This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
Well, it's finally here. College football takes center stage Monday as Georgia and TCU will square off in Los Angeles. In fact, I am writing this from exactly 37,995 feet somewhere over southern Colorado as I make my way to this game. That's right, I even paid for in-flight WiFi.
My own rooting interest aside, I think we have a great matchup in store. On the one hand, we have one of the great stories of the College Football Playoff Era as the party-crashing Horned Frogs have made it all the way here after opening the season with +23000 odds to win it all according to Sports Reference. For context, Auburn had better odds. Oops.
On the other hand, we have the Georgia Bulldogs looking for their second consecutive title, which would be a first in the playoff era. That's after going over 40 years without a single national title.
Georgia checks in as heavy favorites with the Bulldogs trading as 12.5-point favorites. 56 percent of the money has come in on TCU to cover, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook. That's a fairly even split and it seems to say that the public believes TCU gives Georgia a game. I tend to agree; for as good as Georgia has been all year, the Ohio State (and LSU game to a lesser extent) game showed that Drago can indeed bleed. TCU is an explosive offense and has what it takes across the board to push this Georgia defense, particularly in the passing game. But we're not here for a game preview, we're here to figure out how to build our showdown lineups for Monday night. So let's go ahead and dig into the DraftKings showdown slate and see what we like.
- DraftKings Lineup Optimizer
- NEW Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Rankings
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
DraftKings CFB DFS Showdown Captain Strategy
For this slate, quarterbacks are tough to avoid in the captain spot. Even in tournament-style contests, there aren't a ton of obvious skill position pivots besides Quentin Johnston. I'll lay out the case for these players and a few more under-the-radar captain options below.
Stetson Bennett ($16,800) Georgia
One of two Heisman Finalist quarterbacks going in this game, Bennett is coming off the better game between him and Duggan from the Semis. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that he will outduel Duggan on Monday. Still, with Georgia checking in as 12.5-point favorites with an implied total of 37.5, he's the catalyst of the expected higher-scoring offense.
Georgia carries a run-heavy perception but the reality is that the offense is much more balanced this year and Todd Monken is much more comfortable letting Bennett drop back and make plays. Georgia's pass play rate was 42.8 percent last year and is up to 47.5 this season; that's a significant jump. Bennett has thrown at least 30 passes on nine different occasions this season. He has been nails in each of his last two games, both of which were obviously high-stakes. Against LSU and Ohio State, Bennett combined for 672 yards with seven passing touchdowns and one pick while adding a rushing score. Those were performances against the No. 23 and No.26 defenses by SP+. TCU checks in at 37 by that metric and ranked 92nd in passing yards per game allowed. Having AD Mitchell back to full strength is a huge boon for Bennett's supporting cast even if Ladd McConkey isn't at 100 percent.
TL;DR: Bennett is a good captain option Monday.
Max Duggan ($17,400) TCU
We know what Duggan is as a DFS target at this point. He's routinely putting up 25-35 points every week, regardless of the opponent and regardless of whether he's sharp as a passer. He has not been overly effective through the air in his last two outings as he's completed 49.2 percent of his passes for 476 yards (7.3 YPA) with three touchdowns and three picks.
Duggan has salvaged his fantasy performances in those outings with his legs. He has run 15 times in each of those last two games for a total of 167 yards (5.6 YPC) and three touchdowns. Georgia's defense struggles against mobile quarterbacks and even C.J. Stroud, who had a total of 35 net rushing yards prior to last week, ran for 34 yards on the Dawgs. Duggan's legs will be a key part of the TCU game plan especially if Kendre Miller (knee) is limited and Emari Demercado isn't finding the same success he did against Michigan. When plays break down, it'll be Duggan making a run for the sticks to extend drives. I expect Duggan's mobility to fuel his fantasy output.
