As if the college football arena didn’t already present us with unique barriers absent in the NFL with improper injury reporting at the forefront. Now we need to acknowledge COVID infections, contact tracing, unbalanced schedules, and late cancellations/postponements (LSU at Florida and Cincinnati at Tulsa). Now we have Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin passing along that his team is “beat up… from a very intense game” in reference to Week 5 against Alabama.
I simply love the brilliant ingenuity provided by Kiffin. And you’ll not find another individual more empathetic to the seriousness of COVID infections. However, intermingling statements of an unreported “number” of COVID positives along with instances of bumps and bruises is taking the matter too far. If a player is too injured to play, remove him from that week’s two-deep, and tap into the 100-plus players on your roster -- the Ole Miss roster lists 119 players. NCAA football programs will have nearly twice the number of available players on Saturday’s than the 53-man game day rosters of the NFL.
If/when a team experiences a COVID outbreak, an accurate number must be reported. If the tracing extends to extreme levels, cancellation/postponement is the legitimate action. However, it is my strong opinion that action must be taken by conference commissioners toward enforcing accurate infection and injury reporting to prevent coaches from masking COVID cases with injuries to players they want to field on game day. If not, the NCAA must be called upon to step in. The line must be drawn in the sand.
Football is a #NextManUp industry. As it stands, I would not be surprised if, by the time I finish writing this piece, the Ole Miss at Arkansas game is canceled without accurate causation. Simply unacceptable. For this week’s main slate coverage, I am listing the Ole Miss at Arkansas players worth targeting below my optimal recommendations. And I have zero idea when FanDuel will release their main slate. I’ll update each player with the FD salaries after they’re released. But they’ll likely include additional matchups than what DK has released on their 13-game slate. Time is money, so let’s jump into the coverage.
Trevor Lawrence Clemson at Georgia Tech (DK: $9,000 | O/U: 64.0)
This is not the week to target a pair of cheap QBs. You want to invest in at least one QB over $8K. Kenny Pickett is less than 100 percent for Pittsburgh heading into his toughest matchup of the season against Miami. Jarrett Guarantano and Devin Leary are simply bad QBs. And Jeff Sims is going to be eaten alive against a vicious Clemson defense. If you feel comfortable with any two of these QBs for your single entry (SE) and cash game LUs, I wish you the best.
You might be dissuaded by Trevor Lawrence’s salary sitting at $9K. That’s fair. However, you’re not just getting a name for your money. First of all, the Clemson O-line is nearly impenetrable. Lawrence is surrounded by the best RB in the nation in Travis Etienne and no less than six future NFL receivers. If you’re concerned about him taking a seat early, consider that Lawrence has played the fifth-most snaps in Weeks 5 and 6 combined among all QBs on the slate. It might surprise you to learn that I consider Lawrence and Etienne as the most significant values on the slate.
The Bottom Line: Seeing Matt Corral priced only $200 less than Lawrence was a big surprise. Ole Miss played a tremendous game against Alabama whether they stole defensive signals or not. And Corral’s currently outscoring Lawrence with 32.5 FPG. I just do not see that level of fantasy scoring being sustainable as SEC defenses begin to mesh. But we’ve yet to see the best out of Lawrence this season. I will be investing 35 percent of my total salary on DraftKings on Lawrence and Etienne stacks in the majority of my LUs, not just my SE/cash entires. I love Bo Nix at super-flex and I’ll provide a slew of salary savers to help you pull it off, if you so desire.
Dillon Gabriel UCF at Memphis (DK: $8,500 | O/U: 73.5)
As much as I would like to toss Trevor Lawrence and Dillon Gabriel into my LUs, it’s simply impossible without handicapping the rest of the LU. You simply need to pick one. While I consider Lawrence the top value at QB, Gabriel and Brady White are not far behind. Gabriel will field a pair of the most efficient WRs in the nation in Marlon Williams and Jaylon “Flash” Robinson. If Tre Nixon returns from injury, it would be an additional boon to Gabriels’ considerable value.
The Bottom Line: The absurd FPs being tossed around by the UCF passing offense has come at the expense of the rushing totals. None of the UCF RBs are SE/cash options. Count on finding UCF and Memphis players strewn across every top LU come Saturday. With both teams coming off a loss, this game could approach 200 plays and 90 total points. I consider it significant that the Memphis pass rush has failed to impress this season. Despite significant issues at O-line, Gabriel could work from a relatively clean pocket. That would be very scary.
Brady White Memphis vs. UCF (DK: $8,000 | O/U: 73.5)
The other half of the Saturday matchup where I’ll be wagering the over on 73.5 implied points. With outages this past weekend from a major stat provider, my Fantasy Points premium readers will hold an advantage in the fact that I’ve personally scored this past weekend's results. Brady White will face a UCF defense reeling in the secondary. While the UCF offensive line has struggled, the Memphis line has been stellar. Normally I’m hesitant toward White exposure since he does nearly nothing with his legs. But this matchup is enticing.
