The Week 14 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features just eight 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).
With the slate made up exclusively of conference championship games, we have a slate full of competitive games without much blowout risk. We also have tougher than normal sledding for most of the offenses on the slate, with 14 of the 16 teams having Vegas team totals lower than their season scoring average.
We have most of the elite fantasy quarterbacks on this small slate, including Heisman contenders Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, and Dwayne Haskins. It is a good week to pay up for a couple the $10,000 guys and hope for the huge fantasy performances we’ve come to expect from these top guys.
There are also plenty of dual-threat quarterbacks on the slate and we know the fantasy points can pile up on the ground. Darriel Mack could have 20 carries on Saturday and comes at a significant discount to the top passers.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,600)
Murray is a core play every week he is on the slate. The Heisman candidate has elite numbers as both a passer (3667 yards and 37 touchdowns) and runner (938 yards and 11 touchdowns). Oklahoma has the highest team total on the slate (42.5 points) and Murray should have a hand in over half of the touchdowns.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas ($10,100)
Ehlinger has the most attractive matchup on the slate, facing a leaky Oklahoma defense that they’ve already carved up once this season. In fact, Texas is one of only two teams on the slate with an implied team total (34.8 points) higher than their season scoring average. In that previous matchup, Ehlinger passed for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns while also rushing for 72 yards and 3 more touchdowns (47.1 fantasy points). Ehlinger is an especially attractive fantasy option because he is the go-to rushing option close to the goal line. He has 11 rushing touchdowns this season and the running backs have combined for just 7.
Darriel Mack, UCF ($8,400)
Mack stands out as the top bargain option at quarterback. Even with McKenzie Milton out, UCF has an implied team total of 34 points. Memphis has the 86th-ranked pass defense, though Mack has not been very effective as a passer this season (4.0 yards per attempt). However, Mack has been very good as a runner and has almost as many rushing attempts (40) as passes (43). He is averaging 7.0 rushing yards per attempt and racked up 120 yards and a touchdown in his lone start. He has a good shot of rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown against Memphis, which makes him compare favorably to similarly priced running backs as a Superflex option.
Also Worth Considering
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($10,200)
Tagovailoa had his biggest fantasy game of the season last week against Auburn’s 18th-ranked defense. He has the talent and supporting cast to succeed even against a highly-regarded Georgia defense which ranks 14th in S&P. Plus, we get a guaranteed four quarters of Tagovailoa and for just the first or second time this season. However, there are some reasons for concern that make Tagovialoa more of a GPP option Than a true core play. Georgia is more vulnerable on the ground than through the air, so this could be the rare game this season where Alabama leans primarily on the run game. Plus, Georgia has the coaching, pass rush, and defensive back talent to at least slow down this elite passing offense.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio St. ($10,400)
After putting up 49.1 fantasy points against Maryland and 43.2 against Michigan’s vaunted defense, there is a strong case to be made for Haskins again this week against Northwestern. Despite being primarily a pocket passer, Haskins has shown himself more willing to run in recent weeks. The only thing keeping Haskins from being a core play is the zone defense Northwestern runs. The Ohio St. offense has best performed against man coverage (like that of Michigan), which allows Ohio State’s speed advantage at wide receiver to shine. Northwestern keeps everything in front of them and limits the big gains that Haskins has built his strong fantasy outings on.
Zac Thomas, App St. ($9,700)
Thomas is a strong contrarian tournament play due to his rushing upside. He’s broken off three 50+ yards runs this season and has eight rushing touchdowns. He will be facing UL-Lafayette’s shaky run defense, which is allowing 209 rushing yards per game. The Mountaineers are one of just two teams on the slate with a team total higher than their season scoring average, so it is reasonable to expect Thomas to top his season average (23 fantasy points per game) as well.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson ($9,200)
Lawrence looks to be in a good spot this week. Clemson has the second-highest team total and should be able to pile up points against Pittsburgh. However, Lawrence seems to be in a great spot every week and he hasn’t topped 30 fantasy points yet this season. He brings a solid floor and at some point, he is going to have a monster fantasy outing.
Despite the smaller slate and a lot of lower game totals, this slate is still loaded with excellent options at running back. Each of the three backs priced over $10,000 is extremely talented and capable of exploding for huge games. It is just a question of whether you can afford to fit one or two of them into your lineup.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,000)
When Clemson isn’t completely blowing out opponents and Etienne plays four quarters, he has been a monster. Last week against South Carolina, he got 29 touches and produced 29.2 fantasy points. He could have put up 40+ but was tackled just short of the goal line a couple times and had his touchdowns vultures by backup running backs and defensive linemen. Clemson will have four weeks to recover after this game so there is no reason to baby Etienne. He should again see a heavy workload and has a massive ceiling.
Alexander Mattison, Boise St. ($10,100)
If paying up at running back, there is a very tough opportunity versus efficiency decision to be made. Mattison is averaging just 4.6 yards per carry on the season, almost half of what Darrell Henderson has been able to do on a per-touch basis. However, unlike Henderson, Mattison is far and away the lead back on his team and should see a massive workload. He had 40 touches last week in a must-win matchup against Utah St. and put up 41 fantasy points. In another huge spot for the Broncos, Mattison should see 30+ touches and has the most locked-in volume projection on the slate.
