This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
We've got a quality four-game slate on our hands with three of the games checking in with implied totals of at least 60, so this figures to be a high-scoring day for our purposes. We're lucky to have a few teams we've grown familiar with over the season, like Memphis, Houston, Buffalo, and Hawaii, but there are some key pieces missing such as Houston's D'Eriq King (knee) and Memphis' Darrell Henderson (Draft Prep). Still, there's plenty to choose from on this slate with exciting individual players facing (mostly) porous defenses.
The two offenses that will be key to this slate, in my opinion, are Buffalo and Hawai'i. Both are electric with plenty of star power at quarterback and at the skill spots, but both are facing the two toughest defenses on the slate in Troy and Louisiana Tech. If you have light exposure to either of those offenses and the opposing defenses show up, you'll have an edge on the field. Just know that it could very easily go the other way considering the track record of both offenses, so there is risk in fading Buffalo and/or Hawai'i.
Listed below are our tools to help you build your best lineup, along with our cheat sheet and my position-by-position breakdowns.
J'Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech ($7,300) vs. Hawai'i
As you'll see in this article, I am bullish on Louisiana Tech's offense against a laughable Hawai'i defense. Smith checks in with an affordable price thanks in part to middling production down the stretch as he had no multi-touchdown games over his final eight games. Well, Hawai'i has the 121st-ranked pass defense in S&P+ and surrenders just over 2.0 passing touchdowns per game– tied for worst on the slate. It's unlikely that the ownership percentage will be extravagant for Smith considering some of the other quarterbacks on the slate, so he has legitimate tournament viability in this spot.
Brady White, Memphis ($5,300) vs. Wake Forest
White cooled off down the stretch with no 20-point games in his final four outings, which presumably led to his discount price tag. We can benefit from this, however, as White works as either a quarterback or superflex option going up against one of the worst defenses in college football. Wake Forest allows 274 passing yards per game and surrendered a whopping 25 passing touchdowns this season. Memphis may rely on the pass more than usual Saturday with star running back Darrell Henderson sitting out to get ready for the draft, which will help White return value with ease at such a low price tag.
Sawyer Smith, Troy ($4,900) vs. Buffalo
Anytime a starting quarterback is listed under $5K, you have to at least consider throwing a dart. When it comes to Smith, it almost feels like he's mispriced. Smith doesn't put up gaudy numbers by any means, but he has a strong supporting cast and is going up against a defense that allowed 300 yards and four touchdowns to Northern Illinois' Marcus Childers. In fact, Buffalo ranks 83rd in the nation in S&P+ against the pass, which is middle of the road for this slate but still exploitable overall. Smith shouldn't be expected to go off here, but he's at least worth superflex consideration.
Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis ($8,300) vs. Wake Forest
It'll be chalky but worth it. With Henderson out, Taylor is the obvious next step up for the Tigers and he's no slouch. He ran for over 1,000 yards and posted 15 rushing scores as Henderson's backup and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Memphis has an impressive freshman running back in Kenny Gainwell, but he has already played four games so the Tigers will likely keep him on the bench to preserve his redshirt.
Regarding the matchup, the Demon Deacons are a mess defensively. They allow nearly 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game to go with 191.3 rushing yards.
Cade Carney, Wake Forest ($6,900) vs. Memphis
I know I just ripped Wake Forest's defense, but the Tigers can't exactly brag about theirs, either. Memphis gives up over 2.0 rushing scores per game and Carney himself had eight rushing touchdowns on the year while averaging a solid 5.4 yards per carry. One limiting factor could be Matt Colburn, who is reportedly healthy after dealing with an ankle injury towards the end of the regular season. Still, Wake Forest is the second-highest tempo team in the nation and will likely lean on the run with the inexperienced Jamie Newman at quarterback and receiver Greg Dortch (finger) dinged up. Carney will see carries, and in a favorable matchup, those carries should pay off.
Jaqwis Dancy, Louisiana Tech ($3,800) vs. Hawai'i
This is a tournament play only as Dancy saw just 25 carries over the final four games of the season while splitting the work with Kam McKnight and Israel Tucker. Dancy was the most effective of the trio, averaging 5.0 YPC while scoring three touchdowns over that stretch. He's facing a Hawai'i run defense that's among the worst in the nation on Saturday, so if Louisiana Tech opts to exploit that, Dancy should benefit in a significant way. Hawai'i ranks 117th against the run in S&P+ and allows a slate-worst 207.4 YPC. A double-digit workload for Dancy should allow him to hit value at the near-minimum price tag.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest ($5,700) vs. Memphis
With Greg Dortch out, a significant number of targets are set to come available for the other Demon Deacon receivers. Surratt's 33 targets over the final four games of the season were second on the team behind Dortch, and he turned those looks into 17 grabs for 255 yards and a score. That's not great efficiency, but Surratt has talent that's worth betting on in this spot where Wake Forest is taking on one of the country's worst pass defenses (96th in S&P+). Alex Bachman ($4,700) and Scotty Washington ($4,300) are both tournament viable pivots off Surratt as well.
JoJo Ward, Hawaii ($6,000) vs. Louisiana Tech
Who is Hawaii's leading receiver over its last three games? If you said John Ursua, you'd be wrong. It's Ward, who converted 29 targets into 14 catches for 262 yards and three touchdowns. His target count was only three off the pace set by Ursua (32) in that stretch, which tells us that this isn't just a one-man show in the Hawai'i receiving corps anymore. Louisiana Tech is actually strong against the pass (49th in S&P+), so stacking Hawai'i receivers may not be best strategy for once. Still, a one-off play with Ward is a solid $6,000 allocation to your receiving corps.
Adrian Hardy, Louisiana Tech ($7,100) vs. Hawaii
A player averaging nearly 10 targets per game going against Hawaii's 121st-rated pass defense in a full-point PPR format doesn't need much expounding. With good size at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds to go with solid athleticism, Hardy has what it takes to truly sting the Rainbow Warrior defense. He converted his 119 targets into 69 catches for 1,052 yards and six scores, all of which led the team. With other premier receivers on the slate injured or facing tough matchups, paying $7,100 for the potential WR1 isn't a bad consolation prize.
Tony Pollard, Memphis ($5,200) vs. Wake Forest
This is perhaps my favorite play on this slate. Pollard is dynamic and versatile with an ability to hurt a defense in a multitude of ways. As a receiver, Pollard brought in 39 catches on 64 targets for 453 yards and three touchdowns. He's also extremely dangerous as a running back, which is all the more important this week with Henderson sidelined. Pollard averaged 7.3 YPC over 61 rushes this season and racked up five touchdowns. There's a very real possibility that Pollard pushes for double-digit carries in Henderson's absence, and getting that type of workload as a $5,200 receiver is almost too good to be true. And of course, Pollard's teammate, Damonte Coxie, has the green light at just $5,500.
A possible bonus is Pollard's return ability; he has six kick return touchdowns in his career. Wake Forest ranked 102nd in the nation in opponent kick return average. Just tossing that out there…