The Bottom Line: The tradeoff of a lack of rushing FPs from White is a cannon for an arm. The majority of his passing volume this season has been provided prior to the catch. Damonte Coxie and Sean Dykes are serious deep threats with Calvin Austin III filling in the gaps. But do keep in mind that, if I had more confidence in the Ole Miss at Arkansas game being played, I would have listed Feleipe Franks in this spot. The worst case scenario for White’s upside is if the Tigers were to build a substantial lead. As you’ll see below, I’ve listed a variety of pivots for all of your needs should any additional games get canceled.
If the game is played:
Matt Corral Ole Miss at Arkansas (DK: $8,800)
Feleipe Franks Arkansas vs. Ole Miss (DK: $7,200)
Ian Book Notre Dame vs. Louisville (DK: $7,900)
Kellen Mond Texas A&M at Mississippi State (DK: $7,300)
Bo Nix Auburn at South Carolina (DK: $6,200)
Cheap super-flex option (basement floor, be warned):
Jeff Sims Georgia Tech at Clemson (DK: $5,100)
Option if healthy:
Brennan Armstrong Virginia at Wake Forest (DK: $7,000)
Travis Etienne Clemson at Georgia Tech (DK: $8,600 | O/U: 64.0)
You might be able to get away with pivoting off Trevor Lawrence, but Travis Etienne is going nuclear on Saturday. The best part of stacking these two is that Etienne offers the most significant upside on the slate at RB while providing the optimal receiving stack for Lawrence. Etienne is simply the most difficult RB in the nation to tackle. Sorry Breece Hall. With the Clemson O-line clearing paths in front of him, Etienne’s near 50 percent backfield share will leave the Yellow Jackets’ defense with nightmares the rest of the season.
The Bottom Line: With an average of 3.19 yards gained on every route run for Etienne, he is approaching Christian McCaffrey levels. As I mentioned for Lawrence, we’ve also yet to see the best from Etienne this season. He is shattering every RB record in the history of Clemson and pleads to remain in the game no matter the score. I’ll be shocked if Etienne doesn’t approach 20 carries -- his average this season is 14 -- with a full allotment of targets. I am expecting 35-40 FPs for Etienne against a Georgia Tech defense that’s missed a ton of tackles this season.
Kyren Williams Notre Dame vs. Louisville (DK: $7,200 | O/U: 62.5)
One of the biggest breakouts at RB this season has been Kyren Williams. One can attempt to write off the success to the significant talent advantage Notre Dame has held over every 2020 opponent. However, Williams jumped several other highly-touted RBs ahead of him on the depth chart to earn the No. 1 role. And he’s responded to his 18.3 touches per game by becoming the majority of the Fighting Irish offense. Williams has limited QB Ian Book to a 46 percent opportunity share through three games. Although, Williams can thank a mauling O-line for opening up those lanes toward his ascendancy.
The Bottom Line: I haven’t tried, but attempting to fit an $8K-plus QB, Etienne, and Williams onto your LUs will end in a migraine. In addition, I simply cannot be convinced to punt QB or to pivot from Etienne. However, if you disagree, Williams will serve as a noteworthy replacement for fading Etienne. Notre Dame will go up against a Louisville run defense that has failed to replicate its 2019 success.
Tank Bigsby Auburn at South Carolina (DK: $5,900 | O/U: 51.5)
As much as it pains me to admit it, Tank Bigsby is Auburn’s bell cow in the backfield. D.J. Williams is either less than 100 percent healthy or has simply been surpassed by Bigsby abilities. I’ve already dealt with that reality and embraced Bigsby as an excellent option in Week 7 against a struggling South Carolina defense. Bigsby took on a 57 percent backfield share last week -- a 13 percent increase from Week 5 -- to go along with a 14 percent target share. And Tank has forced a ton of missed tackles on the ground and after the catch.
The Bottom Line: Vegas is calling for this to be a tight game and Auburn ranks dead last on the slate in pace of play. However, the slow pace can be attributed to facing tough Kentucky and Georgia defenses with offenses focused on running the ball. I’ll be surprised if the Auburn offense is unable to put up over 30 points here. Bo Nix is not the super-talent many believed he’d be, but he has plenty of elite weapons to make up for his inconsistencies. If you can fit him in, Bigsby should have zero issues exceeding his 17.7 implied FPs.
Rodrigues Clark Memphis vs. UCF (DK: $5,600 | O/U: 73.5)
Of all of the RB salaries on the main slate, Rodrigues Clark surprised me the most. He is averaging 20.5 touches this season, playing in a matchup with a 73.5 implied total. With Memphis outgunned early against SMU, the Tigers were forced to take to the air during the entire second half. That led to Clark losing a significant number of carries and suppressing his overall output. While the UCF run defense is surprisingly serviceable, Clark will have a marked advantage from the Tigers’ excellent run blocking.
The Bottom Line: I want to make sure I don’t oversell Clark here. He’s not a must expose, slate buster. However, he provides an excellent means toward exposure to this high-scoring affair at a reasonable price. If Memphis is able to place Clark into goal-to-go situations, he will not disappoint. I am willing to bet on Clark approaching 20 FPs on Saturday.
