This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
Ho ho ho, off to bowl season we go. Below are some of the tools designed to assist you as you enjoy the holiday season with some college football.
The first round of bowl games is upon us. After some time off, we get into the good stuff, with a bunch of generally evenly matched teams going up against each other. In fact, the biggest spread of the first week belongs to Utah State at -7.5 versus North Texas. That game also represents the highest over/under of Saturday's contests (68.0), with the Aggies and Mean Green accounting for two of the top three in implied points. Tulane squeezes between the pair and rounds out the grouping of teams expected to score 30-plus points. With this particular slate, the "top tier" quarterbacks don't exactly separate themselves from the pack, so it may be a time to save a bit of money at the position to spend up elsewhere.
A full picture of some key statistical categories can be seen in the table below:
Note: All stats are opposing defense. I switched out plays per game for S&P+, which is a metric designed to look at passing and rushing defense independent of matchup.
YPA=Yards Per Attempt
Without further adieu, the following are some of the players I may target in the main slate this week.
Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State (vs. Arizona State), $9,800
McMaryion has gone through what appears to be a minor slump of late, posting sub-20 point performances in three of the last four weeks. However, those outings all came against defenses ranked in the top 50 in S&P+ rankings. That will not be the case with Arizona State, whose defense checks in 89th overall in the category. Projected for the fourth-most points on the slate, it's a good bet that McMaryion will account for a good chunk of that through the air, especially with ample preparation for the game. An added bonus is his dual-threat ability as a runner. He has seven rushing touchdowns under his belt this season, though his last came Oct. 13 against Wyoming.
Secondary Pick: Shai Werts, Georgia Southern ($9,600)
Jordan Love, Utah State (vs. North Texas)
While it's true that North Texas has surrendered just 1.2 passing touchdowns per game this season, that may be in part due to a lack of quality opposing quarterbacks faced in 2018. That is far from the case for the Aggies and their breakout star Jordan Love, who has tossed 28 touchdown passes and rushed for another six this season. He's had some minor inconsistency under center of late, but with a month to prepare, I'm expecting him to reach closer to his upper echelon of scores in the 40s than the minor bumps he's displayed in the teens. Utah State tops the chart in projected over-under, and the Mean Green sit 82nd nationally in terms of defensive passing S&P+. The combination is one to Love (pun intended).
Bargain Bin (<$8,600)
Tyler Wiegers, EMU (vs. Georgia Southern), $7,400
With a sparse bargain bin pool Saturday that includes just two potential starting quarterbacks, Wiegers is likely the better option – if Mike Glass III (leg) doesn't play. Nothing about his status has been revealed after he left in the middle of the team's No. 3 game against Central Michigan, though he was spotted in a boot coming out for the second half of that game. If Wiegers gets the nod, he will take on a Georgia Southern squad surrendering 7.3 yards per pass attempt. The option offense employed by the Eagles will almost assuredly slow down the pace of the game and limit scoring, but there's still a chance Wiegers could reach the 20.64 points he posted against triple-option Army earlier this season. If he could make it close to that threshold, his $7,400 price tag should pay off.
Secondary pick: Andre Nunez, Louisiana-Lafayette ($7,100)
Elite ($9,000 and up)
Wesley Fields, Georgia Southern (vs. Eastern Michigan), $9,800
While Fields may not possess the 30-point upside of Eno Benjamin or DeAndre Torrey, the two backs costing more than him on Saturday's slate, he does fairly consistently pump out 20-plus point games and easily has the best matchup of the day. Eastern Michigan has allowed 192.9 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry to its opponents this season, both of which rank second-worst on the 10-team slate. Fields has firmly supplanted Monteo Garrett as the lead back in the offense, receiving at least 37 percent of the rushes in four of the last five games, and he should see a similar share Saturday against Eastern Michigan.
Secondary Pick: DeAndre Torrey, North Texas (vs. Utah State), $10,000
Trey Ragas, Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. Tulane), $8,800
Ragas has owned the larger share of carries so far this season for the Ragin' Cajuns, boasting 38 percent of the load over the course of the season. Although his production dipped for one week against Georgia State, that was the result of a calf injury that's no longer an issue. He checks in $800 cheaper than fellow Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell and is coming off torching an Appalachian State defense that checks in eighth in the country against the run.
Secondary pick: Darius Bradwell, Tulane ($8,900)
Bargain Bin (<$7,800)
Corey Dauphine, Tulane (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette), $6,000
While Bradwell has seemingly supplanted Dauphine as the primary option out of the backfield, Dauphine hasn't been too far behind in that regard. Prior to the team's last game against Navy, Dauphine recorded rushing shares of 28 percent, 35 percent, 33 percent and 33 percent against the four prior opponents. Anywhere near that mark versus Louisiana-Lafayette could pay major dividends versus a defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry and 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game.
Tournament play: Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan ($6,900)
Elite ($9,000 and up)
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State (vs. Arizona State), $9,600
While I'm a proponent of McMaryion if you're looking into the top tier in search of a quarterback, I'm even more invested in Johnson as the top-of-the-board wideout. He's been the target of double-digit passes in each of the last four games, and there's little reason to believe that will change versus Arizona State.
Secondary pick: Rico Bussey Jr., North Texas ($9,100)
Jalen Greene, Utah State (vs. North Texas), $7,700
Greene had a huge day last time out versus Boise State, earning 15 targets from quarterback Jordan Love. He only converted eight of them into catches for 47 yards and a touchdown, but the volume is promising nonetheless. Love should sling the ball around plenty again in the team's bowl game, and Greene could be just as effective a target as Ron'quavion Tarver ($8,600), who costs $900 more.
Secondary Pick: Kyle Williams, Arizona State ($7,900)
Bargain Bin (<=$7,500)
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State (vs. Fresno State), $7,500
Aiyuk really broke out for the Sun Devils in the team's last contest, racking up five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. With N'Keal Harry skipping the bowl in preparation for the NFL Draft, Aiyuk should receive plenty of looks again. The matchup isn't great; they're taking on the nation's 17th-best pass defense, per S&P+. Still, he's certainly worth the flier in tournaments and potentially even garners cash game consideration.
Secondary Pick: Jalen Guyton, North Texas ($6,800)