CFB Grind Down: Saturday, December 26th

Each week, one of the best CFB DFS minds out there, Andy “a25smith” Smith, will break down the upcoming college football slate to help you narrow down the best targets.

This analysis should point you in the right direction as you set your CFB DFS lineups, but it is still up to you to decipher the information and make your own selections. Use this article to help you gain a better understanding of the matchups for the coming week and build from there.

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Indiana Hoosiers at Duke Blue DevilsO/U 71.5

Indiana Hoosiers Duke Blue Devils
Rd. Proj. Rd. Spread Pace Pace Hm. Proj. Hm. Spread
37.25 -3 79.50 78.92 34.25 3
PaYd/G RuYd/G PaYd/G RuYd/G
Offense 285.92 204.83 Offense 253.33 178.00
Opp Def 228.58 143.42 Opp Def 326.33 181.33
Opp Def Rank 80th 42nd Opp Def Rank 127th 73rd


This matchup between Indiana and Duke is one that normally would only get us excited if they were meeting on the hardwood. However, that isn’t the case this season as this should be a really fun matchup, especially for fantasy purposes. This should be a fun slate with plenty of points and this game checks in with the slate’s highest total at 71, which is primarily due to Indiana’s potent offense, but very weak defense.

Duke actually spent the first half of the season in the top 10 in passing defense, but that was due to a weak schedule, and the wheels fell off when they faced UNC. Marquise Williams threw for 494 yards and four TDs, and then an average QB in Matt Johns followed suit with 344 passing yards. The status of their star RB Jordan Howard is also in question and if he sits then it’s a solid boost to Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld has taken advantage of the weaker passing defenses on IU’s schedule, especially when Howard has been out. Overall this is a plus matchup for the IU passing game as, outside of UNC, this will easily be the second best offense that Duke has seen and Vegas expects them to have success as they have a team total of 37 points.

One big question still remaining for Indiana is the health of their top RB Jordan Howard. He missed the last two games of the season and is listed as questionable for this one. Prior to his injury, he torched some top run defenses like Iowa and Michigan, and if he’s a full go then he’s an elite option as he’s proven himself to be matchup proof when he’s healthy. If Howard is out then Devine Redding should shoulder the load. He’s not nearly as talented as Howard, but does have a nose for the endzone.

The IU WRs were difficult to figure out for portions of the year, but Simmie Cobbs really turned it on down the stretch. He had at least 84 receiving yards in five of his last six games and emerged as the most consistent IU WR to target. Mitchell Paige and Ricky Jones both have had their moments, but have been more volatile so they’re secondary GPP pivots for me. Paige did finish the year on the upswing, whereas Jones has been trending downward over the second half of the season.

Elite Options – Nate Sudfeld (if Howard out), Jordan Howard (if healthy), Simmie Cobbs

Secondary Options – Nate Sudfeld (if Howard in), Ricky Jones, Mitchell Paige, Devine Redding (if Howard out)


Duke draws an elite matchup against a porous IU defense and Duke QB Thomas Sirk is my favorite option on the day. He struggled with injuries near the end of the year, but had a solid season finale and the bowl layoff should have allowed him to heal up. Duke is RBBC and Sirk actually plays a big part in the Duke run game so he provides the added dual threat upside as he routinely has 15+ carries a game. On top of his running ability, he should see extra success in the passing game as Indiana’s pass defense has been abysmal (127th out of 128).

UPDATE- While I still like Sirk, there are some quotes from the Duke HC indicating that Boehme, the backup qb, could see a few snaps. It doesn’t sound concerning enough to scare me off but it is worth noting the risk. I’m traveling but the article is linked on my twitter

His WR are a bit tougher to figure out, but T. J. Rahming and Max McCaffrey have been the top two options this season. Both are cheap around the industry and are viable sources of salary relief if you’re looking to handcuff Sirk. Of the two, I’ll give the edge to the talented freshman Rahming. He finished the year very strong with 19 receptions over his last two games and given the elite matchup, he could be in store for another big outing.