If the game is played:
Jerrion Ealy Ole Miss at Arkansas (DK: $6,700)
Leddie Brown West Virginia vs. Kansas (DK: $8,200)
Kevin Harris South Carolina vs. Auburn (DK: $7,700)
Zonovan Knight NC State vs. Duke (DK: $5,800)
Ainias Smith Texas A&M at Mississippi State (DK: $5,200)
Chris Tyree Notre Dame vs. Louisville (DK: $4,000)
Marlon Williams WR UCF at Memphis (DK: $7,600 | O/U: 73.5)
If you watched UCFs loss to Tulsa, then you can’t help but feel bad for Marlon Williams. The kid left it all on the field to the point that he had to be assisted to the locker room. The fact that HC Josh Heuple has been cryptic about Williams’ status is not fooling anybody. Williams is the type of player that lives for these showdowns. And I already know what you’re thinking, how are you supposed to fit Williams in with the previously mentioned salaries. You’re not. At $7.6K, we’ve been priced out of Williams in our Lawrence-Etienne stacks. However, I am entirely convinced that this is a weekend when you need at least two cash game LUs.
The Bottom Line: Williams’ target share has remained steady at 36, 40, and 33 percent over his last three games. The fact that the Memphis secondary is easily the most vulnerable unit on the defense makes Williams all the more appealing. You can roster Williams at 22.8 implied FPs despite averaging 28.2 FPG (minus bonuses) this season.
Damonte Coxie WR Memphis vs. UCF (DK: $6,100 | O/U: 73.5)
The only reason that I am comfortable pivoting from Marlon Williams is the fact that Damonte Coxie is only $6.1K. In comparison, Coxie’s talent and target share are nearly identical to that of Williams at a 20 percent discount. The fact that Memphis has been limited to only two games this season does leave the Tigers at a cohesive disadvantage from a lack of practice reps. As long as Memphis players are able to avoid COVID exposure, that cohesion should be established in short order.
The Bottom Line: If you watched Memphis play last season, you will be more than aware of Coxie’s potential. Both teams will need to be on their A-games in order to avoid a second straight loss. For the Tigers’ offense, they’ll need Coxie to have a monster game in order to overcome the inevitable UCF fireworks. Although a distant third, Coxie falls in behind Lawrence and Etienne as chalk plays that cannot be overlooked.
Seth Williams WR Auburn at South Carolina (DK: $5,800 | O/U: 51.5)
I’ve already mentioned my surprise at some of the DK salaries, but this one takes the cake. Seth Williams went into the Week 6 game against Arkansas banged up. Despite the injury, he fought through the pain to play nearly every snap. As mentioned above, I am anticipating that this game will exceed the implied 51.5 points. South Carolina allowed 34.5 points the first two weeks prior to a vanilla Vanderbilt matchup. With Williams at less than 100 percent, Anthony Schwartz took on the No. 1 role. Getting Schwartz -- the fastest man in college football -- going will be huge for the offense. South Carolina will no doubt look at the Arkansas tape to see the considerable threat he presents.
The Bottom Line: Despite subpar results against Georgia and Arkansas, I am expecting Williams to approach 30 points this weekend. Keep in mind, he scored 32.2 FPs in Week 4 against Kentucky, the top secondary in the SEC. Williams is a part of my main slate core for Week 7.
Jaquarii Roberson WR Wake Forest vs. Virginia (DK: $4,700 | O/U: 60.5)
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Jaquarii Roberson. No shame in that. After averaging 25.3 FPG his senior season at Hertford County HS and a subsequent freshman redshirt, Roberson served his next two seasons on campus as a backup. His time to shine finally came this season, coming out of the slot to claim the title as the No. 1 WR for the Demon Deacons. He’s generated 4.21 yards per route run while currently owning PFFs top WR grade this season.
The Bottom Line: At $4.7K, we need Roberson to score 14.1 FPs to cover value. However, since he only scored 4.1 FPs in a Week 5 blowout of Campbell, his salary was constructed around his overall 12.6 FPG rather than the 17 FPG he’s averaged against FBS competition. With a healthy 60.5 implied total as 2.5-point home dogs, Sam Hartman and Roberson will connect on more than enough opportunities for the redshirt junior to exceed value.
If the game is played:
Elijah Moore WR Ole Miss at Arkansas (DK: $8,000)
Kenny Yeboah TE Ole Miss at Arkansas (DK: $6,300)
De’Vion Warren WR Arkansas vs. Ole Miss (DK: $6,000)
Jaylon Robinson WR UCF at Memphis (DK: $6,400)
Josh Palmer WR Tennessee vs. Kentucky (DK: $6,500)
Jordan Addison WR Pittsburgh at Miami (DK: $5,500)
Anthony Schwartz WR Auburn at South Carolina (DK: $5,500)
Terrell Jana WR Virginia at Wake Forest (DK: $5,300)
Calvin Austin III WR Memphis vs. UCF (DK: $4,800)
Options if healthy:
Tre Nixon WR UCF at Memphis (DK: $5,800)
Brevin Jordan TE Miami vs. Pittsburgh (DK: $5,000)