Against the Spread Picks
Miami (+2.5) at Virginia Tech
Indiana (-7.0) at Michigan State
Wake Forest (+13.5) at North Carolina
Notre Dame (-13.5) at Boston College
Louisville (+3.5) at Virginia
San Diego State (-11.0) vs. Hawai’i
Pittsburgh (-6.5) at Georgia Tech
Wisconsin (-4.5) at Michigan *If Graham Mertz plays
Kedon Slovis, USC at Arizona (DK: $8,600 | O/U: 67.5 | Implied: 40.8)
After dealing with 15-to-20 mph winds in the first half last week against Arizona State, the potent USC passing offense blew up during the second half of the 27-28 defeat as the winds died down. Kedon Slovis delivered 57 passes toward feeding both Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London with at least 20 FPs. Slovis still had enough left over to deliver seven completions to Tyler Vaughns (11.3 FPs) and a 5/51/1 receiving line to Bru McCoy (16.1). Slovis’ future is extremely bright as, at least, one of my top-10 Devy QBs in the nation.
Slovis was able to overcome a poor performance from his O-line by utilizing plus footwork. Fortunately for the entire offense, assuming that it will take time for new DC Paul Rhoades to retool, the Arizona defense was one of the most generous in the country last season. What I can guarantee is that the Wildcats’ secondary will not come anywhere close to HC Herm Edwards’ and co-DCs Marvin Lewis’ and Antonio Pierce’s elite secondary. Slovis had zero difficulty diagnosing ASUs blend of man and zone coverages. We’ll need to wait and see what type of coverage shells Rhoades will present to USC.
The Bottom Line: My three optimal team stacks for Week 11 are:
- USC Trojans
- Louisville Cardinals
- North Carolina Tar Heels
With the highest implied total on the slate, some combination of Slovis plus St. Brown, London, Vaughns, and/or McCoy will likely take down a good amount of GPPs this weekend. Since our focus here is on Cash/SE, I’ll mention later which WR/s I’ll be stacking with Slovis. Slovis will cost a pretty penny, but 64 percent of offensive opportunities pass through the true sophomore’s hands. We can also expect to see Slovis’ air yards/attempt (7.2) to increase with the Tucson weather calling for 71 degrees and a light breeze.
Malik Cunningham, Louisville at Virginia (DK: $8,000 | O/U: 66.0 | Implied: 31.3)
Malik Cunningham scored 20 percent over value in Week 9 against a strong Virginia Tech pass rush. He nearly led the Cardinals to an improbable comeback with 21 fourth quarter points before falling a TD short at 42-35. The bad news for UofL is that the Virginia defense they’ll face this week is stout against the run, limiting entire opposing backfields to 21.7 FPG. The good news is the Cavaliers’ secondary rivals Texas Tech for the most porous on the slate.
Virginia has permitted the sixth-highest yards/attempt (YPA, 9.91), eighth-most passing YPG (312.2), and 19th-most FPG to contending QBs (21.2). Cunningham will once again face a competent pass rush that, combined with poor results from Cards’ O-line, should only add to his 3.9 scramble attempts on top of his 3.6 designed run average (12 percent carry share). He’ll likely already be obvious for many of you, but I’ll dive into the excellent WR to stack with Cunningham later.
The Bottom Line:AccuWeather is calling for a cool afternoon (57 degrees) and negligible winds in Charlottesville. Cunningham has been airing it out (10.1 air yards/attempt) and his receivers have been strong after the catch (40 percent YAC). Truly a DFS matchup too good to be true for Louisville’s passing offense. If you’re not feeling Slovis this week, Cunningham is an extremely close secondary pivot.
Brennan Armstrong, Virginia vs. Louisville (DK: $6,500 | O/U: 66.0 | Implied: 34.8)
On the other side of the ball, we have one of my favorite upside QBs in the country in Brennan Armstrong who continues to be underpriced heading into Week 11. Since he was concussed early in Week 6 vs. NC State, I will leave that game out of the following analysis. Armstrong has been an instant value with multiple passing TDs in each game, 20-or-more rushing attempts in two-of-four, and an average of 28.2 FPG. Best of all, he has been one the best standalone plays at the position this season.
I’ve listed Billy Kemp IV as an alternative below as the closest sure thing at receiver for the Cavaliers. However, my strong recommendation is to only play Armstrong since his receivers have been an eye sore this season. The Cardinals’ run defense is granting 201.0 YPG (30th), 2.14 TDs (38th), and 33.0 FPG (38th). Through the air, Louisville has surrendered only 194.6 YPG (99th), 13.5 passing FPG (89th), and in spite of allowing 7.44 YPA (61st).
