Week 14 CFB DFS Picks: Hello Newman
This week I’m going to try and be short and sweet (Ha! Like that will ever happen), so definitely use this article for content but make sure to rely on the updates of projections throughout the week to help cover injury news/changes. One thing that won’t change this weekend is Jamie Newman being the top quarterback on the slate. Wake Forest has an implied team total of 35.5, one of the highest on the DraftKings slate, and faces a Syracuse defense that just gave up six touchdowns to Micale Cunningham from Louisville. As the fourth highest priced quarterback on the slate, he’s viable in all formats.
If you’re not using Newman, or you’re looking at rolling out two high-priced quarterbacks then you’re looking at either Justin Fields or Holton Ahlers. The optimizer is going to push you to Ahlers every time with his $1,700 salary relief from Fields and .2 point higher projection and that’s how I’d lean as well. He’s really ended the season, mainly because of an increase in usage. Over his last three, he’s looking at 48 passing attempts and 7 carries per game. Against Tulsa he’s definitely in play everywhere as well and likely will be one of your highest owned guys on the slate. As for Fields, his usage will surely go up against Michigan compared to his typical 25 or so passes and 6-8 carries, but I don’t think it means you pay up for him in this matchup. Michigan’s defense has made a bunch of adjustments strictly for OSU’s crossing routes that torched them last season and Fields is sharing touchdowns with JK Dobbins quite heavily lately. I like Fields in tournaments, but I won’t be using him all that often with the two other options I’ve already spoken on.
Justin McMillan scared us last week, but he came through after hitting the rushing bonus late. He’s a very efficient player, as we see with his 24 fantasy points on just one touchdown. Against SMU that’s very likely not going to happen again and Vegas agrees that their offense will be rolling. Tulane has an implied team total of 34, making McMillan a great cash game player Saturday. Rounding out our top five is the quarterback on the opposite side of McMillan, Shane Buechele. The SMU quarterback didn’t see his typical high usage through the air but in all honesty, we should have seen that coming. Navy had the ball for nearly 40 minutes and SMU only ran 56 plays, which was over 20 plays less than their attempts per game average. What I’m trying to say is that Buechelle is a great tournament option with SMU’s 37.5 point implied team total and his 40+ passing attempt upside.
If you’re looking for offenses to stack, Oregon might be the best and it starts with Justin Herbert. I’m not a huge fan of his price ($7,700 on DraftKings), but I love the two Johnsons he throws to and the matchup against Oregon State. Consider him a tournament fade of Buechele and Newman. Ian Book has played out of his mind since the Michigan game, generating over 33 fantasy points per game over those four games and throws himself into talks of using him in all formats. I’d rather go with Newman/Ahlers/McMillan as my core but it’s hard to not like Book even with the high price.
Zach Smith is a tournament quarterback option for us thanks to his really cheap price tag ($5,400 on DraftKings and $6,800 on FanDuel) and their implied team total (28). I think I’d only use him in tournaments to give myself more cap relief in tournaments so I could roster 2+ of the high end flex options.
The last two quarterbacks you should strongly consider in all formats are Micale Cunningham and Lynn Bowden Jr. both are rushing quarterbacks with Cunningham have more usage through the air. Bowden is going to run it about 20 times per game, hit the 100+ yard mark and likely find pay dirt, but he will add very little value through the air. Cunningham will throw it about 20 times per game with way more effectiveness and big play ability, but won’t hit the 100+ yard rushing mark. They face off Saturday in a game that could be fun to stack.
There’s a surprising name at the top of the running back list this week. It’s Xavier Jones, the SMU running back that has flashed slate breaking upside but is coming off of a rough game against Navy. As I noted already when speaking about his quarterback, he should see an increase in plays which means a high usage day in a great matchup. I’m a fan of him in all formats and am obviously not using him alongside Buechele, but will likely go with Najee Harris if I had to choose just one running back in this slate. His projection is third or fourth highest on the slate, but he comes in at $6,700 on DraftKings and his usage should be insane with Mac Jones under center for Alabama. He has scored an amazing 12 times in his past five games and is being utilized through the air as well, recording 3+ catches in three of his past six games. The matchup is difficult, but the price and usage just make all the sense in this one.
The other running back that really piques my interest is Darius Pinnix Jr from East Carolina. He was hurt early on in the season, so his performance against UConn last week comes as a surprise, but it really looks like East Carolina wants to utilize his talents 20+ times on the ground. He’s done so in two of his three games in 2019, producing 100+ yards and two touchdowns in both games. I’m going to go ahead and say use him in all formats, but if you’re between a guy like Najee or Jones, I’d prefer those two in cash games based upon the larger data sample we have.
No need to spend a ton of time on Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, Travis Etienne and JK Dobbins as we know all of them are stars and should be used at least a sprinkle in any format. I prefer Taylor the most as he easily has the highest upside. I love the potential for Dobbins’ usage against Michigan after seeing how they used him last week against Penn State. Etienne and Swift have the best matchups with Etienne being a more explosive player compared to Swift who will likely see more carries at a lower ypc average. I prefer these four in the order they’re listed.
The Oregon running back situation is one to keep a close eye on for injury news. If CJ Verdell is out then Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio become great options at a cheaper cost. I prefer CHL thanks to his way higher touchdown rate (9 rushing touchdowns on 71 carries). Dye has largely underperformed this season and if you watched the Oregon game last weekend it felt like CHL was the better runner and was always the guy in the game around the end zone with Verdell out.
