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Alabama-Ole Miss is at the center of the college football and CFB DFS universes this week, and rightfully so. It's a pair of high-powered offenses going at it in a high-stakes game that features the two Heisman frontrunners. The total checks in at nearly 80 points, a number that seemingly would have been impossible for a game that Nick Saban was coaching even just a few years ago.
That game will obviously be popular for DFS this week, but there are some other matchups on this slate worth targeting that could help leverage your lineups against the field.
For one, Texas-TCU is an alluring matchup between two potent offenses where defense does not look like it will play a major factor. I'll get into Texas' offense more later but I believe that the Horns are about to be one of the best scoring teams in college football from here on out. On the other side, TCU has a budding star running back in Zach Evans and seeing him and Bijan Robinson try to one-up each other is going to be fun.
Missouri-Tennessee could be the key to this slate. Most of the action will be on Bama-Ole Miss and Texas-TCU, but Mizzou-UT has the second-highest total on the slate with an alluring number of bargain options on the DraftKings board across multiple positions.
Before we get into some specific calls, we must discuss the quarterbacks from the Ole Miss-Alabama showdown in Tuscaloosa. The game has the highest implied total (79.0) by a full two touchdowns over any other game on the slate. It's going to be popular. The issue then becomes whether fading it will give you leverage in GPPs or simply bury you behind the field and leave the rest of your differentiating plays worthless. I'll experiment with both types of lineups this week as this total is simply too much to ignore but there are enough viable pivots to load up on other games as well.
Matt Corral stands out because the numbers say he's actually been better than Bryce Young this season by a decent margin (15 fantasy points per game to be exact) and yet he's $800 cheaper than his counterpart on DraftKings. However, Young's Tide has the highest expected score on the board at 46.75 and Corral will be tasked with moving the Rebel offense in a hostile environment. I lean towards playing Corral between these two options as Alabama's defense isn't as imposing as it's been in recent years and this really could be Corral and Ole Miss' moment to slay the dragon. Corral is simply playing at a different level than any other quarterback in college football right now.
Casey Thompson ($8,400) Texas @ TCU
Thompson officially has the keys to the sports car that is the Steve Sarkisian offense. Texas hung 70 on Texas Tech last week and Thompson on his own accounted for over 300 yards and six total touchdowns (one rush). He's completing 77.8 percent of his passes at 10.5 YPA, including 80.5 percent at 11.4 YPA in his two starts. Thompson's Longhorns have the sixth-highest implied team total on the board in a game that has the second-highest IT and should be competitive throughout, which give him runway for a new season-high in pass attempts. When Thompson is getting that many shots against a TCU defense that gave up 11.4 YPA to California and four touchdowns to SMU, it's green lights all around.
Connor Bazelak ($7,300) Missouri vs. Tennessee
It's not the most exciting play in the world but there's some grounds for going with Bazelak this week. You'll see later that he has some appealing and cheap stacking options to bolster the play if Bazelak performs well. Bazelak, for his own right, ranks fifth in the country in pass attempts per game (38.5) and has gone over 300 passing yards in back-to-back games. He should be in for another high volume day Saturday as Tennessee is an up-tempo team that should be able to move the ball at will on the Missouri offense, thereby keeping the pressure on Bazelak to put it in the air. Bazelak may only average 7.8 YPA, but when he's completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and throwing it over 40 times, those numbers tend to pile up. Going with Bazelak is a good way to get exposure to a game with a high implied total that may not be as popular as the Alabama-Ole Miss or Texas-TCU matchups in terms of roster percentage.
Sam Hartman ($7,500) Wake Forest vs. Louisville
I got back on forth on my evaluation of Hartman but I even I have to feel pretty good about his setup this week. Hartman has made significant strides thus far this season, highlighted by his three-touchdown performance against Virginia last Friday where he also averaged 9.8 YPA. It was his third multi-touchdown effort in four starts.
The spread indicates that this will be a competitive game, too, so Wake Forest won't have the luxury of completely going away from the pass in this one and Louisville's offense should help keep the pressure on the Deacs to score. Hartman's season-high in pass attempts is 31 and there's a strong chance he surpasses that Saturday against a Louisville defense that allows 7.3 YPA to opposing quarterbacks.