As mentioned with Thomas Sirk, Duke is RBBC so their RB options just don’t offer much upside.

Elite Options – Thomas Sirk, T. J. Rahming

Secondary Options – Max McCaffrey

Washington Huskies at Southern Miss Golden EaglesO/U 56.5

Washington Huskies Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Rd. Proj. Rd. Spread Pace Pace Hm. Proj. Hm. Spread
32.5 -8.5 66.25 74.15 24 8.5
PaYd/G RuYd/G PaYd/G RuYd/G
Offense 235.50 152.83 Offense 327.92 191.92
Opp Def 223.31 140.77 Opp Def 216.00 133.92
Opp Def Rank 75th 32nd Opp Def Rank 48th 33rd


This game features the lowest total on the day at 56 points, which isn’t actually all that low, but there are some potential shootouts so this isn’t a game I’m looking to target heavily. The one player I am eyeing is Washington RB Myles Gaskin. He finished the year very strong with three straight 100 yards games and has topped 18 carries in each of his last four games. Typically, a Power Five conference team like Washington will have the advantage over a team like Southern Mississippi in the trenches. That played itself out earlier this year as Southern Miss allowed 200+ rushing yards to both Nebraska and Mississippi State, the only two Power 5 teams they played.

Outside of Gaskin, this is a very unappealing Washingto offense as they play at a slow pace and their passing game typically lacks upside. I’ll pass on QB Jake Browning and the rest of the Washington WR, but Joshua Perkins is a solid target at TE.

Elite Options – Myles Gaskin

Secondary Options – Joshua Perkins

Southern Miss

Southern Miss features one of their conferences’ best offenses, however they weren’t nearly as potent against the two power five conference teams they faced in Mississippi State (16 points) and Nebraska (28 points). They also have a team total of 24 points, which is lowest on the slate and 16 points lower than their season average. Overall, this is a tough matchup against a Washington defense that has been solid this year, and this is definitely a pace down game for them. Based on that all the Southern Miss options are secondary options for me.

Ito Smith and Jalen Richard have been a great combo at RB as both topped 1,000 rushing yards, but Washington is allowing just 3.6 YPC this season and it can be tough to nail down which one to target. I’ll likely pass here but both have flashed big upside this season.

Nick Mullens has had a strong season but he disappointed against Western Kentucky and there are other QB much higher on my list. Southern Miss does feature a solid trio of WR in Michael Thomas, Casey Martin and D. J. Thompson. Thomas is expensive and while I don’t love the matchup, he has scored a TD in nine straight games and is a fine tournament option.

Elite OptionsNONE

Secondary Options – Michael Thomas, Jalen Richard, Ito Smith

Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Virginia Tech HokiesO/U 63

Tulsa Golden Hurricane Virginia Tech Hokies
Rd. Proj. Rd. Spread Pace Pace Hm. Proj. Hm. Spread
24.5 14 83.33 71.50 38.5 -14
PaYd/G RuYd/G PaYd/G RuYd/G
Offense 329.83 172.92 Offense 216.00 151.42
Opp Def 173.67 180.08 Opp Def 292.92 238.58
Opp Def Rank 10th 77th Opp Def Rank 125th 118th


Tulsa has been a royal pain to deal with this season so I’m glad to be done with them. Their offensive performance has been very unpredictable and they also haven’t been very forthcoming with injury news. Along with Southern Miss, they check in with the lowest team total on the slate and aren’t a team that is very high on my radar. In some situations like this you’ll see the Power 5 conference team fail to show up, but given that this is Frank Beamer’s last game, that shouldn’t be the case for Virginia Tech. This is a tough spot to target Tulsa as Virginia Tech has played great pass defense, and just recently held Marquise Williams in check. Their weakness has been their run defense, but Tulsa is 14 point underdogs so they may not be able to stick with their run game for the entire game.

