College Football DFS: Dec. 30 Bowl Slate

College Football DFS: Dec. 30 Bowl Slate

This article is part of our DFS College Football series.

As we continue on in Bowl Season hoping to avoid more cancelations, Thursday's slate is a four-gamer (for now) that should feature some high-scoring contests and others that are not so much. Headlining the day is the Purdue-Tennessee contest that features an expected total of 64.5 on the day, clearing all other games by at least a touchdown. North Carolina-South Carolina (main slate on FD and single game on DK) is next at 57.5 and Michigan State-Pitt follows close behind at 56.0. Then we have the defensive battle of the slate featuring Arizona State-Wisconsin to (41.0) to cap off the night. The expected totals also vary by the sportsbook, but Tennessee and North Carolina lead the way, with Purdue and Michigan State both checking in third and four on both Draftkings and FanDuel.

There should be no weather concerns for any of the bowls on the schedule Thursday.

Notable Injuries/Absences

QB

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee - Cut his non-throwing hand in the last game and required stitches. Not considered serious so he should play in the bowl game.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh - Opted out of the bowl game. Nick Patti will be starting in his place.

Jason Brown, South Carolina - Entered the transfer portal. Zeb Noland will start the bowl game.

Jack Plummer, Purdue - Entered transfer portal and has joined Cal. Aidan O'Connell is the starter and will likely play every snap if healthy.

RB

Kenneth Walker, Michigan State - Opted out of the bowl game to turn

As we continue on in Bowl Season hoping to avoid more cancelations, Thursday's slate is a four-gamer (for now) that should feature some high-scoring contests and others that are not so much. Headlining the day is the Purdue-Tennessee contest that features an expected total of 64.5 on the day, clearing all other games by at least a touchdown. North Carolina-South Carolina (main slate on FD and single game on DK) is next at 57.5 and Michigan State-Pitt follows close behind at 56.0. Then we have the defensive battle of the slate featuring Arizona State-Wisconsin to (41.0) to cap off the night. The expected totals also vary by the sportsbook, but Tennessee and North Carolina lead the way, with Purdue and Michigan State both checking in third and four on both Draftkings and FanDuel.

There should be no weather concerns for any of the bowls on the schedule Thursday.

Notable Injuries/Absences

QB

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee - Cut his non-throwing hand in the last game and required stitches. Not considered serious so he should play in the bowl game.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh - Opted out of the bowl game. Nick Patti will be starting in his place.

Jason Brown, South Carolina - Entered the transfer portal. Zeb Noland will start the bowl game.

Jack Plummer, Purdue - Entered transfer portal and has joined Cal. Aidan O'Connell is the starter and will likely play every snap if healthy.

RB

Kenneth Walker, Michigan State - Opted out of the bowl game to turn pro.

Rachaad White, Arizona State - Opted out to turn pro.

Braelon Allen, Wisconsin - Was banged up down the stretch but is expected to be healthy for the bowl game.

DeaMonte Trayanum, Arizona State   -  Transferred to Ohio State and will play linebacker.

ZaQuandre White, South Carolina   - Declared for the NFL and opted out of the bowl game.

WR

David Bell, Purdue - Opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Milton Wright, Purdue - Didn't make the trip for the bowl game.

Johnny Wilson, Arizona State - Entered the transfer portal from Arizona State and has moved on to Florida State.

Beau Corrales, North Carolina - Missed most of the season with injury and has entered the transfer portal and transferred to SMU.

Melquise Stovall, Pittsburgh - Will play in the bowl game after last playing Nov. 11.

Jaylon Barden, Pittsburgh - Will be a game-time call for the bowl game.

Taysir Mack, Pittsburgh - Has opted out for the bowl game after missing the final five games of the season.

Jalen Nailor, Michigan State - Will return for the Peach Bowl after missing the team's last four games of the regular season.

Andre Johnson, Arizona State - Played 12 snaps in regular-season finale but will likely have a much larger role in the bowl game.

TE

Tyler Hunt, Michigan State - Doubtful for the bowl game.

Curtis Hodges, Arizona State - Was not observed at practice early in bowl prep but is listed as a starter on the depth chart.

DFS Tools

Dec. 30 Bowl Game Plays

Quarterback

Sam Howell, North Carolina ($11,500 FD/$13,600 DK Single Game) vs. South Carolina

Howell's matchup doesn't look particularly great on paper with the Gamecocks allowing among the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks on the season. That being said, the best offense they have faced this season ranks 45th (Florida) in passing yards per game. North Carolina sits higher than any of those and Sam Howell will have essentially his full complement of weapons for this contest, so it's not overly surprising that the Tar Heels are favored by 9.5 points. Howell can get it done both through the air and on the ground and it wouldn't shock me if he neared an output similar to Hendon Hooker when he faced South Carolina and threw for 225 yards and three scores while also running for 66 yards and another score.

