That time of the year is finally here! There’s football almost every day of the week (NFL or College), and this will result in a much higher volume of slates per week. The mid-week college football slates can be extremely advantageous to those who do the research.
This Friday slate should be a fun one, and there’s a lot of information that can be gleaned from this slate. This isn’t the normal mid-week slate, as a bunch of Power-Five and Ranked opponents are in play tonight for this seven game slate. Opening week is always fun, and hopefully we can all crush these slates together.
Michigan State vs. Tulsa
Spread: Michigan State -23.5
This game should.. well… stink, to watch at least. While Tulsa should improve on 2018, they simply don’t have the firepower to hang in this game, and Michigan State is likely to grind them into the ground. First thought goes to Connor Heyward, who’s earned the starting RB spot to start the 2019 season, and seemingly has the job to himself. Heyward is reasonably priced for his upside, and along with the Michigan State offensive line, they should be able to plow through this soft Tulsa run defense. There will probably be chunk passing plays here and there, but ultimately Michigan State will stick to their roots and run the ball, and will be effective.
Sophomore La’Darius Jefferson is listed as the backup behind Heyward, and he looks like a great tournament play. While the Michigan State offense isn’t high scoring, this game could get out of hand quickly, and the second half could be opportunities for the youngsters. Either way, attacking the Michigan State running game is advisable.
The Passing game for Michigan State is a different story, while they certainly have some talented receiving options, the had essentially the same setup last year, and were one of the worst passing teams in the Nation last year. Brian Lewerke threw 8 TDs and 11 interceptions in 339 passing attempts in 2019, and his play looked as bad as that sounds. Lewerke was a junior last year, so unlike underclassmen, it’s tough to see him getting significantly better in his senior season. On a more optimistic note; Cody White and Darrell Stewart Jr. both have juice as a receiving options, and are great tournament plays. Stewart is the more reasonably priced of the two, but it’s very likely they’ll both be low owned, so this is a good swerve for tournaments. Stewart is an oversized slot WR who gets work in the running game, and White runs mainly outside routes. TE Matt Dotson only had 14 receptions last year, but it’s reasonable to think he could catch a goal line TD.
I’m not interested in playing Tulsa players in this game, as this will be one of the tougher defenses they face this year. I don’t expect the offensive line to hold up against Michigan State’s front seven, even if they’re only rushing four or five (they usually bring more). Tulsa RB Shamari Brooks is a talented player, and will probably get a lot of usage, but considering how they used him in the receiving game in 2018 (they didn’t), he could be looking at a very inefficient night, despite still being priced reasonably. I don’t envision the Tulsa passing game doing much of anything unfortunately, but you can play Keylon Stokesat his price.
Favorite Plays: Connor Heyward
Value Plays: Darrell Stewart Jr., La’Darius Jefferson
My Bet: MSU – 23
Wisconsin vs. South Florida
Spread: WIS -11.0
This should be a Jonathan Taylor game. South Florida allowed 2,936 rushing yards in 2018, 244.7 per game. That ranked 122nd in the nation. Should that improve under Head Coach Charlie Strong? Absolutely, but it’s certainly unlikely that they go from “one of the worst in the nation” to “good” in one offense. Expecting South Florida to be below average against the run again in 2019 is sound logic, and for that reason, Taylor should be the top play on the board. As we’ve seen multiple times in 2018, despite Taylor being a great player, sometimes his price made his DFS expectations unrealistic. Based on his Week 1 pricing, they’re keeping things tame for now. Taylor is a base of almost every lineup I’ll make tonight, and should be for you as well. If he gets pulled at the goal line (like he did a few times last year), we’ll grit our teeth together, but ultimately this is a smash play.
Wisconsin has some sneaky weapons in this receiving game, and while their QB situation will once again hold them back, TE Jake Ferguson is the real deal as a pass-catcher, and a worthy DFS play. Ferguson is only 4,800 and is a great stack with Taylor to sure up the main red-zone weapons on the team. WR A.J. Taylor would be the other weapon that could make noise from a DFS perspective. Taylor is listed at 5 foot 11 and 200 pounds, and has mostly been used as a deep threat in the previous two seasons.
