The Week 6 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 13 games. Unlike recent weeks, the slate doesn’t include any of the night games. As always, hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments (@hindery).
Overall Strategy for Week
It is uncanny how the strategy and top plays for the Week 6 slate mirror those for Week 5.
Again, we are looking at some tremendous $10,000+ quarterbacks and have a preference for the rushing upside of McKenzie Milton and Kyler Murray. Both put up 50+ points last week and have unmatched ceilings. As with last week, Trevor Lawrence looks like the best bet to save some money at the position if we don’t think we can jam a pair of the top guys into our cap space.
As with last week, Travis Etienne is a top play at running back and we want to go out of our way to try to squeeze in his $9,900 salary. It may even make sense to try to fit in a second expensive running back like Karan Higdon if his backup Chris Evans is out again.
If we do pay up at both quarterback and running back, we are again left targeting primarily wide receivers in the sub-$8,000 range. Steven Sims Jr. ($5,900) remains underpriced and makes a repeat appearance on our Top Plays list. We also can go back to the Alabama pricing game for low-priced options with serious upside since three of the top four receivers for the Crimson Tide are priced $8,000 or less. Henry Ruggs IV made the Top Play list last week while this week the lean is toward Devonta Smith ($8,000).
Last week in our slate breakdown, the three top plays at quarterback were McKenzie Milton, Kyler Murray, and Trevor Lawrence. Milton and Murray ended up being fantastic plays. Both are right back on the top of the list this week. While Lawrence was a disaster, struggling a bit before leaving the game early with concussion-like symptoms, he too is back on the list again this week. He is simply priced too low given his talent and the plus matchup. We also have plenty of other good options priced in the $10,000 range. Will Grier and Dwayne Haskins should put up big numbers through the air.
McKenzie Milton, Central Florida ($10,300) Milton is the top play on the slate. In his three games against FBS opponents, Milton has averaged 327 passing yards and 4.0 passing touchdowns. His passing numbers compare favorably with the other top quarterbacks on the slate. However, where he really separates himself is the damage he is doing on the ground. Milton is averaging 61 rushing yards and 1.7 rushing touchdowns. That is a whopping 16.1 fantasy points per game just as a runner.
Everything about Milton’s matchup is ideal as well. UCF is playing at home as 24-point favorites in a game with a massive total of 73. There is some chance Milton doesn’t play a full four quarters if the game gets out of hand but he will have had a big hand in putting the game out of reach if it comes to that, so the risk is minimal of a poor fantasy performance.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,400) Like Milton, Kyler Murray puts up big numbers through the air (1,462 passing yards and 17 touchdowns) but brings added upside due to his rushing ability. A freakish athlete with 4.4 speed, Murray is the Big 12’s seventh-leading rusher (285 yards and 4 touchdowns) and leads the Sooners in rushing yards. The Oklahoma offense ranks #1 in the nation (S&P rankings) and is coming off of an annihilation of Baylor in which Murray accounted for 7 touchdowns.
Murray and the Sooners do have a much tougher matchup this week, however. The Texas defense ranks 10th in the nation according to S&P. The Sooners implied team total of 34.3 closer to the middle of the pack on the slate and much lower than the teams of the other top quarterbacks (West Virginia, Central Florida, Ohio St., Alabama, and Clemson all have team totals of 40+).
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson ($8,600) Many will be gun-shy about going back to Lawrence after a rough performance last week. Lawrence was off to a slow start against Syracuse even before injuring his neck and being forced out of the game. However, we need to try to separate process from results. The reasoning behind backing Lawrence was sound last week and applies even more so this week. The top-rated recruit has elite skills as a passer and is mobile enough to make a few plays with his legs as well. Clemson again has a team total of just over 40 points against a poor Wake Forest defense. Plus, we should be getting a fast-paced game as well. The Demon Deacons run the second-most plays per game (90.2) behind only Texas Tech.
The most attractive aspect of rostering Lawrence is his salary. He is $1,700 cheaper than Milton and the other top quarterbacks. On a slate where cap space is very tight, it is tempting to pay down for one of our two quarterbacks and Lawrence stands out as the top option below $9,000.
Also Worth Consideration
Will Grier, West Virginia ($10,500) There is a case to be made for Grier as the safest play on the slate. In four games this season, Grier’s worst fantasy game was his 25.7 points last week against Texas Tech. He has thrown for at least 332 yards and 3 touchdowns in every single game. In a home matchup against a Kansas defense that was torched last week by Taylor Cornelius of Oklahoma St. (312 yards and 4 touchdowns), Grier looks like a lock for another 300-yard, 3+ touchdown game.
