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The CFB Bottom Line: Dec 18 Slate

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The CFB Bottom Line: Dec 18 Slate

Friday night has the makings to be an extremely fun slate with potential shootouts in the PAC-12 and MAC championship games. With the late addition of Nebraska-Rutgers, we have another game filled with below average defenses, and offensive weapons. Hopefully, UAB-Marshall can exceed expectations for us this week like USM-FAU did during the midweek slate last week.

We will certainly have a few tough decisions to make this week: Which QB-WR stacks do we choose: Kedon Slovis+Pick USC WR (or two), Drew Plitt-Justin Hall, or Adrian Martinez-Wan’Dale Robinson? Do we pay up for Jaret Patterson at $10K? Which backup USC RB do we play with Vavae Maelpeai looking doubtful: Stephen Carr or Markese Stepp?

We will answer these questions and more as we deep dive into the Friday night slate.

Against the Spread Picks

USC (-3) vs. Oregon
Marshall (-5.5) vs. UAB
Buffalo (-13.5) vs. Ball State
Rutgers (+6.5) vs Nebraska

Total Wagers

Oregon at USC (Over 62.5)
UAB at Marshall (Over 42)
Ball State vs. Buffalo (Under 67.5)
Nebraska at Rutgers (Over 54)

Quarterbacks

Kedon Slovis, USC vs Oregon (DK: $8.0K | FD: $10.7K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 32.75)

Coming off back-to-back five-TD games, Kedon Slovis is on fire. In those two games, Slovis put up 33.7 & 28.4 fantasy points on DK. His Week 16 opponent, Oregon, is giving up 235.6 passing YPG that ranks them in the bottom half of pass defenses in the nation.

However, the Ducks have only allowed five passing TDs in five games. My take is that Slovis, the USC receivers will be able to move the ball through the air. But I do not expect Slovis to throw for another five TDs in this spot despite the 32.75 implied points.

Tyler Shough, Oregon at USC (DK: $7.8K | FD: $10.5K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

Tyler Shough is a great fit for OC Joe Moorhead’s offense. He’s also the type of dual-threat QB we crave in CFB DFS. Shough’s thrown for 220-plus yards in every game this season. In addition, he has a pair of games with 80-plus rushing yards that have allowed Tyler to average 28.2 FPG on DK. USC is an average pass defense allowing opposing QBs to throw for 238 YPG, run for 40 YPG.

Last week, Dorian Thompson-Robinson torched the USC defense by throwing for 364 yards, four TDs, and rushing for an additional 50 yards. I’m not implying that Shough is going to put up those numbers, but I do think it is within his range of outcomes. Needless to say, I love this matchup for Shough.

Drew Plitt, Ball State vs. Buffalo (DK: $7.6K | FD: $9.4K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27.0)

With Caleb Huntley injured the last three games, Ball State has relied on the passing game led by Drew Plitt. And Plitt has delivered, throwing for 306 YPG, and nine TDs over that stretch. With Huntley recently announcing that he is opting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, Ball State will rely on Plitt to carry them once again on Friday.

Quite frankly, it’s difficult to get a read on this Buffalo pass defense. They are only allowing 206 passing YPG that ranks them inside the top-40 programs. However, when you dive deeper, you’ll discover that three-of-five opponents have been Bowling Green, Akron, and Miami (OH). A trio of opponents such as these can certainly lead to underinflated metrics.

For example, the Bulls were torched by Kent State -- a top-15 passing offense, giving up 343 passing yards, and three TDs. In my eyes, Buffalo is an average pass D that will have trouble stopping Plitt, and his top-25 Ball State passing attack.

Adrian Martinez, Nebraska at Rutgers (DK: $7.3K | FD: $9.2K | O/U: 54.0 | Implied: 30.25)

After being benched in favor of Luke McCaffrey earlier in the year, Adrian Martinez has reasserted himself as the QB1 for Nebraska with solid play over the last two weeks (26.61 FPG on DK). The Rutgers D is a great matchup for opposing QBs as they rank bottom-10 in the nation allowing 30 FPG.

