This week's early Saturday slate on DraftKings.com appears to feature one of its hardest caps yet. It takes a lot of tinkering to put together a lineup without an obvious weak spot, but I think I found one.
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Brett Hundley - UCLA at Colorado ($8,500)
Hundley is probably the most desirable quarterback option this week since he possesses similar upside to dominant dual-threats like Dak Prescott ($11,200), Trevone Boykin ($9,900) and Marquise Williams ($9,300), but at a much cheaper price and against arguably the weakest opponent of the four. Hundley is averaging 32.7 points per game on Draft Kings in his last four games, and he faces a Colorado defense this week allowing 38.6 points per game, including 47.25 points per game against Pac-12 teams.
Paxton Lynch - Memphis at SMU ($6,800)
Lynch quietly has established himself as perhaps the most improved quarterback in the country this year totaling 15 touchdowns (nine passing) and 1,534 yards (1,401 passing) compared to six interceptions in six games after finishing 2013 with just 2,183 total yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games. In a game where Memphis is projected to score five touchdowns, Lynch can be expected to score three times given that he's accounted for 15 of Memphis' 26 touchdowns so far. I'm expecting Lynch to score between 25 and 30 points on DraftKings this week, which makes him a worthwhile gamble at his cheap price.
QB Alternatives: Trevone Boykin - TCU at Oklahoma State ($9,900), Marquise Williams - North Carolina at Virginia ($9,300), Justin Thomas - Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh ($7,800), Tommy Armstrong - Nebraska vs Rutgers ($7,000)
James Conner, Pittsburgh vs Georgia Tech ($6,000)
Conner at $6,000 almost seems too good to be true, particularly since he's facing a Georgia Tech defense allowing 5.3 yards per carry and 2.3 rushing touchdowns per game this year. While he'll perhaps be the most owned player in this slate, it's hard to justify breaking from the pack on such a seemingly obvious value.
Kevin Parks, Virginia vs North Carolina ($5,900)
Parks should be a good under the radar pick with Conner, Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, David Cobb and Devon Johnson on the slate, yet he seems like an extremely reliable pick this week. He's facing a North Carolina defense allowing 218 yards and 2.7 rushing touchdowns per game on the ground, and he has 45 carries in the last two weeks. Parks is a skilled receiver who's due for a surge of pass-catching production this week, too, because Virginia will probably need to throw the ball to keep up with a Marquise Williams-led Tar Heel offense.
RB Alternatives: Ameer Abdullah - Nebraska vs Rutgers ($9,000), David Cobb - Minnesota at Illinois ($8,700), Devon Johnson - Marshall vs Florida Atlantic ($8,400), Josh Robinson - Mississippi State at Kentucky ($7,400), Jeremy Langford - Michigan State vs Michigan ($6,300), Jon Hilliman - Boston College at Wake Forest ($4,900)
Jordan Payton - UCLA at Colorado ($5,600)
After a down week against California (five catches for 47 yards), Payton's price is awfully low this week. And yet, he's the clear top target in what should be a strong passing game Saturday. He caught at least seven passes or scored in every game prior to his last, and he could see extra targets Saturday with second-leading UCLA wideout Thomas Duarte hobbled with a hamstring issue.
John Harris - Texas at Kansas State ($5,000)
Harris might seem like a bad play against a Kansas State defense allowing just 22.5 points per game, but I think his price makes him worth the risk here. He's one of the nation's most effective receivers, and he holds a large share of Texas' receiving production - 38.4 percent of its yardage and 66.7 percent of its touchdown production. I think his odds of usage are improved further Saturday by the facts that Texas can't run the ball (3.9 YPC) and Kansas State is strong against the run (3.2 YPC allowed), meaning Texas' offensive production should primarily come from its passing game.
Kenny Bell - Nebraska vs Rutgers ($4,200)
Bell is the pick I'm least comfortable this week, but I've found ways to rationalize it. Bell is Nebraska's most targeted receiver and his team is projected to score roughly 37 points. He averages a touchdown every 9.5 catches for his career - a rate that has quickened a bit in his last couple seasons, as you'd expect of an upperclassman - and he's gone eight receptions without a touchdown while playing two good defenses on the road (Michigan State and Northwestern). In his last 19 home games, Bell has averaged 3.9 catches for 61.1 yards and 0.68 touchdowns per game. They're modest numbers, but the budget is tight this week, and you have to like the chances of Bell's touchdown production progressing to the mean at home against a vulnerable opponent.
WR Alternatives: Tony Lippett - Michigan State vs Michigan ($6,000), Josh Doctson - TCU vs Texas Tech ($5,900), Tyler Boyd - Pittsburgh vs Georgia Tech ($5,800), Kolby Listenbee - TCU vs Texas Tech ($4,800), Devin Funchess - Michigan at Michigan State ($4,200), Tevin Jones - Memphis at SMU ($3,700), Shay Fields - Colorado vs UCLA ($3,100)
Sam Arneson - Wisconsin vs Maryland ($2,800)
The tight end slate this week is garbage, so why not punt and take a $2,800 guy who accounts for 27 percent of his team's receiving yardage on a team projected to score about 31 points at home? I can see it now: the Wisconsin running game repeatedly gets the Badgers into Maryland's half of the field, but the Terrapins crash the run with no respect for the pass, leading Arneson to get open in the red zone on the playaction.
TE Alternatives: Maxx Williams - Minnesota at Illinois ($3,200), Josiah Price - Michigan State vs Michigan ($2,900), Alan Cross - Memphis at SMU ($2,800), Cam Serigne - Wake Forest vs Boston College ($3,100)
Sam Craft - Memphis at SMU ($5,100)
I also like Boston College RB Jonathan Hilliman ($4,900) here, but I like Craft's upside more on a team that figures to score a couple more touchdowns that Boston College. A recent WR convert with untapped PPR upside, Craft has gotten a huge workload as Memphis' lead runner over his last two games, taking 55 carries for 219 yards and a touchdown. He had 38 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati on Oct. 4, and he faces what might be an even weaker defense this week.