This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
DraftKings has a 12-game Main Slate this week with some interesting variety. We get a Mountain West clash between Boise State and Utah State, a crosstown rivalry game between TCU and SMU that promises to be entertaining, and much more. Let's dive into some more specifics.
Georgia checks in with the highest implied total at 44.25, but with a 35.5-point spread, a lot of the scoring there will likely be coming from backups and unpredictable sources. We don't even know if the starting quarterback will play past halftime. Instead, the Utah State-Boise State (69.5 IT) and TCU-SMU (65.5 IT) will be more competitive games with high totals. Louisville-Florida State is starting to catch my eye, too. The Cards are 1.5-point favorites on the road, a surprisingly low spread considering how big a mess FSU has been thus far. The total sits at 61.5, so both teams are expected to push into the 30s.
Looking at pass defenses, TCU has the worst marks at 9.9 YPA. It's just a two-game sample, though, with California's Chase Garbers shredding the secondary and Duqueusne only trying to throw 12 times. SMU has been highly successful through the air, though, so that's a passing game to examine. Looking elsewhere, Florida State, Boise State, Utah State and Louisville round out the list as the worst pass defenses by YPA.
Missouri, Vandy, Utah State, Texas and Louisville have the worst run defenses on the slate by yards per carry allowed. However, Notre Dame has shown to be somewhat vulnerable against the run in its own right and that could be a problem against Wisconsin.
Below, you'll find our suite of DFS tools to help you build your best lineup, along with matchup info and a position-by-position breakdown of players to target for this slate.
- DraftKings Lineup Optimizer
- NEW Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
Max Duggan ($8,700) TCU vs. SMU
SMU's Tanner Mordecai actually heads up the quarterback board this week but I'm looking Duggan's way here. Though Duggan isn't as prolific through the air as Mordecai, he draws an easier matchup in this spot and offers significant upside as a runner. Duggan has run for 500+ yards twice in his career and is up to 80 yards and two scores through two games this season. He's at the helm of an offense that has the third-highest implied total Saturday and his obvious involvement in the pass game in addition to his rushing upside make him a core play this weekend.
Hank Bachmeier ($7,300) Boise State at Utah State
I'm not the biggest Bachmeier fan in the world but this setup has me rethinking things, at least for this week. Boise State has the second-highest implied total on the slate in a game that has the highest total overall. Georgia may be expected to score more points, but that's likely to come from a wide range of sources while Boise State's starting offense should be doing most of the damage in a competitive game. Bachmeier faces a Utah State defense that gives up 8.2 YPA and allowed 374 passing yards to North Dakota. The stacking factor with Boise State (more on this later) makes Bachmeier all the more appealing this week.
If you're feeling adventurous, Logan Bonner ($5,700) on the other side of this game has some appeal. He has thrown 33 or more passes in each of the last two games along with multiple touchdowns in both. Bonner's risk comes from the fact that Utah State rotates quarterbacks and Andrew Peasley adds a mobility element that affords him some playing time each week. But if Bonner can push for the passing volume that he has the last two weeks, he will smash the $5,700 tag.
Others to Consider
Malik Cunningham ($8,800) Louisville @ Florida State: Not much to be said here. Cunningham is a consistent producer both through the air and on the ground and gets to face a reeling Florida State defense.
Will Rogers ($7,800) Mississippi State vs. LSU: Rogers leads the nation in pass attempts per game by a mile. He's slinging it 54.3 times per game. The second-highest passer in that category is San Jose State's Nick Starkel at 41. Rogers is averaging 6.6 YPA but also has eight passing scores through three games. LSU hasn't faced a passing attack like this so far in 2021 and got memorably shredded by this offense in 2020. We can't expect a repeat performance but Rogers can give this defense trouble, especially over the course of 50+ attempts.
Zach Evans ($6,200) TCU vs. SMU
One of the biggest factors in this game could be TCU's advantage in the trenches, which by extension puts Evans very much in play. TCU has the third-highest implied total on the slate and Evans very well could be the leader of the backfield in an offense that skews towards the run. Last time out, Evans dominated the backfield work (46 percent) and shredded a usually stout Cal defense for 190 yards and a score on 22 carries.
It would make sense for TCU to go back to the well with Evans as the bell cow Saturday. It would help keep SMU's up-tempo, high-flying offense on the sidelines and Evans would get plenty of chances against a defense that may be overmatched up front. At just $6,200, Evans is a strong mid-tier option at running back Saturday.
Will Shipley ($5,800) Clemson at North Carolina State
Shipley's salary didn't go up much after Clemson's strange, 14-8 win over Georgia Tech in which the freshman scored both of the Tigers' touchdowns. That's a blessing and a curse for those looking to roster Shipley this weekend as he projects to have a much higher roster percentage than he did a week ago now that he's officially the starter.
