We’ve made it. Two teams remain to battle for the crown of the NCAA National Football Champions. We’ve got one more chance to grab some DFS CFB profit before the offseason begins…let’s get it!
Monday January 11, 8:00 pm EST (1 game)
*Note: Player salaries are listed as their DraftKings price
DK Showdown Tips: Rules Based on Optimal Lineups
If you missed last year’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.
I analyzed past 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)
OPTIONAL RULE: Do not use QB as Captain unless they are a dual-threat
National Championship: Ohio State vs Alabama (1/11 8:00 pm Kickoff)
Spread: Alabama -7 | Total: 76.5
I’ve missed you this season. The last bit of college football content I wrote in 2020 was the season preview for Fantasy Guru. I was asked to be a part of the NFL team on Elite Fantasy back in August, which combined with NHL and Esports content proved to be too much work for me to tackle on my own. I knew you were in good hands with Russell and Scott, so I made the decision to leave the NCAA Football content to them. I trust you had a profitable run with those guys this season.
My main role on the NFL side has been to provide breakdowns for Showdown single-game slates. With the National Championship being played tonight, and $100K up top in the big DK GPP; I figured it was the perfect time to come back for a visit with my CFB brethren!
So here we are. It hasn’t been the smoothest path, but we’re here. Alabama and Ohio State. This matchup pits the nation’s No. 4 ranked offense (Ohio State) against No. 6 (Alabama). It’s the country’s No. 5 ranked pass offense (Alabama) against the No. 5 ranked run offense (Ohio State). Points will be scored.
Here’s where I believe the difference in this game lies. Ohio State’s pass defense ranks No. 116 out of 127 FBS teams. And they’ve not yet seen anyone with the explosiveness through the air that this Crimson Tide team plays with.
Yes, the Buckeyes have had big success on the ground, but Bama’s run defense has held up. They’ve ranked No. 13 in the country, holding opposing rushers to just 3.2 yards per carry. A reminder for those that need it: Bama played an all-conference schedule in 2020. No Samford’s or Chattanooga’s for them. This defense performed against the best the SEC had to offer.
Mac Jones ($10,800) has completed 77% of his passes this season, throwing for 36 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions in 12 games. You think we’re going to want some exposure to him in our Showdown lineups tonight? He feels like a lock to me in a FLEX spot here. Remember, I don’t suggest using a QB as CAPT unless they have some dual-threat upside…Jones does not.
Jaylen Waddle ($7,400) has been practicing this week, and he could throw a wrinkle into things if he dresses tonight. Waddle started the season with four straight 100+ yard receiving games before going down with an ankle injury back in October. Even if we hear he dresses, it’s unlikely Nick Saban will be so forthcoming as to let us know how much he will actually contribute. I’d hate to roster a lot of Waddle only for him to play 10 snaps. If you’re multi-entering, I would guess Waddle’s ownership to only be about 10-15% if he plays. I’d suggest you match the field with your exposure.
DeVonta Smith ($12,000) brought home the Heisman Trophy last week after catching 105 balls for 1,641 yards and 22 total touchdowns in 12 games. It has been a remarkable season for the NFL-bound wideout, and I fully expect him to cap it off with another gem tonight. Smith is near lock territory for me, as well.
My favorite secondary pass-catchers on Alabama’s side are John Metchie ($6,200) and Jahleel Billingsley ($5,400). Metchie’s advanced numbers jump off of the page this season, but he’s struggled to consistently put up big numbers with Smith getting the first, second, and third reads from Jones on most passing downs. If Waddle does play, Metchie becomes nothing more than a punt for me. While Billingsley has taken a back seat to Miller Forristall ($2,400) in terms of snaps in recent weeks, Billingsley is the far more talented pass catcher. He’s eclipsed double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games, while Forristall has reached 10+ DK points just once all season.
It pains me to say this, but I’ll be fading Najee Harris ($10,600) tonight. Will I still have some ownership? Yes, but it will be nowhere near where the field is at with him. Ohio State ranks second in the country against the run. They’ve also limited opposing rushers to just 3.2 yards per carry. Harris could have a decent night, yes, but I just don’t see a ceiling performance in the cards, and that’s probably what we’ll need in this one to pay off his salary.
