The Week 12 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 16 games. Our breakdown will highlight core plays, which are cash game options and also players to build our GPP lineups around. We will also discuss some other players worth consideration for GPPs. As always, hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments (@hindery).
One of the things that stood out when researching this slate is just how many of the top teams have much bigger matchups on deck. Oklahoma has a huge team total (52) but are massive favorites against Kansas and travel to West Virginia next week for a prime matchup. Michigan and Ohio State are both solid favorites and will be looking ahead to their huge matchup next weekend. Washington is a huge home favorite against Oregon State with the Apple Cup versus Washington State looming. This year’s matchup will decide the Pac12 North.
The top five team totals on the slate are teams favored by 28 points or more. Weighing blowout risk and figuring out how we want to attack these lopsided matchups could be the key to the week. There could be fantasy gold even if we don’t get four quarters from the stars. With seven other teams boasting team totals of 30+ points in what are expected to be competitive games, we also have plenty of solid options without taking on the blowout risk.
Kyler Murray again stands out as the clear top option despite a relatively disappointing performance last week. With a 52.5-point team total, it is hard to see him failing to account for at least three or four touchdowns. Unlike most weeks, it doesn’t feel like a slam dunk to simply plug in a second quarterback in the Superflex spot. Ian Book is a great example. He has a relatively affordable salary and is one of the top quarterback options on the slate. But there may be a better Superflex option on Notre Dame in his teammate, Dexter Williams. The top running backs come with similar projections to the top quarterbacks so the overall roster-building choices are harder than normal this week.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,600)
We saw what was basically a worst-case fantasy scenario for Murray last week, with the Sooners running backs combining for five rushing scores. He still finished with 24.6 fantasy points. The Oklahoma offense has been incredibly prolific, putting up both 300+ rushing and 300+ passing yards in each of the last three games. In their final home game of the season, the Sooners have a massive 52.5-point team total. While we may see Murray head to the bench for the final couple series (36-point spread), it won’t be before Oklahoma builds a big lead, which Murray should have a huge hand in. Murray is always going to be a popular play in tournaments but might be less so this weekend due to the relatively disappointing performance last week and lack of value at other positions, which makes his salary tougher to fit in.
Ian Book, Notre Dame ($9,700)
Of the teams favored by less than 28 points, only West Virginia has a higher implied team total (38.5) than Notre Dame (37.8). With Syracuse playing at a fast pace offensively, there should also be more plays in general for the Notre Dame offense and a greater opportunity for Book to rack up yardage. Book has been elite since stepping in as the Notre Dame starter, averaging 302 passing yards per game. Considering that a few of the games were blowouts where Book barely threw in the second half, the yardage numbers could be even more impressive. Book has also been a modest rushing threat, scoring four rushing touchdowns and, unlike someone like Will Grier or Dwayne Haskins, consistently giving you positive yardage totals as a runner instead of negative points.
It would be a shock if Notre Dame didn’t score at least four or five touchdowns but the question is whether the majority come on the ground or through the air. Syracuse has allowed some big games on the ground, especially to Pittsburgh and Clemson. The Orange were also torched by NC State for 473 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Plus, the last time these two teams met, DeShone Kizer threw for 471 yards and 3 touchdowns in an easy Notre Dame win.
McKenzie Milton, Central Florida ($10,300)
Milton went through a slight fantasy cold stretch in early October when he wasn’t effective running the ball and was taking an inordinate number of sacks. It later came out he was playing through a sprained ankle. He missed a game with the injury, had a bye week to recover, and has played two games in November where he has looked healthy. UCF’s team total of 33.5 points in just 10th-highest on the slate and the Cincinnati defense ranks 19th overall in S&P. This is the best defense the Knights have faced and not an easy spot. Still, with the huge national spotlight on this game, Milton will likely rise to the occasion. Plus, his rushing upside makes him a slightly better play than some of the pure pocket passers in the same price range.
Also Worth Considering
Jake Browning, Washington ($8,500)
After a monster sophomore season with 47 total touchdowns, Browning has been extremely pedestrian the past two years. He hasn’t topped 22 fantasy points in any game this season. However, he is an interesting tournament option this week given his price point and the matchup against Oregon State — one of the nation’s worst defenses. Washington’s 45.8-point team total is second-highest on the slate and it will be senior night for Browning, who has been a four-year starter. The potential is there for the coaching staff to put Browning in position to go off with a bang his final home game, which gives him some real upside. There is certainly risk too though. The Apple Cup matchup next week against Washington State will decide the Pac 12 North champion and the starters may get an early hook if this game gets out of hand early.
Taylor Cornelius, Oklahoma St. ($10,200)
After exploding for 501 passing yards last week against Oklahoma, Cornelius has to be on the radar despite the slightly tougher matchup (West Virginia has the #43 passing defense). The Cowboys are 4.5-point home underdogs against West Virginia in a game with a Vegas total of 72.5. A game stack with Cornelius and Will Grier ($10,500) has a lot of upside in a game that has the potential to blow past even the high Vegas total. If playing just one quarterback from this game, Cornelius is perhaps the better option due to his rushing upside (five rushing touchdowns in the last five games).