Payton Thorne, Michigan State ($9,500 FD/$7,400 DK) vs. Pitt

Thorne seems like a logical play on both sites Wednesday, checking in fourth among quarterbacks on FanDuel and fifth (behind two Arizona State QBs) on DraftKings' three-game slate. While the Spartans have typically relied on running the ball, Kenneth Walker won't be part of the mix for the bowl game after opting out and the Spartans don't have another one of him waiting in the wings. What they do have are some talented wide receivers and a quarterback who can get them the ball when called upon. He should have nearly a fully stocked wide receiver room with Jalen Nailor returning for the bowl game and is set to face a Pit defense that was struggling against the pass down the stretch, surrendering 296 or more passing yards to three of the last six opponents and at least a pair of passing touchdowns in each of them. The Spartans also have one of the worst pass defenses in the country (see Patti below), so this has the makings of a pass-heavy affair on both sides.

GPP Dart: Nick Patti, Pittsburgh ($8,500 FD/$6,000 DK) vs. Michigan State

Patti gets the steep discount salary on both sites replacing Kenny Pickett in the bowl game for his first-ever start. However, he gets the dream matchup to do it against a Spartans secondary that allows 333.7 passing yards per game, the worst in the nation by more than 25 passing yards per contest. He also still has a fairly talented wide receiver room at his disposal. The group is headlined by Jordan Addison but also regains some help with Melquise Stovall set to return and Jaylon Barden also potentially playing. Taysir Mack is the only one who won't be part of the mix. Pitt may decide to run the ball in this one a bit more than they did with Pickett under center, but the Panthers will be running into a Michigan State front that allows only 3.4 yards per carry and 118.3 rushing yards per game. We don't know what to expect from Patti at this point, so I'm not sure I'd deploy him in 50/50s or double-ups, but he seems worthy of a shot in GPP formats.

Alternate Top-tier pick for DK main: Hendon Hooker, Tennessee ($8,100 DK/$10,800 FD) vs. Purdue

Running Back

Braelon Allen, Wisconsin ($9,800 FD/8,500 DK) vs. Arizona State

Allen is the clear and obvious workhorse on both slates, rushing no fewer than 17 times in a game over the last three while rushing for 100-plus yards in each of the seven games preceding the regular-season finale versus Minnesota. Allen admitted to being a little banged up down the stretch but indicated he's healthy for the bowl game. The freshman back has little competition to cede carries from him with Chez Mellusi done for the season. If the game script plays out as Vegas has it, the Badgers would be positioned to pound the rock in the second half as well, which is where Allen should be able to eat up some extra yards against a tired defense. This is expected to be a low-scoring affair overall, but Allen has the best correlation on the slate among running backs to team touchdowns.

Ty Chandler, North Carolina ($9,000 FD/$9,800 Single Game DK) vs. South Carolina

Chandler is intriguing on either site and may be worthy of the captain spot on DraftKings -- if you're looking to go against the Sam Howell grain -- going up against a Gamecocks defensive front that has yielded 182-plus rushing yards to four of its last five opponents and 225 or more to three of those. while he doesn't quite have the workhorse role of Allen above, Chandler still has 14 or more totes per contest in all but the regular-season finale against NC State and the opener versus Virginia Tech. He's also a key contributor in the red zone, accounting for 11 of the team's 15 rushing touchdowns by running backs this season. This figures to be a key stat when considering the Gamecocks have allowed 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game to opposing running backs this season. This should position Chandler for at least one trip to the end zone in addition to ample running room.

Zander Horvath, Purdue ($6,200 FD/$5,200 DK) vs. Tennessee

Horvath missed five games in the middle of the season due to injury but seemed to return to a larger role as the season wore, capped in the regular-season finale with a season-high 15 carries for 49 yards and a score to go with four catches for 19 yards. Horvath has consistently contributed as a receiver out of the backfield, averaging five catches per contest a season ago, and he could be looked to for a lot more of it in the bowl game with David Bell opting out and Milton Wright not making the trip. The Vols have allowed opposing backs to rack up catches as well, averaging nearly five per game against in addition to 16 rushing touchdowns. The matchup seems right for Horvath to get involved, especially if the Boilers fall behind and need to throw the ball to keep up with a high-powered, uptempo Tennessee offense.

GPP Dart FD: Kevin Harris, South Carolina ($6,100 FD/$7,600 Single Game DK) vs. North Carolina

Harris' last two games don't inspire much confidence with the junior rushing a combined 21 times for 76 yards, but you have to take into account that he was facing two top-30 rush defenses, including a top-10 run defense in Clemson. North Carolina's defensive front ranks closer to the other end of the spectrum, allowing 4.5 yards per carry, 170.4 rushing yards and 1.8 rushing touchdowns per game. Harris still leads the team with three rushing scores and is coming off of an 1,100-yard rushing campaign a season ago, not to mention that ZaQuandre White has opted out of the bowl game to train for the NFL Draft. This should position Harris as the primary back and he's displayed some upside given the right matchup, running for 61 yards and a pair of scores against Tennessee earlier in the year. 

