The CFB DFS season rolls on with 12 games in the DraftKings main slate for Week 7.
|Team||Matchup||Spread||Total||Implied Points||Kickoff Time|
|Oklahoma||vs. Texas (N)||-11||76||43.5||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Clemson||vs. Florida State||-27||60||43.5||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Alabama||at Texas A&M||-17||61||39.0||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Georgia||vs. South Carolina||-24||52.5||38.25||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Michigan||at Illinois||-22.5||49||35.75||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Baylor||vs. Texas Tech||-11||58||34.5||4:00 p.m. ET|
|Duke||vs. Georgia Tech||-17.5||49||33.25||12:30 p.m. ET|
|Texas||vs. Oklahoma (N)||+11||76||32.5||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Iowa State||at West Virginia||-10||53||31.5||4:00 p.m. ET|
|Arizona State||vs. Washington State||-1.5||59.5||30.5||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Mississippi State||at Tennessee||-7||53||30.0||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Washington State||at Arizona State||+1.5||59.5||29.0||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Maryland||at Purdue||-3.5||53.5||28.5||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Wisconsin||vs. Michigan State||-10.5||40||25.25||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Purdue||vs. Maryland||+3.5||53.5||25.0||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Texas Tech||at Baylor||+11||58||23.5||4:00 p.m. ET|
|Tennessee||vs. Mississippi State||+7||53||23.0||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Texas A&M||vs. Alabama||+17||61||22.0||3:30 p.m. ET|
|West Virginia||vs. Iowa State||+10||53||21.5||4:00 p.m. ET|
|Florida State||at Clemson||+27||60||19.0||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Georgia Tech||at Duke||+17.5||49||15.75||12:30 p.m. ET|
|Michigan State||at Wisconsin||+10.5||40||14.75||3:30 p.m. ET|
|South Carolina||at Georgia||+24||52.5||14.25||12:00 p.m. ET|
|Illinois||vs. Michigan||+22.5||49||13.25||12:00 p.m. ET|
What to Expect in This Breakdown
Guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tournaments often reward sub-optimal lineup construction and game theory-based decision-making. It’s difficult — and perhaps even disingenuous — to recommend a handful of players devoid of metagame context. In cash contests, that works great, because identifying value and bolstering a strong floor projection is critical to success. But in GPPs, we need to think differently.
So, for the past several weeks, I’ve tinkered with this article format in order to best convey the complex dynamics that form my recommendations. Within each week’s breakdown, I’ve implicitly and covertly emphasized different elements of CFB GPP strategy. Here’s a quick rundown of our progression through six weeks:
- Week 0: Embracing Volatility
- Week 1: How to Utilize Advanced Metrics
- Week 2: Principles of Roster Construction
- Week 3: Contrarian Game Theory
- Week 4: Exposure Management
- Week 5: (Bye Week) Player Analysis Only
- Week 6: Risk Management
This week’s motifs are twofold: 1) Fade the public, and 2) Fostering roster synergy via natural correlations.
From a fan perspective, Week 7 is loaded with high-profile matchups, the most preeminent of which is Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Red River Shootout. The Oklahoma-Texas rivalry is of great national interest, and it’s called a “Shootout” for a reason: The game boasts the slate’s highest Vegas total (76) by a 15-point margin.
As a result, players from that contest will almost certainly draw high GPP ownership from casual contest participants. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should fade Sooners and Longhorns players altogether. But it does provide a strong incentive to target value in the slate’s other matchups. If you execute a full-game stack on Oklahoma-Texas and the teams combine for 80-plus total points, you may earn a high fantasy total, but you’re also likely to get chopped up in a wide pool of similar roster constructions.
In this breakdown, I’ll analyze how to approach Texas-Oklahoma, but I will focus most of my attention on high-leverage pivot options away from that game.
A Note on Week 7 Roster Construction Dynamics
This weekend’s main slate is rich in WR value in nearly every price bracket. But many of those players do not synergize well with a high-leverage stacking philosophy. Allow me to briefly explain what I mean by that.
RB fantasy production does not necessarily correlate with improved performance for all players on the RB’s team. The running game is one step removed from the rest of the offense, enabling RBs to rack up yardage — and fantasy points — in isolation relative to the rest of the offense.
When an RB breaks off a 25-yard TD run, that play affords you 8.5 DraftKings points. By contrast, when a QB and WR link up for a 25-yard TD pass, those players combine for 13.5 points on the play. Moreover, if a QB exceeds 300 passing yards in a contest, it is likely that at least one of his primary receivers will also eclipse 100 receiving yards. By pairing QBs and WRs in this fashion, you gain increased exposure to that natural correlation.