It also helps Duggan's cause that Georgia struggles against good passing attacks. The Stroud-Marvin Harrison combo was devastating last week and the Duggan-Quentin Johnston duo could have similar success. Even if Duggan isn't connecting on a high percentage of his attempts, expect him to make the most of his completions by looking for big plays down the field. It wouldn't shock me if Duggan put up a combined 400 yards of offense Monday.
Quentin Johnston ($14,400) TCU
TCU spreads it out to its deep corps of pass-catchers, but Johnston stands alone as the primary option with a 22.4 percent target share while no other Horned Frog has a share larger than 15 percent. Johnston has been extremely effective in his featured role, averaging 11.0 YPT on eight targets a game and scoring six touchdowns on 59 receptions. He is a big play waiting to happen; over his last two games, Johnston has caught 10 passes... for 302 yards and a touchdown.
Marvin Harrison Jr. gave the Dawgs' defense all it could handle last week despite having nearly a month to prepare. Johnston may be a tick below Harrison in terms of talent but he still presents a big problem for the Georgia secondary. Georgia can't get away with doubling Johnston, either, as TCU is too deep and experienced anywhere for the Bulldogs to comfortably leave the likes of Derius Davis or Savion Williams in single coverage every play.
TCU will likely take plenty of deep shots on this Georgia secondary and Johnston is best equipped to take advantage of those chances at least once.
Kenny McIntosh ($8,600) Georgia
McIntosh is the only non-Stetson Bennett Bulldog I'd consider in the captain's spot on this slate. It's fair to note that McIntosh only has a narrow lead as the team's leading rusher; he and Daijun Edwards have nearly identical rushing attempts and output with McIntosh checking in with 142 carries for 779 yards and 10 scores while Edwards is just behind at 135 for 739 yards and seven scores. While Edwards is an interesting UTIL option, McIntosh is viable as a captain.
McIntosh had just five carries against Ohio State but those carries went for 70 yards and it could have been 80 yards and a touchdown if not for the turf monster that got him in the open field. In addition to that type of explosive output, McIntosh is also often busy as a pass catcher. He is just one of eight FBS running backs with at least 40 receptions on the year and he averages nearly 10.0 YPT. He's a good bet to get 3-5 catches Monday, but I also think there's a path for him to have one of his biggest games of the year as a rusher.
Again, McIntosh saw just five carries against the Buckeyes, but the Dawgs were knocked off script and had to play catch-up for much of the game and ran it just 26 times, which is 10 fewer rushes than the season average. Georgia will likely try to dictate more in this one and get the ground game going to sustain long drives and keep TCU's offense on the sidelines. Look for McIntosh to push for 17 total touches Monday and if his explosiveness is at his usual level, that'll be more than enough for a nice return on investment.
DraftKings College Football DFS: Showdown UTIL Options for Georgia vs. TCU
This is the fun part as we go down the board to identify some upside plays at lower salaries to round out our builds. Any and all of the four aforementioned players qualify as strong UTIL plays but the following UTIL options would be significantly riskier to lock in at the captain spot, even if the leverage angle could ultimately pay off big-time if you get it right.
Arian Smith, Georgia ($3,400)
Smith, who has a grand total of 11 receptions in three seasons at Georgia, has always intrigued me. Injuries explain why he hasn't been on the field much, but when he's out there, he's a big play waiting to happen. The speed is elite, and that's why those 11 catches have gone for 383 yards and four touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came last week on a 76-yarder against the Buckeyes. Again, health is always the question with Smith and he is at full go heading into Monday. With Ladd McConkey seemingly less than 100 percent, Smith has a path to seeing 25+ offensive snaps Monday. He'll never be a high-volume target because of his frame and role, but that's not what you're trying to get from him, either. With Smith, you just need one deep shot for him to return value and that's what I'm betting on seeing Monday.
