CFB DFS Week 3 Picks – Early Slate
Get all the CFB DFS picks you need for the first wave of games right here.
FanDuel prices first. DraftKings prices second.
! indicates injury watch
Marquise Williams $9,200/$9,500 – A very tasty matchup with Illinois at home. Yes, the Illini are 2-0 after beating their opponents 96-3 combined, but that was against a struggling Kent State squad and FCS Western Illinois. UNC is a 9.5-point favorite and projected for 37 points. As long as Williams stays away from those red zone INTs, he has a great chance to put up the most FPTS of the day with his dual-threat ability.
Baker Mayfield $9,000/$9,300 – Oklahoma is projected for a dominant 51 points against Tulsa at home. Mayfield struggled against Tennessee last week, but this is obviously a much weaker defense and his dual-threat ability is extremely appealing in this scenario. The air raid offense should be in full effect for the Sooners.
Brandon Doughty $8,900/$9,900 – Doughty was a bust on the opening Thursday night at Vanderbilt, but he responded very well at home last Thursday against Louisiana Tech with throwing for 441 yards. Leon Allen, the star running back for Western Kentucky, is out for the season, which should enable an already pass-happy offense under Doughty to throw more. Plus, even though WKU is going on the road to face Indiana, which might seem similar to the Vanderbilt matchup, the Commordores naturally like to play slow and grind you out, while the Hoosiers naturally like to go up-tempo (more plays for both teams). Doughty has been running bad in the TD department this year with only two on the year, and I expect a monster game from him with the Hilltoppers projected for 34 points.
Paxton Lynch $8,900 (DraftKings) – It’s a shame this game isn’t available on FanDuel, because this is the best matchup of the year from a Vegas prospective. Memphis is favored by 3 with a 79 over/under. Basically, this is equivalent to your late night shootout in the Pac-12. Both of these teams go up-tempo, especially Bowling Green with their Falcon Fast offense that destroyed Maryland’s secondary last week. Both sides will run a ton of plays, and Bowling Green’s defense has also been sub par this year, which has primarily struggled with up-tempo schemes under head coach Dino Babers. Memphis is projected for 41 points, and I expect Lynch to have his best fantasy game of the year against Bowling Green.
Matt Johnson $8,700 (DraftKings) – For all the same reasons listed for Lynch, Johnson is set up for another outstanding game against the Tigers. After an adequate game against Tennessee (solid at the time for only being $6,500), he torched Maryland last week for 491 yards passing and 6 TDs for 45.14 FPTS. Plus, after playing two power five opponents, Bowling Green leads the nation in plays per game with 98.5. While Johnson is more expensive and matching that mark will be tough, the 38 points the Falcons are projected for is too much to not consider in your lineup.
Gunner Kiel $8,200 (FanDuel) – The best name for a QB right? Cincinnati is projected for 40 points as they battle for the Victory Bell against nearby rival Miami OH. Gunner had a few monster games against weak defenses last season, and this matchup has a legit possibility of being a 400-yard passing game for him.
Wes Lunt $6,900/$8,100 – A struggling program with little optimism, their head coach gets fired a week before the season begins and they start 2-0 outscoring their opponents 96-3 thus far. Sure, 2-0 was obviously a likely possibility, but very few expected this kind of a start. The main reason for this is that not only is Wes Hunt healthy, but that Illinois is spreading opponents out more and attacking through the air. This is a great sign for Lunt fantasy wise, especially when the Illini are 9.5-point dogs in an expected shootout with a poor UNC defense (both offenses they have faced so far have been awful).
Thomas Sirk $6,600/$6,600 – Sirk was by far the biggest no-brainer play on the opening Thursday night. He’s a dual threat option who carries the ball a lot in the red zone. Sirk’s price has barely gone up despite posting 25.36 FPTS in Week 1 and 42.2 FPTS in Week 2. While Northwestern’s defense has been awesome thus far and they are ranked, Duke is actually favored in this game by 3.5 and projected for 26 points. It may not seem like the greatest matchup, but it’s better than you think, Duke is at home and I’ll gladly take a QB who has the ball in his hands that much, especially in the red zone, at this price.