South Florida has some exciting players, and is very likely to pop off some huge plays in this game, but individually, this is a highly volatile group. Easily my favorite play of the group is WR Randall St. Felix. St. Felix is a legitimate NFL deep threat prospect, which averaged 20.6 yards per reception in 2018 as a True Freshman. Also worth noting, most of his big plays happened at home. St. Felix averaged. 24.4 yards per reception on his 19 at home receptions in 2018, and turned that into 464 yards and 4 touchdowns. St. Felix is listed at 6 foot 2 and 210 pounds. He’s noticeably more athletic than everyone else on the football field, and while Wisconsin obviously has more talent, he’ll be a mismatch for just about anyone they put on him.
Jordan Conkrite is a really fun RB prospect, but they messed with his usage all last year, and it was hard to find consistent weeks to play him from a DFS perspective. Cronkrite also has the questionable tag heading into this game, so be aware. As long as Blake Barnett is in town, the RBs are not going to get as many rushing attempts as they’d like. Speaking of Barnett, he’s a tad too expensive for my taste, but isn’t an unreasonable tournament play. He’s not great as a passer, but with solid weapons, he can find a few big plays, but most importantly, he runs the ball a lot.
Favorite Plays: Jonathan Taylor, Randall St. Felix
Value Plays: Jake Ferguson
My Bet: WIS -11.0
Rutgers vs. UMass
This game is a mess, at least to evaluate from a DFS perspective. Both teams should be terrible again this year, but it’s still worth looking into for some tournament plays.
Rutgers offense was embarrassing in 2018, absolutely reprehensible, but they do have one really good player. RB Raheem Blackshear is a good player, and undeserving of the offense he’s currently on. Blackshear consistently made the best of a bad situation in 2018, and managed 953 yards from scrimmage and 5 TDs. Blackshear is on the smaller side of the spectrum, but Rutgers needs him to be a workhorse in order to stay close in games. Blackshear led the team in receptions by a significant margin with 44 (second on the team was 28), and was very valuable in that area as well. He’s the only player I can honestly suggest to play in this offense with the information we currently have, but considering that, I do think he’s a high floor option. UMass allowed 274.8 rushing yards per game last year, which was 126th in the nation, and will likely be allowing huge running lanes once again in 2018.
UMass lost a lot of production from 2018, both WR Andy Isabella and RB Marquis Young were four-year players, and were essentially the two-featured weapons in the offense. Bilal Ally is listed as the starter at RB for this week, but it’s tough to rely on that too much. Considering the defense he’s going against, he’s certainly a solid tournament play, though. The WRs are a complete mess, and the top priced WR, Brennon Dingle, is listed as a “co-starter” at the slot to start the year. Not into this group. Randall West is a great athlete, and actually played for the basketball team as well over the last two years, it will be interesting to see how he does with the starting QB opportunity. Love his value at current price.
Favorite Plays: Raheem Blackshear
Value Plays: Randall West, Bilal Ally
My Bet: N/A
Wake Forest vs. Utah State
Spread: WAKE -4.5
This is a really, really fun matchup, and I’m excited to see Jordan Love for the first time in 2019. Love is an incredibly talented QB prospect that’s currently projected to be a first round pick. Having watched a few games last year and breaking down his play this summer, I’m confirming what others believe. That offense should be incredible with him at the helm, and they have some talented pieces around him that should flourish. Gerold Bright is projected to dominate Utah State’s touches this year as Darwin Thompson heads to the NFL, and he’s got a really fun matchup here. While Wake Forest is a power five team, they had a really leaky defense all 2018, and it’s unlikely that changed in 2019. Allowing 4.9 yards per rushing attempt is not good, no matter how you slice it, and Bright will likely find holes to slice through in his game. Since Utah State used 2 RBs frequently last year, backup RB Jaylen Warren is an intriguing value play with price considered.
I’ll be honest, the WR situation is tough to figure out, with Ron’Quavion Tarver gone, there’s a lot of mediocre to solid weapons left behind, and while one is likely to emerge as the main guy, game one could be volatile. For tournament games, I’ll place my best on Savon Scarver, but Jordan Nathan and Taylor Compton are interesting flyer plays. Love is a stud, and played well against P-5 opponents last year, almost pulling off a huge upset against Michigan State. Wake Forest should have a tough time keeping up with this offense, and I expect them to flourish.
