This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We are in the home stretch, which means conference races are beginning to be decided. Despite featuring two of the top seven ranked teams in the country, the Ohio State-Michigan State clash has the Buckeyes as 19-point favorites over Sparty, with Ohio State sporting the highest expected score (43.75) on the slated. That contest also features the highest over-under (68.5), with only Pitt-Virginia (66.5) US-UCLA (65.5), Cincinnati-SMU (65.0) and Oklahoma-Iowa State (60.0) joining the contest with over-unders hitting or surpassing 60.
Topping 35 in expected score for the slate behind the Buckeyes are Pitt (40.5), Alabama (39.5), Notre Dame (38.0) and Cincinnati (37.75). In terms of double-digit favorites on the week, there are a number of them. Alabama is actually the heaviest favorite at 20.5 points, while Ohio State comes in second on the list. Notre Dame (-17.5), Pitts (-14.5), Cincinnati (-10.5) and Oklahoma State (-10.0) round out the double-digit favorites for the week.
On to potential weather impacts:
Iowa State at Oklahoma - Potential for gusty winds ranging from 11-16 mph.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame - Could feature gusty winds as well ranging from 9-14 mph.
Virginia at Pittsburgh - Another game with the potential for gusty winds ranging from 10-20 mph.
Virginia Tech at Miami - 60 percent chance for showers and storms with wind ranging from 9-14 mph.
Brennan Armstrong, Virginia - Hopeful to do more at practice this week after he sat out last week.
Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech - Sat last week and rumors are he's in a boot and possibly out for the year.
Tyler Shough, Texas Tech - After being thought of as an option to start last week, was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season.
Taisun Phommachanh, Clemson - Returned to practice this week but still considered day-to-day.
Jerome Ford, Cincinnati - Didn't play last week and his status for this week is unclear.
Tavion Thomas, Utah - Also sat out last week and his status hasn't been clarified.
Malachi Thomas, Virginia Tech - Was a bit dinged up after Saturday's game but seems likely to play this week.
Brittain Brown, UCLA - Wasn't participating in practice Wednesday.
Christian Beal-Smith, Wake Forest - Left last week and was in a boot. Status for Saturday remains unclear.
Kobe Pace, Clemson - Was available last week but didn't play. Means he should be goo to go this week.
Wayne Taulapapa, Virginia - Didn't play last week against Notre Dame and status is unclear.
Master Teague, Ohio State - Considered day-to-day ahead of Saturday's game.
Roydell Williams, Alabama - Headed for knee surgery and seems likely to miss multiple games.
Seven McGee, Oregon - Expected to play against Utah.
Lawrance Toafili, Florida State - Slated to play against Boston College.
Danny Gray, SMU - Didn't participate in practice Tuesday and seems somewhat a longshot to play.
Billy Kemp, Virginia, - Questionable to face Pitt.
Justyn Ross, Clemson - Won't play against Wake Forest.
Tre Turner, Virginia Tech - May need to drive separate to Miami to play against the Hurricanes because flying isn't an option with his respiratory problems.
Jalen Nailor, Michigan State - Didn't play last week and his status to face Ohio State is unclear.
Taysir Mack, Pitt - Hasn't played since late October and his status remains unclear. Feeling seems to be he's unlikely to play again during the regular season.
Joseph Ngata, Clemson - Remains out this week.
Kobe Hudson, Auburn - Injury labeled "not season-ending" which doesn't bode well for him playing this week.
Johnny Johnson, Oregon - Limped off last week and his status is unclear. Reportedly looks healthier this week.
No big names missing
- FanDuel Lineup Optimizer
- Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
Week 12 Plays
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State ($11,200) vs. Michigan State
This is going to be THE chalk play of the week, no doubt about it, but it's also one you probably can't fade. Michigan State is a defense that's been hammered by opposing teams through the air this season, resulting in some sizeable efforts through the air from opposing quarterbacks. Over the past three games, quarterbacks have combined to throw for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 27.7 FD points per game over that span. Stroud is another option to put up huge numbers against the horrid Spartans pass defense that ranks dead last in the country allowing 329.0 passing yards per game. Stroud has thrown for 300 or more yards in each of the last three games and has four contests surpassing 30 FD points on the year. It would be pretty surprising if he doesn't make that a fifth on Saturday.