Tiyon Evans ($6,200) and Jabari Small ($4,400), Tennessee at Missouri
A glaring omission from last week's piece was not discovering the Pat Garwo angle until after posting. It's not good to chase mistakes, but attacking this Missouri run defense seems like a well we can go back to throughout this season. Missouri coughs up 6.1 yards per carry while sporting a respectable pass defense (183.5 Pass Yards Allowed/GM), so Tennessee could be funneled to the run as it is.
As for picking between Evans and Small, it's tricky. There's a clear salary gap between the two despite very little difference in workload (42 carries for Evans, 41 for Small) and efficiency (5.0 YPC for Evans, 4.76 for Small). The natural inclination would be to take the savings while not missing much production by going Small. I'll have some Small exposure. But Evans might see his roster percentage dip to a nice level by virtue of people pivoting to Small, making him a nice tournament option. Evans also seems to have slightly more passing game upside (four catches, 74 yards on six targets), which helps in this PPR format.
You can't go wrong with either option and with the way Tennessee divvies up the workload and the that Missouri gives up production on the ground, doubling up on both might not be the worst idea in the world.
Justice Ellison ($4,300) Wake Forest vs. Louisville
Louisville has one of the weaker run defenses on the slate checking in at 5.2 YPC allowed, and while Christian Beal-Smith is the headliner of the Deacs' backfield, Ellison is coming on strong. Ellison has had 13 carries in back-to-back weeks against conference opponents and has turned those opportunities into 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The fact that he's getting work against conference foes is key because if he was only getting run against the Old Dominions and Norfolk State's of the world, his carry projection against tougher competition would plummet. Ellison should be viewed as a viable bargain option at running back who can push for double-digit carries against a bad run defense.
Travis Dye ($5,300) Oregon vs. Stanford
CJ Verdell leads the Duck backfield but he's cost-prohibitive for a player who cedes so many carries to Dye and quarterback Anthony Brown. Dye has been off to a hot start this season, averaging 7.0 YPC over 41 attempts in four games. He runs behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation and sees double-digit carries in competitive games; this one qualifies as such given the Ducks are surprisingly just 8.0-point favorites. Look for Dye to be a thorn in the Cardinal's side every time he gets the ball Saturday. Dye is a solid pivot away from Verdell while still getting a piece of an Oregon offense expected to score north of 30 points.
Xavier Worthy ($6,200) Texas vs. TCU
It looks like the Texas offense has arrived and so has Worthy, who busted out with five catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in the rout of Texas Tech last weekend. It's just the beginning for the freshman, who showed signs of a breakout in Week 3 with seven grabs for 88 yards on nine targets. The Texas offense seems to have clicked now that they have an answer at quarterback in Casey Thompson. Texas has the fifth-highest implied total on the slate and the game itself has the second-highest total at 65.0. This is a game to target and Worthy is a great way to get a piece of the Texas passing attack as it gets set to face a TCU defense that was shredded through the air a week ago. Jordan Whittington ($5,500) has a high floor given his target share (30%) and efficiency (8.8 YPT).
Braylon Sanders ($4,800) Mississippi at Alabama
This might be the Bingo free space of the week. Sanders is No.3 in Ole Miss' pecking order for targets, but that's not a bad spot to be in. Dontario Drummond (26.9% target share) and Jonathan Mingo (23.1 percent target share) both have the edge in terms of targets, though Sanders is coming off his best game of the season (4/74/1) and he was arguably the best Ole Miss receiver not named Elijah Moore last season as he averaged over 16 yards per target and scored four touchdowns on 15 catches. Drummond and Mingo are both strong plays this week as well and the fact that Sanders will draw so much roster percentage due to price only adds to their appeal. If you're in on Ole Miss this weekend, you're in on all three of these guys.
KeKe Chism ($5,200) and Tauskie Dove ($4,700) vs. Tennessee
These are the two ways I'm approaching the Missouri passing game. In Chism you have a high-floor option for PPR in that he leads the Tigers in targets by a wide margin (14 more than the next highest) but his efficiency could use some work as he's catching 56 percent of his targets at 6.0 YPT. Still, I'll defer to mid-tier salary and his role in a high-volume passing attack.
Dove is a riskier play; Missouri spreads the ball around a lot with six players having target shares north of seven percent. The 6-foot-2 Dove is appealing because of his explosiveness relative to the other Missouri pass-catchers. He rocks an 11.0 YPT mark with a 10 percent target share. Dove may only see 4-5 targets Saturday but he can do some significant damage with those looks.