College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 9/20/19
Through the first three weeks of the season, we've been treated to some high-scoring Friday nights. Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case this week. Only one of the six teams on the slate has an implied total over 30 points.
With an expected low-scoring slate, it makes sense to target players with the highest probability of reaching the end zone. Since teams are unlikely to be marching up and down the field, fewer fantasy points will be generated simply by receptions and yardage and a higher percentage will come strictly from touchdowns. As a result, players with a high usage rate near the goal line, even if their overall usage isn't great, could have elevated value on Friday night.
If you're new to college football DFS, here's a rundown of the rules from FanDuel. As for the basics, your roster consists of a quarterback slot, two running back slots, three wide receiver slots (which also includes tight ends) and one super flex slot. In the flex, you can insert one player from any position, including quarterbacks.
In this preview, I'll break down the Friday slate into three categories: players to build around, value plays, and players to avoid.
Players to build around are more expensive, but their ceiling is high enough that you should consider prioritizing them in your lineup. Value plays are cheaper options who usually come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the expensive stars. Players to avoid are guys you might normally consider at their price tag, but who have a tough matchup this week and are unlikely to live up to their usual expectations.
All references to betting totals and spreads are from the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Players to Build Around
QB Tyler Huntley, Utah ($9,700) vs. USC
Dating back to the start of 2018, opposing starting quarterbacks are averaging 20.6 fantasy points against the Southern Cal defense, paced by Tyler Huntley's 38.9 points in last year's matchup. So far this season, USC shut down Stanford's backup quarterback Davis Mills (10.8 fantasy points), but BYU's Zach Wilson (24.1 points) and Fresno State's Jorge Reyna (25 points) each had big games against the Trojans.
Despite playing in Utah's run-first offense, Huntley remains a strong fantasy option due to his own running ability. In 2018, Huntley finished with double-digit rushing attempts in five of seven conference games and reached the end zone four times, including once against USC.
RB Zach Moss, Utah ($10,000) vs. USC
Excluding garbage time (a lead of 21 points or more), 41.3 percent of Utah's plays have involved either a handoff or a pass to Zack Moss, according to Sports Info Solutions. And in the red zone, Moss has a 45.5 percent overall market share (percentage of carries and targets), making him a good bet to score on a weekly basis. In fact, he's reached the end zone in 11 of 12 games since the start of 2018.
In this matchup Moss gets a struggling USC run defense, one allowing five or more rushing yards on 40 percent of opponents carries, which ranks 53rd out of 65 Power 5 schools.
RB Robert Mahone, Boise State ($8,900) vs. Air Force
Robert Mahone saw just seven touches last week against Portland State, after getting knocked out of Boise State's previous game with a shoulder injury. However, the fact that he was even on the field in a game Boise didn't need him -- the Broncos cruised to a 45-10 victory -- probably means he was already close to full strength.
When healthy in Week 1, Mahone carried the ball 24 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State. Perhaps more importantly, in that win over the Seminoles, Boise State handed off to Mahone on five of its eight plays inside the 10-yard line.
QB J'mar Smith, Louisiana Tech ($8,400) vs. FIU
If you want to save money at the quarterback position, Louisiana Tech's J'mar Smith is your best bet as the second cheapest of the six starting quarterbacks on the slate. Smith has scored at least 15 fantasy points in each game this season, including 20 points in a season-opening loss at Texas.
Florida International's pass defense shouldn't cause many problems for Smith. Since the start of 2018, five different FBS quarterbacks have scored at least 20 fantasy points against the Golden Panthers' D.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC ($7,500) vs. Utah
Amon-Ra St. Brown is clearly the third option in the USC offense and has a modest target share of 15.7 percent. However, according to Sports Info Solutions, his target share jumps to 29.4 percent in the red zone, tops among all Trojan receivers.
As USC's primary slot receiver, St. Brown draws a favorable matchup this week against Utah nickel back Javelin Guidry. According to Sports Info Solutions, when targeted in coverage in the slot, Guidry has allowed six receptions on seven targets. And at 6'1", Brown holds a considerable size advantage over the 5'9" Guidry.
St. Brown is dealing with a foot injury, so be sure to check his status before kickoff, but he practiced on Wednesday so the odds of him playing look promising.
WR Akilian Butler, Boise State ($6,800) vs. Air Force
Due to an unlucky start to the season, this may be the cheapest you'll be able to snag Akilian Butler this year. Butler's target share is second on the team at 19.8 percent, but he has yet to reach the end zone, which has limited him to just 5.8 fantasy points per game.
However, Butler actually leads Boise State with five red zone targets -- and that doesn't include two touchdown receptions called back due to penalties. Clearly the Broncos trust Butler in the red zone, and it's only a matter of time before he scores.
WR Griffin Hebert, Louisiana Tech ($6,800) vs. FIU
Louisiana Tech has spread the ball around evenly in both the run and pass game this season, making it difficult to buy any of their players on this slate. But if you're looking for a tournament play with likely low ownership, Griffin Hebert could be an option.
The 6'3" Hebert is fourth in the team in target share (12.6 percent) but leads the squad with three red zone targets (27.3 percent target share), two of which resulted in scores.
Hebert's value is touchdown dependent, but Louisiana Tech is expected to be the second-highest scoring team on this slate with an implied total of 29 points, giving him a decent chance of reaching the end zone.
TE Brant Kuithe, Utah ($5,500) vs. USC
Utah has attempted a pass on just 33.5 percent of its plays this season, so it's tough to justify spending on the Utes' more high-priced wide receivers. Further driving down the value of Utah's receivers is the fact the team has attempted just three passes in the red zone, compared to 19 rushing attempts. That said, tight end Brant Kuithe is priced so favorably, he's worth consideration.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Kuithe leads the Utes with 10 targets. And perhaps more importantly, since Utah has played three relatively non-competitive games, nine of Kuithe's targets have come in the first half, giving him a first-half target share of 29 percent. Since he appears to be an integral part of Utah's limited passing game, Kuithe looks like a low-risk play at this price.
Players to Avoid
RB Kadin Remsberg, Air Force ($9,100) vs. Boise State
Since the start of 2018, Boise State's defense has allowed just one running back (Wyoming's Nico Evans) to reach 20 fantasy points. Additionally, Boise State's defense has allowed opponents to reach the red zone on just 17.5 percent of their drives this season -- the 17th best rate in the FBS.
Even if Air Force does reach the red zone, the ball usually isn't going to the 5'8", 195-pound Kadin Remsberg. Through three games, Remsberg has seen just four touches in the red zone and only two inside the 10-yard line. Quarterback Donald Hammond (four carries) and 220-pound running back Taven Birdow (three carries) appear to be Air Force's ball carriers of choice near the goal line.
WR Jaylen Dixon, Utah ($7,900) vs. USC
As previously mentioned, Utah has thrown the ball on just one-third of its plays, setting a low ceiling for their receivers. Through three games, Dixon has seen just nine targets, hauling in eight receptions for 92 yards.
Dixon is also likely to draw consistent coverage from USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin, who has allowed just two receptions on 12 targets this season, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.