Wake Forest RB Cade Carney is likely in for some big usage in his Senior season, and I love this matchup for him here. Considering the pace both of these offenses like to play at, Carney should see multiple red-zone/goal-line opportunities, and if last years any indication, he’ll be able to take advantage. Carney is a power back that can break big plays, and had multiple games last year where he hit a much higher DFS ceiling than expected. While it should be a committee backfield, Carney is a cash game worthy RB.
Sage Surratt comes into his second year with the Wake Forest offense, and should thrive now that Greg Dortch is off to the NFL. Surratt had a great Freshman season before getting banged up, producing 581 receiving yards and four touchdowns. With Dortch gone, the 6 foot 3 and 215 pound Surratt should command a featured role. Surratt played well against better defenses (ACC competition) in 2018, so finding his way to producing in this game shouldn’t be difficult. Scotty Washington burned me multiple times in 2018, but considering the cheap price, I’m willing to take a gamble on him in tournaments. Washington is the clear second option in the offense to start the year. QB Jamie Newman was solid to end 2018, and is a solid play here tonight. The price is reasonable, the matchup is solid and the weapons should be setting him up for success. Newman only has small samples to work with, but they are encouraging.
I really like this game for DFS purposes.
Favorite Plays: Jordan Love, Jamie Newman, Gerold Bright, Cade Carney, Sage Surratt
Value Plays: Jaylen Warren, Scotty Washington
My Bet: OVER 60.5
Nevada vs. Purdue
Boy oh boy, this game is the definition of volatile. Purdue’s top two receiving options, Rondale Moore AND Brycen Hopkins come into this game banged up, and those two, quite frankly, are the engine to the offense. While Moore can dominate in games at less than fully healthy, it’s still worrisome to note the hamstring injury that’s been bothering him. Moore is one of the best athletes in college football, and if he’s out there he’s an upside play, but his pricing is… aggressive. It feels like there’s easier plays to get points out there, especially considering his ownership (name power matters) will be higher than it should. While a full fade of Moore might be crazy, at his current pricing, he’d have to score 35-40 points to truly make a fade incredibly painful.
Zander Horvath gets the start for Purdue’s first game of the year, and his price makes him a reasonable value play. Hey, if you play Moore, maybe average that out with Horvath. Horvath is a bit of an unknown (nine rushing attempts in 2018), but the starting job is the starting job. Speaking of unknown, QB Elijah Sindelar steps in for David Blough, and I have no idea what to expect, nor does anyone else. This offense is a total enigma for Week 1, and there’s not much value to be had beyond Horvath, so fading is certainly viable.
Nevada is the worstttttttt for DFS. They run 4 WR sets, have no real order for player targets game to game and have been INCREDIBLY inconsistent over the last couple of seasons. At one point, Brandon O’Leary-Orange was perceived as a legitimate NFL prospect and the top WR in the offense, but injuries and limited action have made it seem like he’s no longer viewed that way. He’s still a big play threat, and I like the value, but he posted a lot of sad box scores in 2018. Kaleb Fossum is a nice upside play, and probably the most consistent of the Nevada options from 2018. His price makes him a very reasonable play, against a defense that was leaky against the pass last year. And by leaky I mean they allowed 276.9 yards per game, ranking 124th in the nation. Fossum mostly works in the slot, so even if QB Carson Strong is struggling (he probably will), Fossum will get his close to the line of scrimmage usage.
Nevada RB Toa Taua is a versatile player who can catch out of the backfield, and should be in a reasonable spot for fantasy production. In his value range though, I prefer other options, and won’t likely play Taua unless it’s a Nevada/Purdue game stack.
Overall this game is a mess, and I’m now angry after trying to review it.