In six of eight games this season, opposing QBs have scored at least 28 FPG. The lowest output from an opposing QB has been 19.25 fantasy points. In five-of-eight games, Rutgers has allowed a rushing TD from the QB position. Martinez is a solid Cash/SE play, combining a high floor with a high ceiling facing a struggling Rutgers D.

Alternatives:

Tyler Johnston III, UAB at Marshall (DK: $5.4K | FD: $8.4K | O/U: 42 | Implied: 18.25)

Running Backs

Jaret Patterson, Buffalo vs. Ball State (DK: $10.0K | FD: 12.5K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 40.5)

Where do we begin with Jaret Patterson? He is the best player on the team with the highest implied total (40.5) on the slate. He is virtually matchup-proof as the Bulls are leading the nation in scoring at 51.8 PPG, and rushing with 344.6 YPG. Patterson has collected 1,025 rushing yards, 18 TD in five games. Those numbers have fueled him to average a whopping 44.5 FPG on DK. Patterson is an absolute must-play in Cash/SE lineups.

Brenden Knox, Marshall vs UAB (DK: $6.2K | FD: $9.7K | O/U: 42.0 | Implied: 23.75)

Brenden Knox is the definition of a workhouse back averaging 21 carries per game. In their four games decided by 20 points-or-less, Knox has averaged around 29 carries/game. Marshall is favored by 5.5-points versus UAB, so we know Knox is absolutely going to see significant volume in this game.

In a slate full of uncertainty at RB due to injuries and split backfields, Knox is an attractive option. However, UAB is a top-20 rush defense that’s given up only 16 FPG to opposing RBs this season. So, we can expect that it will be tough sledding for Knox. Although, at $6.2K on DK, Knox is priced well for Cash/SE lineups.

Travis Dye, Oregon at USC (DK: $6.5K | FD: $8.7K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

Travis Dye is a highly-efficient back averaging 16.4 FPG on only 10 touches per game. He is averaging 7.5 yards per carry, 40.8 receiving YPG. The fact that Dye’s touches have increased each game also lends to the idea that it will continue.

He’s also played twice as many snaps as any other RB on the roster since CJ Verdell has dealt with some injuries. USC is allowing 157 rushing YPG, 23.1 FPG to opposing RBs. Those averages rank them outside the top-50 in both categories. In Cash/SE lineups, Dye provides a solid floor scoring 13.8 FPG-or-more in four-of-five games this season.

Markese Stepp, USC vs Oregon (DK: $3.6K | FD: $5.5K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 32.75)

Vavae Malepeai is extremely doubtful for the PAC-12 championship game on Friday that’s led HC Clay Helton to project a big game for Markese Stepp.

“[Markese] is right on the verge doing something special and we need him to”

“Yesterday’s practice might have been Stepp’s best practice of the year.”

These are all quotes from Helton’s press conference yesterday. I have seen several folks touting Stephen Carr as the fill-in for the injured Malepeai. But these quotes from Helton lead me to believe Stepp is actually the RB to insert into our lineups on Friday night.

Oregon has been generous against the run to opposing teams, allowing an average of 184.2 YPG. That volume has led the Ducks toward surrendering 28.6 FPG through five games. In three-of-five games, they have allowed at least 197 yards to opposing RBs. At $3.6k, Stepp allows us to construct a lineup with Jaret Patterson plus two of the QBs listed above.

Alternatives:

Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers vs. Nebraska (DK: $5.6K | FD: $7.2K | O/U: 54.0 | Implied: 23.75)

Kevin Marks, Buffalo vs Ball State (DK: $6.9K | FD: $7.6K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 40.5)

$4.5K-or-less options:

CJ Verdell, Oregon at USC (DK: $4.3K | FD: $7.4K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

Tye Evans, Ball State vs. Buffalo (DK: $4.5K | FD: $6.2K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27)

Will Jones, Ball State vs Buffalo (DK: $4.0K | FD: $6.3K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27)

Receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC vs Oregon (DK: $7.5K | FD: $9.5K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 32.75)

USC WRs are going to be popular in this slate as Oregon is allowing 235.6 passing YPG and the USC offense is averaging 319 passing YPG. Amon-Ra St. Brown is the clear WR1 for USC leading the team in targets, receptions, TDs, and ranking second in yards.