DeShone Kizer $6,500/$6,500 –
A likely boom or bust play. Kizer is the new starting QB for Notre Dame after Malik Zaire went down with his season-ending injury. I’m surprised both sites didn’t raise his price more since they knew Zaire was out for the year, and Kizer should be a little more expensive regardless of the opponent. We haven’t seen much of Kizer other than leading the dramatic comeback at Virginia last Saturday.
After watching some highlights of him in high school and reading a few scouting reports, it looks like we have another dual-threat QB in Kizer, who is bigger than Zaire with a cannon of an arm. While they certainly aren’t the same players, this sounds like a similar situation to Ohio State. Zaire is similar to J.T. Barrett while Kizer is comparable to Cardale Jones (again, comparing the style and build of the QBs, not necessarily how good they are). Keep in mind, Kizer is a QB who received scholarship offers from Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State, so this isn’t a walk-on or low-level talent situation. I don’t see the Notre Dame offense changing a ton, maybe a little bit less zone read, and I think Brian Kelly will do a solid job getting Kizer ready.
Now looking at the matchup, it’s not the most appealing. Despite Georgia Tech being ranked #14 and Notre Dame #8 and the game being in South Bend, Vegas actually has the Yellow Jackets as a -2.5 point favorite. While I understand Notre Dame doesn’t have its starting QB, RB and TE now, I still expected the Irish to be a slight favorite or have the line PK at the least. Because of this, I like Georgia Tech to win a close one. The other thing working against Kizer fantasy wise is that the Yellow Jackets are a very run heavy team with their triple option attack, which means fewer plays for the Irish. Still, given that the Irish are projected for 27 points, they’re at home, Kelly does an outstanding job with his QBs, he has a week of preparation and is this cheap, a dual-threat option filling this profile must be considered.
Brenden Motley $5,300 (DraftKings only) – Motley is available on FanDuel, but Motley is $2,000 cheaper on DraftKings, which is the primary reason why I’m putting him in. I’m not sure if this is an algorithm glitch or just a mistake by DraftKings, but Motley is definitely underpriced. Virginia Tech (-6) visits Purdue with a projected 26 points. While not being the greatest projection, $5,300 is very cheap, this is a Purdue defense that has gone from poor to average/mediocre at best under Darrell Hazel and Motley will take off and run frequently. Putting up 25-plus FPTS is certainly realistic, and that is fantastic upside for someone at this price range.
Ezekiel Elliott $9,500/$9,900 – I almost didn’t put Elliott here because he is very expensive and the spread for this game is -34. This has a chance of being a bust where Elliott gets eight carries for 50 yards and a TD by halftime, but Ohio State is up 35-3 and he rests the second half. At the same time, the Buckeyes were -42 last week against Hawaii, and they won 38-0 with Elliott getting 27 touches. I’m putting Elliott here because if he does get 20-plus carries and Northern Illinois puts up some points to keep this game at least close enough that Ohio State won’t be resting its starters by halftime, Elliott could go off for over 200 yards and four TDs to make him a great GPP play. But I emphasize this is not a top play for me considering the risk you are making here and how it limits your lineup potential. It’s just the upside he brings and that Northern Illinois’ defense is weaker than it typically is.
Leonard Fournette $8,400/$9,500 –
We all know how good Fournette is. He’s a Heisman Trophy candidate, especially if he leads LSU to a win against Auburn while putting up fantastic statistics, which I’m expecting.