Favorite Plays: Zander Horvath
Value Plays: Kaleb Fossum, Brandon O’Leary-Orange
My Bet: This game stinks, UNDER 57
Colorado vs. Colorado State
Spread: COLO – 13
So obviously the big names in this game are Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault. This combination was dominant at times, and especially against not elite competition. This is the type of game for them to dominate, and it’s hard to consider anyone else the top QB/WR stack on the slate. It’s expensive, but if playing cash games, this is the set I’d start with. Shenault is an elite athlete, and plays all over the field. Shenault was even used as a goal-line runner at times in 2018. Colorado State was about average in defending the pass last year, but it’s worth noting Shenault went for 11 receptions, 211 receiving yards and a touchdown against this group in 2018. While it’s hard to claim similar results will happen, it’s certainly in his range of outcomes, and is by far the highest floor/ceiling WR on the slate. Montez had 338 passing yards and four touchdowns in that game, as well.
Beyond Shenault, K.D. Nixon is also coming off a really solid 2018 season, and can provide big upside as a secondary WR. Nixon is a great player to sprinkle into lineups, even if not using Montez. He’s also a great leverage play on Shenault. At the end of the day Colorado’s offense is the top floor play on the slate, and it can be confidently invested in.
With Travon McMillian gone, RB Alex Fontenot gets the start in Week 1, and while he’s an unknown, his price is tough to ignore. 11 carries last year aren’t a worth sample, but considering the scoring in this game, Fontenot should see some exciting opportunities for fantasy points.
Colorado State RB Marvin Kinsey is another former backup taking the reigns in 2019. Kinsey saw 85 touches in 2018, turning them into 450 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he didn’t provide many explosive plays, his 22 reception is notable. At his price, he’s also worth a value play. WR Preston Williams was a target hog last year, and the rest of the WRs are probably happy to see more opportunity. In particular, Warren Jackson stands out as a player that could step into the now famous Colorado State top WR role. Between Rashard Higgins, Michael Gallup and Williams, this team has produced some of the most prolific WR seasons in the nation over the last decade, and they’re likely looking for similar results this year. With Nate Craig-Myers out, Jackson could be stepping into a hyper-volume role.
Collin Hill is cheap, and in an offense that should be able to pass the ball. While his results last year were ugly, at his price, he doesn’t need to work miracles to hit value. If playing Jackson, throwing Hill into the super-flex spot is a solid idea.
Favorite Plays: Warren Jackson, Laviska Shenault, Steven Montez, K.D. Nixon
Value Plays: Collin Hil, Marvin Kinsey
My Bet: OVER 56.5
Oregon State vs. Oklahoma State
Spread: OKST – 13.5
This should be a fun game. While Oklahoma State is clearly the better team, I do find it interesting the line is only 13.5. Oregon State was an abomination last year beyond Jermar Jefferson, and beyond players getting older, I’m not sure what Vegas is seeing. Oregon State allowed 33 passing touchdowns last year, and only created three interceptions. They were completely inept against the passing game, and it’s REALLY, REALLY… REALLY hard to see that completely shifting in a season. Oklahoma State wasn’t as dominant as usual in 2018, but they still passed for over 4,000 yards and threw 33 touchdowns. There’s a new QB situation to deal with, and while QB Spencer Sanders is going to get the start, Head Coach Mike Gundy was open in saying there could be a quick trigger, and both Sanders and QB Dru Brown will play. That’s gross for DFS purposes, but what’s not gross Is Tylan Wallace. Wallace is the top priced WR on the slate, and for good reason. Wallace should dominate this matchup, and I’d all but guarantee 100 or more yards and a touchdown. He’ll need more than that to hit value, but the floor is there from a cash game perspective. If looking for a cheaper option in this receiving game, Dillon Stoner should be in a position to receive a big portion of the target pie in 2019.
Chuba Hubbard is.. very good, and with Justice Hill off to the NFL, there could be some huge DFS performances out of Hubbar in 2019. Hubbard is a bigger back, listed at 6 foot 1 and 207 pounds, but doesn’t play like it. His athleticism and skill are of a much smaller back, and as a featured weapon, he should dominate.
The aforementioned Jefferson should end this game with enough volume to his value as well, but I’m not nearly as optimistic the rest of this team will come to play like Vegas does. I don’t feel comfortable recommending any Oregon State players beyond Jefferson, especially considering the lack of friendly pricing.
Favorite Plays: Tylan Wallace, Chuba Hubbard, Jermar Jefferson
Value Plays: Dillon Stoner
My Bet: OKST – 13.5