The title to this breakdown may seem a bit odd, so allow me to briefly explain. “Chubahoma” is a mash-up of Chuba Hubbard (RB, Oklahoma State) and Oklahoma, while also serving as a hat-tip reference to “Chulahoma” by the Black Keys. “Pookaville” refers to a fictional city in the Chubahoma/Oklahoma territory, wherein Kansas RB Pooka Williams is the mayor.
The CFB DFS season rolls on with 11 games in the DraftKings main slate for Week 6.
- Utah State at LSU (-27.5), Over/Under: 73
- Oklahoma (-33) at Kansas, Over/Under: 67.5
- Oklahoma State (-10) at Texas Tech, Over/Under: 63
- Arizona at Colorado (-4), Over/Under: 62.5
- Texas (-10.5) at West Virginia, Over/Under: 61
- Boston College at Louisville (-6), Over/Under: 60.5
- Illinois at Minnesota (-14), Over/Under: 57.5
- Purdue at Penn State (-28), Over/Under: 56
- Baylor at Kansas State (-1), Over/Under: 49.5
- Auburn (-3) at Florida, Over/Under: 48.5
- Iowa at Michigan (-3.5), Over/Under: 47.5
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: Managing Risk by 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
Last week, I took a break from my previous meta-analytical motifs and instead just broke down my favorite players on the slate. This week will be similar, but with a twist: I’ll also be triaging players according to risk tolerance.
DFS players vary not just in terms of aptitude but also in terms of bankroll. Players with high bankrolls must manage their player and risk exposures in order to ensure long-term return on investment (ROI). Single-lineup entrants approach risk very differently. Some single-lineup GPP players push all their chips in with a high-leverage, low-EV lineup. Other single-lineup GPP players opt for a blend of risk and stability, and others still eschew risky plays in favor of cash-like constructions.
As you can imagine, it’s nearly impossible to break down all slate-viable players from all of those differing perspectives, but I’ll do my best. For each position group, I’ll identify plays across the salary spectrum that offer widely varying ranges of outcomes. For example, players like Iowa RB Mekhi Sargent ($6,100) offer a strong floor projection but relatively little upside. Other players like Arizona QB Khalil Tate ($8,100) offer immense upside but above-average bust potential.
I’ll group GPP-viable players into three categories according to their volatility index: Best Overall Values, Safe Alternatives, and High-Leverage Plays. Because I’ll be tackling the entire viable player pool (around 35-40 players), my discussion for each player will be brief compared to previous articles. Nevertheless, should you have any questions regarding my forthcoming recommendations, I would be happy to elaborate via Twitter (@racollinsworth).
|Best Overall Values||Safe Alternatives||High-Leverage Plays|
|Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma ($9,300)||Joe Burrow, LSU ($8,700)||Khalil Tate, Arizona ($8,100)|
|Sean Clifford, Penn State ($7,100)||Sam Ehlinger, Texas ($8,500)||Charlie Brewer, Baylor ($7,700)|
|Tanner Morgan, Minnesota ($6,500)||Steven Montez, Colorado ($7,400)|
|Jett Duffey, Texas Tech ($6,000)|
Best Overall Values
At the top, it’s almost impossible to avoid Jalen Hurts ($9,300) this week. I hesitate to even report this for fear of starting a frenzy, but my model gives Hurts a ceiling projection of 55 DraftKings points against Kansas.
Hurts will be extremely highly owned, but most teams will also want to roster a second QB at the Superflex spot. Two players stand out as strong contenders for Superflex duties: Sean Clifford ($7,100) and Tanner Morgan ($6,500). Clifford has 300-plus passing yardage potential but also provides a stable fantasy floor due to his superb rushing acumen. Morgan lacks Clifford’s rushing production, but he outclasses Clifford in terms of passing potential. He’s thrown for 10 TDs through four games, including a four-TD performance against Purdue last week. Morgan also benefits from an ideal matchup against Illinois, whose secondary is one of the poorest units in the Big Ten — if not the entire country.
If you choose to fade Hurts in hopes that Week 6 is finally the week his production falls off, then it’s advisable to at least roster Joe Burrow ($8,700) or Sam Ehlinger ($8,500). Burrow is averaging nearly 400 yards per game this season, along with 4.5 total TDs per game. Utah State’s secondary is no match for LSU’s electric, YAC-monster receivers.
Ehlinger is a different story. Sure, he’s capable of exceptional passing performances (like his 401-yard outing against LSU in Week 2), but his biggest value comes from his rushing floor. In some ways, Ehlinger is an arbitrage version of Oklahoma’s Hurts. Both players are capable of monster passing and rushing performances in any given week — and both offer reliable, fantasy-friendly rush TD production. Hurts is the more dynamic and consistent player of the two, but Ehlinger is an ideal GPP play for the leverage he affords if you fade the public by avoiding Hurts altogether.
