Our Week 4 DraftKings preview aims to establish a player pool from which to build lineups for the Saturday slate. Within each section (Pay Up, Middle Tier, and Salary Savers) I’ve denoted my favorite option with (*). Let’s get building.

Quarterbacks

Pay Up:

Tanner Mordecai, SMU ($9,000) @ TCU: Mordecai has been a revelation for the Mustangs this year averaging 341 yards and 5.3 touchdowns per game. Scoring an absurd 39.77 DraftKings points per game in 2021, Mordecai faces a TCU defense allowing 9.87 yards per team pass attempt. He looks to build on his impressive start in the slate’s highest total of the week (63.5 points). Additionally, as 10-point underdogs and one of the country’s highest pass rates (52.3%), the Mustangs quarterback is a rock-solid play this week even as the most expensive player on the slate.

*Malik Cunningham, Louisville ($8,800) @ FSU: Cunningham has been superman for the Cardinals thus far with over 32.64 DraftKings points per game with a high rushing floor. With the 3rd highest point total on the slate at 61.5, a close matchup should lend itself it a strong Cunningham week. Over three games this season, Cunningham as 207 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, and 733 passing yards. He’s an upside play for his rushing but given the 2.5-point spread and a Florida State team that ranks 107th in yards per pass attempt, he should be able to excel in both phases this week.

Max Duggan, TCU ($8,700), vs. SMU: I don’t think it’s a bad idea to stack this game with both quarterbacks if you can afford it. Duggan, an up-and-down real-life quarterback, provides a solid fantasy outlook with 12 games of 35+ yards in his last 20 games, including 9 over 65 yards. Beyond the rushing yardage output, Duggan also has 17 rushing touchdowns in his last 20 games with one in each game this season. Although a double-digit favorite, Duggan is involved in all phases in a potential shootout.

Middle Tier:

Hank Bachmeier, Boise St ($7,300) @ Utah State: Boise State had a bad loss last week despite being favored against Oklahoma State and are looking to avoid a losing streak. With Bachmeier, we’re betting on the implied team total (36.25 – 3rd on the slate) and game total (63.5 – 1st on the slate) to pay off in this matchup. Both defenses have been lackluster at best, but Utah State has been especially bad, allowing 8.25 yards per pass attempt. Additionally, they’ve allowed 24 points to FCS-North Dakota and 45 points to Air Force. Bachmeier should be the beneficiary of a shootout this week.

*Connor Bazelak, Missouri ($6,800), @ Boston College: Missouri heads to Boston College has 3-point favorites with one of the country’s heaviest pass rates. Throwing on 56.1% of plays, Bazalek has started the season averaging 299 yards and 3 touchdowns per game thus far. Boston College’s defense has done well in the passing game in raw statistics but has had a cupcake schedule with Colgate, UMASS and, Temple. The matchup is great and with an implied total of 31 points, this should be another solid week for Bazelak.

Salary Savers:

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas ($5,700) vs. Texas A&M: Jefferson gets the toughest matchup in the country through the air defined by EPA per pass attempt, but his rushing upside keeps him in play as a value this week. Despite allowing only 17 points through three games, the Aggies did allow 76 yards to Brendon Lewis and 60 to Dustin Crum, two quarterbacks who excel on the ground. Rushing quarterbacks have had success against this defense and Jefferson can get it done in that area. He isn’t a priority target this week due to the lack of passing upside, but at under $6K, he’s a solid option.

*Logan Bonner, Utah State ($5,600) vs. Boise State: To be honest, I think someone messed up the pricing on this one. As 9-point dogs in this matchup, Bonner comes in with an excellent game-script against a defense ranking 106th in yards per pass attempt at 8.33 yards and 109th in EPA per pass attempt. Bonner has 21.38 DraftKings points per contest despite QB, Andrew Peasley coming in occasionally with his dual threat talents. At his price Bonner still has 4-5x upside.

Running Backs

Pay Up:

*Bijan Robinson, Texas ($7,100), vs. Texas Tech: Despite allowing only 54.7 rushing yards and 1.80 yards per carry, Texas Tech ranks outside the top-40 in terms so defensive EPA per rush attempt. One of the more efficient running backs in the country, Robinson currently averages 19 opportunities (rush attempts + targets) per game and that number should be higher as a 9-point favorite with a slate’s 4th highest team total. Expect a heavy dose of Bijan.

Breece Hall, Iowa State ($7,000) @ Baylor: Hall has been O.K. to start the year but should look to get back on track this week against a Baylor team ranked 58th in defensive EPA per rush attempt. Hall has a massive workload regardless of his production – a whopping 23 opportunities per game. Although inefficient with a 4.0 yards per rush attempt despite two of three matchups being cupcakes, the massive volume should be there as Iowa State comes in as a 7.5-point favorite this week. I don’t think Hall is necessarily a priority target given the poor offensive line play we’ve seen from the Cyclones but at $7,000, he is viable.