Drew Lock, Missouri ($9,300)
The full-season stats aren’t overly impressive for Lock but he has had a few big games and is a guy who has been able to post big numbers against bad competition. Tennessee is coming off of a strong performance against Kentucky but still ranks just 79th in overall defense. This is a matchup Lock can exploit. Missouri also has some eye-opening split with and without Emanuel Hall. Over the last 18 games, the Tigers are 2-7 without Hall and 9-0 with him in the lineup. His deep speed makes a huge difference and if Lock can connect with him for a long touchdown or two, the duo could be a GPP winner.
The last few main slates have been dominated by dual-threat quarterbacks and elite wide receivers putting together slate breaking performances. We haven’t had many monster running back games and the high-priced backs have mostly underperformed expectations. On paper, this week sets up differently. The passing matchups look tougher while there are quite a few running backs in really good spots.
It is a week we should strongly consider trying to save a few dollars at other positions to fit in a pair of top backs. We can even consider getting a third running back into the Superflex spot this week. Nearly all of the high-priced backs are strongly in play for tournaments, including Dexter Williams, Myles Gaskin, Miles Sanders, Trey Sermon, Travis Etienne, Jonathan Taylor, Michael Warren, Qadree Ollison, Joshua Kelley, and Karan Higdon. Each has 30+ point upside this weekend. As noted below, a few of these top backs stand out as slightly safer plays for cash games.
Dexter Williams, Notre Dame ($9,800)
Williams was suspended for the first four games of the season but quickly put a stranglehold on the starting job in the Notre Dame backfield. He has been a revelation in the role, shouldering a huge workload and putting up some crazy fantasy numbers. In his last five games, Williams has had 32+ fantasy points three times. He put up 202 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns against a strong Florida State run defense last week. Notre Dame is a 10.5-point home favorite in what should be a fast-paced, high-scoring game against Syracuse. Williams is a safe bet for quality production and he has obvious 30-point upside as well. The only potential issue is fitting in his salary on a week where we don’t have any obviously mis-priced value options.
Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma ($8,300)
Brooks stands out as the top option under $9,000. Despite averaging a ridiculous 11.2 yards per carry on the season, Brooks remains the clear #2 behind Trey Sermon — who has been extremely impressive in his own right. Still, Oklahoma has topped 300 rushing yards in three straight games and Sermon and Brooks combined for 5 rushing touchdowns last weekend. A huge selling point for Brooks is how few options Oklahoma has at running back after a string of injuries. True freshman T.J. Pledger is questionable with a hip injury. If he is out or active only as an emergency option, Oklahoma has only two healthy scholarship backs. Even if this game turns into a blowout as expected, we should still see four quarters of Brooks and Sermon.
As kickoff approaches, keep an eye out for any late-breaking information on Pledger. If he is ruled out, then Brooks becomes a cash-game lock. If Pledger is good to go, Brooks remains a strong play but does take a hit as we could see Pledger in to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Myles Gaskin, Washington ($9,300)
The spot doesn’t get any better than this for Gaskin. The Huskies are 33.5-point home favorites against an Oregon St. defense that is giving up a whopping 272 rushing yards per game this season. Washington’s run game has been mediocre (4.2 yards per carry) but this is a get-right week for Gaskin and the Huskies. The Beavers are allowing 6.9 yards per carry. In terms of narrative, this is senior day for Gaskin who has been a four-year starter. It is hard to see Gaskin failing to put up 100+ yards and at least one touchdown. He has immense upside as well, though he might have to break a long run or two to get there. This isn’t a game where he is going to see a ton of carries if it goes according to script because Washington will want to have him rested and ready next week for their biggest game of the season.
Miles Sanders, Penn State ($9,400)
Sanders is somewhat unique amongst the top backs on this slate in that he is pretty much a one-man show without a clear backup. True freshman Ricky Slade is the nominal #2 but he has just 28 carries all season. Rutgers is allowing 230 rushing yards per game at a 5.6 yards per carry clip. The Nittany Lions are 28-point road favorites so the game script sets up well for a Sanders to rack up touches, especially since Penn State doesn’t have another back they trust until it is well and truly garbage time.
Also Worth Considering
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,000)
The last few games have shown the boom or bust nature of Etienne in an offense that is loaded with weapons. He has averaged fewer than 11 touches per game in his last three outings and hasn’t had more than 16 touches in any game since September. With all that being said, Etienne is still very much a strong GPP option. He has scored 24.8 points or more in half of his games this season. Duke is allowing 212 rushing yards per game and this is absolutely a spot where Etienne could have 200 yards if Clemson decides to ride him.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin ($10,100)
Taylor has rushed for 100+ yards in all but one game this season. He has heated up over the past two weeks, with 413 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Wisconsin is a road underdog with a team total of just 24 points, which is definitely a concern. However, with the passing offense really struggling, most of the touchdowns and yardage should come through the ground game. Taylor can have a big day even if Wisconsin scores just three touchdowns because he is the offense. Backup Taiwan Deal is questionable with a hamstring injury, so Taylor could see even more work than normal.
