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DK Showdown Tips: Rules Based on Optimal Lineups
If you missed September’s strategy session on Optimal Showdown Lineups, you can either follow the link to go back and read it, or I’ll drop some cliff notes here for College Football DFS 101.
I broke down 92 CFB Showdown slates to find trends that could help us build better lineups. Based on the optimal lineups from each slate, I came up with a set of rules to follow that would help us cover the most important bases in building lineups that made sense. If you need explanations on these, follow the link above, but here are the actual rules I follow when putting together my DK Showdown lineups:
RULE #1: Set minimum salary to $43,000, maximum to $50,000 (92.4% of optimals)
RULE #2: Use no more than 4 players for one team (84.8% of optimals)
RULE #3: Don’t play a kicker as Captain (100.0% of optimals)
RULE #4: Do not play any kickers (83.7% of optimals)
RULE #5: Play at least 1 QB, RB, and WR (87.2% of optimals)
RULE #6: Play at least 1 WR from each team (84.8% of optimals)
RULE #7: Stack all QB’s with at least 1, but no more than 2 of their pass-catchers (84.5% of optimals)
RULE #8: Do not stack a quarterback and kicker from the same team (91.4% of optimals)
OPTIONAL RULE: Do not use QB as Captain unless they are a dual-threat
That time of the year is finally here! Bowl season has already provided us with some exciting games to end the 2019 season, but it’s still ramping up as things careen towards 2020. Thursday provides a solid two game slate on FanDuel and DraftKings featuring four Power Five Conference teams. While it doesn’t have the highest profile teams in college football, Most of these matchups consist of regular features on regular season Saturday Slates.
CINCINNATI (10-3) vs. BOSTON COLLEGE (6-6)
Spread: CIN -7.5
Easily the biggest talking point of this game is the absence of RB A.J. Dillon in the Boston College offense and how that will shift things. Dillon has carried this offense for three seasons, accumulating 4618 yards from scrimmage and 40 touchdowns. While Dillon wasn’t a big receiving down threat, his enormous frame (listed at 6 feet and 250 pounds) and power running style forced defenses to exert a lot of attention towards stacking boxes. In the past, this has allowed play-action to be effective despite the QB and WR talent level being middling at best. With Dillon out, this changes things considerably. While replacement RB David Bailey had two huge games this year (181 rushing yards against North Carolina State, 172 rushing yards against Syracuse), Bailey has struggled more often than not, and has just 51 rushing yards on his last 21 attempts. Cincinnati had mediocre run defense during the regular season and Bailey can certainly attain the 100 rushing yard bonus, but it’s hard to call him a high ceiling option.
The QB starting for Boston College is Dennis Grosel, a QB that has completed just 48.6 percent of his 2019 passing attempts. QB Anthony Brown was at least able to throw downfield as a starter, but Grosel’s yards per attempt is a measly 6.5. Cincinnati was a below average pass defense during the season (allowing 233.2 passing yards per game), but it’s hard to believe that will be exploited in an aggressive manner. TE Hunter Long and WR Kobay White would be the reasonable passing options to use if trying to get a high-variance lineup. WR Zay Flowers was a solid producer early in the season, but has struggled mightily to produce over the last month and is really hard to trust from a DFS perspective.
Boston College allowed 480.3 yards per game defensively in 2019, and should be looked at as the leakiest unit on the slate. Cincinnati should have plenty of success in a plethora of ways in this matchup. While QB Desmond Ridder enjoyed a mediocre Sophomore season, he should find plenty of success and wide-open passing lanes, making him a high-floor option. Expect Ridder to look towards WR Alec Pierce and TE Josiah Deguara the most, as they were the only two players to accumulated above 400 receiving yards in the regular season. Despite the down Junior season, WR Rashad Medaris is still a viable option from a tournament or multi-lineup build perspective.
