should still have a solid fantasy game as a passer. The rushing upside is a bonus and not fully priced in given his lack of rushing success early this season.
At wide receiver, Shawn Poindexter ($8,100), Tony Ellison ($7,700), and Shun Brown ($7,200) are all priced very attractively for GPPs. Brown and Ellison are so cheap, they even make sense as bargain cash game plays. The two are seniors who put up solid numbers last season and are off to relatively hot starts in 2018. While Ellison and Brown are undersized, Poindexter is a 6’7 former basketball player and big red zone target. He is a bit more boom/bust but a very strong GPP play.
Running back J.J. Taylor ($8,000) is also underpriced. The diminutive speedster was Co-Freshman of the Year in the Pac12 last season. While he’s off to a slow start this season, he has averaged 16 touches per game so far, which is enough to do damage against Oregon State.
Core Plays: Khalil Tate, Shun Brown, Tony Ellison
GPP: J.J. Taylor, Shawn Poindexter
The implied team total for the Buckeyes is 53 points, the highest on the slate and the Buckeyes are the second-best offense in the nation according to S&P. However, Ohio State is a massive 37-point favorite against Tulane with a huge showdown against Penn State looming next week. We may not see much of the starters in the second half if everything goes according to script. One half may be enough though if the Buckeyes put up 40+ points quickly. The likelihood of a blowout and high prices across the board means the Buckeyes are GPP-only plays this week.
Dwayne Haskins ($10,300) stars at quarterback while J.K. Dobbins ($9,200) and Mike Weber ($8,700) split time at running back. Each has the proven potential for a big fantasy day but the salaries are high considering they may see only two or three quarters of action. In GPPs, we can chase the upside but it is tough to go here in cash games.
Ohio State starts three wide receivers but also rotates another three wide receivers heavily. Terry McLaurin ($8,900), Parris Campbell ($8,600), K.J. Hill ($8,200), and Johnnie Dixon ($7,600) see too few targets and are priced too high to play as anything more than longer shot GPP options if you are playing multiple lineups. Austin Mack ($7,100) leads the Buckeyes in targets and is priced affordably enough to be considered a decent GPP option. Binjimen Victor ($5,200) is also an interesting boom/bust option for GPPs given what his salary allows you to do with the rest of your lineup. A poor throw kept him from a long touchdown last week.
GPP: Dwayne Haskins, Austin Mack, Mike Weber, J.K. Dobbins, Binjimen Victor
Georgia is a 14.5-point road favorite against Missouri. If the Tigers offense can put up points, Georgia could be forced to play its starters for the full game for the first time this season.
Jake Fromm ($9,200) has had only one decent fantasy performance in his career but it came last season against Missouri. Another solid fantasy outing against a bad Missouri pass defense is possible. However, in a run-first offense the more likely outcome is pedestrian fantasy numbers and the price is too high given the other top quarterbacks on the slate.
Mecole Hardman ($9,200) is the top receiver and occasional wildcat quarterback, but the price tag is prohibitive given his modest workload. Riley Ridley ($7,400) is cheaper but still slightly overpriced. Terry Godwin ($6,200) was expected to be one of Georgia’s top targets but has been dealing with injuries, including a leg contusion that knocked him out of last week’s game. He is expected to play and his salary is low enough to make him a consideration for GPPs if pre-game reports are positive. Make sure to check the news Saturday morning if you are considering Godwin.
D’Andre Swift ($8,800), Elijah Holyfield ($7,700), and Brian Herrien ($5,100) have been splitting carries all season. Swift is listed as the starter and has the talent to make an impact if he ever sees a decent number of touches. Holyfield has actually been the most productive back on the team this season and is a strong GPP option given his price.
GPP: Elijah Holyfield, Terry Godwin, D’Andre Swift
The Mountaineers are 16-point home favorites against Kansas State in their Big 12 opener.
