In yet another stunning example of just how “niche” College Football is in America, we get a truly Super-Sized Labor Day Weekend with games stretching from Thursday to Monday and everywhere in between. So with that indulgence comes an early present for us DFS fans on DraftKings. Eleven games this Thursday and a slate waiting for our action. Let’s jump in.
$$$ – Hendon Hooker ($8,900) – Tennessee
The obvious is still worth mentioning, so bear with me. Tennessee has the highest implied team total on the slate (51.75) and comes into 2022 with a chance to give Hendon Hooker a legitimate Heisman campaign. Ball State is a chance for Heupel to lay that foundation and give him a dominating performance right out of the gate. There’s some risk as touchdown variance could always swing in favor of Jabari Small and the ground game, but Hooker has more upside than any on the slate.
$$ – John-Rhys Plumlee ($7,400) – Central Florida
The QB-turned-WR-turned-QB has won the starting job in Gus Malzahn’s offense at Central Florida this season, and he’s ready to show off his athleticism against FCS South Carolina State. Plumlee’s rushing usage is the reason he’s so appealing here. The Golden Knights should cruise in this matchup and lean heavily on the ground game, so there is a good chance Plumlee will see red zone opportunities and great chances to score. The risk with this play comes in the idea of competition for carries. Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson should get extended run, and in blowouts, it’s not uncommon for coaches to try to protect their QB and limit their designed runs. There’s not much incentive to open Plumlee up to contact against an FCS opponent when you have the full season ahead.
$ – Sean Clifford ($6,500) – Penn State &/or Aiden O’Connell ($6,100) – Purdue
Oh yes, it’s a two-for and an excellent opportunity for a mid-priced game stack. In my PrizePicks – Love at First Sight article this week, I mentioned that Purdue’s pass defense was a bit of a paper tiger last season. They ranked 30th in passing yards allowed per game, though that statistic was likely buoyed by the fact that they play in the Big Ten West. When taking their out-of-division performance by itself, it would have ranked 112th in the nation in that same metric. That said, I like Clifford’s chances to impress in this contest. He’s a sixth-year senior and has continuity in his offensive coordinator for the first time as a starter. Wheels up for this passing attack tonight. On the other side of the field, O’Connell is Jeff Brohm’s scheme’s benefactor; until proven otherwise, I’ll trust in that. Despite losing David Bell and Milton Wright, there is a fairly deep pool of options that they have to choose from. This is a sneaky shootout option for Thursday night.
$$$ – Dominic Richardson ($7,200) – Oklahoma State
In writing up an option at the higher end of pricing for RB on Thursday, it came down to who not only can put up a big night but who will have the volume to explode and hit the high score at the position truly. So when comparing Richardson with Ibrahim, Bowser, Mims, and Nichols, I’m leaning on the idea that Richardson has the best chance to see a full 60 minutes of play while also having an excellent matchup. Jabari Small is another option with a similar profile for this slate. We’ve seen Gundy lean on a single workhorse back in the past, so the idea here is that Richardson gets 25-30 carries and two scores.
$$ – Harrison Waylee ($6,000) &/or Antario Brown ($5,000) – Northern Illinois
Another two-for as we look at the Northern Illinois backfield. Again, this is a good bit of obvious chalk, but the sneaky play would use both backs in the same lineup. Northern Illinois ran the ball more than any non-service academy in 2021. Against Eastern Illinois, I expect them to lean on the ground game some more. The only risk to this play is seen in either a total collapse of this offense (which I honestly don’t expect against the Panthers this week) or a vulturing of touchdowns by either Rocky Lombardi or Mason Blakemore. There is a thought that Blakemore could pick up the mantle of the Clint Ratkovich and be the resident goal-line back this season. Until that is seen on the field, I’ll trust the two more talented backs in my lineup when they’re expected for such a heavy workload.
$ – Cody Schrader ($3,200) – Missouri
The bargain bin back of the week is this Missouri back who surprised atop the depth chart this week. He’s a transfer from D-II Truman State who put up 2,074 yards on 300 carries and 24 touchdowns last year. Those monster numbers are eye-popping even at the lower level of competition. The Tigers backfield this season is a muddied mess, with Nathaniel Peat dealing with a soft-tissue injury and no true alpha breaking out. Schrader’s cheap price tag is the sole reason he’s viable with such an unknown volume to expect. The bright side is that he can still hit value easily, even with a committee role.
$$$ – Cedric Tillman ($8,500) – Tennessee
The chalkiest stack of the night will be Hooker-Tillman for the Volunteers. It just makes sense, though. Tillman is Hooker’s alpha receiver, and the combo connected for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. So Tillman gives your lineup a solid floor and a monster ceiling. The danger in this play is one that all WRs carry on this slate. Maybe the offense struggles to get going. Or perhaps the ground game picks up the plus side of touchdown variance this week. Either way, those are not solid enough reasons to fade Tillman, in my opinion.
$$ – Parker Washington ($6,500) – Penn State
We’ll stick with the WR write-up stacks today and move to Parker Washington. Many expect Parker Washington’s role will remain fairly unchanged this season as Mitchell Tinsley will fit more into Jahan Dotson’s role from last season. I don’t fully buy that – mainly because Tinsley, while very talented, doesn’t strike me as the super secure/ultra-reliable target that Dotson was. This is not a knock on him as much as praise for Dotson – his hands were the best in the NFL draft last season, and he was the ultimate bailout for a QB. I think Washington will see a bit of an uptick in his role, and I believe he’ll be the homerun threat on this offense. If we’re rolling out Clifford or O’Connell in our lineups tonight, Parker Washington is an obvious stack as we’re hoping for a volley of scoring. Washington should also carry lower ownership than Tinsley as Tinsley is $900 cheaper.
$ – T.J. Sheffield ($4,200) / Charlie Jones ($3,900) – Purdue
In a similar vein but with a cheaper price tag, T.J. Sheffield and Charlie Jones both provide a way to get exposure to this game without breaking the bank. Sheffield and Jones should be involved when Purdue spreads the field with four receivers, joining Broc Thompson and Tyrone Tracy. Without the privilege of an official depth chart, there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t get on the field in smaller sets, either. A bonus for Charlie Jones is his rapport with O’Connell – the two apparently are childhood friends, which was a big reason Jones transferred from Iowa this season. Regardless, this is another spot of leaning into the uncertainty at the beginning of the season because we get exposure at a discount.
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