Now the question centers on whether Shipley can deliver like a $7K back at a sub-$6K price tag. The pedigree suggests he can. Clemson's offense out of the gate casts some concern, though. The Tigers were held to 284 yards against the Yellowjackets and were outgained on the day. How will they adjust? Can D.J. Uiagalelei get the offense in gear and make N.C State respect the pass? I'm willing to bet that Clemson's offense will get on track sooner than later; there is simply too much talent along with a long-tenured coaching staff. Shipley will be popular, which cuts into his tournament appeal a bit. But his upside and salary make him viable in cash games at the very least.
Chez Mellusi ($6,400) and Jalen Berger ($4,900) vs. Notre Dame
Wisconsin got its run game on track its last time out, albeit against Eastern Michigan. Mellusi has 51 carries for 265 yards and two touchdowns under his belt through two games while Berger, who missed the opener, had 15 carries for 62 yards and a score in his Week 2 debut. Mellusi projects to get the lion's share of the work based on his production to this point but we (hopefully) don't have to worry about Berger sitting on the sidelines like he did against Penn State. Both should be heavily involved in a run-heavy game plan that attacks Notre Dame's defensive flaws and protects Graham Mertz from having to put the game on his shoulders.
Tahj Brooks ($4,100) Texas Tech at Texas
Texas Tech isn't known for running the ball but what Brooks is doing through the first three weeks should be noted. He's up to 296 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries. That's good for an 8.6 YPC mark and a touchdown on 11 percent of his carries. And yet he's down at $4,100. In fairness, he had two big games against Houston and Stephen F. Austin that pad most of his stats, and his nine carries for 47 yards against FIU didn't make for an impressive outing. There's also the inconvenient truth that SaRodorick Thompson is back from his shoulder injury. Still, Texas Tech is running the ball over 50 percent of the time and the Longhorns are coughing up over 5.0 yards per carry. Thompson had just four carries in his return and Brooks has run well enough to this point to see more carries than most other runners in this tier.
Khalil Shakir ($7,400) and Davis Koetter ($4,700), Boise State at Utah State
Shakir has been established as one of the best G5 receivers in the country for some time now. He has a 29.6 percent target share and is racking up 11.6 YPT through three games. Both Utah State and Boise State are leaky against the pass, so there should be offensive fireworks aplenty (70.0 IT) here and the Aggies will be able to keep pace enough to where Shakir should get his usual target volume. Utah State has surrendered 8.2 YPA to opposing offenses and that mark will likely look worse after Saturday.
Koetter, on the other hand, is a way of pivoting off Shakir while still getting exposure to the offense with the second-highest implied total. The Portland State transfer moved into a larger role last week and reeled in four of six targets for 56 yards and a score against Oklahoma State. The key will be Stefan Cobbs' status. Cobbs ($5,800) missed last week's game and it's unclear if he'll be ready for Saturday. If he is out, Koetter is worth serious consideration. If Cobbs is back, then Cobbs is a viable play and Koetter likely goes by the wayside.
Deven Thompkins ($8,000) and Brandon Bowling ($6,900) vs. Boise State
When I saw Utah State was on the slate I immediately clicked over to receiver to see where they had Thompkins listed. I was really hoping he would have slipped through the cracks and been a value but nope, he's in the right spot near the top of the board.
This might still be advantageous, however. Thompkins isn't a household name and he's listed higher than guys like Shakir, Kayshon Boutte and Justyn Ross. Why is that? Well, he ranks fifth in the nation in fantasy points per game (31.9) and leads the nation with 454 receiving yards. Thompkins is pulling down 12.27 YPT and averaging well over 10 targets per game. With Boise State allowing the second-most YPA on the slate, and with Utah State playing at home, there's absolutely a way for Thompkins to keep his hot streak going. And at $8K, there's a chance Thompkins slips through at a lower roster percentage than he warrants. If you can, save some room for Thompkins in at least one lineup.
Now, an appealing pivot to Thompkins is Brandon Bowling. He played for coach Blake Anderson at Arkansas State and is acclimated in the offense. Bowling has come on strong over the last two weeks with 15 catches on 19 targets for 254 yards (13.4 YPT) and three touchdowns. He's not cheap, but if he can push for double-digit targets again, Bowling will return value.
Kayshon Boutte ($7,700) LSU at Mississippi State
There aren't many better receivers in the country than Boutte, plain and simple. His YPT mark sits at just 7.5, but that number would be higher if he didn't have his yardage stop at the goal line on six of his 20 catches so far this season. He is a monster who averages 10 targets per game and is a threat to go to the house every time he touches the ball. Mississippi State's pass defense is fine, allowing 6.3 YPA and 243 yards per game through the air. That's having faced Louisiana Tech, NC State and Memphis. Save for Memphis, this will be the best passing attack the Bulldogs have faced thus far. Boutte could swap salaries with Quentin Johnston ($8,200) and I'd still play him on this slate.
Others to Consider
Chris Pierce ($4,100) Vanderbilt vs. Georgia: This is only on the radar because DraftKings is full-point PPR format. It may be tempting to go after teammate Will Sheppard ($3,600) (4.6 YPT) if you're going down this path but Pierce is the more efficient player (6.7 YPT) with a similar target volume. Pierce can challenge for double-digit targets and if there's a six-catch, 60-yard type of performance then this will have paid off.