College Football DFS: New Year's Eve Slate

College Football DFS: New Year's Eve Slate

This article is part of our College Football DFS: Weekday Slate series.

Originally scheduled to be a four-game slate, the cancellation of the Texas Bowl featuring TCU and Arkansas leaves us with just three. Leading the way in the expected scoring totals by a longshot is San Jose State (36.5). Next on the slate is expected scoring is their opponent, Ball State, who sports an expected total of 27.

The 63.5 expected total for that contest paces the rest of the field by at least 18 and more than 20 than Army-West Virginia. While it can't exclusively comprise lineups, it's certainly the game to target of the three on the slate. 

Outside of that contest, the remaining teams are expected to divide the low-scoring contests pretty evenly, further detracting from some of the fantasy value and leaving the expected game script rather fluid.

Notable Injuries/Absences

Quarterback

Michael Penix, Indiana (Out) - Suffered an ACL tear in the week prior to the regular-season finale. Jack Tuttle is set to start the bowl game.

Running Back

T.K. Wilkerson, Tulsa (Doub) - Missed the regular-season finale with an undisclosed issue and isn't on the depth chart for the bowl game. This should mean more carries for Corey Taylor and Deneric Prince.

Caleb Huntley, Ball State (Out) - Limited to three games this season due to ribs injury and opted out of the bowl game to pursue the 2021 NFL Draft. Tye Evans has led the team in rushing down the stretch.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

JaVonta Payton, Mississippi State (Ques) -

Originally scheduled to be a four-game slate, the cancellation of the Texas Bowl featuring TCU and Arkansas leaves us with just three. Leading the way in the expected scoring totals by a longshot is San Jose State (36.5). Next on the slate is expected scoring is their opponent, Ball State, who sports an expected total of 27.

The 63.5 expected total for that contest paces the rest of the field by at least 18 and more than 20 than Army-West Virginia. While it can't exclusively comprise lineups, it's certainly the game to target of the three on the slate. 

Outside of that contest, the remaining teams are expected to divide the low-scoring contests pretty evenly, further detracting from some of the fantasy value and leaving the expected game script rather fluid.

Notable Injuries/Absences

Quarterback

Michael Penix, Indiana (Out) - Suffered an ACL tear in the week prior to the regular-season finale. Jack Tuttle is set to start the bowl game.

Running Back

T.K. Wilkerson, Tulsa (Doub) - Missed the regular-season finale with an undisclosed issue and isn't on the depth chart for the bowl game. This should mean more carries for Corey Taylor and Deneric Prince.

Caleb Huntley, Ball State (Out) - Limited to three games this season due to ribs injury and opted out of the bowl game to pursue the 2021 NFL Draft. Tye Evans has led the team in rushing down the stretch.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

JaVonta Payton, Mississippi State (Ques) - Sat out last regular-season game despite being expected to play.

DFS Tools

New Year's Eve Plays

Quarterback

Drew Plitt, Ball State ($10,500 FD/$8,700 DK) vs. San Jose State

In a small slate, it's often not too difficult to fit both quarterbacks in atop the leaderboard. That seems the best route for Saturday's three-game slate given the expected scoring totals of the two teams. While Ball State isn't expected to score quite as much as the Spartans, that could lead to a good amount of passing stats in the second half if the Cardinals need to keep pace. 

Nick Starkel, San Jose State ($9,700 FD/$7,700 DK) vs. Ball State

Starkel fits in on the opposite side of the equation for a Spartans squad expected to post a slate-high total. He also heads into the slate with by far the best opposing matchup of any signal-caller on the slate. The Falcons' defensive group surrenders nearly 300 passing yards and 1.9 passing touchdowns per game to go along with 8.2 yards per pass attempt and a slate-high 24.2 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Starkel is also coming off his second 30-point performance of the season and likely carries a floor in the mid-teens, likely making him a necessary inclusion in the majority of lineups.

