This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
The first week of MACtion rolls on with Wednesday's two-game slate that's really tailor-made for us college football sickos. All four teams rank outside the top 100 in SP+ and, as we'll discuss throughout the article, there might not be a whole lot of star power on display tonight. Looking at the odds, the NIU-CMU matchup has a better chance of being a track meet with a total of 57.0 while the Bowling Green-WMU game lags behind by nearly 10 full points. The biggest storylines will be the health of Central Michigan's top running backs -- Lew Nichols and Marion Lukes -- along with the quarterback situations for literally everyone but Bowling Green.
Tuesday night reminded us that injury updates can be hard to come by before kickoff with the Sieh Bangura saga. That's just part of the deal when it comes to playing DFS MACtion slates. The rug can get pulled out from under you right at kick. Anyway, let me step off my soapbox and dive into tonight's two-game slate with a focus on the DraftKings pricing.
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College Football Odds: MACtion Week 10
- Northern Illinois (-5.5) vs. Central Michigan
- Bowling Green (-5.0) vs. Western Michigan
College Football Target Report
Quarterback on this slate is...a mess. Bowling Green's Matt McDonald is the only sure thing at $7,900 while every other team is dealing with injury, controversy, or some mix of the two at quarterback. It's not often that going with a skill-position player in the S-Flex makes the most sense but it just might on this slate.
NIU is unlikely to have Rocky Lombardi available and the combination of Justin Lynch and Ethan Hampton is uninspiring to say the least. Western Michigan is threatening to play upwards of three quarterbacks tonight. Jack Salopek and Treyson Bourget are the primary candidates for dropbacks while Mareyohn Hrabowski has designated packages thanks to his rushing ability according to MLive.com. Playing a quarterback from any of Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, or Western Michigan is a gamble. But if you're feeling adventurous...
Jase Bauer ($7,000) Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
We don't know exactly what's going on with Central Michigan's quarterback room right now so this requires some tea-leaf reading. What we do know is that Daniel Richardson ($7,400) struggled last time out and Bauer gave the offense some juice with Lew Nichols sidelined. This, from Ashley Birkeness of CM-Life.com, was fairly illuminating:
With the offense struggling, McElwain called on redshirt freshman Jase Bauer, who immediately led the Chippewas down the field for a 52-yard field goal.
"We were gonna put him in in some series anyway," said head coach Jim McElwain. "Just felt he was giving us a little bit of a spark."
The rotation of Richardson and Bauer continued through the first half, but Bauer was the primary quarterback throughout the second half.
"Jase takes the huddle and he's like the owner of it," said running back Jake Tafelski. "So, he lifts us up and talks to us during it. So, he takes control, which is great on his part. And he's a mobile quarterback and he's a dual threat."
In MACtion tradition, we might not know who's starting for the Chips before they take the field, but Bauer seems to have some momentum behind him. His rushing ability is particularly important if the Chips are shorthanded in the backfield, which absolutely could be the case with Lew Nichols and Marion Lukes dinged up.
The running back situation tonight isn't much better than quarterback. When healthy, Lew Nichols is worthy of being the top-billed player on almost any slate, not just a MACtion one. The problem is, we don't know if he's healthy and probably won't know until close to kickoff. If he's in, play him. He's the only truly good chalk. But if he's out, there are some other options given that Marion Lukes may not be available, either.
We have to think outside the box with these mini slates and targeting multiple players from one backfield certainly qualifies as that. Brown and Waylee headline NIU's run-heavy offense which sports a 60.3 percent run rate that generates over 200 rushing yards per game.
Both have been effective and have good usage of late, but Brown offers slightly more explosiveness at a discount of over $1,000. For context, Brown has 50 carries for 330 yards and three touchdowns (6.6 YPC) over the last three games but just one catch for seven yards. Waylee nearly matches the volume (47) and YPC (6.0) while also being much more involved in the passing game with 12 grabs for 105 yards on 13 targets in that same span. Waylee's passing-game role is certainly appealing on Draftkings, but I'm not sure it justifies such a large gap between him and Brown in terms of salary.
Jaison Patterson ($4,400) Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan
Teammate Ta'Ron Keith is the more effective pass catcher between these two, but Bowling Green hasn't been throwing to its running backs as much of late with Keith seeing just seven targets over his last three games. The rushing splits heavily favor Patterson, who has 39 carries for 237 yards over the last three while Keith has 10 carries for 55 and a score in that stretch. Bowling Green is favored (wild, right?) so I'm expecting Patterson to be the more featured back tonight.
Jake Tafelski ($4,600) Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
This is pretty steep pricing for a guy with three carries all season. That said, with the aforementioned injuries in the CMU backfield, Tafelski might be in line for serious work this evening. He got in the mix in the last game-- his three carries went for four yards...and a touchdown. He also drew six targets, catching four of them for 37 yards. Ideally a player like this would be sub-$4K but perhaps the uncertainty surrounding his role and his lack of track record will keep him from being chalky.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The target vs. efficiency at the top of the leaderboard on this slate is gross, frankly. Carlos Carriere, Corey Crooms, Jehlani Galloway, Cole Tucker and Anthony Sambucci all average over 7.0 target per game over the last three weeks -- that's good. They all average less than 6.5 yards per target -- that's bad. PPR scoring helps smooth the lack of explosiveness a bit but at the same time, all but one of those players have a catch rate of 50 percent or worse in that sample. The one guy over the 50% mark, Sambucci, has caught 12 of 23 targets in his last three to lead the pack. I'm not recommending fading the top of the board at receiver, especially when there's so much value at the other positions, but it's worth acknowledging how underwhelming this group is as a whole.
Joel Wilson ($5,700) Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
Straying from our norms yet again here, we're looking at a tight end. Wilson has been a consistent part of this passing game since last season and has already eclipsed last year's target, reception, and yardage totals from last 2021 in three fewer games. He needs just one touchdown to tie last year's mark as well. He has drawn eight targets in two of the last three games and has scored double-digit DK points in all but one game. $5,700 is a solid bargain for a player with this level of volume and red zone role even if the CMU quarterback situation leaves you a bit queasy.
Carlos Carriere ($6,100) Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
Carriere is a little confounding. After a hot start to the season with 309 yards and a score on 50 targets in four games, the Maryland transfer has gone for 12 catches for 139 yards and a score on 24 targets in his last three. He's still the top option out wide and it's not overly cost-prohibitive to stack Carriere, Wilson and Bauer.
Odieu Hiliare ($4,500) Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan
There's some recency bias here but we're short on options so *shrug*. Hiliare is coming off a four-catch, 105-yard performance on four targets in Week 8. He's not a fluke, though; Hiliare had three games over 16 DK points prior to that big game against Central Michigan. And again, he plays for the team with the one actual quarterback on the slate. Bowling Green spreads it around but all three of its top targets get fed at similar rates with target shares between 15.6 and 16.7 percent over the last three games.