We obviously want to target QB-WR pairings like this. But we also want to gain leverage against more highly owned Texas and Oklahoma players in the process. Accept value at RB, employ game theory with your QB and Superflex decisions, and strongly consider building loaded team stacks at WR. Here is a legal roster example to illustrate what I mean (players on the same team or in the same matchup are highlighted by color).
Jalen Hurts and Devin Duvernay serve as this roster’s strongest pairing. Eno Benjamin, Brandon Aiyuk, and Dezmon Patmon form a moderately strong sub-stack for the Arizona State-Washington State game. And David Bell and Jackson Anthrop round off the team stacks as a free-standing WR duo in a heavy passing matchup. Putting this team’s scoring potential aside for the moment, it still aptly illustrates the kind of roster you need to build if you’re exposed to Oklahoma and Texas. For this team to succeed, we only need to be right about four games rather than eight.
Top Quarterbacks, Wide Receiver Pairings, and Pivot Options
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma ($9,000)
Hurts should once again be the most highly owned player on the slate, and frankly, he deserves to be. Despite two consecutive performances below his exceedingly high expectations, Hurts still averages over 400 total yards per game and over four total TDs this season. His lowest fantasy outing (27.06 DraftKings points) came in limited action against FCS South Dakota, and he’s averaged 48.72 points over his other four games.
Hurts’ 44.38 per-game DraftKings average is 7.20 points higher than Kyler Murray achieved through his first five games last season. Through Week 6 in their respective seasons, Hurts reports precisely the same total TD output (21) as Murray did \in 2018, but Hurts is averaging 55.4 more total yards — including 42.8 more rushing yards per game (which is more valuable from a fantasy perspective).
The decision whether or not to roster Hurts is not contingent on his ability to return value. Of that I have no doubts. Instead, it’s about ownership and leverage. If you eat the chalk with Hurts, he will definitely improve your probability for cashing this weekend, but he will also afford you minimal leverage over other top-scoring teams vying for more lucrative payouts.
In a decision between Hurts and Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor ($8,800), Hurts wins by a landslide — so this is not an issue about saving salary at the QB position. Instead, this comes down to your risk aversion. Rather than asking, “What do I stand to lose if this player doesn’t succeed?” you should really be asking, “What do I stand to gain if this player goes off?” If you accept the probability that most of your lineups will be duds, but you are steadfast in embracing volatility, then consider pivoting to Texas QB Sam Ehlinger.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas ($8,400)
The price difference between Hurst and Ehlinger is minimal, so I highly doubt other contestants will pivot to Ehlinger for price savings. Instead, contestants that roster Ehlinger will do so strictly as a leverage play against Hurts.
In a competitive game script with high scoring on both sides, college teams have a tendency to overcommit to the passing game to catch up or to maintain their lead. Furthermore, teams only achieve high scoring totals when their offenses can move the ball efficiently down the field — avoiding punts and turnovers — and score on big chunk plays. Both of those components result in increased possessions and offensive plays for both teams in the contest. When one QB in a given matchup goes off for a high yardage output, it often results in a strong passing performance from the opposing QB as well.
So, if you believe Texas-Oklahoma is going to be an epic shootout — the magnitude of which would completely skew fantasy scoring for the entire slate — then consider pivoting to Ehlinger. In doing so, you would gain implicit exposure to Hurts’ range of outcomes, but you would also gain leverage over Hurts owners if Ehlinger excels and Hurts underperforms. If you choose to pivot to Ehlinger, consider pairing him with WR Devin Duvernay ($7,400), who boasts a ridiculous team target share, low-volatility weekly production, and multi-TD upside.
If you instead opt to lock in Hurts, consider stacking him with WR CeeDee Lamb ($7,200) or Charleston Rambo ($6,400). Between those two receiving options, I prefer Lamb by a wide margin. Neither player offers a high-target floor, but Lamb boasts by far the more consistent and lucrative fantasy history. Rambo is averaging less than three receptions per game and will only return value with a TD. Furthermore, he will only offer GPP leverage with a multi-TD outing — of which Lamb would be the more probable recipient.
Still, it may be wise to avoid WRs in this game altogether. First and foremost, we want to avoid overexposure to Oklahoma and Texas due to the extreme national attention on that game. But furthermore, we also don’t want to overexpose ourselves to either passing game, because both QBs are heavy rushing contributors.