Middle Tier:

*Tyler Badie, Missouri ($6,900) @ Boston College: Tyler Badie has had a monster start to the season with 345 yards on 7.2 yards per carry and 15 receptions through 3 games. With his 23.3 opportunities per game average, Badie should be heavily involved this week in what should be an incredibly close (2.5-point spread) and a high-scoring matchup with the slate’s 5th-highest total at 59 points. The Boston College rush defense doesn’t scare me given their schedule thus far even though they rank 13th in defensive EPA per rush attempt.

Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin ($6,400) vs. Notre Dame: Mellusi has taken control of the Wisconsin backfield with over 27 opportunities per game through two weeks for the Badgers. This week he gets a Notre Dame defense that has allowed over 148.3 yards per game including over 100 yards to RBs, Bryant Koback, and Jashaun Corbin. As an offense, Wisconsin ranks 10th in rushing yards per game with the nation’s 118th ranked pass rate at 33.5%. Mellusi should be in for a big workload again this week.

Zach Evans, TCU ($6,200) vs. SMU: After an underwhelming week one performance following a brief multi-series suspension, Evans ripped California’s defense for 22-190-1 two weeks ago. Moving forward, Evans looks like the lead back given no other RB had more than 4 carries in the matchup. The Cal game was back and forth, but it was Evans who put them in a good position with a 51 yard touchdown run before halftime. With TCU having the second-highest implied team total at over 36 points, Evans should be a featured part of the offense again. A positive game-script is likely given the Horned Frogs come in as 10-point favorites and Evans is a great play at his price point this week.

Salary Savers:

Pat Garwo III, Boston College ($5,200) vs. Missouri: Garwo is the starter for the Eagles moving forward and over the last two weeks (in blowouts) has been the lead back in the running game. The real value in Garwo this week is the putrid Missouri defense that ranks 125th in rushing yards per game, 127th in yards per rush attempt, and 126th in defensive EPA per rush attempt. Looking at simply running back production, Missouri allowed 241 yards against Central Michigan, 245 yards to Kentucky, and 294 total rushing yards to Southeast Missouri State. Garwo at his price point could have a big-time payoff.

*Tahj Brooks, Texas Tech ($4,100), @ Texas: Brooks has an incredibly impressive start to the season, averaging 12 touches per game but with 284 yards and 8.1 yards per carry. Despite being 9-point underdogs, Brooks could still be heavily involved against a Texas defense allowing 5.20 yards per carry and rank 91st EPA per rushing attempt. At his price, Brooks could find success on the ground and getting into the endzone.

Kendall Milton, Georgia ($3,500), @ Vanderbilt: Georgia is 34.5-point favorites this week against an SEC bottom-dweller in Vanderbilt which means there should be ample rushing opportunity to go around. Despite not scoring last week, Milton did lead the Dawgs in rush attempts and was efficient doing so averaging over 6 yards per carry. Priced, $2,500 cheaper than James Cook who had two touchdowns last week, look for Milton to pay off at his price point. In this matchup Georgia should rely on him to salt the game away against a Vanderbilt defense allowing 6.10 yards per carry.

Receivers:

Pay Up:

Quentin Johnston, TCU ($8,200) vs. SMU: The lanky sophomore picked up where he left off last season averaging 8 targets per game (29.1% target share) and 17.35 fantasy points. This week, in the slate’s highest total, Johnston gets an SMU defense ranked 95th in defensive EPA per pass attempt and 120th in passing yards per game against. This game has shootout potential all over it and Johnston should be featured, possibly even more than what is typical for TCU. If the Mustangs can keep pace with the Horned Frogs, Q is ripe for a ceiling game.

Deven Thompkins, Utah State ($8,000) vs. Boise State: What is there to say about Thompkins that hasn’t been said? Averaging a mind-numbing 31.93 fantasy points per game on 12 targets per contest, Thompkins looks to continue his hot start against Boise State. The broncos are ranked outside the top-100 defensively in yards per pass attempt and EPA per pass attempt. Rightfully the highest game total on the slate, Utah State should be in catchup mode most of the game as 9-point underdogs which should only help Thompson’s output this week. He’s an exceptional producer and will keep it up in Week 4.

*Kayshon Boutte, LSU ($7,700), @ Mississippi State: The best WR in the country gets a solid matchup against a Bulldogs defense ranked 58th in EPA per pass attempt, allowing 243.3 passing yards per game. With the slate’s 6th-highest total, Boutte should be featured in an offense that ranks 8th in pass rate at 59%. Over Boutte’s last 6 games, he’s crested 100 yards in half the games and has 10 touchdowns. The last two weeks he’s underperformed in yardage but LSU didn’t need to throw against McNeese and Central Michigan. He should be in for a huge week in what could be a high-scoring matchup.