In terms of the Tulsa run game, Zach Langer and D’Angelo Brewer split carries, but Langer gets all the redzone looks and has 17 TD on the season. I don’t love the play but he’d be the preferred target of the two and always has multi-TD upside.

Dane Evans plays in a terrific offensive system but his performance has been up and down this season. I do worry about his potential for turnovers against a quality VT secondary so he’s not a guy I’m looking towards. I think the better way to get exposure to the Tulsa passing game would be via Keyarris Garrett or Joshua Atkinson. Garrett is coming off of a monster game against Tulane so his price is elevated and he has been up and down due to Evans’ volatility. I like Gabe Marks as the safer cash game option but Garrett does clearly offer huge game upside as he’s topped 168 receiving yards in three of his last six games. Atkinson is the 2nd Tulsa WR and while he dealt with injuries earlier this year, he looks to be back healthy. I prefer guys like Simmie Cobbs and Jordan Payton, but Tulsa should be trailing and force to throw often in the 2nd half.

Elite OptionsNONE

Secondary Options – Keyarris Garrett, Zach Langer, Joshua Atkinson

Virginia Tech

I did a double take when I saw Virginia Tech projected at 38 points. They are a very average offense that only averages 27 PPG on the season so this is a great spot to target them. Tulsa has been abysmal against both the run and the pass so every facet of this Hokie offense is in play.

The one VT option that I’m not overly high on is their QB Michael Brewer as he just hasn’t flashed much upside. This does profile as a game where he could throw for 3 TDs but the problem is that there just aren’t many high end options so I don’t know that it’s necessary to go so cheap at QB. He’s fine for a low dollar large field tournament but I’d prefer to get my exposure to the VT offense by targeting their skill position players as Travon McMillian, Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges are predictable and eat up a lot of the VT touches.

Speaking of McMillian, he came on strong in the 2nd half for the Hokies and locked down the workhorse role. He was just average against UNC and Virginia in his final two games, but his price is way down on FD and this is a very soft matchup as Tulsa allows 5.2 YPC and is 118th in YPG. McMillian has his eyes set on a 1,0000 yard season and only needs 40 yards to hit that mark. Given the matchup, he should reach that in the first half and is one of the better RB plays on the day.

Brewer’s top two targets are TE Bucky Hodges and WR Isaiah Ford. Hodges it the top TE on the board on FD, while Ford is looking to top 1,000 receiving yards on the season. Ford has managed to rack up 10 receiving TD on the season, which is impressive given the plodding offense he plays in, and is a top notch mid-range target at WR

Elite Options – Travon McMillan, Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford

Secondary Options – Michael Brewer

Miami (FL) Hurricanes at Washington State CougarsO/U 61

Miami (FL) Hurricanes Washington State Cougars
Rd. Proj. Rd. Spread Pace Pace Hm. Proj. Hm. Spread
29.75 1.5 67.58 79.50 31.25 -1.5
PaYd/G RuYd/G PaYd/G RuYd/G
Offense 281.92 119.42 Offense 397.00 79.92
Opp Def 223.33 199.50 Opp Def 195.92 210.83
Opp Def Rank 81st 88th Opp Def Rank 41st 114th


This should be an interesting matchup as a disappointing Miami team will face a Washington State team that surprised many. My biggest concern for Miami is whether they are ready to play in this one as they have an interim head coach and this year obviously didn’t go as planned. Vegas doesn’t expect that to be an issue as they are only 2 point underdogs. As long as they are ready to play, this is a quality matchup for the Miami offense as Washington State plays at a fast tempo and has struggled against both the pass and the run.

I don’t love any Miami player for cash games, but I do think there is some tournament upside here. Joseph Yearby is a talented back, but he’s been hurt by a poor offensive line at times as well as volume volatility, partially due to blowouts. This game is expected to remain close and he has at least 17 carries in each of Miami’s last three close games. He’s very affordable around the industry and Washington State is allowing 5.0 YPC on the season.