Michael Warren II, Cincinnati ($9,900)
Warren has quietly been one of the best backs in the nation this season. He is coming off of a dominant performance against USF in which he posted 178 total yards and 4 touchdowns. In what should be a fast-paced game against UCF, the Bearcats will try to lean on Warren to play keep away from McKenzie Milton.
Last week we had Cody White and Brandon Wimbush at dirt-cheap salaries, which allowed us to get up to Tylan Wallace and Antoine Wesley. It is much tougher to find the salary to fit in the top wide receivers (like Wallace) this week. Fortunately, we don’t have to spend over $9,000 to fit some upside into our lineups. The mid-tier is loaded with solid options. We probably have to take a few more risks than normal in terms of game script and rostering guys coming back from injury but that is the price to pay to fit in one or more of the elite running backs on the slate.
Emanuel Hall, Missouri ($8,400)
Hall is riskier than most receivers who have been featured here as core plays this season. He hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 2 and has just 7 catches for 99 yards and 1 touchdown in the two games he has played since returning from an extended injury/bereavement absence. Despite the obvious negatives, Hall looks to be in a good enough spot against Tennessee to make the reward worth the risk. Before the September injury, he had gone over 100 receiving yards in five-straight games (going back to last season). He is the clear top target in an inconsistent but explosive Missouri offense, especially with top tight end Albert Okwuegbunam sidelined this week. At the price point in the mid-$8,000s, it makes sense to gamble on Hall finally rounding back into form.
Aaron Fuller, Washington ($8,000)
Fuller is the clear #1 receiver for the Huskies, averaging 8.0 targets per game on the season. With Washington pegged by Vegas to score somewhere in the neighborhood of six touchdowns against a bad Oregon State defense, Fuller is a good bet to find the end zone for the fourth time this season. If Fuller had his normal salary of $9,000, the blowout risk might be scarier. However, with the steep discount in a week where we are scraping for value, Fuller gives us as strong a point per dollar floor as we’re going to find at the wide receiver position.
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas ($6,700)
Sims is the top receiver for the Jayhawks, with 21 more targets than the next closest pass catcher. He doesn’t necessarily come with much upside. Sims has converted his 7.1 targets per game into just 47.3 yards per game and 4 touchdowns. He does come with a really solid floor considering the sub $7k price tag, however. Kansas is a 36-point underdog and will almost certainly be forced to throw more than normal playing in catchup mode. The Oklahoma pass defense has been atrocious this season, allowing 272 passing yards per game. The Sooners were absolutely smashed last week by Tylan Wallace and Tyron Johnson. Sims is a strong WR3 option for cash lineups and has some appeal in GPPs as an option to run back some of our Oklahoma stacks.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma ($8,700)
Lamb is the 1B option behind Marquise Brown ($9,300) in the Oklahoma offense with 56 targets to Brown’s 71. Both are very much in play this week at slight discounts to their typical salaries after the run-heavy performance by the Sooners last week. Lamb is averaging 77 receiving yards and 0.9 touchdowns per game this season. Even a merely average game would look pretty good at this sub-$9,000 price. If we can’t get all the way up to Tylan Wallace, Lamb is a strong salary-saving WR1 option.
Also Worth Considering
Gabriel Davis, UCF ($8,200)
Like some of the receivers featured as core plays, Davis is coming at a major discount compared to his salary from just a few weeks ago. He has missed time with injury and wasn’t heavily involved in his return to action last week against Navy. It is fair to wonder if Davis is playing at less than 100%, which is why he isn’t a good cash-game option. In tournaments, it feels great to roster a guy who was averaging over 15 points per game before his injury at this mid-tier WR2 price point. Cincinnati’s excellent run defense should force UCF to rely on the arm of McKenzie Milton even more than normal and Davis has been his favorite target.
Colby Parkinson, Stanford ($7,600)
Stanford’s offense this season is largely based upon taking advantage of the matchups of their monster tight ends and wide receivers by giving the big targets a bunch of chances to go up and win jump balls. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was the go-to jump ball option all season but since he went down with an injury, Parkinson has been the guy KJ Costello throws it up to in the end zone. Parkinson is coming off of a crazy 6-166-4 performance last week against Oregon State. The sledding will be much tougher this week against California, as evidenced by Stanford’s modest 23.5-point team total. He still has a very solid touchdown expectation as the go-to option alongside Kaden Smith and the price point is fantastic.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma St. ($10,100)
The case for Wallace is pretty simple — he has averaged just under 36 fantasy points per game over the last three. No skill position player on the slate has been hotter. With the Cowboys expected to be in yet another shootout on Saturday against West Virginia, we want Wallace in our lineups. The $10,100 salary is really tough to fit in, however. It will require real sacrifices elsewhere on our rosters but Wallace is a strong enough GPP option to make it worth cutting some corners elsewhere.