*Khalil Shakir, Boise State ($7,400), @ Utah State: Shakir is the clear alpha for the Broncos this season again and should only continue to dominate against one of the country’s worst defenses in Utah State. With a 29% target share on the season and the slate’s highest total, everything comes together for a massive performance from Shakir this week. To be honest, he is cheaper than I thought he would be coming in and makes for a good pivot off the options in the $8,000 range.

Danny Gray, SMU ($7,100) @ TCU: Gray, and really the entire SMU passing game is in play this week as one of the country’s pass heaviest teams in a negative game script. Coming in as 10-point underdogs to TCU, expect SMU to throw early and often. Running a play every 21.9 seconds (12th in the country), SMU’s average 38.7 pass attempts should be a floor for the Mustangs this week. Gray has already captured 7.7 targets per game emerged as the top option in a prolific passing attack. I expect Gray to have a big game this week but from a lineup building standpoint, he could be the lowest rostered of the SMU receivers due to his high price.

Middle Tier:

*Makai Polk, Mississippi State ($6,200) vs. LSU: Despite the propensity to spread the ball around, Polk has emerged as the alpha in Mike Leach’s prolific passing offense. With 14 targets last week and an average of 10.7 per game on the season, Polk seems underpriced. The Bulldogs are averaging an absurd (to anyone not Mike Leach) 54.3 pass attempts per game and get an LSU defense ranked 104th in defensive EPA per pass play. Averaging 18.9 DraftKings points through three contests, Polk is a great option with his team 3-point underdogs against LSU.

Keke Chism, Missouri ($5,400) @ Boston College: Chism leads the Tigers in targets this season, averaging 6.7 targets per game on an offense averaging over 40 targets per game this season. Last week Chism ran by far the most routes on the team and garnered eight targets while no other WR had more than five. Through three games, Missouri’s pass rate ranks 13th in the country while the team averages over 330 yards per game. With an average depth of target of 10.2 (second on the team – per PFF), Chism should be involved downfield in a potential shootout. Given Chism’s target share and the high game total, he could easily outperform his price this week.

Grant Calcaterra, SMU ($4,900) @ TCU: Following a tumultuous injury situation and multitude of transfers, Calcaterra has settled in as a key piece of a high-flying offense at SMU. Through three weeks he is averaging six targets per game and 17.4 DraftKings points per game. $1,400 cheaper than Rashee Rice and $2,200 cheaper than Danny Gray. I love this offense this week and Calcaterra at under $5,000 is a nice value.

Salary Savers:

Mississippi State WRs under $5K – Jaden Walley ($4,800), Austin Williams ($4,000), Jamire Calvin ($3,300) vs. LSU: I’ve grouped all the Bulldogs secondary options together because of the sheer number of pass attempts in this offense. Not shockingly, the team passing volume puts all the secondary options in play. Of these, Walley is probably the favorite as he’s been the most consistent, averaging 6.3 targets per game. He’s also seen extensive red-zone work with three touchdowns. However, I think both Williams and Calvin could be in play this week as they had 7 and 5 targets last week, respectively.

*Reggie Roberson Jr., SMU ($4,500) @ TCU: It makes sense how much we’re writing the SMU offense up given it’s the slate’s highest total at 64 points. The least expensive of the primary options is Reggie Roberson, who – in terms of points per dollar – is my favorite option from this game. With 9 targets last week and an average of 5.3 on the season, the historically productive WR has been featured heavily in the offense despite coming in $1,800 cheaper than Rashee Rice. This is a smart pvior as Roberson is out-targeting Rice 5.7 to 4.0 per game. Roberson should be popular for this reason but assuming varied rostership, it shouldn’t be exorbitant.

*Justin McGriff, Utah State ($3,900) vs. Boise State: I love this price point for McGriff. Operating as their outside receiver, McGriff is averaging a 17.9% target share on 7.3 targets per game and is running the second-most routes behind superstar Deven Thompkins. Priced $3,000 cheaper than Brandon Bowling, McGriff is out-targeting him (7.3 to 6.7 per game) and is running more routes (39 to 25 per game). Despite last week’s big game for Bowling, McGriff still had eight targets. As the underdog in the slate’s highest total, McGriff will be a mainstay of my lineups.

Derius Davis ($3,900) /Savion Williams ($3,300), TCU vs. SMU: The theme of this article should really be that SMU/TCU is a goldmine. Although a 9-point favorite in this game, TCU should still be looking at an above-average pass rate considering the potency of the SMU offense. Davis currently operates as the WR2 for the Horned Frogs, averaging 3.5 targets per game but with a 12.7% target share. His offense has the second-highest implied team total on the slate, so Davis could feature in an explosive slot role. He’s averaging an depth of target of 13.7 yards, decent for a slot WR. For Williams, it feels like he’s running wind-sprints out there being second on the team in routes run behind Quentin Johnston but averaging only 2 targets per game thus far. He’s the only other receiver currently in two-WR sets along with Johnston so the opportunity should be there this week for him. If I’m picking, I like Williams as he’s a $600 savings off Davis.

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