If you look at my preseason predictions (can be found in the forum CFB Week 1 Strategy thread), you’ll see that I had Auburn picked to finish third in the SEC West this year and not buying this hype. There was A LOT of assumption that everything would click with this team, despite all the new variables. Jeremy Johnson had one great half against Arkansas last year in the opener with Nick Marshall suspended, and he got an insane amount of hype that he would lead Auburn to a possible SEC Championship and playoff berth. This was despite his real lack of experience, despite being a Junior, and that Auburn only had four returning starters on offense. There was also a lot of assumption that Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator would fix everything immediately. Well, quite frankly, Auburn should be 0-2. They were outgained by 78 yards against a Louisville team that was rotating QBs and had a defensive TD gift-wrapped for them (not to mention the inexcusable timeout situation at the end). I won’t even get into the nonsense that Jacksonville State brought by taking a knee after the kickoff out of bounds by Auburn at the end of regulation (seriously, something doesn’t smell right about that situation). Anyways, the Tigers survived as a 41-point favorite at home against the FCS Gamecocks of Jacksonville State in OT.
Now that my Auburn rant is over, why do I like Fournette with this background? Auburn has given up 399 yards rushing in the two games combined, and their defensive front has been mediocre at best. Meanwhile, LSU has one of the best offensive lines in college football and they ran the ball over 75% of the time against Mississippi State. LSU is -7 and projected for 28 points, but I think LSU blows out Auburn, and this game won’t be close (Fournette still plays most or all the game).
Jordan Howard $8,300/$9,100 – If you don’t know about Howard, this is your chance. He’s a UAB transfer (remember, UAB football doesn’t exist right now) who ran for 1,587 yards to go with 13 TDs last season and was 1st team all CUSA. He’s already ran for 304 yards and 3 TDs this season. This matchup with Western Kentucky is fantastic as the Hilltoppers defense hasn’t been able to stop the run against Vanderbilt or Louisiana Tech. The Hoosiers are projected for 36 points as a two-point favorite.
C.J. Prosise $7,800/$7,400 – So much for Tarean Folston being out causing an issie. Prosise has been outstanding thus far rushing for 253 yards on 37 carries against a solid Texas and Virginia defense (I said solid defense for Texas, not team). For similar reasons to Kizer at QB, this isn’t the greatest matchup, but Prosise is playing like an $8,000-plus RB, and he will be at home to give Georgia Tech its first true test of the season.
Jahad Thomas $7,700/$9,500 – Obviously, a much better play on FanDuel. Thomas’ usage percentage is going to be fairly low. Why? Temple at UMass is very much off the radar, the over/under is only 55 and very few people will have ever heard of his name. However, Temple is a 10.5-point favorite, they’re projected to score 33 points and Thomas is clearly the workhorse back. In his first two games, he’s received 55 touches for 328 yards (both numbers third in FBS), Temple is very much a heavy-run team in general and this is the Owls’ best point projection of the season. Given that Thomas only has three TDs on the season, I could see him doubling that number on Saturday with a weak UMass defense.
Terrell Newby $7,700/$6,600 –
Definitely a better play on DraftKings (consider Newby a replacement for Thomas’ expensive price here), especially with his PPR value. Newby has established himself as the primary RB on the Cornhuskers after rushing for 198 yards on 28 touches against South Alabama. Here’s their updated depth chart to show he’s now the main guy. Nebraska has more of a pro-style offense under Mike Riley, and Newby should get plenty of touches. The downside is that Nebraska is on the road as a three-point underdog to Miami. However, the Hurricanes got essentially an exhibition game with Bethune Cookman in their opener and their defense still looks mediocre after giving up 223 yards rushing on just 33 carries (6.8 average) to Florida Atlantic. Nebraska is projected for 28 points, which is still pretty solid for a team that wants to run the ball, and his cheap price on DraftKings should be used.
Justin Jackson $7,100/$6,800 – Jackson is in a similar situation to Newby. Northwestern, despite being ranked #23, is a 3.5-point underdog at Duke. However, Jackson has received 50 carries (notice the theme here?) for 212 yards in his first two games, and he didn’t even get a full workload in the blowout versus Eastern Illinois, not to mention his first outing was against Stanford. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is a freshman, and Pat Fitzgerald has kept this offense very run heavy by running just under 69% of the time (11th-most FBS). Look for a similar percentage against Duke as Jackson should get well over 20 carries and have a legit shot at well over 100 yards to go with a couple TDs.