Miami QB Brad Kaaya has been up and down this season and is a GPP only option. However, he does bring 300 yard passing upside to the table and will likely be fairly low owned. This is a solid matchup as Washington State is 81st in passing yards allowed per game and Miami could be forced to the air to try to keep pace with the Cougars’ high octane passing attack. He’s spread the ball around at WR, but Stacy Coley and Rashawn Scott lead the team on the season. Coley does offer some big play ability so he’d be the preferred GPP target.

Elite Options – Joseph Yearby (GPP)

Secondary Options – Brad Kaaya, Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott

Washington State

This should be an interesting matchup as Miami’s weakness on defense has been their run defense, which allows an absurd 5.7 YPC. However, Washington State has no real interest in running the ball as they average only 3.6 YPC (109th). They do lead the nation in passing with 405 YPG, whereas the Miami passing defense has been slightly above average, allowing 211 YPG (41st). However, Miami just recently lost one of their starting safeties to suspension and they haven’t faced many pass first teams, including no air raid teams. The two top offenses they faced, Clemson and UNC, had no need to throw as they mauled Miami on the ground. Overall this profiles as a fairly neutral matchup as Vegas has Washington State at a solid 31 point team total, which is right in line with their season average of 33.

Given that this is not an elite matchup for Washington State, I’m leaning towards saving with Thomas Sirk and Josh Rosen over the more expensive Luke Falk. However, the salary cap isn’t overly restrictive so he’s easy enough to fit in and his passing volume does offer lots of safety for cash games so I do think he’s an elite cash game option.

His top target at WR continues to be Gabe Marks, who has had a terrific season this year. The matchup isn’t necessarily elite, but given the lack of high end options, he’s fairly easy to fit into your lineups. That should make him a very popular target so while he’s a terrific cash game target, he could be a potential tournament fade if you’re feeling risky. Miami has tried to keep things in front of them in the passing game and allows only 10.9 YPC, which is top 20 nationally, and Marks has been a solid possession WR with 99 receptions on the year. Dom Williams is the second WR for the Cougars, but he does a little more work down the field so this sets up as a better matchup for Marks than Williams. River Cracraft has really fallen off this year as he just hasn’t shown the connection with Falk. He does operate out of the slot so maybe he sees an uptick in targets given Miami’s focus on taking away the deep ball.

UPDATE – Cracraft has been hurt and it doesn’t look like Washington State is leaking word as to his status so I’d look elsewhere unless we get confirmation.

This Miami run defense has been one to attack all season long, but there’s just no Washington State RB that gets very much volume. Gerard Wicks is their leading rusher on the season, but he rarely tops 10 carries. He does get solid usage in the passing game and with Miami’s weak run defense maybe he pops one of those carries for a TD. I wouldn’t trust him in cash games, but he could be worth a tournament peek for cheap on a PPR site like DK.

Elite Options – Luke Falk, Gabe Marks

Secondary Options – Dom Williams, River Cracraft, Gerard Wicks (DK)

UCLA Bruins at Nebraska CornhuskersO/U 60

UCLA Bruins Nebraska Cornhuskers
Rd. Proj. Rd. Spread Pace Pace Hm. Proj. Hm. Spread
33.25 -6.5 76.08 72.75 26.75 6.5
PaYd/G RuYd/G PaYd/G RuYd/G
Offense 286.42 186.00 Offense 274.67 167.83
Opp Def 288.17 113.42 Opp Def 205.67 187.75
Opp Def Rank 122nd 8th Opp Def Rank 35th 82nd


I was personally cheering for Nebraska to get bowl eligible as I wanted one more crack at their atrocious pass defense. Luckily for us and the UCLA passing attack, there weren’t enough 6-6 teams so a 5-7 Nebraska team made the cut. Nebraska actually features a fairly solid run defense as they allow just 113 YPG (8th) and 3.7 YPC (29th). However, their passing defense is an entirely different story as they 122nd in passing yards allowed per game – despite the fact that they play in the run heavy Big 10. Poor passing QBs like Mitch Leidner (301 passing yards), David Blough (356 total yards and 5 TDs) and Clayton Thorson (303 total yards and 2 TDs) have torched them so this is a terrific spot for Josh Rosen to finish his freshman year with a bang. His top two targets are Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte. Payton is the preferred option and is one of my favorite options at WR on the day, but Duarte has shown big game upside so he’s a viable GPP pivot off of Payton.