Running Back

Leddie Brown, West Virginia ($9,600 FD/$8,000 DK) vs. Army

Brown is the only workhorse back of the two power-five teams remaining on the slate and sports a salary that reflects it. Given the dip of $1,800 to the next running back on the slate, Brown may be the most logical inclusion on the slate of any player. Brown is averaging north of 20 fantasy points per game on the season and has finished with 201 or more in five of the nine contests. Unless you are really strapped for salary, it's tough to imagine turning another direction at running back.

Corey Taylor, Tulsa ($7,500 FD/$5,300 DK) vs. Mississippi State

Taylor has a combination of workload and matchup that isn't matched by any other back on the slate. While he hasn't produced on the level of Brown, Taylor's recent usage counts have neared similar levels. Over the last three games, Taylor has averaged 20 carries per game and has surpassed the century mark in two of the three games. With T.K. Wilkerson likely sitting out again, Taylor should be in line for a similar carry count Thursday. He is one of the few on the slate who may not require a touchdown to return a value worthy of his salary.

Jakobi Buchanan, Army ($6,600 FD/$5,500 DK) vs. West Virginia

Buchanan carried the rock no more than 11 times during the first six games but has emerged as the team's top rushing threat down the stretch, rushing 18 times or more in two of the last three games. It's worth noting that he saw just three carries against Navy on Dec. 12, so there is some risk regarding his upside, but it may be worth it at an affordable salary with double-digit upside that will allow you to invest elsewhere.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Yo'Heinz Tyler, Ball State ($8,700/$5,700 DK) vs. San Jose State

Tyler may not quite equal fellow Ball State wideout Justin Hall in terms of receiving yards, but he's coming off of six straight games having notched at least one touchdown and hasn't scored fewer than 10.6 fantasy points in a game (FanDuel) and even larger minimums on DraftKings. In terms of getting a piece of the action of the slate's highest-scoring contest, Tyler represents a much more affordable option than Hall and still provides plenty of upside, having posted 15 or more points in five of the seven games this season and an equal 9.1 targets per contest.

Josh Johnson ($8,000 FD/$5,400 DK), JuanCarlos Santana ($6,900 FD/$5,600 DK) and Keylon Stokes ($7,600 FD/$4,400 DK) Tulsa vs. Mississippi State

Johnson is another intriguing option in the passing attack that fits in nicely at a reasonable rate. He leads Tulsa with six receiving scores, including four over the final four regular-season contests, and tallied 15-plus points in the three games prior to a tough AAC Championship matchup with Cincinnati. Mississippi State doesn't fit that same bill. The Bulldogs have surrendered 255 passing yards and a slate-high 2.2 passing touchdowns per game on the season, ranking second on the slate in fantasy points per contest allowed to opposing wideouts. 

Johnson is the best bet to reach the end zone, though Santana is no slouch in his own right. Santana has recorded four double-digit efforts in the last six games, including a 23.8-point output against Tulane. Another development in favor of Santana is that he's led the way in two of the last three games in terms of targets, notching a combined 26 against Cincinnati and Tulane. 

Rounding out the group is Stokes, who has been hit or miss recently but turned in a trio of big efforts in the middle of the campaign and led the Golden Hurricanes last season with 62 catches for 1,040 yards and six touchdowns. He's a dark horse to break out and is much more worth the value on DraftKings than on FanDuel if looking to take the plunge.

Derrick Deese Jr., San Jose State ($6,800 FD/$4,700 DK) vs. Ball State

In terms of covering tight ends, Ball State has had some issues in that department, allowing nine points per contest. Deese is one of the few tight ends who factors in heavily in the passing attack, notching a team-high five receiving scores. He's coming off of his best effort of the campaign versus Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game, amassing seven grabs for 76 yards and a touchdown. As always, there're plenty of risks when reaching this low on the list for a group, but Deese may sport a low enough roster percentage to get some separation if he follows up with another big showing Thursday.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
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