Pickett's contest begins in the afternoon and there is some concern with gusty winds, so there is a bit of risk involved here. Pickett figures to do well against Virginia regardless of Armstrong's status, but having Armstrong as the opposing quarterback would likely keep this game closer for a longer period of time and Pickett more engaged in the offense. With Armstrong out last week, the Cavaliers managed just three points against Notre Dame. That could be a detriment to Pickett's value, but he's a strong bet if Armstrong suits up. Virginia surrenders two passing scores and 240 passing yards per contest on average, but the Cavaliers have surrendered nine passing scores over the last three games and 300-plus passing yards in the last two Armstrong has started under center. Pickett also has the ability to run a little bit and could find pay dirt in that fashion, though he may not even need to do that to supply a solid return on investment.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State ($8,400) at Oklahoma
Purdy's results have been a roller coaster throughout the season, but he's finished the day with 23-plus FD points in four different contests so far. Saturday should provide him with another opportunity to add to that ledger against a Sooners defense surrendering 257.3 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns per game to go along with 8.0 yards per pass attempt. In the five games prior to last week's Gerry Bohannon ground assault, the Sooners had real trouble through the air, allowing an average of 313.8 passing yards per game. Purdy has the ability to reach into that bag of tricks when needed, throwing for 300-plus yards twice in the last four games. He doesn't figure to be used in a heavy capacity for DFS purposes, so he may serve as a solid GPP option as wel.
GPP Dart: Jack Coan, Notre Dame ($7,000) vs. Georgia Tech
Coan has arguably the best matchup on the slate, taking on a Georgia Tech defense that yields a slate-high 28.0 FD points per game to opposing quarterbacks. He hasn't put up huge numbers in general, topping 20 points just twice all season. That being said, those two outings were the only ones featuring defends outside the top 80 besides last week's blowout win over Virginia. The Fighting Irish may be looking at another blowout win this week, but Georgia Tech's pass defense is by far the worst Notre Dame has faced this year, allowing 271.9 passing yards and 2.1 passing touchdowns per game to go along with a massive 9.4 yards per pass attempt. Given the low salary, there should be enough here to warrant a look if you're targeting an under-the-radar play at quarterback.
Brian Robinson, Alabama ($10,500) vs. Arkansas
Alabama enters as the heaviest favorite on the slate and faces a Razorbacks pass defense that has held its own against the majority of opposing quarterbacks it has faced this season, yielding just 196.7 passing yards and one passing score per game and only 6.8 yards per pass attempt. The run defense has been slightly more amenable in comparison, allowing 151.2 rushing yards and 1.6 rushing scores per contest. The combination of the two plus the expected game script of Alabama scoring plenty and potentially holding a comfortable second-half lead directs me toward Robinson assisting in winding down the clock. Robinson is the clear lead dog in this backfield, averaging a 48 percent carry share that jumps to 58 percent when factoring in SEC opponents. Prior to a tough game against LSU, Robinson averaged 32.2 FD points in his previous four contests. There's enough to like here to jump on board with him if you're looking to get a piece of the Crimson Tide offense.
Will Shipley, Clemson ($7,800) vs. Wake Forest
I have highlighted some options below if you are looking for some potential mid-range running back options, but I think there is a lot of value to be had looking down the board this week as well. Shipley is the first of the group I want to highlight. He sat out last week against UConn but was reportedly available for the game, so his status shouldn't be a concern against the Demon Deacons. Another potential pitfall that could scare away some is that Shipley is only listed as a co-starter with Kobe Pace on the depth chart. That being said, he was a co-starter on the depth chart against Louisville two weeks ago and handled 14 carries compared to Pace's two, so I'm not too concerned there. Despite Wake's 9-1 record, the Tigers enter the game as 4.5-point favorites. With the passing attack down Justyn Ross, Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson and the quarterbacks struggling, I would be shocked if Clemson doesn't lean on a ground game that goes up against a Wake Forest defense yielding 201.8 rushing yards and 1.7 rushing scores per game along with 4.9 yards per carry. Shipley is the best of the bunch and should handle the majority of the work, sporting the upside of three 20-plus FD point efforts so far this season. Phil Mafah ($5,500) would be my next Tigers option if you're looking for a super salary saver with a bit of upside.
Keaontay Ingram, USC ($7,300) vs. UCLA
Ingram comes in at a surprisingly low salary considering he's part of a game that sports the third-highest total (65.5) on the slate and he faces a defense that has surrendered north of 200 yards rushing to each of the last two opposing backfields. On top of that, the last three running back groups have combined to rack up 10 rushing scores against the Bruins. With Drake London sidelined for the season, the Trojans don't really have a dominant option at wide receiver anymore, so it wouldn't be surprising to see more of the ground game moving forward. Ingram has seemingly taken control of that aspect of USC's offense, handling 61 percent of the carry share over the last four games. That could yield impressive results Saturday versus a Bruins defense allowing 163.1 rushing yards and a slate-worst 2.1 rushing scores per game on the year.
Bentley wasn't himself when he made his three appearances in October, finishing with no more than four carries in a game. He returned in full force last week to post 19.9 FD points and should be in line for another healthy workload this week against the Bearcats. Cincinnati's defense has been good overall but a little more vulnerable to opposing rushing attacks, allowing 538 rushing yards and four scores over the last three games. Bentley has the talent level to take advantage of those cracks in the defense, posting a pair of 23-plus FD point games over the first three games before going down with an ankle injury. His 39 percent carry share resulted in 14 totes last week, and it wouldn't be surprising if he handles few more Saturday. Siggers has consistently produced in the meantime and should continue to receive double-digit carries. His salary is surprisingly low considering he has turned in 20-plus points in three of the last four games and he should be positioned for another strong effort this week if SMU can keep it close for a while.