The Bottom Line: Armstrong’s sub-$7K salary fits nicely at S-Flex this week. With 10.9 air yards/attempt to go along with Cunningham’s 10.1, this game will be an exciting one to watch. The Louisville defense has been so kind to the run that their subpar secondary hasn’t been exploited enough this season. The power source for Armstrong is a top-15 O-line that provides him with plenty of time to work.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana at Michigan State (DK: $7,200 | O/U: 52.0 | Implied: 29.5)
I knew several of you would be disappointed if I didn’t provide analysis on Michael Penix Jr. after the kind of season he’s been having. My first instinct was to list him as an alternative. The Michigan State defense has not been the problem for the Spartans thus far. That blame falls on a below average O-line, zero production from RB, and QB Rocky Lombardi proving to be a turnover machine. The Sparty defense is strong against the run (161.3 YPG) and equipped with an above average man coverage secondary.
However, MSU is allowing the 16th-most FPG to opposing RBs (38.1) due to turnovers shortening the opposition’s field, leading to 3.67 TDs/game (4th-highest in the nation). Penix will have the benefit of facing a so-so pass rush in Week 11. Although, the pass protection offered by the Hoosiers’ O-line might be the absolute worst in the country. It may not come back to bite them this week, but that will certainly come into play at some point. Regardless, Penix is generating an elite 11.7 air yards/attempt to go along with 62 percent of offensive opportunities passing through his hands.
The Bottom Line: What concerns me the most for Penix, sans the O-line, is how strong Michigan State has been against QBs. They’ve limited the position to only 11.3 pure passing FPG through three games. But that could simply be due to allowing those rushing TDs and facing Spencer Petras, Joe Milton, and Noah Vedral … none of which offer the talent-level of Penix.
Sam Howell, North Carolina vs. Wake Forest (DK: $8,000 | O/U: 66.5)
D’Eriq King, Miami at Virginia Tech (DK: $9,700 | O/U: 67.5)
Charlie Brewer, Baylor at Texas Tech (DK: $6,200 | O/U: 57.0)
Cheap super-flex option (Check status - Solid Value IF Named Starter):
Luke McCaffrey, Nebraska vs. Penn State (DK: $5,200 | O/U: 56.0)
Brenden Knox, Marshall vs. Middle Tennessee (DK: $8,500 | O/U: 57.0 | Implied: 40.3)
When you begin constructing lineups for Saturday, the first thing you need to do is to add Brendan Knox. Why? Allow me to explain. The strongest factor comes from the truly elite Marshall defense. The Thundering Herd rank within the top-five units at every meaningful defensive statistics this season. As much as I love the dual-threat abilities of MTSU QB Asher O’Hara, the Middle Tennessee offense will stand zero chance this weekend. Vegas agrees with me. The Blue Raiders will travel to Huntington as 23.5-point road dogs.
The Bottom Line: The outlook is so dim for Middle Tennessee that I am also completely fading Grant Wells ($8.9K). What Knox lacks in elusiveness, he makes up for in volume. When it comes to attacking the MTSU defense, going after them on the ground is the clear path to take. The Blue Raiders have conceded 245.9 YPG (8th), 2.71 TDs/game (21st), and 40.9 FPG to RBs this season (11th). Knox will most likely end up as the highest scoring RB on the slate.
Kenneth Walker III, Wake Forest at North Carolina (DK: $7,400 | O/U: 66.5 | Implied: 26.5)
Recommending a RB from a team coming in as 13.5-point road dogs is rather unusual. However, when that team is facing the North Carolina run defense, it actually makes perfect sense. The Tar Heels offer a solid pass rush and capable secondary utilizing a mix of man and zone shells. The bottom falls out for UNC when opposed by backs with an ounce of talent. And there is also the issue of the defense missing tackles at an otherworldly rate.
The actual counting stats do no justice explaining how pathetic North Carolina has been against the run. Much of that reason is due to opposing teams abandoning the run after the Heels’ offense assembles big leads. Regardless, Kenneth Walker III is a talented, elusive back that will see more than a 60 percent share of carries. And things could get very interesting with the way Wake Forest has played this season. They started out with a 37-13 loss to Clemson and another defeat to NC State (45-42). Since then, they’ve rattled off four straight victories that included nearly doubling up on Virginia, and taking down Virginia Tech.
The Bottom Line: Wake QB Sam Hartman is nothing more than a game manager. However, he doesn’t turn the ball over, and the O-line does just enough to open lanes for Walker and Christian Beal-Smith. I believe the Demon Deacons will hang with the Tar Heels enough that abandoning the run is never even a consideration.
Michael Carter, North Carolina vs. Wake Forest (DK: $6,100 | O/U: 66.5 | Implied: 40.0)
If you’ve been reading this article the last few weeks, you are entirely aware of how much I love Javonte Williams. Unfortunately, his salary ($9.4K) has finally caught up to his upside. I actually think he’ll do enough to cover value, I just don’t think it’ll be enough to outpace the additional value provided by others. One of the benefits of Williams’ success has been Michael Carter’s salary dipping a bit. We don’t need Carter to outscore Williams, we just need him to score more FPs over value.