Oscar Delp, Georgia ($1,000)
If you have a build where you need to dip this far into the player pool to fit under the cap, Delp's an interesting option. Darnell Washington is up in the air to play and was on crutches during last week's game after getting injured. Delp was the next man up as the second tight end and logged 23 snaps, his highest mark since Week 3's blowout at South Carolina. Now, Delp wasn't targeted against the Buckeyes, but Georgia probably didn't have him as a major part of the game plan heading into that one. Now that Georgia knows Washington is likely limited at best, Delp will likely get some semblance of a role in the passing game this week. Delp's season-long sample is too small to be particularly useful in this argument; he caught five of seven targets for 61 yards and a score. His prospect background is such that we can take a chance on him here, though. He was a top 100 recruit according to 247 Sports and the No.2 overall player at his position. Delp is talented, he just hasn't had a path to playing much this season. If Washington is out or hindered, Delp will have a chance to step in and step up.
Adonai Mitchell, Georgia ($4,000)
Mitchell got back in the mix on New Year's Eve after missing the bulk of the season with a high-ankle sprain. He caught three passes for 43 yards and a crucial touchdown against the Buckeyes. What's encouraging is that he produced despite still knocking off the rust. His three catches came on a team-leading seven targets.
Now that Mitchell has his legs back under him and profiles as the top option on the outside for the Bulldogs, he checks in as a clear value on this slate at $4K.
Derius Davis ($5,800) and Savion Williams ($4,800) TCU
If you're targeting TCU's other options beyond Quentin Johnston, these are your best bets. Taye Barber ($5,600) is the other viable play but I wanted to focus on Davis and Williams in particular.
Davis stands out because he is TCU's Arian Smith in the sense that he's the speed demon who can take the top off the defense. Now, Davis hasn't had an especially productive game since Week 10 so there's some risk here, especially since Barber has outplayed him of late. Still, the speed element is hard to ignore. With so much of Georgia's attention in the secondary likely going to be paid to Quentin Johnston, one of the Frogs' other receivers will have to step up. Davis has the type of ability to make his opportunities count.
With Williams, he's more of a projection. Williams has had flashes at times throughout the season but has also had his share of disappearances. He has had seven games with one or zero receptions. His season high for receptions is just five and his season high for yardage is 97. Despite all of that, Williams still averages a respectable 8.5 YPT and has turned four of his 29 receptions into touchdowns. He can be a mismatch for any smaller corners Georgia sticks on him as Williams checks in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. If you're making multiple lineups, I wouldn't go with heavy Williams exposure. Still, he's a worthwhile dart throw given the talent, low roster percentage projection and salary.
Kendall Milton, Georgia ($3,000)
As mentioned in the McIntosh blurb, Georgia goes with a deep rotation in its backfield. While McIntosh and Daijun Edwards are the most involved, Milton may be the most talented overall. In 12 games, Milton has averaged 7.5 YPC over 75 rushes and scored seven touchdowns. He got the ball in the red zone against Ohio State and punched in a touchdown.
I doubt Milton pushes for double-digit carries Monday night, but he's an efficient runner and at 220 pounds, a definite option if and when the Dawgs get into the red zone.
Emari Demercado, TCU ($7,000)
Kendre Miller's questionable status along with Demercado's impressive showing against Michigan puts him on the map for this slate. He stepped in for the injured Miller and more than doubled his previous season high by rushing for 150 yards and a score on 17 carries against the No.7 rush defense in the country. That's impressive. However, I'm writing this blurb to say he's my biggest fade on the slate.
Even if Demercado takes on the lead role Monday, which is not a given, he's going to have a tougher time than he did against the Wolverines. Georgia's run defense is tops in the nation, allowing just 79 rush yards per game at a 3.0 YPC clip. The Bulldogs have allowed six rushing touchdowns in 14 games. This game sets up in a way where TCU may not have the luxury of even trying to establish the run beyond its first couple drives. If anything, I moreso expect Max Duggan to be TCU's leading rusher Monday.
For what it's worth, here's my score prediction: Georgia 42, TCU 31