Since St. Brown is averaging 10 targets and seven receptions per game, we know he has a solid floor. The only concern with Amon-Ra is whether you can fit him into your optimal lineup with Patterson and two $7K-plus QBs on DK.

Tyler Vaughns, USC vs Oregon (DK: $6.0K | FD: $8.3K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 32.75)

Tyler Vaughns is second on the team in targets, receptions, TDs, and third in yards. As their pricing indicates, it’s essentially a coin flip between Vaughns and Drake London for the status as the WR2 for USC.

I lean towards Vaughns since he has a TD in each of the last three games while averaging almost eight targets over that span. Vaughns has scored at least 11.3 FPG in each game this season, increasing his FPG in every game. Last week versus UCLA he collected 29.8 FPs.

Drake London, USC vs Oregon (DK: $5.9K | FD: $8.4K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 32.75)

As mentioned above, Drake London is right next to Vaughns for WR2 status at USC. He is leading the teams in receiving yards, tied for second in TDs, third in receptions, and targets. London only trails Vaughns by 0.1 FPG with 17.7. It is a razor-thin margin between the two, really about preference.

Justin Hall, Ball State vs. Buffalo (DK: $7.2K | FD: $9.2K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27.0)

Justin Hall is the leading WRs on this slate with an average of 26.1 FPG. Like I mentioned in Drew Plitt’s write-up, Ball State will lean on the passing game with Caleb Huntley opting out. Hall is leading Ball State in targets, receptions, yards, and second in receiving TDs.

Hall is also receiving four carries per game to push his average to 11 touches per game. His lowest output in a game this year has been 16.2 FPs, giving him an incredibly-high floor combined with a high ceiling due to the volume of touches he receives.

Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska at Rutgers (DK: $6.4K | FD: $7.5K | O/U: 54.0 | Implied: 30.25)

Wan’Dale Robinson is very similar to Justin Hall in that he receives touches through the air, on the ground that aid in elevating his floor each week. Robinson is dominating the team in targets, receptions, and yards, but he has zero touchdowns to show for his work. In addition to the receiving work, Robinson has collected 39 carries on the year.

Robinson is averaging 12 touches, 15.3 FPG on the season. It is only a matter of time before he scores his first TD. The Scarlet Knights rank 103rd versus the pass, with opposing WRs allowing an average of 29.9 FPG. At $6.4K on DK, Robinson is absolutely someone you want to consider in Cash/SE lineups.

Alternatives:

Bo Melton, Rutgers vs. Nebraska (DK: $6.8K | FD: $8.8K | O/U: 54.0 | Implied: 23.75)

Antonio Nunn, Buffalo vs Ball State (DK: $5.1K | FD: $7.3K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 40.5)

Devon Williams, Oregon at USC (DK: $6.1K | FD: $7.8K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

Yo’Heinz Tyler, Ball State vs. Buffalo (DK: $5.7K | FD: $8.0K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27.0)

Antwan Davis, Ball State vs. Buffalo (DK: $4.8K | FD: $6.6K | O/U: 67.5) | Implied: 27.0)

Jaylon Redd, Oregon at USC (DK: $4.9K | FD: $6.9K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

$4.5K-or-less options:

Hunter Kampmoyer, Oregon at USC (DK: $4.1K | FD: $6.5K | O/U: 62.5 | Implied 29.75)

Trea Shropshire, UAB at Marshall (DK: $3.2K | FD: $5.8K | O/U: 42.0 | Implied: 18.25)

Josh Chevalier started playing CFB DFS when it was introduced on DK in 2015. Since its return to DK in 2018, he has provided in-depth weekly articles and analysis specializing in Cash/SE contests.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @CFFguys

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