The Bottom Line: Wake Forest possesses one of the top-ten zone secondaries in the country. It’s what has allowed them to succeed in spite of a lackluster pass rush and run defense. That defense hasn’t been so terrible to allow UNC to run up the score, which is what should keep the sexy Carolina offense on the field throughout. Stacking Sam Howell with Carter and Dyami Brown has plenty of appeal as my No. 3 option.
Raheem Blackshear, Virginia Tech vs. Miami (DK: $3,400 | O/U: 67.5 | Implied: 35.0)
As is the case every week, looking for a reasonably priced flex option is crucial toward squeezing those high priced studs into the cap. Khalil Herbert pulled a hamstring in Week 9 and may be forced to watch Week 11 from the sidelines. If he is ruled out for another game, a carry vacuum will ensue to devour his near 40 percent carry share. However, let me be clear that QB Hendon Hooker took on over 60 percent of carries in Week 10 vs. Liberty. The Hokies will get all they can handle from Miami, making it very unlikely that Hooker will find that level of success on the ground (7.8 yards/carry).
The Bottom Line: I’m not in love with Blackshear as much as I have been with my flex RBs of weeks past. Miami RB Cam’Ron Harris ($5.9K) is in a smash spot on paper, Arizona RB Gary Brightwell ($5.2K) will face a USC run D that was torched last week, and Nebraska RB Dedrick Mills ($5.7K) will face the Penn State defense that we all aware has underachieved. However, they are not very cost-effective. From the under $4.5K options, Marshall backup RB Sheldon Evans ($3.2K) could be a very solid play, USC RB Markese Stepp ($4.4K) is priced lower than anticipated, and WVU backup RB Alec Sinkfield ($3.3K) could get enough run against a terrible TCU run defense to matter. For me, it’s between Blackshear and Evans.
Javonte Williams, North Carolina vs. Wake Forest (DK: $9,400 | O/U: 66.5)
Kyren Williams, Notre Dame at Boston College (DK: $9,400 | O/U: 50.0)
Stevie Scott III, Indiana at Michigan State (DK: $7,200 | O/U: 52.0)
Cam’Ron Harris, Miami at Virginia Tech (DK: $5,900 | O/U: 67.5)
Dedrick Mills, Nebraska vs. Penn State (DK: $5,700 | O/U: 56.0)
Gary Brightwell, Arizona vs. USC (DK: $5,200 | O/U: 67.5)
Stephen Carr, USC at Arizona (DK: $6,200 | O/U: 67.5)
$4.5K-or-less flex options:
Sheldon Evans, Marshall vs. Middle Tennessee (DK: $3,200 | O/U: 57.0)
Markese Stepp, USC at Arizona (DK: $4,400 | O/U: 67.5)
C’Bo Flemister, Notre Dame at Boston College (DK: $3,800 | O/U: 50.0)
Alec Sinkfield, West Virginia vs. TCU (DK: $3,300 | O/U: 45.5)
Jalen Holston, Virginia Tech vs. Miami (DK: $3,000 | O/U: 67.5)
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC at Arizona (DK: $6,700 | O/U: 67.5 | Implied: 40.8)
- And/Or -
Drake London, WR, USC at Arizona (DK: $5,800 | O/U: 67.5 | Implied: 40.8)
Prior to Ohio State at Maryland being canceled, I was ready to cover my reasons in favor of rostering Justin Fields, Garrett Wilson, and Chris Olave as the optimal stack. With that explosive trio out of the mix, the fallback is to fit as many USC or Louisville passing game options into lineups as possible around Brenden Knox. If you weren’t already aware, USC ran 97 offensive plays last week. If we add that number to Arizona’s 75.3 play/game average from last season, this matchup could generate over 170 total plays in Week 11. For perspective, no other matchup on the slate should reach 160. For many teams, an additional 12-15 offensive snaps is the equivalent of an additional quarter of play.
After you’ve had a moment to digest that pace of play, you begin to get a sense of the upside from the Trojans’ offense. For Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London, they’ll have the additional benefit of the USC philosophy calling pass on two-thirds of snaps. Last season, Arizona allowed the 18th-most passing YPG (289.8), 28th-most TDs/game (2.17), and 19th-most FPG to opposing receivers (65.5). Now, let’s toss in the future NFL first- or second-round talents of St. Brown, London, and, possibly, Bru McCoy. He may not have the future upside of the other three, but Tyler Vaughns will see enough targets to possibly pop.
The Bottom Line: St. Brown and London led USC WRs with 98 percent of team routes run. Vaughns followed with 84 percent and McCoy with 41 percent. As for target shares, here you go: St. Brown (31 percent), London (23), Vaughns (23), and McCoy (13). London is the most difficult-to-tackle (44 yards after the catch) and St. Brown the most explosive (16.6 air yards/target).
Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville at Virginia (DK: $6,900 | O/U: 66.0 | Implied: 31.3)
We once again find Tutu Atwell’s name with just as much upside this week as St. Brown and London. Atwell’s target shares have exceeded 40 percent in three-of-seven games, and has never dipped below 23 percent. I’ve already covered the leniency of the Virginia secondary in permitting the 27th-highest FPG to opposing receivers (63.4). I am entirely expecting this contest to exceed the combined implied total of 66 points. Both offenses are capable and both defenses are soft in the right spots.
The Bottom Line: Atwell is averaging 10.7 air yards/target with an additional 6.4 coming after the catch. The Cardinals and RB Javian Hawkins will find it difficult moving the ball on the ground. That should open up additional opportunities through the air. Enough that Dez Fitzpatrick and Marshon Ford could also come into play. However, Atwell will be the first to feed as one the most explosive WRs in the country.
Mike Harley, WR, Miami at Virginia Tech (DK: $6,900 | O/U: 67.5 | Implied: 32.5)
It’s been quite the ascent for Mike Harley over the last two weeks. After producing less than 60 receiving yards in each and only a single game with more than three receptions, he’s thrown down a combined line of 18/323/3 against Virginia and NC State. Everyone thought it would end up being Brevin Jordan that would become D’Eriq King’s go-to guy. Not so. Virginia Tech is much more vulnerable against the run, but their man-heavy secondary is not what you would consider quality. The Hokies are surrendering 257.9 passing YPG (36th) and 57.4 FPG to opposing receivers (44th).
The Bottom Line: Anytime a WR averages 34.2 FPs over multiple games, we need to take notice. We would need to move mountains in order to squeeze King’s $9.3K salary under the cap, but Harley’s $6.9K is reasonable. What’s even more impressive is that Harley produced those numbers with 38 percent and 22 percent target shares in Weeks 8 and 10, respectively. Could we actually find ourselves in a scenario where we punt one of our RB spots and slot another receiver at flex?
Jaquarii Roberson, WR, Wake Forest at North Carolina (DK: $4,900 | O/U: 66.5 | Implied: 26.5)
I wrote about Jaquarii Roberson several weeks back and he’s done nothing since to remove any of the sparkle. As a slot receiver in an offense dedicated to establishing the run, Roberson has only eclipsed 60 percent of team routes once this season (81 percent in Week 8). However, what he’s done when he has been on the field more than makes up for it. Roberson is averaging 4.55 yards per route run -- the slate average is 1.20, thanks to generating 7.1 yards after the catch. His target shares the last three weeks: 33, 35, and 27 percent.
The Bottom Line: Make sure you understand that, at those target share percentages, it doesn’t matter how many routes he is running. The fact that the Demon Deacons put so much effort into implementing the run leaves opposing defenses off balance when Wake pivots to putting the ball into Roberson’s hands. That’s exactly what I foresee happening with North Carolina, who have been significantly better against the pass than the run this season. Kenneth Walker III will soften up the box, pushing more attention toward halting that momentum, and leaving Roberson as the forgotten man. Rinse-and-repeat. Jaquarii is a near guarantee to outproduce value at a $4.9K salary.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State at Nebraska (DK: $8,800 | O/U: 56.0)
Whop Philyor, WR, Indiana at Michigan State (DK: $6,100 | O/U: 52.0)
R.J. Snead, WR, Baylor at Texas Tech (DK: $5,000 | O/U: 57.0)
Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC at Arizona (DK: $5,200 | O/U: 67.5)
Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Nebraska vs. Penn State (DK: $5,000 | O/U: 56.0)
Jalen Nailor, WR, Michigan State vs. Indiana (DK: $5,300 | O/U: 52.0)
Billy Kemp IV, WR, Virginia vs. Louisville (DK: $6,200 | O/U: 66.0)
Jamayre Joiner, WR, Arizona vs. USC (DK: $4,700 | O/U: 67.5)
Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana at Michigan State (DK: $4,700 | O/U: 52.0)
Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville at Virginia (DK: $4,400 | O/U: 66.0)
Bru McCoy, WR, USC at Arizona (DK: $4,000 | O/U: 67.5)
Tre Turner, WR, Virginia Tech vs. Miami (DK: $4,500 | O/U: 67.5)
Marshon Ford, TE, Louisville at Virginia (DK: $4,000 | O/U: 66.0)
Brian Casteel, WR, Arizona vs. USC (DK: $4,000 | O/U: 67.5)
Will Mallory, TE, Miami at Virginia Tech (DK: $4,400 | O/U: 67.5)
Ben Sims, TE, Baylor at Texas Tech (DK: $4,200 | O/U: 57.0)