This matchup is not like Patrick Mahomes vs. Baker Mayfield in 2016.1 Instead, it’s a duel between dual-threat QBs with high rushing upside. Both Hurst and Ehlinger offer greatest fantasy potential if they rush for ample yardage and TDs. Each QB’s passing acumen only serves to buoy their floor projections — it does not raise their ceilings. Because of this, both QBs functionally operate a bit like fantasy RBs. Their individual production is relatively isolated from the rest of the offense and is not inextricably correlated with slate-breaking WR performances.2
By that logic, it may be in your best interest to target more explosive passing options in other contests, like Iowa State, for example …
The Return of “Brocktober”
The primary reason to consider rostering Purdy this week is to endear yourself to the fantasy and betting gods. In case you’re not aware of the “Brocktober” storyline, allow me to explain. In 2017, Cyclones starting QB Jacob Park took a leave of personal absence prior to Iowa State’s Week 5 matchup against No. 3-ranked Oklahoma. Park’s exodus resulted in Kyle Kempt’s first career start as a graduate walk-on. Kempt engineered a stunning offensive performance in the game, and Iowa State pulled off the shocking upset in Norman, winning 38-31. The team proceeded to win each of its next three games in October, including another huge upset over No.4-ranked TCU.
Last season, the same exact thing happened. Kempt entered the season as the team’s co-starter with Zeb Noland. The two QBs traded playing time through the first three games until Kempt suffered a knee injury against Akron in Week 3. Noland was relatively uninspiring in starting duties in Week 4, leading head coach Matt Campbell to promote third-stringer Brock Purdy to starting status entering Week 5 — the Cylcones’ first game in October.
Like Kempt the previous season, Purdy took over in Week 5 during the first week of October on the road against a ranked opponent. Also like Kempt, Purdy led a phenomenal offensive performance in another shootout, beating 25th-ranked Oklahoma State 48-42. Iowa State rattled off three more victories in October, including an upset over 6th-ranked West Virginia. Since 2017, the Cyclones have gone 8-0 in the month of October, including a perfect record against the spread.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State ($8,000)
The Cyclones’ “Brocktober” narrative aside, Purdy still offers excellent upside in a fantastic passing matchup against West Virginia. Over Purdy’s last six games, he’s averaging 365.5 total yards, three total TDs, and 33.73 DraftKings points. He has also achieved 40 points or more in two of those games and has hit the DraftKings yardage bonus in five of his six contests. He profiles similarly to Ehlinger due to his valuable rushing upside and TD scoring (36 total TDs in 14 career games), but Purdy is likely the better passer, and Iowa State is more stalwart in its commitment to the passing game.
As a result, my model gives Purdy a ceiling projection of 42.6 points against West Virginia, which is comparable to players like Ehlinger, Tua Tagovailoa ($8,600), and Anthony Gordon ($8,200) this week. But among those three comparably-priced QBs, Purdy draws the best matchup. The Mountaineers ranked 71st in pass defense last season3 — and 94th on passing downs — and they ranked 105th in returning production entering the season.
That matchup advantage slightly improves his odds of outperforming his median expectation, while also consequently lowering those odds for his cohort. If Purdy delivers a stellar fantasy performance, it will likely coincide with strong production for WR Deshaunte Jones ($5,400), who is by far my favorite WR option in his price range. Jones averages 9.2 targets, 6.4 receptions, and 88.8 yards per game. He has also eclipsed 100 yards receiving in three of his five contests, which supports his candidacy as a high-upside mid-range option this week.
Kickoff Times Are Hugely Important This Week
On top of Purdy’s career history and high ceiling projection, he also offers a unique opportunity for you to respond adaptively to GPP ownership and scoring during the slate. Iowa State and West Virginia kick off at 4:00 p.m. ET — sharing the late afternoon kickoff spot with Baylor and Texas Tech. Also of note, Alabama and Texas A&M kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Why are these late kickoff times important? Because Oklahoma and Texas kickoff at noon. DFS players that heavily stack that game must lock in those plays right when the slate begins. For those of us willing to fade players from that matchup, we have the privilege to monitor that game for three to four hours before locking in our QB plays in the second half of slate action. We also earn the benefit of evaluating pool-wide exposures to all early-kickoff players, which helps us evaluate how much leverage we have over the rest of the field.
For example, let’s assume that Hurts reports 40% exposure right when the slate kicks off. Let’s also assume that through three quarters of action, neither he nor Ehlinger reports a strong fantasy performance. In that situation, nearly half of the GPP field is likely dead in the water. Given a huge reduction in viable place-contenders, we could pay up for Tua Tagovailoa ($8,600) in order to ensure a high scoring floor in a depressed field. In lineups with Tagovailoa, I would highly recommend pairing him with WR Jerry Jeudy ($7,600). Also consider rostering Jhamon Ausbon ($5,700) of Texas A&M in a more concerted game stack.