Paul Perkins has been the UCLA workhorse but this game sets up better for the UCLA passing attack. Perkins is an elite RB though and UCLA should be able to the move ball so the scoring opportunities will be there. He also is solidly involved in the UCLA passing game and has proven to mostly be matchup proof when healthy. The rushing yardage could be harder to come by, but he’s produced against quality run defenses this year, and he could see additional receiving and TD opportunities in this one.

Elite Options – Josh Rosen, Jordan Payton, Paul Perkins

Secondary Options – Thomas Duarte


From a Nebraska perspective this isn’t an overly appealing matchup as UCLA’s weakness defensively has been their run defense. Nebraska’s run offense has been sub-par this season but it looks like Imani Cross has taken over as the lead Husker RB. He had 18 carries in each of his final three games and is a bigger back that has a nose for the endzone. I would expect him to be very low owned so he could be worth a dice roll in a large field tournament as he has run well and the matchup is solid.

At times this year, Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, Jr., has flashed big play ability and solid fantasy potential, but he’s also been very mistake prone as interceptions are a big issue. This UCLA secondary has been their strength so they could take advantage of his mistakes so I do think there are much safer options. However, with UCLA likely scoring at a solid clip, Nebraska could be forced to the air to keep up. I like Rosen, Sirk and Falk as the top QB options on the day so Armstrong falls into a large field GPP only category. He has spread the ball around at WR, but if you’re looking to roster a Nebraska WR, the best bet is Jordan Westerkamp, who has shown 100+ yard receiving ability and has scored in three of his last four games.

Elite OptionsNONE

Secondary Options – Imani Cross, Jordan Westerkamp, Tommy Armstrong, Jr.

About the Author

  • Andy Smith (a25smith)

  • Andy, aka a25smith , is an oil and gas attorney from Houston, Texas. He graduated from tiny Southwestern University but his allegiance lies with Texas A&M where his wife currently attends veterinary school. He started playing DFS in 2012 with a $150 bankroll and is now ranked in the top 50 of the RotoGrinders CFB leaderboard. His two best DFS sports are CFB and NBA. Follow Andy on Twitter @SouthwesternAg


  • madmanjayWV


    NO CARTER love at TE for the HUSKERS?… that 2

  • jolokia

    great write up as always! qq; is anthony nash from IU a reliable punt at 3400 on DK? 17 catches in his last 3 games is enticing…

    thank you!

  • a25smith

    • 372

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #54

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Madman and jolokia- yeah carter in play on FD and Nash on DK. Should have included them but caught in holiday rush.

    Also, while I still like Sirk there is some Quotes from the duke HC indicating that boehme could see a few snaps. Not enough to scare me off of Sirk but worth noting. Article is linked on my Twitter

  • xmolette17

    Too many Zeros in that VT article in one thousand

  • EWizzle81

    Just curious as to why you didn’t mention the Marshall UCONN game,

  • asbernard1

    @EWizzle81 said...

    Just curious as to why you didn’t mention the Marshall UCONN game,

    Its not part of the main slate on DK

  • pcolaballer10

    any reason river cracraft hasn’t played in a while?

  • a25smith

    • 372

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #54

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Ewizlle – it wasn’t included in either the main slates, which were the only ones posted when I did the GD.

    pcolaballer10 – He’s been hurt and there was some murmors he could be ready for the bowl, but I can’t find any indication anywhere that he’s good to go. Given the lack of update, I’d look elsewhere

  • pcolaballer10

    thanks buddy i was thinking the same thing, but i did like the matchup. o well

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