Among the four players listed as my high-leverage plays of the slate, I like Steven Montez ($7,400) the best. His game log is fairly schizophrenic, reporting 22-pass attempt games for 84 yards, a couple three-interception performances, but also numerous 300-yard passing days and even an occasional multi-TD rushing performance. It’s fair to characterize Montez as a wild card, but in fairness to him, he has started the 2019 season with marked consistency.
However, I’m afraid many DFS players will target Montez at his price-point, which is why Khalil Tate ($8,100) offers substantial leverage as Montez’s opposing QB. It’s difficult to trust Tate, because he’s woefully inaccurate and the Arizona program is a complete mess. Nonetheless, his elite rushing potential and low ownership could make the difference if Hurts and Montez fail to return value.
Charlie Brewer ($7,700) will likely fly under the radar given the broad availability of elite QB options in this slate, but he reports a similar median projection to Burrow and Clifford this week. He likely won’t deliver a staggering Elijah Sindelar-like performance that wins the week, but his price savings open up unique roster options at WR that could bridge the gap.
Jett Duffey ($6,000) of Texas Tech is a punt play option only for players that welcome ample risk. Duffey could put up a 10-point dud against Oklahoma State, or he could rush for 80 yards and a TD while throwing for two more. He’s insanely athletic but recklessly aggressive. If you accept his bust potential within his range of outcomes, then he could be a worthwhile punt play in select lineups among a broad portfolio.
|Best Overall Values||Safe Alternatives||High-Leverage Plays|
|Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State ($8,900)||A.J. Dillon, Boston College ($7,900)||Keontay Ingram, Texas ($6,800)|
|Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas ($6,000)||Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU ($6,100)||JaTarvious Whitlow, Auburn ($6,700)|
|Rodney Smith, Minnesota ($5,600)||Alex Fontenot, Colorado ($6,000)||Reggie Corbin, Illinois ($5,800)|
|Javian Hawkins, Louisville ($5,000)|
Best Overall Values
Chuba Hubbard ($8,900) is the crown jewel among this slate’s RB offerings, and he’s a player that needs no introduction for college football fans and DFS players alike. Hubbard has rushed for 938 yards and 10 TDs through five games — despite only logging eight carries against FCS McNeese State in Week 2. Dating back to last season, Hubbard has rushed for over 100 yards in seven of his last nine games, boasts three games over 200 yards during that span, and has racked up a staggering 16 total TDs. Texas Tech’s defense may be good, but few defenses in the country can corral this Cowboys RB.
After Hubbard, the RB pool begins to thin out immediately. I had to dive all the way down to 6k to identify the next-best overall value in Pooka Williams Jr. ($6,000) of Kansas. Williams was one of the more revelatory stories from the early part of the 2018 season, bursting onto the scene with 288 yards and three TDs in his first two games. He broke loose for 252 yards and two scores against Oklahoma last season in the best performance of his young career.
This week, he faces a rematch with that Sooners team and has an even more commanding share of the team’s backfield work. Khalil Herbert, Williams’ resident backup, announced his intention to redshirt after last week’s contest, and head coach Les Miles reported on Thursday that Herbert is officially no longer with the team as he pursues a transfer. Over the past two seasons, Herbert achieved a 27% rushing share of the offense to Williams’ 51% share. That newly-liberated 27% rushing share will now be redistributed to Williams and the rest of the Jayhawks backfield, but Williams stands to gain the most.
The final player in this tier is Rodney Smith ($5,600) of Minnesota. I was tempted to place him in the “Safe Alternatives” category, but he’s priced so low that he is a genuine value. Smith boasts one of the slate’s largest rushing shares, complete with a strong scoring history and sufficient receiving acumen. Minnesota is favored by 14 points in one of the slate’s sneaky high implied team total spots, and Smith should receive sufficient scoring opportunities to more than pay off his extremely reasonable price-point.
If your roster construction won’t allow you to pay up for Hubbard, then you may still be able to jam in A.J. Dillon ($7,900) of Boston College. Dillon’s statistical profile is similar to someone like Jonathan Taylor due to his enormous touch volume and opportunity share of his respective offense. Dillon is as consistent as it gets in college football, rushing for over 100 yards and/or scoring a TD in 17 of his last 20 games.