The only reason Grier is not listed as a Top Play is that Milton and Murray are cheaper and have more upside due to their rushing ability. Grier’s highest-scoring game this season came in the opener when he threw for 429 yards and 5 touchdowns (37.2 fantasy points). Milton has scored 38+ in each of his matchups against FBS opponents while Murray has 40+ points in two of his last four.
N’Kosi Perry, Miami ($7,900) Perry looks like the top sub $8,000 option on the slate and is in play because of how much his discounted salary (compared to the top quarterbacks) can give you advantages in other parts of your roster. The redshirt freshman was ranked as the #7 dual threat quarterback recruit in the country in 2017 and has shown modest rushing upside over the last two weeks (15 carries for 58 yards). He is a physical runner though, which bodes well for his chances of punching in a short rushing touchdown. Perry has thrown the ball well since taking over for Mailk Rosier, throwing for 442 yards and 7 touchdowns on just 51 attempts and the Hurricanes are loaded with speedy weapons at wide receiver and tight end.
The matchup against a struggling Florida St. defense (109th in S&P) is another factor making Perry intriguing. The Hurricanes are favored by 13 points and have a team total of 31 points. It wouldn’t be a shock to see a bit of a shootout in this rivalry game.
It is a tough week at the position with only Etienne (and his massive salary) really standing out as an elite option. Karan Higdon would join him in that elite category if we find out before kickoff that Chris Evans is out. Given the high quarterback salaries, we likely have to search for an RB2 priced $8,000 or less, which means we have to take our chances on a lower-volume committee back. Keaontay Ingram stands out narrowly as the best option in this price range since he seems to be emerging as the top guy for the Longhorns.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($9,900) Etienne has notched at least 125 totals yards and 2 touchdowns in three straight games. The explosive sophomore is emerging as one of the top backs in the nation and stands out as far and away the top running back option on this slate. Clemson has a team total of 40.3 points in what should be a fast-paced showdown with Wake Forest. With inexperience at quarterback, Clemson gave Etienne a career-high 27 carries last week. It isn’t easy to fit in Etienne’s salary and he is going to be highly owned in tournaments, but with a lack of other standout options, it still makes sense to invest heavily in Etienne.
Karan Higdon, Michigan ($9,700) Higdon is a solid play even if backup running back Chris Evans is able to play for the first time in three weeks. However, he is a much better option if Evans is out again versus Maryland. With Evans sidelined, Higdon had a whopping 31 touches last week against Maryland and notched his third consecutive 20+ point fantasy outing.
The matchup could be difficult for Higdon. Maryland’s defense ranks 5th-best in the country, allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. However, like last week when Higdon put up 115 yards and 2 scores on 30 carries, volume could overcome efficiency. The Wolverines offense is run-heavy (39.2 rushing attempts per game) and Higdon is the workhorse. The game script sets up exceptionally well also. Michigan is a solid 17.5-point home favorite but Maryland should be competitive enough we see a full four quarters of Higdon.
Keaontay Ingram, Texas ($8,000) That Ingram rates as a Top Play is reflective of how underwhelming the running back options on the slate are this week. We have so many split backfields and pass-heavy offenses, we have to take some risks at the position. Especially if we want to save money on our RB2. Ingram has steadily emerged as the go-to back for the Longhorns early in his freshman season. The true freshman has averaged 6.1 yards per carry while both Tre Watson and Daniel Young have managed just 4.0. Last week, in a close win at Kansas State, Ingram took over the backfield with a team-high 10 carries and also added 5 receptions. In all, he had 15 of the 24 touches at running back. In the biggest game of the season for Texas, it could be time to ride the hot hand of Ingram even more heavily.
Also Worth Considering
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State ($9,400) Dobbins is priced up a bit higher than ideal for a player who is still splitting snaps and carries fairly evenly with Mike Weber. However, Weber has been playing through a foot injury and is clearly not 100% right now, which should lead to Dobbins seeing a few more touches. The matchup against Indiana sets up as a potential breakout game for the Ohio State rushing attack, which has been held to fewer than 200 yards in each of the last three games. Last season against the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes ran for 292 yards and Dobbins led the way with 181. He could have a similar performance if Ohio State can build an early lead and grind out the win on the ground in the second half.