GPP Dart (both): Jaylen Wright, Tennessee   ($5,900 FD/$4,200 DK) vs. Purdue

Speaking of the Vols, Wright is an option if you're looking to dig deep into the slate for a chance at some upside. The freshman moved up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with Tiyon Evans hitting the transfer portal and has toted the ball 28 times between the last two contests. That being said, most of his work (all but five carries) against Vanderbilt came in the fourth quarter with the game pretty well in hand, so that sort of volume is far from a guarantee in the bowl game. That doesn't preclude him from doing some damage with his workload, averaging 5.2 yards per carry on the season and scoring four rushing touchdowns on 68 carries. Purdue's defense is more than amenable as well, yielding 153.2 rising yards and 1.4 rushing scores per game, so there could be some room for Wright to run.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh ($9,600 FD/$9,000 DK) vs. Michigan State

Addison is the go-to guy in the Pitt offense and I don't see that changing regardless of who is under center for the Panthers in the bowl game. If anything, the new starter under center could scare away some looking for a more established connection and this may trend slightly more toward a GPP play than those looking to play it safe in a Cash Game format. Still, Addison gets a matchup versus a Spartans defense that ranks worst in the country against the pass, as highlighted above, and Addison is a budding star at the wide receiver position. He trails only Josh Downs among players who will be active for the bowl games in targets per game (10.4) but has done a lot more with his looks (11.0 yards per target) and 17 receiving scores. The Panthers' coaching staff should find ways to get him open, especially with a well-stocked wide receiver room available for the bowl game.

Jalen Nailor, Michigan State ($7,500 FD/$5,500 DK) vs. Pittsburgh

As mentioned above, Pitt's pass defense has left much to be desired toward the end of the season and Kenneth Walker sitting out should open the door for a more pass-heavy approach in the bowl game. Nailer checks in at a significantly lower salary than teammate Jayden Reed in this one but holds eerily similar upside, averaging 7.9 targets per game to Jayden Reed's 7.8 and 9.3 yards per target to Reed's 10.1. In fact, in games where both played, Nailor averaged more than a target per contest more than his counterpart and tallied more receiving touchdowns. I anticipate him being heavily involved in the passing attack in this one and he should be worth the cost on both sites.

Velus Jones Jr., Tennessee ($8,000 FD/$4,800 DK) vs. Purdue

Jones' downturn in production against Vanderbilt seems to be hurting him in the salary department. For some reason, he checks in ninth on the three-game DraftKings slate and sixth on the FanDuel slate despite turning in double-digit fantasy efforts in six of the last eight games on FanDuel and seven of eight on DraftKings. He also has four games with 93 plus receiving yards over that span, so the 100-yard receiving bonus on DraftKings is well within reach. Jones' target share (20.4 percent) was nearly in line with Tillman (22.0 percent) prior to the regular-season finale, so this seems like a good spot to get involved on the Vols' side of this game.

Payne Durham, Purdue ($6,500 FD/$3,600 DK) vs. Tennessee

Turnin' to the Boilers side of things on offense, Durham is one of the plays I'd be more confident in on both sites and he may jump out of GPP territory despite the low salary. He may not have recently posted a huge game, but Durham's two best contests with O'Connell came in back-to-back games and resulted in him turning 19 targets into 14 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. With Bell and Wright out of the equation for Purdue, Durham seems likely to move to the forefront in this contest.

GPP Plays: TJ Sheffield ($5,200 FD/$4,500), Broc Thompson ($6,000 FD/$3,600 DK), Preston Terrell ($4,500 FD/$3,000 DK) vs. Tennessee

Now we hit the area of Purdue offense where there should be some additional intrigue. O'Connell has primarily targeted wide receivers, with Bell, Wright, Jackson Anthrop and TJ Sheffield accounting for 66.7 percent of all targets since O'Connell took over the starting job on a full-time basis against Minnesota in Week 5. With the top two target hogs out of the way, Anthrop and Shefield are next on the list. Anthrop's salary is high enough on both sites that I'm not necessarily on board with him as the best choice for fantasy purposes. He's a bit more palatable on DraftKings ($5,000), where he ranks eighth in the three-game slate versus eighth in FanDuel's four-game slate. The others on this list would all be contenders for use on either site Thursday. The main problem is that we don't know who's all starting at this point. Thompson is listed as a starter on the depth chart and Sheffield has been involved plenty this season, so those two are good bets to see a good amount of action. I chose Terrell as one to include because he was listed behind Milton Wright on the depth chart, potentially positioning him to claim a starting spot. If that is the case, he could be worth the value at such a steep discount. The Bottom line with this group is to keep an eye out for Purdue's starting wideouts in warmups. I don't see them straying too far from the team's game plan of chucking the rock around, so the starting wideouts should find value.

Others to consider: Cedric Tillman, Tennessee , Ricky Pearsall, Arizona State , Andre Johnson, Arizona State

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
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