Another cheaper option to consider would be Kenneth Walker III. He’s definitely the most talented Wake Forest running back and is coming off of a 17/113/1 game against Duke last weekend. He’s going to have another solid matchup going up against Syracuse and if he can see another 15 or so carries he is easily worth the $4,500 price tag on DraftKings. If Verdell is out I prefer CHL over him, but we may not have that information in time.
Without a doubt, the top receiver on this slate is James Proche and even though he didn’t have a monster game last week by any means, he saw his price tag rise to $8,200. It’s a pretty fair price when looking at his season and an insane amount of targets. I will be rolling him out in all formats considering he’s projected about 7.5 fantasy points more than the next guy, Johnny Johnson III. Johnson had himself one heck of a fourth-quarter last week against Arizona State, scoring multiple times on his way to a 14-target game. Both he and Juwan Johnson are really going to pop with their prices being $5,600 on DraftKings. Juwan saw eight targets in the loss last weekend, so he was definitely targeted at a high amount. Unfortunately, Johnny was the one that found the end zone. In Oregon stacks, it’s certainly viable to use both in the same lineup considering the matchup but I’ll only be using one in non-Herbert lineups. I would also have no issue using an Oregon running back with one of the Johnsons.
Not to make life too confusing, but CJ Johnson is the third-highest projected receiver on the slate after a 4/85/0 game where he saw 11 targets. His teammate Tyler Snead saw 19 targets in that one, making both viable options. I tend to lean towards Johnson considering his season-long consistency but will consider the latter in tournaments as a Johnson fade. Obviously, you’re going to want to use one with Ahlers considering we’re banking on him throwing 45+ times.
Trishton Jackson is a really solid tournament option that should see low ownership thanks to the wealth of options around him. His price sits higher than all of the Johnsons, so you’ll have to boost him to get high ownership levels but that’s not necessary. Using him around 20% in tournaments feels right considering his 10 touchdowns and 8.6 targets per game this season. Syracuse has thrown less than usual in their past two games but that’s been due to a blowout and success on the ground last week. I don’t suspect they’ll throw it 20 times against Wake meaning we could see a big game from Jackson.
Keylon Stokes has really had himself quite the year, averaging 16.6 yards per catch and finding himself as the top Tulsa receiver with his 8.6 targets per game. The price is right for him on DraftKings and while I would rank the Johnsons ahead of him in terms of similarly priced receivers, he’s a great pivot/fade from those guys. Tulsa is projected to score 28 against ECU in what should be a fairly high scoring affair.
One cheap option I really want you to consider is Rashee Rice. The SMU receiver has been a top-three target for them since the Reggie Roberson injury, he’s seen 5, 11, 5, and 7 targets. At $4,500 you could do much worse than that. If Roberson is out again then Rice is definitely in consideration Saturday as well as Kylen Granson, the tight end for SMU that has become relevant and a touchdown machine since the injury. Granson is mid-$5k so there’s not a lot of salary relief with him, but worth using in tournaments.
Josh Johnson marks our fourth Johnson to consider and he’s the cheapest of them all by a good bit ($3,700). The Tulsa production reminds me of a poor man’s USC. They throw it to no more than four players consistently with one of those being Josh. He’s seen double-digit targets three times this season and is averaging 7.4 per game in 2019. I don’t mind him one bit as a part of a Tulsa stack, ECU/Tulsa game stack (which is a great idea), and as a pivot from Rice. If you want to make things very weird then Keenan Johnson from Tulsa has seen 6.3 targets per game this year and saw nine last week.
FanDuel Main Slate
At the quarterback position in the main slate, you’re really looking at Jalen Hurts as your main guy and then guys like Charlie Brewer and Justin Herbert. Brewer’s price tag is high, but he has the scoring ability we’re looking for and he’s in a very good matchup. Strictly tournament options for me include Kenny Pickett, Kyle Trask, and Carter Stanley. I think there’s a reason to believe that Dru Brown could be viable in all formats. It’s not like Oklahoma has stopped anybody this season and he doesn't even break $8k on FanDuel. Of course, I can’t not write about Kellen Mond going up against the very average LSU defense. He’s a guy I’m definitely considering in all formats and at decent amounts.
There’s a lot to love at running back with Zack Moss, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Chuba Hubbard a few of my favorite options. There’s more though as Breece Hall should be great and is considerably cheaper than the studs and even though Jonathan Taylor has a low implied team total compared to the rest, he’s as much of a sure-thing as there is. Cheaper options include JaTarvious Whitlow against Alabama in what I suspect will be an 18+ carry game for him. I also like Kennedy Brooks in Hurts fades. Like I said above, Oregon’s running back group is very dependent on CJ Verdell’s status but CHL is the guy I want to use and the optimizer agrees.
The Oregon Johnsons lead the way at receiver and if you’re not careful you’ll have them everywhere. I prefer Johnny over Juwan thanks to him being cheaper but also a higher projection by about two fantasy points. Ceedee Lamb could have a monstrous game against Oklahoma State, something you’re not going to want to miss. His price could be much higher. Denzel Mims is a must-play if you’re going to roll Brewer at quarterback and the same with Dillon Stoner (stacked with Dru Brown). I think a Texas A&M stack could be a lot of fun against LSU and if that’s the case look to Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, and the cheap option tight end for them, Jalen Wydermeyer. Daylon Charlot has played really well lately for Kansas and if they get to scoring then he’s going to do quite well at a bargain price. Before locking lineups make sure you’re away of Maurice Ffrench’s injury status. If he plays then he is someone to consider and if not then Taysir Mack’s stock obviously goes up.
If you have any questions about this slate or daily fantasy college football, in general, feel free to reach out to myself (@RealestChrisKay) or my super-degen partner in crime Christopher Pacheco (@TheNumbers_Guy) on Twitter!
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