Slade Bolden ($3,000) will line up as the team’s WR3 if Waddle sits. If that’s the case, I don’t mind taking a few swings with him. Just keep in mind he’s failed to score even 10 DK points in seven straight outings. Tread lightly here.
Here are some fringe punt plays. These are guys that may or may not play, but I’ll likely have each in a lineup or two when playing 150 lineups, just in case: Brian Robinson (RB), Jase McClellan (RB), Roydell Williams (RB), and Xavier Williams (WR).
Two big fades for me on the Ohio State side. Those are Justin Fields ($11,400) and Chris Olave ($8,800).
Olave will likely draw shadow coverage from SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain. I don’t think Fields will be throwing his way very often, so I won’t be looking at Olave when building my lineups, either. I’ll probably settle in on about 10-15% exposure to Olave.
As far as Fields goes, Bama has done a great job of swallowing up mobile quarterbacks this season. Kellen Mond, Tracy Wilson, Bo Nix, and more all failed to do anything on the ground. Scrambling is what gives Fields his massive upside. I just can’t see him getting to a point where his $11,400 salary is worth it. I’ll still have a lot of Fields in lineups, but it will be nowhere near the 70-80% ownership he’ll likely see from the field.
Now, the two bright spots I see in the OSU offense are Trey Sermon ($9,200) and Garrett Wilson ($7,000).
Sermon isn’t likely to find the success on the ground so much tonight, but he’s a very good pass-catching back, and Alabama’s defense is more often than not going to allow teams the short underneath throws to backs and slot receivers. Georgia’s James Cook and Texas A&M’s Ainias Smith both had 100-yard receiving games against this defense. Kyren Williams caught 8 balls for Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl on January 1. With PPR scoring, I see Sermon piling up a whole lot of points through the air.
Garrett Wilson is the Buckeye’s star slot receiver. I’d probably be calling for another fade here, as Bama generally has one of the country’s best young defensive backs in the slot in freshman Malachi Moore. Moore missed the Notre Dame game, though, and seems very questionable for this one too. Him sitting out would push safety Brian Branch back into the slot and onto Wilson in coverage. This would be a big advantage for Wilson by my estimation.
Otherwise, I love the Buckeye tight ends again here. Both Jeremy Ruckert ($4,800) and Luke Farrell ($2,200) have proven to be favorite targets of Fields, both in the red zone and in between the 20’s. I keep thinking back to the Ole Miss game where Bama allowed their tight end Kenny Yeboah to go 7-181-2, for a whopping 40.1 DK points.
Jameson Williams ($2,600) is the WR3 for Ohio State, and he had an impressive game against Clemson on New Year’s Day, going 3-62-1. This, however, was his highest fantasy output of the season, so don’t go overboard with your exposure here.
To round out the Buckeye offense, here are some of the 1% punt plays I’ll be using in MME builds: Miyan Williams (RB), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR), and Julian Fleming (WR). For the record, I don’t expect Master Teague ($4,200) to play. If he is in, he is nothing more than a punt for me.
Positional Rankings (ranked by value)
CAPTAIN RANKINGS & PERSONAL EXPOSURES
- DeVonta Smith (WR) 40%
- Garrett Wilson (WR) 20%
- Trey Sermon (RB) 15%
- Justin Fields (QB) 10%
- Najee Harris (RB) 5%
- Chris Olave (WR) 5%
- John Metchie (WR) 5%
- Mac Jones, Alabama
- Justin Fields, Ohio State
- Trey Sermon, Ohio State
- Najee Harris, Alabama
- Miyan Williams, Ohio State
- Brian Robinson, Alabama
- Jase McClellan, Alabama
- Roydell Williams, Alabama
- DeVonta Smith, Alabama
- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
- Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (if he plays…)
- John Metchie, Alabama (…if he doesn’t)
- Chris Olave, Ohio State
- Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
- Luke Farrell, Ohio State
- Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama
- Jameson Williams, Ohio State
- Slade Bolden, Alabama
- Miller Forristall, Alabama
- Julian Fleming, Ohio State
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
- Xavier Williams, Alabama