The arbitrage version of Dillon resides in Baton Rouge. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,100) of LSU may not have the same physical profile as Dillon, but he boasts a similar knack for finding the end zone. Edwards-Helaire has scored a TD in every game this season, reports seven TDs over his last eight games, and 12 TDs in his last 17 contests. LSU QB Joe Burrow is reportedly suffering from an undisclosed ailment but is probable against Utah State.
Though Burrow’s availability is not in doubt, the Tigers may still opt for a more run-heavy approach than they’ve employed over the past two weeks in order to protect their budding star QB. Moreover, WR Justin Jefferson ($7,200) is nursing an injured ankle, and Terrace Marshall Jr. is out several weeks due to a stress fracture in his foot. Those lingering ailments to key players — combined with Utah State’s relentless offensive pace — creates ideal conditions for Edwards-Helaire to inherit a larger workload than he is typically accustomed.
But maybe you’re not sold on my Edwards-Helaire narrative; if so, then consider Alex Fontenot ($6,000) of Colorado. Fontenot is fresh off a 25-carry, 89-yard performance against Arizona State, and is the unchallenged lead-back in a matchup with shootout potential. If you don’t trust QB Steven Montez — or if WR Laviska Shenault Jr.’s game time decision status unnerves you — then pivoting to Fontenot could be the play.
Texas RB Keaontay Ingram ($6,800) broke through with a 114-yard performance against Oklahoma State last week and is one of the few RBs in his range with legitimate receiving upside. Through four games, he’s already caught 11 passes for 120 yards. He draws an advantageous matchup against a Kansas team that conceded 228 rushing yards to Boston College in Week 3, 192 yards to West Virginia in Week 4, and 319 yards to TCU last week.
JaTarvious Whitlow ($6,700) of Auburn boasts an excellent lead-back workload in a run-first offense. He has already logged 7 TDs through five games and has broken the century mark in yardage twice. Against most opponents, he would be a value at his price. But Florida’s defense is one of the more imposing, havoc-inducing units in all of football. Despite that, Auburn is still favored, and Whitlow is tied with QB Bo Nix for the team lead in total TDs. If the Tigers rise to the challenge against the Gators’ elite defense, Whitlow would be the primary beneficiary for most red-zone work.
Whitlow’s value is tied to his volume, but Illinois RB Reggie Corbin ($5,800) is a different story entirely. Corbin is one of the most explosive backs in the country, averaging 7.2 yards per carry for his career. Last season, he rushed for 1,085 yards on only 128 rush attempts. The problem for Corbin is that he enters hostile territory at Minnesota, whose defense should be one of the better run-stopping units on Illinois’ schedule. Nonetheless, all you need from Corbin is one big play for him to pay off.
Javian Hawkins ($5,000) of Louisville presents a similar case to Corbin but with a lesser opponent. Hawkins likely won’t return value without scoring a TD against Boston College, but Louisville is implied for 33.25 points based on the game’s Vegas line. the talented freshman has already rushed for over 100 yards twice this season — including a 122-yard performance against Notre Dame. If he manages another 100-yard effort this week and finds the end zone, he would pay off his price with ease.
|Best Overall Values||Safe Alternatives||High-Leverage Plays|
|CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma ($8,000)||Devin Duvernay, Texas ($7,500)||Justin Jefferson, LSU ($7,200)|
|Denzel Mims, Baylor ($7,800)||Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State ($7,300)||Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado ($7,000)|
|Rashod Bateman, Minnesota ($6,400)||Ja'Marr Chase, LSU ($7,000)||Charleston Rambo, Oklahoma ($6,600)|
|K.D. Nixon, Colorado ($5,500)||Tyler Johnson, Minnesota ($6,600)||K.J. Hamler, Penn State ($6,000)|
|Stephen Sullivan, LSU ($4,000)||David Bell, Purdue ($4,900)|
Best Overall Values
CeeDee Lamb ($8,000) is a bit of a no-brainer at the top of the salary ladder. He’s Jalen Hurts’ favorite target and has scored a TD in each of his four games this season. Not only that, but Lamb actually reports 18 total TDs over his last 18 games. It doesn’t get much better than that.
However, Lamb could be somewhat chalky following his three-TD performance last week, so pivoting to Denzel Mims ($7,800) of Baylor may be a great way to harness lower exposure. Despite Baylor’s relatively low implied team total, Mims’ statistical history still projects him for a full score against Kansas State, plus he boasts improved receptions per game than Lamb.
Rashod Bateman ($6,400) of Minnesota is intriguing at his price-point, especially as an alternative to Tyler Johnson ($6,600). Bateman and Johnson report similar median projections this week, but Bateman is a tad cheaper. Not only that, but he’s also the hotter of the two Golden Gopher receivers. Bateman has gained at least 100 receiving yards and at least one TD in three of his four games this season. His six-catch, 177-yard, two-TD performance against Purdue last week was reminiscent of his Week 10 outing against Illinois last season, when he achieved 175 yards and two TDs on seven receptions.