Darrell Henderson, Memphis ($10,300)
Henderson has been arguably the most dominant back in college football this season. He has 1,985 total yards and 22 touchdowns. The big plays come seemingly every week, with Henderson averaging 8.6 yards per carry and 16.8 yards per reception. The only slight negative is that he is averaging only about 18 touches per game, so you need the ridiculous efficiency to pay off the huge salary. UCF has a tough run defense (34th in S&P) but Henderson rushed for 199 yards against them back in October.
Also Worth Considering
Greg McCrae, UCF ($8,400)
McCrae is part of a very productive committee for Central Florida. In recent weeks, he has emerged as the most productive and dangerous back on the team. McCrae’s gone for 100+ total yards in 4-of-5 games and has scored at least once in five straight games. Even during his hot streak, he is only averaging about 15 touches per game so there is some real risk here. However, the nearly $2,000 in savings compared to the top backs makes a big difference on this slate and justifies rolling the dice on McCrae.
Darrynton Evans, App St. ($9,500)
When starting running back Jalin Moore went down with an injury against Arkansas St. in early October, Evans had to take over the lead role. His first start came the next week against UL-Lafayette and Evans put up 203 total yards and 2 touchdowns. He faces the same Lafayette defense again in a rematch. Evans has been consistently productive since taking over, putting up at least 100 total yards in 6-of-7 games.
It is tough to get excited about any of the sub-$8K options at either quarterback or running back. It feels like a week to bite the bullet and pay up at those positions because the top guys project so much better than the bargain options. When building lineups, I keep finding myself with just $20,000 to $22,000 to spend on three wide receivers. Unless you want to go a different way just to be contrarian, you are going to need to roster a couple cheap wide receivers. As such, many of the core plays below are my attempts to find any decent low-priced plays. Without any great values at the position, it is not a comfortable spot to be in but everyone is in the same boat. To reflect the lack of strong options, we’ll only have a couple core plays this week and go a bit deeper on some of the guys who are at least worth considering.
In tournaments, paying up for a couple top wide receivers will probably be an extremely contrarian build so there is some appeal to that approach. There is also a strong case to be made for risking a zero by rostering a near-minimum priced receiver at WR3 to add some room to get up to a legitimate WR1.
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma ($9,900)
Brown is the clear top play on the slate at wide receiver. He is averaging over 20 fantasy points per game — a number that would be even higher had he not been limited with an ankle injury for a few games. His matchup is fine this weekend against the 53rd-ranked (S&P) Texas pass defense. Brown already dominated this defense once with a 9-131-2 line in their previous meeting. Plus, last week’s game against West Virginia was definitive evidence the ankle injury which had slowed him for nearly a month is no longer an issue, as he put up a ridiculous 9-243-2 stat line.
The only problem is the huge salary. Fitting Brown in this week will require some serious sacrifices elsewhere.
Devonta Smith, Alabama ($6,400)
Looking only at targets, it is tough to get excited about somebody like Smith who has just 38 on the season. However, context is important here. The Crimson Tide starters often played only two or three quarters of games this season, which will not be the case this weekend. Smith also missed time with a hamstring injury and was clearly limited in his first game back. But for the injury, Smith would probably rank third on the team in targets. Plus, with all of the Alabama pass catchers, we have to inflate the value of each target. Smith is averaging 13.1 yards per target and has scored on 23% of his career catches. A similar case for solid production on 3-5 targets can be made for both Irv Smith Jr. ($7,500) and Jaylen Waddle ($6,800). Both are also very much in play as cap-friendly options with solid upside.
Also worth considering
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno St. ($9,700)
Most who find a way to pay up at WR1 will understandably opt for Marquise Brown in a likely shootout, which will make Johnson an intriguing contrarian play. He has as high a floor as any pass catcher on the slate, seeing 9.5 targets per game this season. He has notched 19+ fantasy points in 5 of his last 9 games, so the upside is solid too. Boise State is a tough matchup but he did notch a strong 8-95-1 line in their matchup a couple weeks ago.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Texas ($9,500)
Humphrey is the top option in the Texas passing attack and had 9-133-1 and a passing touchdown the last time he played Oklahoma. He also lines up in the slot, which is where teams have done serious damage against the Sooners. Just last week, Gary Jennings and David Sills combined for 346 yards on plays they lined up in the slot against Oklahoma.
Zach Dobson, MTSU ($7,800)
Dobson is a dynamic big-play threat with the ball in his hands. He has averaged two carries per game and also projects for three or four catches. He is intriguing because he has four touchdowns in five games and has the speed to break off big chunks of yardage at a time.
Boise St. Wide Receivers
We have to keep this open-ended for now because we don’t yet know who is going to suit up for the Broncos. If both John Hightower and Khalil Shakir end up being out, then all of the top wide receivers for Boise St. are slightly underpriced. Sean Modster ($9,100), A.J. Richardson ($8,000), and CT Thomas ($6,500)) would be the starting three and all fine options. Octavius Evans ($4,000) has been like going on a snipe hunt for fantasy players this season. He was billed as a potential impact guy but has been out with injuries even when expected to play and then buried on the depth chart. It’s at least possible that some of the injuries open up some playing time for him.
Derion Kendrick, Clemson ($4,400)
We are mostly throwing darts trying to find production in the sub-$5K range but Kendrick looks like one of the better bets. He caught four passes for 51 yards last week and Clemson has the second-highest team total on the slate.
Jared Rice, Fresno St. ($5,600)
The upside is minimal but the price is right on Rice, who is second on the Bulldogs in targets this season. You feel pretty good about at least getting 5 or 6 points from Rice, which is more than can be said about most in this price range.