This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We have hit Week 8 of the college football season and have some handy tools at your disposal for the upcoming FanDuel slates. Included among those is our always handy lineup optimizer, the weekly rankings by position and some tools to explore on your own like targets, team trends, odds and Defense vs. Position. With all of this information at your disposal, we aim to arm you as much as possible each week.
Once again, Alabama and UCF rank near the top of the implied points category, with the Crimson Tide and Knights tied at 43.0 this week. This particular slate features two defenses allowing more than 300 yards per game in Illinois and Missouri, but the opposing quarterbacks are unlikely to take advantage of that. On the rushing end, Illinois and UCF rank worst on the slate in rushing yards per game allowed, while Wisconsin and Tennessee sneak in there in regards to worst efficiency against the run on a per carry basis.
A full picture of some key statistical categories can be seen in the table below:
Note: All stats are opposing defense. Plays/G are teams combined
YPA=Yards Per Attempt
Without further adieu, the following are some of the players I may target in the main slate this week.
Gardner Minshew II, Washington State (vs. Oregon) $10,300
Minshew has excelled with the Cougars after transferring over from East Carolina, tossing for three touchdown passes or more against all FBS opponents this season, and more than 400 yards in four of six games this season. The game sits third on the slate in terms of points expected, and Oregon's defense has been susceptible to the pass this season, allowing 8.1 yards per pass attempt. In the potentially high-scoring game, Washington State is favored by three, boosting the team's implied score to 35.5. Look for Minshew to sling the ball around repeatedly in a game that is expected to be close and should feature one of the higher play counts on the slate.
David Blough, Purdue (vs. Ohio State) $8,600
As part of a mid-tier full of subpar options this week, Blough could be the cream of the crop. He has neared or surpassed 300 passing yards in each of the four weeks since taking over as the full-time starter for the Boilermakers. While Ohio State may be better than nearly all of the defenses he's faced in that stretch, Purdue figures to be trailing in the contest and could be forced to abandon the run. Blough has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and Ohio State's defense has proven to be somewhat vulnerable against the pass, allowing 7.2 yards per attempt this season.
Secondary Pick: Shawn Robinson, TCU ($8,700)
Bargain Bin (<$8,600)
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (at Ole Miss) $7,700
After a rough stretch that had many calling for his job, Stidham finally seemed to get back on track last week against Tennessee, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns against a defense allowing only 205.8 passing yards per contest on the season. If there is any week for Stidham to bust out, it should come Saturday versus an Ole Miss defense allowing nearly 300 yards per game through the air to go along with 2.3 passing touchdowns per game. At just $7,700, there's certainly a chance for some value using Stidham as a flex play option.
Tournament Play: A.J. Bush, Illinois ($8,400)
Elite ($9,000 and up)
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (vs. Illinois) $9,900
Taylor slots in third on the board at running back this week and takes on an Illinois defense that should allow him to run wild. The Illini have allowed the largest per carry average (5.1) on the slate and second-most rushing yards per game (199.5) through seven weeks. Although his 10.1 points last week don't stick out, Taylor averaged 5.9 yards per carry against a Michigan defense allowing just 3.1 yards per tote on the campaign. After being held out of the end zone for the third time in six games, Taylor should reach pay dirt on multiple occasions Saturday.
Tournament Play: Karan Higdon, Michigan ($9,300)
JaTarvious Whitlow (shoulder), Auburn (at Ole Miss) $8,400
Whitlow is officially considered questionable for Saturday's contest, but he took part in practice Wednesday, likely lining him up to play. There's still some question as to whether he'll be limited, so it may be best to employ Whitlow in tournament lineups only given the variability in his action. Assuming he goes, the freshman will take on an Ole Miss defense yielding a slate-worst 210.4 rushing yards per game on 4.8 yards per carry and allowing 1.7 rushing touchdowns per contest. If he winds up missing the contest, Malik Miller ($7,000) should be strongly considered after he rushed six times for 32 yards and hauled in six passes for 57 more last week against Tennessee.
Bargain Bin (<$7,500)
Travis Dye, Oregon (at Washington State), $7,100
Although Dye falls behind Verdell in the Ducks' pecking order, this game figures to be uptempo with a lot of scoring and plays, with multiple backs potentially figuring into the mix. Even as the No. 2 back last week, he ran 15 times for 67 yards and caught a pass for seven more. Washington State's defense doesn't measure up to Washington's either, giving Dye potential value if he can find the end zone in Saturday's matchup.
Elite ($9,000 and up)
Gabriel Davis, UCF (at East Carolina) $9,000
While he had a down showing a couple weeks back, Davis has been consistently productive in each of the other contests this season. Saturday's matchup brings an ECU defense surrendering 7.5 yards per attempt through the air along with 2.2 touchdowns per contest. In what's predicted to be a high-scoring affair with the potential for the most plays of any game, Davis seems like a good bet to find pay dirt again like he has in five of six games this season.
Secondary pick: KJ Hamler, Penn State (at Indiana) $8,900
Easop Winston Jr., Washington State (vs. Oregon) $8,400
Davontavean Martin was the clear favorite target of quarterback Gardner Minshew early in the season – receiving 37 targets in the first three weeks – but it has evened out in the three games since. Winston has actually receive more targets in the past three games (24) than Martin (22), turning nine of them last week into seven grabs for 99 yards. He's also scored on five occasions this season and should have a good chance at another big effort Saturday as a cheaper complementary piece against an Oregon defense allowing 1.8 passing touchdowns per game and 8.1 yards per attempt through the air.
Secondary Pick: Damonte Coxie, Memphis ($8,100)
Bargain Bin (<$7,500)
Ryan Davis, Auburn (at Ole Miss) $6,800
If you are interested in using Jarrett Stidham as your flex quarterback, can I offer you a complementary punt wideout in Davis? In the past two weeks, Davis has drawn a team-high 21 targets, and Auburn enters a matchup Saturday against an Ole Miss defense allowing 289.1 passing yards per game and 2.3 passing scores per contest. This should be a good week to get the passing game going, and it's about time for Davis – who scored five touchdowns in 2017 – to record his first touchdown of the 2018 campaign.