Alternatively, if Hurts and Ehlinger report unexpectedly low ownership — and/or if either player explodes for 35-plus points — then it makes more sense to pivot to Purdy or Jett Duffey, both of whom have late kickoff times. That flexibility is immeasurably valuable. Strongly consider rostering Purdy contingent on the outcome between the Sooners and Longhorns early Saturday afternoon.
I could also make an argument for Charlie Brewer ($7,900) of Baylor, but his range of outcomes is too narrow for my liking. I probably won’t have any shares of Brewer this weekend, but that’s also likely the case for many other DFS players. If you’ve got money to burn and are willing to plug in 20-plus lineups this weekend, maybe take a flier on Brewer as a lower-owned pivot option to Purdy.
Regardless of your position on Brewer, WR Denzel Mims ($7,100) deserves your attention. He boasts similarly high median and ceiling projections to the slate’s most elite WR options. But most importantly, Mims also offers unique exposure in an overlooked matchup and enables you to pivot away from Texas WR Devin Duvernay without losing too much expected value.
Jett Duffey, Texas Tech ($6,600)
I first highlighted Duffey as a high-end punt play in Week 5 against Oklahoma, but he only managed 136 total yards and failed to score a TD. That performance was disappointing, but his 2018 history as a fill-in for Alan Bowman still supported his elite fantasy potential.
So, I ran it back with another Duffey recommendation last week as a high-leverage QB punt option, and he made me look smart for a change. Duffey gained 440 total yards, scored five total TDs, and delivered 43.56 DraftKings points. His Week 6 passing volume and production eerily mirrors his breakout performance against Texas last season, against whom Duffey racked up 524 total yards, four TDs, and 40.76 DraftKings points.
Despite his Week 6 explosion against Oklahoma State, Duffey’s DraftKings salary only increased by $600 this week. There’s an argument that his matchup against Baylor may offer more resistance than the Cowboys defense did last week, but Duffey is still underpriced even you make a substantial matchup-based adjustment to his median projection.
And speaking of median projections, Duffey kind of doesn’t have one. Technically, my model reports a median expectation of 28.6 points for Duffey this week, but his sample size is too small for that to be reliable. Furthermore, his career game logs are incredibly feast or famine, and I expect a similar range of outcomes for him this week. Duffey has approximately the same odds to achieve 40 fantasy points as he does of scoring under 10.
However, he is the only viable punt play on the board this weekend — and he’s the only QB I’m willing to plug in at my Superflex spot. He’s essentially a must-start in GPPs due to his audacious upside and modest salary, but it’s wise to limit your Duffey shares due to his extreme volatility.
In rosters where I do plug in Duffey at Superflex, I will also occasionally roster WR T.J. Vasher ($6,800) for an even stronger high-leverage position. Vasher has an excellent career history, but his reception volume has been inconsistent with Duffey at the helm. Furthermore, Texas Tech’s offense spreads the ball around too much for my liking, leading to highly variable scoring outputs for each of its receivers. But, as comedian Joey Diaz likes to say, “If you’re walking on ice, you might as well dance.” Fire up Duffey, Vasher, and Baylor WR Denzel Mims in a Texas Tech-Baylor game stack for extreme GPP upside, but do not invest much capital in those lineups.
Many of the slate’s top RB options suffer from low usage in a committee or poor outlooks in low Vegas total games.
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor ($8,800) is rarely a bad decision in any DFS format. But, as I explained in my Hurts discussion, his salary is not particularly conducive for most lineups. He also draws a very challenging matchup against Michigan State, who ranks sixth in defensive SP+ and has been phenomenal defending the run (last week’s game against Ohio State notwithstanding).
Cam Akers ($7,700) is typically an excellent GPP play, but like Taylor, he too faces a difficult matchup against Clemson. Max Borghi ($7,400) is more of a cash play due to his receiving workload, but doesn’t offer compelling upside in GPPs. D’Andre Swift ($7,200), Anthony McFarland Jr. ($7,200), Travis Etienne ($7,100), and Najee Harris ($6,800) are all explosive RBs but operate in soft committees with a poor touch floor.
That leaves only two elite options remaining: Eno Benjamin ($7,500) and Kylin Hill ($7,300). After that, the RB pool thins out even more severely, but two players stand out as viable mid-range options: Trey Sermon ($5,500) and Deon Jackson ($5,400).