D’Andre Ferby $6,000/$5,300 – Leon Allen is done for the year with an injury for Western Kentucky. Ferby is the new guy, a bigger back who can carry the workload. While we don’t know exactly what percentage of carries Ferby will get, he saw almost all of the carries when Allen went down in the middle of the Louisiana Tech game, and Ferby is No. 1 on the depth chart. So, I think we’ll see a majority of touches for Ferby. The Hilltoppers are two-point underdogs, but they are projected for 35 points and have one of the most explosive offenses in college football. This price is way too cheap for what Ferby’s workload should be.
Patrick Skov $5,100/$4,900 – Okay, we should get a full game of Skov now. Georgia Tech has destroyed its first two opponents in Alcorn State and Tulane by a combined score of 134-16. Georgia Tech is on the road at Notre Dame, but they are 2.5-point favorites and projected for 29 points. Skov will be getting 20-plus carries in the triple-option attack and gets a lot of the goal line work. He’s too cheap right now.
Fred Coppet $4,800/Jamarius Henderson $4,400 (DraftKings) – Through two games, both Bowling Green and Memphis have gone with a RB by committee. For BGSU, Travis Greene and Coppet have each gotten 27 carries. However, Coppet has posted 172 yards while Greene just getting 99. Meanwhile for Memphis, Henderson has received 26 carries for 150 yards while Jarvis Cooper has gotten 27 for 159. Greene and Cooper are No. 1 each on their respective depth charts, but they are fairly more expensive than their teammates who get just as much work as they do. Memphis is projected for 41 points while Bowling Green is in line for 38, and both RBs are in play for great value plays despite having limited ceilings. Neither guys should be viewed as “must plays” but they certainly can be used in order to get some more expensive guys in your lineup who could really go off and give yourself a unique lineup.
Sterling Shepard $7,700/$8,400 –
Significantly better play on FanDuel. While the Sooners are -30.5, they are projected for 51 points, and Oklahoma’s air-raid offense should come to life against an undermatched Tulsa squad. Shepard torched Tulsa last year with eight catches for 177 yards en route to an Oklahoma 52-7 victory. Not that it’s so much about the previous matchup, but Shepard has outstanding upside even in big spreads, and Oklahoma will be throwing it more this year.
Tajae Sharpe $6,700/$6,600 – I wanted to fade this pick since I think his usage will be pretty high and UMass is projected for 22 points (not great, but could be worse), but given that Sharpe’s price didn’t move after last week, which is mind boggling given that he’s one of the best WRs in college football, he must be listed. UMass is at Temple, but UMass generally likes to throw and will do so even more as a 10.5-point underdog. Sharpe has a little more bust potential given Temple plays slow and tough defense, although he is easily one of the best WRs in the early slate and always has the chance of going off.
Keevan Lucas $6,700 (FanDuel) Keyarris Garrett $5,900 (DraftKings) – FanDuel has been more reactionary to the first two weeks while DraftKings has stayed put with the Tulsa WR situation. Despite Tulsa as a big underdog, they are projected for 21 points, and Lucas has had a ton of big games in these kind of spreads, including last year against the Sooners where he had 10 catches for 84 yards. Meanwhile, Garrett has been a big part of this offense as well, and I expect he will continue to get the deep balls, which is great at $5,900. Even if Tulsa gets down big early on, Tulsa will throw that much more, and I expect both WRs to be in at least most, if not all of the game.
Ronnie Moore $6,000 (DraftKings) – Not surprisingly, Roger Lewis’ salary jumped from $5,700 to $7,300 after his sick 15 catches for 200 yards and TDs against Maryland. Despite having a monster game, Bowling Green’s offensive attack has a ton of wide receivers, and they spread the wealth. While Lewis could have a good game, I’m going to fade him since his usage percentage should be through the roof, and there’s a much greater chance a fade will work out. Meanwhile, Moore is the main guy in the slot who provides a high floor (PPR on DraftKings) with a high ceiling as well. Oh and Bowling Green is projected for an outstanding 38 points as a three-point dog.