GPP Dart 2: Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh ($6,200) vs. Virginia
Abanikanda is a player who features upside as a runner but he holds plenty of volatility due to a lack of a consistent workload. He has a combined 29 touches over the last two games, which actually represents a slight bump from the 20 combined touches he received in the two games prior. However, this is a contest that sees the Panthers as two-touchdown favorites and a defense that yields a slate-worst 222.1 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt to go along with 1.9 rushing scores per contest. Seven of the last eight backfields to face the Cavaliers have run for 155 or more yards and those seven backfields have also combined for 16 rushing scores. That all bodes well to get some production out of Abanikanda on Saturday, who does have double-digit FD point efforts in there straight and has tallied 18 or more points on two occasions. The setup for this one is good enough to warrant some consideration given the minimal salary investment required.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Ohio State Wide Receivers
Last week I recommended this same play and you probably wouldn't have been disappointed with the results you got from any of the trio of Garrett Wilson ($9,400), Chris Olave ($9,200) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba ($8,500). It's hard not to go back to that well again this week given the wealth of talent at the position facing a Spartans defense that ranks dead last in the nation in passing yards per game allowed (329.0). The tough part about the whole thing is figuring out which of the three will have the biggest game. The recent trend of production has led to a minimal salary difference between them at this point, but this is a week I wouldn't be opposed to rolling with more than one of the Buckeyes' wide receivers. This contest gives Ohio State the opportunity to make a statement heading into a clash with arch-rival Michigan next week for The Game and the Spartans have shown the ability to put up points as well when needed, averaging 33.8 per contest thus far. If it remains within a reasonable score throughout, the passing attack should be able to continue to feast on what figures to be an overmatched secondary. Two wide receiver groups have finished with 68.9 points (Western Kentucky) and 70.5 points (Purdue) against Sparty and this could be the third to reach that threshold.
Addison is at risk of gusty winds like quarterback Kenny Pickett, but I'm willing to risk it given the matchup. He has shown the ability to produce huge games given the right matchup, posting three 32-plus point FD efforts on the season. If there is any right matchup, this one is it, highlighted in the Pickett section above. Wideouts have combined for eight receiving touchdowns over the past three games despite, including two last week for Notre Dame despite receivers being targeted only seven times total in the contest. Addison averages almost nine targets per game himself and averages more than a score per contest as well. It wouldn't be surprising to see him cross the goal line multiple times again this week considering the recent success among opposing wideouts. This selection is much more appealing if Brennan Armstrong plays, which sounds like a decent possibility because the Cavaliers have the ability to put up a good amount of points when he's under center and could make it closer than the 14.5-point spread as it stands.
Kevin Austin, Notre Dame ($7,500) vs. Georgia Tech
There's always some risk baked into a player sitting at this salary, but Austin at least has a good amount of upside within this range, reaching 22-plus points on a pair of occasions this season. This is another matchup that could be ripe for the picking and it would allow you to spend up a lot elsewhere should you decide to stack Austin with quarterback Jack Coan mentioned above. Wide receivers, in particular, have been lethal to the Yellow Jackets of late, averaging 271 receiving yards and totaling 11 receiving touchdowns over the last four games. Austin is Notre Dame's biggest threat in the receiving group, accounting for six of the group's 11 scores on the year.
GPP Dart: Jalen Nailor (if he plays), Michigan State ($6,800) at Ohio State
Nailor enters the week with a hand injury to his name, so there is some risk he will miss the contest. Fortunately, he's part of the early window of games, so we should have an update on his status before lineups lock. If Nailor plays, he's a player who has the type of upside to drool over in this range, posting two 21-plus point games, four double-digit efforts and a high score of 42.6 FD points in a single contest. The game script would suggest plenty of pass attempts for the Spartans on Saturday and Nailor doesn't need a ton to take advantage of the Buckeyes, averaging 15.7 yards per reception. Ohio State's secondary has allowed 16 plays of 25-plus passing yards and 57 plays of 15-plus passing yards through 10 games, so there is definitely some potential for big chunks.
GPP Dart 2: Josh Whyle, Cincinnati ($6,300) vs. SMU
Whyle has delivered plenty of returns recently for the Bearcats, turning in 14.6 or more in three of the last four games, including two showings of 20-plus against Tulane and Navy. He still checks in at a rock bottom salary and goes up against an SMU defense allowing 8.2 yards per pass attempts, 2.1 passing touchdowns per game and the second-most passing yards allowed per game (279.8) behind only an abhorrent Michigan State secondary. With Jerome Ford banged up coming into the week and his status in question, the Bearcats may be charged with generating more offense than usual via the air attack this week, especially if Ford can't go. Cincinnati isn't expected to be slowed down much either way, sporting an expected score of 37.75 on the day. that bodes well for Whyle, whose damage comes primarily in the red zone with five receiving scores in the past four games.