RB Michael Warren is the top RB on the slate, and it isn’t close. Warren accumulated 1317 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns in 2019, and is facing a run defenses that allowed (in the regular season) 180.8 yards per game. There’s no real benefit to fading Warren, even when getting fancy. While Warren will do the heavy lifting, if this game gets out of hand RB Gerrid Doaks could slot in as a nice upside play. Doaks has had big games before (117 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns against Tulsa, 129 yards from scrimmage and a touchdowns against UCONN), and is a solid big play threat.
Favorite Plays: Michael Warren, Desmond Ridder, David Bailey
Value Plays: Gerrid Doaks, Rashad Medaris
My Bet: Cincinnati -7.5
INDIANA (8-4) vs. TENNESSEE (7-5)
Spread: TEN -2.5
Indiana and Tennessee are both middling Power Five Conference teams with some competitive games against top competition. Before we get into the matchups, let’s go over some injury/holdout dynamics.
First of all, Indiana RB Stevie Scott is questionable for this game with an undisclosed injury. It’s unclear the severity of the injury, and while Scott was a featured weapon at times over the last two seasons (accumulated 1,056 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns in the 2019 regular season), it’s tough to fully trust him based on this news. Because of this, RB Sampson James becomes an intriguing option at a cheap price, especially if Scott doesn’t play. James mostly struggled in 2019 (his Freshman season, but did put together a solid 118 rushing yards on 22 attempts against Purdue in November. Tennessee’s run defense Is solid, and while they did give up 145.8 rushing yards per game this year, they faced some run-heavy offenses that skewed those numbers (Georgia had 238, Kentucky had 302 yards on 64 attempts).
Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings has been suspended for the first half of this game, and his fantasy results are going to be highly volatile. Not only do we not know the game-flow of this game, but Jennings’ already volatile week-to-week production is certainly not helping with projections. This isn’t fully his fault (we’ll get into that), but the missing half of snaps is important to note.
Overall, the Indiana offense is simple. QB Peyton Ramsey is a classic pocket passer, and when in the lineup in 2019, was relatively successful. There’s four key players in Indiana’s passing game, WR Whop Philyor, TE Peyton Hendershot, WR Ty Fryfogle and Nick Westbrook. Philyor is the clear featured weapon in the offense, garnering 69 receptions, 1001 receiving yards and a five touchdowns in 2019, leading the team in all categories. The other three play secondary and erratic role that shift wildly week-to-week. While the matchup isn’t an easy one, Philyor is a high-floor option on a slate in desperate need of one. Hendershot, Fryfogle and Westbrook are all worthy of tournament plays.
Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano was listed as the top QB on the depth chart last I checked, which is contrary to what the DraftKings pricing would suggest. QB Brian Maurer is listed at $1,800 more than Guarantano. This is something to be diligent with as the game gets closer to starting. Either player is worthy of starting in this matchup, so stay aware. Beyond Jennings, WRs Josh Palmer and Marquez Callaway present impressive athleticism and could certainly exploit a very mediocre Indiana secondary (only allowed 211.7 passing yards per game, but keep in mind that they face run-heavy opponents in conference play. Palmer finished the game against Missouri with 124 receiving yards, and averaged 21.0 yards per reception on 23 passes in 2018 as a deep threat. Tennessee will absolutely have the best athletes in this game, and the WRs all have high ceilings.
RB Ty Chandler has performed well in his “lead” role for Tennessee in 2019, but he’s been incredibly frustrating from a fantasy perspective. Chandler is clearly talented, but only received 133 touches in 2019, finishing five games with less than eight touches. Chandler has upside, but the floor is also low. One of the reasons for the lack of touches is RB Eric Gray, a Freshman who got a big opportunity against Vanderbilt in Tennessee’s final regular season game. Gray finished that game with 25 rushing attempts and 246 rushing yards, and there’s a reasonable gamble to be made on him as a high-ceiling value play.
Favorite Plays: Whop Philyor
Value Plays: Jarrett Guarantano, Eric Gray, Sampson James, Josh Palmer
My Bet: TEN -2.5