Quarterback Will Grier ($10,600) is one of the top options on the slate but also the most expensive. Through two games, he is averaging 381 passing yards and 4.5 touchdowns per game. He could put up similar numbers on Saturday.
The Mountaineers have an ugly 4-man committee at running back and are a pass first offense.
Wide receivers Gary Jennings Jr. ($9,900) and David Sills V ($9,300) are amongst the most productive pass catchers in the nation. Both should have big games but the salaries are sky-high too. Jennings (13-115-0) and Sills (4-68-2) both had strong games against Kansas State last season. Marcus Simms ($7,900) is the third receiver but this passing offense can support three top options. Fourth wide receiver T.J. Simmons ($5,700) is a deep threat and also worth considering in GPPs.
Core Plays: Will Grier, Marcus Simms, Gary Jennings Jr., David Sills V
GPP: T.J. Simmons
Boston College is a 6.5-point road favorite with a team total of 36.5 points against a reeling Purdue team that has lost three straight. On paper, it is an incredible spot for the underrated Boston College offense (17th-best offense according to S&P) against the 92nd-best defense.
Quarterback Anthony Brown ($10,000) is off to a hot start but is priced way up based upon how productive the Boston College passing game has typically been in recent years.
AJ Dillon ($9,800) is the top play on the slate. He has eight straight games with 125+ total yards and at least one touchdown. When so many other backs are parts of committees and very hit or miss in terms of production, a back with this sort of floor is hard to pass. The ceiling is easy to get excited about as well. Vegas has this as a relatively high-scoring and close affair. Dillon had some monster fantasy numbers in these type of road games (29-272-4 @ Louisville, 23-193-3 @ Boston College) last season.
Roday White ($9,000) and Jeff Smith ($8,300) have put up big numbers this season but are priced up based on the early outings. Both are fringe options in GPP but safer options with similar upside exist in this tier. Tight end Tommy Sweeney ($5,800) is one of the safest cheap options if you want to punt at WR3. He put up a 5-58-1 line last week against Wake Forest and averaged over 40 receiving yards per game last season.
Core Play: AJ Dillon
GPP: Tommy Sweeney
The Crimson Tide may get their first real test of the season against a ranked Texas A&M squad that gave Clemson all it could handle. However, Alabama has been so dominant, even against this caliber of opponent the game could out of hand. While Texas A&M’s defense ranks 33rd according to S&P, Alabama’s 3rd-ranked offense comes into the matchup with a 43.5-point implied team total
Tua Tagovailoa ($10,200) has huge upside in this matchup. He has destroyed poor competition to date, racking up 9 total touchdowns in basically 6 quarters of action. While he isn’t at the very top of the list of quarterback options on this slate, he is in the top-5.
Damien Harris ($7,900) is the most interesting running back under $8,000. Arguably the top draft-eligible back in the nation, Harris has averaged just 8 carries and 2 receptions per game so far this season. Alabama has not needed its starters while mowing down the competition but may want to use a heavier dose of Harris in this matchup. Top backup Najee Harris ($8,300) should also be in for a relatively big workload on Saturday. Josh Jacobs ($6,700) will also be involved.
Jerry Jeudy ($9,800) is the top receiver and has scored multiple touchdowns in every game this season. He is a GPP-only option however because he is so reliant on scoring long touchdowns to put up fantasy numbers. The volume of targets isn’t high in an offense with so many weapons. Devonta Smith ($8,500) and Henry Ruggs III ($6,800) are the other two starters. Smith is a GPP option, though there are much safer options in his price range. Ruggs gives you more bang for your buck with the very attractive price tag.
Core Plays: Tua Tagovailoa, Damien Harris
GPP-Najee Harris, Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith
Oregon State is a 6-point home underdog but still features some of the top overall DFS options on the slate due to the games 75.5 over/under and the Beavers’ 34.8-point implied team total.