Eno Benjamin, Arizona State ($7,500)
Since taking over as Arizona State’s starting RB last season, Benjamin has averaged 136 total yards and 26.8 DraftKings points per game. He has also totaled 26 TDs in those 18 games and has hit the DraftKings three-point yardage bonus two-thirds of the time. He ranks among college football’s most proficient pass-catching RBs as well, which raises his floor regardless of game script. And best of all, he is one of very few RBs across the country that rivals Taylor in weekly touches.
Benjamin’s Week 7 opponent, Washington State, ranks 105th in total defense (444.4 yards) and concedes 178.6 rushing yards per game. The Cougars allowed FCS Northern Colorado to rush for 216 yards in Week 2 and gave up 239 yards to Houston in Week 3. They have also surrendered 10 rushing TDs through five games.
Kylin Hill, Mississippi State ($7,300)
You likely won’t be able to afford a second top-end RB this week, but if you’re not sold on Benjamin, consider rostering Hill instead. He is the clear, unchallenged workhorse on a team that is heavily run-first in offensive philosophy. Through five games, Hill has rushed 108 times for 596 yards and five TDs while chipping in seven receptions for 70 yards. That translates to 23.12 DraftKings points per game.
Hill has also rushed for over 100 yards in four of his five games, with the lone exception coming last week against an elite Auburn defense. He is a near-lock to receive at least 20 touches this week against an average Tennessee defense. The Volunteers recently allowed Georgia to rush for 238 yards and two TDs last week.
Trey Sermon, Oklahoma ($5,500)
For the last two seasons, Sermon has operated in a backfield committee, averaging around 12 touches per game. But despite that relatively small workload, he has averaged nearly 70 yards per game on 6.3 yards per carry and has scored 18 TDs. His backfield mate, Kennedy Brooks ($5,000), is inactive against Texas with a knee injury. Brooks’ unavailability could vault Sermon into a workhorse role — or at minimum, it would realistically increase his rushing volume by around 25%. In nine career games with 12 or more rush attempts, Sermon has averaged 126.1 total yards, 1.3 TDs, and 23.7 points per game. His most impressive performance came against Texas Tech last year, rushing for 206 yards and three TDs on 26 carries.
Deon Jackson, Duke ($5,400)
The national profile of Oklahoma’s matchup against Texas, combined with Brooks’ inactive status, could result in heavy Sermon ownership this week. His value at $5,500 may be sufficient to overcome than ownership handicap, but if you’re interesting in an alternative, Jackson is the most obvious pivot play on the board.
As with most Duke RBs under David Cutcliffe’s tenure, Jackson operates in a committee but offers fantasy-friendly usage as a rusher, pass-catcher, and red zone contributor. This season, he has averaged 81.3 total yards per game, of which 22.2 yards have come via the passing game. He’s been particularly hot over the past three weeks, averaging 22.0 points and scoring five TDs over that span.
The Blue Devils face off against a hapless Georgia Tech team this week and are 17.5-point favorites. Georgia Tech has conceded 246.6 rushing yards per game to its opponents, only one of whom (Clemson) boasts an above-average rushing attack. The Yellow Jackets allowed The Citadel to rack up 320 yards and two TDs in Week 3, then allowed Temple and North Carolina to rush for around 200 yards each in the past two weeks.
Duke’s rushing commitment and high implied point total both bode well for Jackson, who has an above-average chance to post a career rushing day and multiple TDs. And, much like Denzel Mims of Baylor, Jackson offers a pivot option away from Sermon and the Oklahoma-Texas matchup.
Other Wide Receiver Options to Consider
Throughout this breakdown, I’ve remarked on many of the high-profile WRs on the slate, but I don’t have space to break down every viable option. The following players also deserve roster consideration due to their team target shares, career histories, defensive matchups, and/or depressed pricing. However, few of them may be linked with equally high-upside QBs, which reduces their leverage against other players on the slate. Nonetheless, you likely can’t execute team stacks across every position, so you may need to draft one of the following mid-price players to round off your roster.
- Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State ($6,200)
- Bryan Edwards, South Carolina ($6,000)
- Darrell Stewart Jr., Michigan State ($5,800)
- Jauan Jennings, Tennessee ($5,700)
- Tamorrion Terry, Florida State ($5,700)
- Dezmon Patmon, Washington State ($5,200)
- David Bell, Purdue ($4,700)
- Jackson Anthrop, Purdue ($4,300)
Image Credit: Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Brock Purdy.
- Texas Tech and Oklahoma combined for 125 points and 1,708 total yards. (back)
- Unlike QBs like Anthony Gordon ($8,200), who commands an air raid system at Washington State and whose fantasy performance has a direct and causal impact on his WRs’ production. (back)
- per Football Outsiders’ S&P+ metric. (back)