This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
Welcome to another main slate breakdown for DraftKings, where we finally get the Big Ten added to the pool. Of course, Wisconsin-Nebraska is no longer on the menu, but we still get two fun games from the B1G to help round out what looks to be a fun and varied slate.
The big story is of course Trevor Lawrence being out after testing positive for COVID-19, leaving Clemson to fend for itself with a five-star freshman quarterback against Boston College.
Elsewhere, Iowa State, Michigan, and Notre Dame are the biggest favorites on the board while Clemson, ISU, and Mississippi have the top three implied totals on the board. There are a lot of ways to attack the slate so let's get to it.
- DraftKings Lineup Optimizer
- NEW Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
Position by Position
D.J. Uiagelelei, Clemson ($6,800) vs. Boston College
Well, DraftKings is smart and never lets Trevor Lawrence's backups fall much below the mid-tier, so Uiagelelei isn't the Bingo Free Space you might've thought. Still, he checks in below the likes of Bo Nix, Brock Purdy and Jarret Doege despite projecting better of those guys in our adjusted rankings. So, what makes this kid who has thrown all of 19 passes in mop-up duty so special?
Well, he was the top-rated pro-style quarterback in the 2020 recruiting cycle and the No.10 player overall. Uiagelelei is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds with athleticism and a cannon for an arm. He's the future of the Clemson program whenever Trevor Lawrence decides to leave. And now he gets to start against a Boston College defense that ranks 62nd in the nation in ESPN's efficiency rating out of 101 qualified teams.
It may not be a high volume day from Uiagelelei and this should boost the projection for the Clemson run game, but the freshman is talented, efficient, and surrounded by receiving weapons to give him a solid floor. I wouldn't advise 100 percent lineup exposure to Uiagelelei but fading a Clemson quarterback with his talent and salary feels like a mistake.
Matt Corral, Mississippi @ Vanderbilt
Corral is a turnover machine but he's still a tremendous fantasy option. He's completing 67.3 percent of his passes at 9.4 YPA on 30.6 attempts per game. Corral captains an offense that Vegas projects to score 40.25 points and has a supporting cast that Vanderbilt can't contain. Look for this to be the get-right game for Corral.
This one isn't for the faint of heart but hey, sometimes you have to risk it to get the biscuit. Indiana and Rutgers are squaring off and they both have some legitimate fantasy upside at quarterback. Penix is a known commodity, having thrown for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns on 8.7 YPA in six games last season before getting injured. He's also mobile, having run for 119 yards and two scores last season as well.
He had a brutal matchup against Penn State last week and should be in line for better production against the Scarlet Knights.
On the flipside, Vedral is a wildcard. This is his third collegiate program after committing to Scott Frost at UCF and following him to Nebraska. He won the job at Rutgers and led them to a victory in their first game of the season in one of the more shocking upsets thus far. He was efficient, completing 62.1 percent of his passes, while also racking up two total touchdowns. Vedral has some mobility, as evidenced by his rushing score against the Spartans, and he figures to have an easier time moving the ball through the air against the Hoosiers on Saturday.
I'm more confident in the Indiana signal-caller here but both have low enough salaries to hit 3x value with room for plenty more.
You'll notice below that I'm going mostly value at receiver, and it's because I am going to do everything to get as many elite running backs as I can into my lineups. Between Breece Hall's matchup with Kansas and the run games on both sides of the Louisville-Virginia Tech matchup, it feels almost vital to pay up at RB this week.
Breece Hall, Iowa State ($9,100) @ Kansas
Hall is making a strong case as the best fantasy running back in college football. He averages 26.1 fantasy points per game (5th) and he does it by turning out explosive run after explosive run on a heavy dose of carries. Hall has at least 100 yards and a touchdown in each game this season and the workload has been bankable with at least 20 carries in four of five games. I don't need to add much more about the matchup here.
Hall will be the chalkiest of chalk but I'd feel queasy about submitting any lineup that didn't have him in it.
Javian Hawkins, Louisville ($7,600) vs. Virginia Tech
Hawkins is another high-volume, high-efficiency player to target this week. He is coming off his best game of the season (16-174-3) so you're buying high, but when the matchup is as soft as this one, that's fine.
Virginia Tech has allowed 5.7 YPC and 248 rushing yards per game in three road contests (Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest) while Louisville is going for 214.7 rushing yards on 5.19 YPC in its home games. The only game where Virginia Tech didn't surrender multiple rushing touchdowns was against Boston College, which is uncharacteristically off-track as a rushing offense this season.
The last note on Hawkins is that he is the engine of this run game. He owns a 52 percent rushing share, and while quarterback Malik Cunningham has a 28 percent share, no other Louisville back has more than a 12 cut of the rushes. Hawkins is more likely to have his number called than not when Louisville runs the ball, which it will be doing plenty against this Virginia Tech defense.
Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech ($7,900) at Louisville
Herbert's coming off his quietest outing of the season with just 14 carries for 64 yards and no scores, and I'm willing to buy the dip. This is still a player who was shredding defenses for 9.7 YPC over 61 carries in his first five games before the off night against Wake Forest.
He still saw a healthy workload and this is still an elite rushing attack that faces a soft run defense that coughs up 187.3 rushing yards per game and 4.93 YPC.
If Herbert seems too obvious, we can go deeper and take a look at teammate Raheem Blackshear at $3,600. Blackshear is a Rutgers transfer who dealt with some hamstring issues earlier this season. He saw 11 carries last week and has a 44-catch season under his belt, so his passing game usage has a chance to tick up. Virginia Tech is running is 44 times per game, so even though Herbert and Hooker eat up a lot of that work, Blackshear is a sub-$4K player who could see double-digit touches against a shaky defense. That's hard to find at that end of the player pool.
Keyon Henry-Brooks, Vanderbilt ($3,900) vs. Mississippi
Brooks made his 2020 debut before the bye and took over the backfield with a 39 percent rushing share. He parlayed that into 13 carries for 72 yards while adding four catches on four targets for 21 yards. If that trend continues, Henry-Brooks will be the main attraction for the Vanderbilt offense against an Ole Miss defense that allows 256.8 rushing yards per game on 5.9 YPC. Using any Vanderbilt player is inherently risky, but Henry-Brooks at least has a workload and a great matchup.
Other Suggestions: Kyren Williams, Notre Dame ($7,200)
Calvin Austin, Memphis ($5,900) @ Cincinnati
I think Cincinnati is about to roll Memphis, but we can still get some exposure to the Tiger offense. Austin has been the key cog in the Memphis offense since Damonte Coxie's opt-out, garnering 31 targets in his last two games. All he's done with the opportunity is catch 15 of them for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He may not be catching everything but Austin is making it count when he does. That's 10.8 YPT and 22.3 YPR.
Again, Cincinnati is going to give this Memphis offense trouble. But a player with Austin's explosiveness and volume projection should be able to do enough to hit value at his decreased salary.
Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State ($5,500) @ Kansas
Iowa State has a unique passing game that gets a lot of its production from its tight ends. When it has options like Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, it makes some sense. But there needs to be a speed and downfield element and that's where Hutchinson comes in. The JUCO transfer leads the team in target share (25.8%) and among the Iowa State pass-catchers with at least 20 targets, Hutchinson also leads in YPT (7.9). So we know Hutchinson has a consistent role and some explosiveness relative to his peers.
Then there's the whole Going Up Against Kansas thing. It's a good thing. Kansas allows 8.0 YPA to opposing quarterbacks and 2.4 passing touchdowns per game.
Now, Iowa State won't need to throw a ton Saturday. The Cyclones already skew toward the run (51.7%) and are favored by 28.5 points, so they may not be airing it out. But we can still expect 25+ passes from Brock Purdy and Hutchinson should garner a strong share of those targets. With his efficiency and market share combined with a soft matchup, Hutchinson is worth consideration if you're shopping in the $5-$6K range.
R.J. Sneed, Baylor ($5,000) vs. TCU
Baylor's passing game has been anemic this far this season, averaging 210 yards through the air on 5.9 YPA. Luckily, TCU's defense has been porous in the secondary, allowing 9.0 YPA over 100 attempts. Something's gotta give, right?
Now, Sneed hasn't been anything special this season, either, but he's been the best pass-catcher for the Bears thus far. He has at least eight targets in each game and has a total of 15 catches for 161 yards and a score. Sneed should see plenty of targets against a poor pass defense, and while explosiveness might not be his calling card, there's floor here if you need it.
Tyquan Thornton is an interesting dart throw at $4,000. He hasn't produced this season but racked up 782 yards and five touchdowns on 74 targets last season. He's too talented to stay at 3.9 YPT for long.
Whop Philyor, Indiana ($5,400) vs Rutgers
Yeah yeah, Rutgers forced seven turnovers in the opener, but that says almost as much about Michigan State as it does about the Scarlet Knights' defense. There's little reason to be that concerned by the Rutgers matchup.
And with Philyor, he's an established target coming off a 1,000-yard season and got things started last week with five catches for 36 yards and a score on nine targets against Penn State. Look for the volume to hover in that same range Saturday, but the efficiency and explosiveness should be on the uptick. If you want to target this Indiana offense against Rutgers, Philyor is your guy.
Tight end Peyton Hendershot is also worth a look at $3,600. He was held in check with just two catches for 13 yards on five targets last week but this is a player who ranked fifth among tight ends last season with 52 grabs and he averaged a strong 9.3 YPT. Look for a bounce-back here against Rutgers.