Braeden West, SMU ($8,300) West looks great on paper. He is coming off of a 32-touch game against Navy. He also is game-script independent because he is so involved in the passing game, with 17 receptions already this season. A key factor considering SMU will probably be playing catchup against UCF. While UCF’s offense is dominant, the defense can be taken advantage of. The Knights rank 108th in the country and are giving up 206.5 yards per game on the ground. The concern for West is he could have more company in the backfield, with two talented running backs potentially returning from injuries to take on bigger roles. Xavier Woods and Ke’Mon Freeman should both see the field this week. Woods actually returned last week but looked extremely rusty. It is unclear how much Woods and Freeman would be involved but there is enough uncertainty to downgrade West a couple notches.
For the second-straight week, the salary structures at other positions make it difficult to fit in even one of the highest-priced wide receivers. Most lineups will have to feature at least one low-priced pass catcher and one or more from the mid-range as well. Thus, we concentrate on the bargain options as our top plays.
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas ($5,900) We know much more about what we are getting with Sims than any other player priced below $6,000. He put up 800+ receiving yards each of the last two seasons and is the clear top target for Kansas. We also know it should be a favorable game script. Kansas is a four-touchdown underdog against West Virginia and almost certainly have to be playing in catch-up mode most of the game.
Sims was listed as a Top Play here last week as well and he paid off handsomely with a 10-89-1 line. It was no coincidence that Sims’ best game of the season came after Carter Stanley entered the lineup for the Jayhawks. Stanley is a better passer than Peyton Bender, the previous starter and put up solid numbers last week against Oklahoma St. (75% completion percentage, 247 yards, and 3 touchdowns).
Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri ($7,500) In the sub-$8,000 range, we are ideally looking for talented players with consistent workloads and some touchdown upside. Okwuegbunam checks all of these boxes and appears here as a Top Play for the third time this season because he remains underpriced for what he provides. Okwuegbunam is one of the best flex-tight end prospects in the country at 6’5, 260 and with great speed. He is seeing plenty of work in the passing game as well. In three matchups against FBS opponents, Okwuegbunam is averaging 7.0 receptions per game. Lastly, he checks the box in a major way in terms of touchdown upside. He has 13 touchdowns in 13 career games. The matchup is strong this week. Missouri is a 1-point underdog against South Carolina in what is expected to be a high-scoring game (64-point Vegas total).
Devonta Smith, Alabama ($8,000) The Alabama offense has scored 37 touchdowns through five games. In each of those games, the Tide has racked up over 500 yards of offense. Alabama has so many weapons it is hard to predict which players will put up numbers in a given week. However, it is a mistake to just ignore this high-powered offense. Especially since so many of the top pieces are priced down. Along with Jerry Jeudy ($9,300), Smith, Henry Ruggs IV ($7,300), and Jalyn Waddle ($6,400) are the starting wide receivers. Each is very much in play for GPPs but the latter three are most attractive due to the pricing. We are looking for inexpensive wide receivers with a solid shot at scoring a touchdown. An offense averaging 7.4 touchdowns per game with a team total of 47 points is a great place to look. It feels like Alabama is trying to keep everyone happy, which is why Smith narrowly tops the list this week. He has been quiet of late and it makes sense Alabama would feed him a few extra targets this week after Ruggs and Waddle posted big games in Week 5.
Also Worth Considering
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma ($10,000) Brown is averaging a ridiculous 6-126-1.3 line this season. He gets behind the defense for a long touchdown every week. Oklahoma will undoubtedly try to give Brown some shots for big plays in their rivalry game against Texas and the 4.3 speedster is likely to again have a big week. The only question is the salary. On a slate where we are trying to squeeze in the top quarterbacks with realistic 40+ point potential, it becomes extremely difficult to also fit in a $10,000 receiver. However, Brown looks like the top receiver play on the slate if salary was not a consideration and some lineup-building creativity to fit him in would provide an elite player at what should be relatively low ownership.
Devin Duvernay, Texas ($5,700) Sam Ehlinger has narrowly missed Duvernay on what should have been long touchdowns each of the last two weeks. The missed connections are frustrating but have led directly to the bargain-basement salary for Texas’ #3 wide receiver. In a potential shootout, Duvernay is a very affordable way to get a piece of the action and with his 4.4-speed, it will only take one big play for Duvernay to make good at this price.
Tee Higgins, Clemson ($7,900) Higgins is very much on the radar for the second-straight week. He disappointed in Week 5 with just 4 catches for 53 yards but was targeted 10 times. Higgins is the top target for Clemson and he could be poised for a breakout game against a shaky Wake Forest defense.