Conor Blount ($7,000) and Jake Luton have split time at quarterback to date. However, Luton has a sprained ankle and probably won’t play, which leaves Blount vastly underpriced and one of the top bargains on the slate. The Wildcats have averaged 315 passing yards and 1.7 passing touchdowns per game this season.
Jemar Jefferson ($9,200) is one of the top plays on the slate. Oregon State is averaging 41-212-3.3 on the ground this season and with starter Artavis Pierce sidelined with an elbow injury, the true freshman Jefferson has been forced to shoulder the load. He has rushed 55 times for 391 yards and 6 touchdowns, with almost all of that production coming in the 7 quarters since Pierce was injured. The Beavers boast an experienced offensive line made up entirely of seniors and juniors and face an Arizona defense that has consistently had issues filling the correct gaps.
Isaiah Hodgins ($9,400) and Trevon Bradford ($8,700) are the top two receivers. Bradford missed last week with a shoulder injury, which allowed Timmy Hernandez ($7,800) to step into a bigger role. Tight end Noah Togiai ($6,200) is a game-time decision with a knee injury.
Core Plays: Jemar Jefferson, Conor Blount
GPP: Isaiah Hodgins, Trevon Bradford
The Michigan run game is in play with the Wolverines favored by 17.5 at home against Nebraska. Karan Higdon ($9,200) was shockingly held out last week, which left the bulk of the carries to Chris Evans ($8,200). Both are listed as probable for Week 4. The lack of clarity on playing time makes playing either a major risk but there is upside in this matchup.
GPP: Karan Higdon
The Fighting Irish have a very solid implied team total of 34 points. Brandon Wimbush ($8,500) has an excellent price given his dual-threat abilities and the matchup. He has not played very well the last two weeks though. Jafar Armstrong ($8,500) started the first two weeks but Tony Jones Jr. ($9,000) has seen his touches increase each game and operated as the top back last week. Both are on the GPP radar but not near the top of the list. The passing game has been mostly inept but the prices of Miles Boykin ($7,700) and Chase Claypool ($7,000) are low enough to consider.
EDIT: It is being reported Ian Book will see some time at quarterback along with Wimbush. Wimbush is now out of my player pool at quarterback.
GPP: Tony Jones, Jafar Armstrong
The Tigers travel to face Georgia Tech and also have a solid team total of 34 points. There is too much uncertainty and too many mouths to feed in the passing game. Travis Etienne ($9,700) is a solid GPP option after seeing 16 carries last week against Georgia Southern. He has the burst to pop off some big plays even if he doesn’t touch the ball 20 times.
GPP: Travis Etienne
Home underdogs but still boasting a decent team total of 30 points, Purdue’s passing game is worth considering. David Blough’s salary ($9,700) exploded, which makes him tough to play even after his monster Week 3 performance. Rondale Moore ($9,500) is the clear top option at wide receiver. He struggled in Week 2 but had big 11-catch, 100+ yard games in Weeks 1 and 3.
GPP: Rondale Moore
Other names to know
While we want to concentrate primarily on the teams above that have team totals of 30+ points, there are still some names to know on the rosters of the teams not expected to have big games offensively.
It is a rough matchup (Notre Dame) for Wake Forest, but wide receiver Greg Dortch ($9,400) and running back Matt Colburn II ($7,800) should have opportunities.
Missouri faces Georgia’s excellent defense but the high-flying offense could still have some success. Most of the prices are tough to pay given the matchup, but freshman receiver Jalen Knox ($6,800) and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam ($7,300) are priced reasonably.
TCU’s dual-threat quarterback Shawn Robinson ($8,800) has an exciting skillset and top receiver Jalen Reagor ($7,900) is priced fairly. Hard to get too excited about them though in what should be a close game against Texas (over/under of just 47 points).
Texas also has dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger ($9,000) who could be GPP-worthy even in a low-scoring game. It is just hard to pull the trigger when someone like Khalil Tate is only $100 more.