Johnson is the more tenured and established receiver in the offense — which is why he’s one of my “Safe Alternatives” this week — but Bateman could easily match or exceed Johnson’s production against a hapless Illinois secondary.
K.D. Nixon ($5,500) of Colorado is a fantastic value play if Laviska Shenault Jr. does not play. Nixon’s floor is almost nonexistent with Shenault in the lineup, but in games without Shenault, Nixon has stepped up as the team’s primary option. His 2018 game logs suggest that he would be the most likely recipient of Shenault’s rush attempts (28 carries for 185 yards and six TDs) in Shenault’s absence.
Stephen Sullivan ($4,000) caps off my favorite WR values due to his opportunity and matchup. He is the direct backup to Terrace Marshall Jr., who — as I remarked earlier in this piece — is out for the foreseeable future. LSU has delivered an even receiving split to its top-three receivers this season, which immediately elevates Sullivan’s ceiling to an absurd level. The Tigers senior stands at 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 242 pounds and is the only LSU WR with that kind of physical profile. Utah State’s secondary is relatively small, and the Aggies’ linebacking corps won’t be able to run with Sullivan. Sullivan’s promotion as a starter elevates his expectation, but his matchup seals the deal for me.
Devin Duvernay ($7,500) is a clear volume play due to his insane receiving market share in the Longhorns offense. He has averaged 9.8 receptions and 94.3 yards per game, and boasts four TDs to boot. His previous season track record isn’t phenomenal, but he has separated himself as the clear No. 1 receiving option with Collin Johnson sidelined due to injury.
Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace is also an excellent volume play as the Cowboys’ unquestioned WR1, and he may boast even greater upside than Duvernay. Wallace has recorded at least 100 receiving yards and/or a TD in 15 of his last 18 games and is one of the few receivers on this slate with 200-yard, multi-TD potential.
Among that elite group with Wallace is LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase ($7,000), who burst onto the scene with a 10-reception, 229-yard, four-TD performance against Vanderbilt in Week 4. That explosion was preceded by an eight-catch, 147-yard game against Texas in Week 2. With Marshall Jr. sidelined and Justin Jefferson ailing with an ankle injury, Chase stands out as perhaps the most reliable, high-upside option on the LSU roster. And any time you can gain exposure to the Tigers, it’s typically advisable to do so.
Justin Jefferson ($7,200) only falls to this tier due to his nagging ankle injury. He is probable to play this week, but reports indicate that he’s likely not 100%. On top of that, Jefferson reports a relatively low reception total for a WR1 in a high-powered offense, and he has achieved most of his yards after the catch. If he’s at all limited by his ankle injury, his YAC may decrease, thereby lowering his fantasy expectation. However, if he’s healthy, you’re able to roster a sure-fire 8k-plus receiver in one of the country’s best passing offenses at a major discount. He’s worth the risk if you can jam him in.
Charleston Rambo ($6,600) continues to provide excellent fantasy performances despite a very low reception floor. He’s racked up 373 yards and four TDS on only 13 catches this season, and his 28.7 yards per reception average is gaudy and clearly unsustainable. But, he’s also the more cheaply priced option to gain access to the Sooners passing game, and his ability after the catch makes him a phenomenal upside play — especially against Kansas’ relatively weak secondary.
K.J. Hamler ($6,000) is one of the fastest players in the country and draws a matchup against a Purdue defense that conceded 420 yards to Vanderbilt and 396 yards to Minnesota this season. I already love Clifford as a mid-range QB in GPPs, and Hamler is by far Penn State’s most explosive receiving threat. Pairing the two together is an excellent core construction as one of your multi-lineup GPP portfolio.
David Bell ($4,900) is a risky option due to his matchup against Penn State and Purdue’s very low 17.5-point implied team total. Nonetheless, the electric freshman could be worth a flier in Purdue’s pass-happy offense based on volume alone. All-American Rondale Moore is out due to a hyperextended knee, and Jared Sparks (ankle) is doubtful to return this week. Neither Moore nor Sparks is listed on the team’s official Week 6 depth chart.
The Boilermakers are also without starting QB Elijah Sindelar, but backup Jack Plummer performed admirably in fill-in duties last week. Most importantly, Purdue stuck to its pass-first offensive mentality even with Plummer at the helm. The Boilermakers average 45.5 pass attempts per game, which could enable Bell to rack up seven-plus receptions, even if his yardage total may be inefficient.