College Football is back! And so is College Football DFS, for most of the United States!
*Pauses a moment to give you time for a little victory dance*
Okay, back to business.
Welcome to the first “College Football DFS Confident Cash Plays” piece of the 2019 season. Every week we’ll break down a player pool of the best plays in College Football to make sure you cash. If you want GPP plays, we have a piece for that too that our very own Ryan Collinsworth is putting together! But! If you want to win some cash every week to fuel your GPP bids (or you just like cash DFS formats) then this is the place to be!
Week 0 doesn’t have as many players to choose from with only two games on the slate, so building a lineup that is both safe and unique enough to finish where you need to may seem daunting. No need to fret! Stick to this player pool and you’ll be golden.
For Week 0, if you want to have a shot at winning there are truly only two quarterbacks to choose from: Khalil Tate ($9000) for Arizona and Cole McDonald ($8800) for Hawaii. Why just those two? Well, for starters the only other two viable cash options are Feleipe Franks (Florida, $7200) and Jarren Williams (Miami, $6100). Williams is getting his first collegiate start this weekend. That might make him a nice cheap wild card play in a GPP, but he’ll have his hands full against the solid Florida defense that finished top 20 in defensive points allowed last season. Franks is a more established starter, but let’s just look at his 2018 campaign compared to Tate and McDonald.
Per Game 2018 Stats (in full games played)
|Player||Passing Yds/Gm||Rush Yds/Gm||Pass TDs/Gm||Rush TDs/Gm|
It’s clear that both Tate and McDonald have a far superior track record recently. And when you factor in that Tate wasn’t even fully healthy last year (which limited his rushing upside) it’s even more clear. Williams and Franks just aren’t an option for cash.
“But they’re so cheap compared to Tate and McDonald!”
It doesn’t matter. All cashing teams will likely have Tate and/or McDonald. Don’t think so? Just look at implied points this weekend. The over/under for the Arizona/Hawaii game is currently around 74 points. It’s just 47 for Florida and Miami.
If you have to choose between Tate or McDonald this weekend to fit in some decent skill position players, the choice looks difficult given their close prices, but it’s likely McDonald.
Khalil Tate is replacing his entire starting lineup of receivers. The Arizona Wildcats are also 11-point favorites, implying that Tate may not have to throw for more than two or three quarters. Yes, Tate is just one season removed from 1400 rushing yards, but he may not have put that on display as much this week in a win.
McDonald, on the other hand, returns two of his starters from last season in Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward. Hawaii will (and always does) have to throw a ton to stay in the game. In fact, Hawaii averaged seven more pass attempts per game last season thanks to their spread scheme. And on top of all that, McDonald was actually Hawaii’s leading rusher a year ago.
“So I have to start both the expensive quarterbacks?”
Not exactly, but given the uncertainty at most skill position spots (as we’ll get to), the easiest way to pack safe points will be via the expensive quarterbacks. If you must start a different quarterback go with Williams. Although he’s an unknown right now, he may be forced to pass a ton, and can run as well. But really, if you aren’t starting both quarterbacks it may be safer to start a high upside running back or receiver in the superflex spot. That’s a rare suggestion, but actually makes sense given the four-team pool this week
Confident Cash Plays: (1) Cole McDonald, (2) Khalil Tate
Cheap Upside Superflex: Jarren Williams
It isn’t sexy to write a DFS column and just tout expensive guys, but J.J. Taylor is the super-mega-chalk play for a reason. He’ll be the anchor on a high percentage of rosters this weekend, so if you don’t start him that could put you in a tough spot. As was already mentioned, Arizona is a heavy favorite and they just replaced nearly their entire receiver group. Taylor also accounted for about 74% of Arizona’s running back carries last season. His floor is better than the ceiling of all but maybe two backs this weekend.
The best value on the other favorite to win, Florida, is most definitely Malik Davis at $3700. Lamical Perine (presumed starter for Florida) is definitely overpriced at $6200. Look at the average Florida running back work last season for their RB1, RB2, and RB3.
2018 Florida RB Average Splits
As you can see, the implied ceiling for Florida’s lead back isn’t exactly high, even in favorable matchups. Some people like Dameon Pierce ($4800) due to his presumed RB2 role, but he isn’t in that slot according to Florida’s current depth chart released by the team. That’s why Malik Davis is the play. He’s listed as the RB2 right now, but costs significantly less ($3700). Davis has struggled to stay healthy, but when healthy he’s been just as good, if not better, than Pierce. Take the RB2 in Davis who could be in line for 11-15 touches on a 7.5-point favorite.
However, if you want to avoid Florida’s committee all together, an easy pivot is DeeJay Dallas ($5800) for Miami. The RB1 for Miami averaged more than 14 touches per game (three more than Florida) and Dallas looks to be the new lead option. He’s also a converted receiver on a team without great receiver play. He could easily be the go-to check down target for a very green quarterback in Jarren Williams this week. He’s cheaper than Perine, and presents much more upside. If you want to pivot off Taylor at all, Dallas is the only other viable RB1 to anchor a roster, allowing you to stack the wide receiver position.
If you’re in need of a cheap flex fill from running back, Fred Holly III from Hawaii looks like the leader of the Hawaii committee. His touch ceiling isn’t high, but he costs slightly less than his backfield mate.
Confident Cash Plays: (1) J.J. Taylor, (2) DeeJay Dallas, (3) Malik Davis
Cheap Upside Flex: Fred Holly III
If Cole McDonald is safest producer this week, then so are the Hawaii receivers. Both Cedric Byrd ($6900) and JoJo Ward ($6000) will be stacked with McDonald on a significant portion of rosters this weekend. Both logged at least 865 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season. They should lead the team this season with John Ursua now in the NFL. However, the Hawaii offense supported three receivers last year. That sounds hard to trust, but let’s look at the game logs for Hawaii’s third receiver last season.
2018 Hawaii WR3 Game Logs
|Opponent||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Touchdowns||Fantasy Points|
|San Jose State||9||74||0||16.4|
|San Diego State||6||120||1||24|
As you can see there were a few busts in there last season, but the typical third target in the pecking order still hit double digit fantasy points nine times last year! Jared Smart ($3000) is Hawaii’s most intriguing JUCO transfer this season. He’s currently listed as the team’s starting left wide receiver (possible WR3). Smart could easily be the smartest value on the board as a minimum priced flex.
Brian Casteel ($5500) looks to fill the Shun Brown role for Arizona this year out of the slot (with some outside work too). Plus, he’s cheaper than the only veteran receiver Arizona has in Cedric Peterson. Peterson fits the outside red zone weapon mold that Arizona relies on (Shawn Poindexter last year), but the PPR floor play is easily Casteel. He’s been impressing all off-season after he was sidelined with a back injury last year. Drew Dixon ($3200, other Arizona starter) is also dirt cheap.
Brevin Jordan ($3700) may technically be a tight end for Miami, but he was also the de facto WR2 for the Hurricanes last season as a true freshman. Jeff Thomas (the presumed WR1) had a comical off-season transferring to Illinois and then back to Miami. Jordan may start the season as Miami’s lead target since he works the short and intermediate parts of the field well. Thomas is more of a deep threat, and Miami’s brand new quarterback might not connect well deep immediately.
Confident Cash Plays: (1) Cedric Byrd, (2) JoJo Ward, (3) Brevin Jordan, (4) Brian Casteel
Cheap Upside Flex: (1) Jared Smart, (2) Drew Dixon