Aaron Burbridge $6,500/$5,900 – With Tony Lippett gone from the Spartans, Connor Cook has needed another go-to man. While I wouldn’t put Burbridge in that category yet, he’s leading the team in receiving with 12 catches for a dominant 218 yards. The Spartans are projected for 41 points as 26-point favorites. However, I’m expecting Air Force to keep it a bit closer than that given that Michigan State is coming off a big win and preparing for Air Force’s option is significantly different than preparing for Oregon. Look for a high scoring affair where Michigan State has to play its starters all four quarters and Burbridge having another big game.
Ricky Jones $6,300/$5,600 – The Hoosiers are projected for 36 points as a two-point favorite in one of the best fantasy matchups of the weekend. Jones is the new No. 1 WR for Indiana with Shane Wynn gone, and both sites still have him a little bit underpriced regardless of the opponent.
Geronimo Allison $5,800/$6,300 – With Mike Dudek out injured, Allison has been the No, 1 WR for Wes Lunt. Allison is too cheap as a result with a shootout expected in Chappel Hill where Illinois won’t be resting its starters later in the game. Big upside here.
Shaq Washington $5,700 (FanDuel) – Washington has been Gunner Kiel’s go-to guy in the slot dating back to last season and is off to a great start this year with 11 catches for 153 yards and a TD. Cincinnati was involved in a blowout with Alabama A&M in their opener and a tough defensive matchup with Temple last week, but they have Miami Ohio as the opponent this week, which is easily the best situation so far. Cincinnati is projected for 40 points as a 20-point favorite.
Ryan Switzer $5,500/$4,900 – Switzer is the slot explosive playmaker on UNC. He led the Tar Heels in receiving last season and has nine catches for 103 yards so far this season. North Carolina has a great matchup at home versus Illinois.
Bug Howard $4,500/$5,000 – Uhhh FanDuel? You know that Howard leads UNC in receiving yards and that UNC is projected for 37 points? He shouldn’t be minimum salary at all, but particularly in this matchup.
Gehrig Deter $3,500 (DraftKings) – This price makes no sense. Deter is the outside WR opposite to Lewis and while he only has eight catches, they are for 147 yards and two TDs. More importantly, Deter had some solid and fantastic outings last year, but he missed half the season, which is very likely playing into his cheap price with DraftKings’ algorithm. This is superb value.
Tight ends should be used on FanDuel only
Tyler Higbee $3,700 – To put this price in perspective, Higbee is $4,900 on DraftKings. Higbee, somewhat surprisingly, is leading Western Kentucky in receiving. While I don’t think that will last and Western Kentucky spreads it out a lot, this matchup with Indiana is perfect for him.
Bucky Hodges $3,500 (!) – Hodges left the game versus Furman with a bruised quad, but according to Andy Vitter of the Roanoke Times, his injury wasn’t too serious.
Trainer Mike Goforth said injuries to Rogers, Hodges and Motuapuaka shouldn't amount to much. They'll be back. #Hokies
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) September 12, 2015
If you don’t want to deal with a possibility of someone being kept out since FanDuel will lock 3 1/2 hours before kickoff of Virginia Tech and Purdue, it’s understandable. However, it does sounds like Hodges will give it a go. Hodges lines up at WR sometimes and is one of Virginia Tech’s best pass-catching options. He is one of the best TEs in this slate.
Jake Butt $3,400 – I wish I could fade Butt since Michigan is a 34.5-point favorite, but he’s significantly better than anyone cheaper than him. Jake Rudock loves going to him on third down and is his safety blanket.
This isn’t a lazy effort in looking for tight ends this week – it’s just that this slate is clear with the three most expensive guys being the best plays.
That’s all for the early slate. The night slate article will be posted Friday evening. Questions about any of the picks or someone I may have forgotten? Hit up the forum.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz