In this column, going position-by-position, we’ll offer up one building-block DFS sleeper priced at $6,000 or cheaper ($6,500 or less at QB) and three deeper bargains priced at $5,000 or cheaper (two QBs at $6,000 or less). We’re plucking our dark horses from DraftKings. Player pool drawn from the Friday and Saturday slates.
Affordable building block ($6,500 or less)
Tulane QB Justin McMillan ($6,400) at SMU (Saturday main slate) -- We love McMillan’s multi-faceted ability to do damage as a runner and a passer. He has two games this season with three touchdown passes (four games with multiple touchdown passses) and three with multiple rushing touchdowns. On top of that, McMillan has failed to rush for a touchdown in just three contests this fall.
McMilan is trust-worthy in his own right, but doubly so against a Mustangs defense which has been bleeding points of late. Discounting this past weekend’s game against non-passing entity Navy, SMU had allowed 350 or more passing yards to Holton Ahlers, Brady White and Clayton Tune in their previous three games. Both Athlers and Tune topped 400 yards passing. We see lots of points in this one.
And two from the bargain bin ($6,000 or less)
Florida State QB James Blackman ($6,000) at Florida (Saturday night slate) -- The opponent is a difficult one, to be sure. During a tumultuous fall in Tallahassee, though, Blackman has come on hot of late, throwing for 346 yards and a pair of touchdowns, a performance which he followed up with a 246-yard, three-touchdown showing versus Alabama State last time out. And hey, sure, that’s Alabama State. But hot is hot and in digging for bargains, we’re willing to take chances against a stronger opponent. Blackman also has incentive to play well, here, as he tries to hold down his renewed starting role -- Alex Hornibrook had siphoned a few starts off midseason -- into the 2020 season.
Oklahoma State QB Dru Brown ($4,900) vs. Oklahoma (Saturday night slate) -- Brown was merely replacement-level in throwing for 196 yards and two touchdowns against West Virginia last weekend, but he’ll have a palatable home matchup against the perpetually-wobbly Sooners, here. Brown was making his first career start versus the Mountaineers -- Spencer Sanders, out with thumb surgery -- and has now had a week to practice as QB1.
And as we have touched on in previous weeks, OU’s defense is nothing to be scared of. The Sooners did manage to largely control TCU’s Max Duggan this past Saturday, at least as a passer, but Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State all posted 30-plus points in the previous three games (40-plus for the Cyclones and Wildcats), with Charlie Brewer, Brock Purdy and Skylar Thompson all turning in useable DFS performances in their respective games.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)
Oregon State RB Jermar Jefferson ($5,600) at Oregon (Saturday early/main slates) -- One last chance to grab Jefferson on undue discount before the end of the regular season. It’s been a less-than-clean campaign for the sophomore star, who was dealing with injury at points midway through the season, but he came out in sharp fashion against Washington State last weekend in rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns while logging a 3-53-2 receiving line to boot.
Few backs under $6,000 have the talent to throw up that kind of performance in a given game. If Jefferson had simply stayed healthy (or mostly healthy) all season, you wouldn’t be seeing him at this price. Oregon has allowed seven rushers over 70 yards this season, including one in each of their last three games.
And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less)
South Carolina RB Tavien Feaster ($5,000) vs. Clemson (Saturday main slate) -- The Tavien Feaster Revenge Game! DFS players can only hope that the former TIgers signee has blood in his eyes come Saturday, anyway. Feaster has been sidelined for the past two games due to a groin injury but is expected to play this weekend. We’re not going to pretend that Clemson has any kind of a real crack in their armor in terms of defending against the run, but Feaster comes equipped with motive, breakaway speed and presumed opportunity -- it’s either run the ball with Feaster, Rico Dowdle et al. or let Tyler Hilinksi attempt to throw on an experienced, championship-caliber defense. We’ll push our chips in on the Gamecocks at least attempting to establish the run. Obvious drawback in this matchup -- should Clemson race out to a big lead, South Carolina is going to be forced to throw even if they don’t want to.
NC State RB Zonovan Knight ($4,400) vs. North Carolina (Saturday evening slate) -- Somewhat plying his trade in the shadows with an NC State squad which hasn’t much seen a national spotlight (doesn’t help that their games are being squirreled away on the ACC network), Knight is in the process of wrapping up a slick freshman campaign. For the season, he has rushed for 689 yards (5.6 YPC) and five touchdowns. And he’s coming on. Knight has put up at least 100 yards rushing in two of his last three games.
At 4-7, the Wolf Pack are already cooked in terms of a bowl. They’ll be looking to use this game as an end-of-the-season springboard with a rebuilding team. Knight goes out with a bang, here.
Iowa RB Tyler Goodson ($4,300) at Nebraska (Friday slate) -- The Hawkeyes have been a team in search of a running back for much of the season, with true freshman Goodson settling into a starting role just recently. He rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against Minnesota two weekends back, a performance which he followed up with a 38-yard, one-touchdown performance against Illinois this past Saturday. Those numbers versus the Illini are obviously less than desirable, but what piques our interest is that he received 21 carries in that contest -- even when it wasn’t working early, the Hawkeyes kept on feeding Goodson.
The Cornhuskers have allowed nine (!) running backs over 70 yards rushing in a game this season. Our only real trepidation with Goodson, here, is that if he starts slow for a second consecutive game, it wouldn’t stun if Iowa’s coaching staff began to lean in other directions. At just $4,300, though, we’re more than comfortable taking a chance with a young starter.
Affordable building block ($6,000 or less)
Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman ($5,900) vs. Wisconsin (Saturday early/main slates) -- Bateman has been our favorite kind of DFS receiver this season -- the consistent AF kind of receiver. Bateman has been held under 70 yards receiving in just three contests (out of 11 this season) and has been held out of the end zone in just four games. He has also caught at least six passes in each of his last three games.
Bateman will be facing off with a Wisconsin defense on Saturday which has allowed six receivers at least 70 yards in the last four games.
And three from the bargain bin ($5,000 or less)
West Virginia WR George Campbell ($4,900) at TCU (Friday slate) -- The Horned Frogs have been easily diced through the air this season, allowing a whopping 11 receivers at least 75 yards on the campaign. Campbell’s shine could come on the yardage front -- he has notched at least 90 yards receiving in each of his last three games -- but where we’re most enamored with the wideout comes in his tendency as a touchdown magnet. Campbell has scored four touchdowns in his last four games (at least one in three out of his last four contests) and has seven total touchdown grabs -- on all of 19 catches. The lack of volume on the receptions front does make him something of a more boom/bust play.
Washington State WR Renard Bell ($4,800) at Washington (Friday slate) -- Playing bop-it with the Cougars receiving corp can easily go awry, but we’ll take a shot with hot-hand Bell, who is coming off a slick 8-108-2 showing against Oregon State last weekend. The Huskies have a notorious recent history of shutting down HC Mike Leach’s Air Raid, so do take that into account with any WSU players you are considering rolling out there this weekend. Washington allowed 100 yards receiving to Laviska Shenault last weekend and 90 to Johnny Johnson two games before that. While theirs is a good defense, Washington does not boast a lockdown, shut-out-the-lights unit.
UCLA TE Devin Asiasi ($4,700) vs. Cal (Saturday late night slate) -- The Bruins can be a maddening team to spot offensively, but we’ve seen real improvements out of this offense in 2019. Four times in the last five games, now, UCLA has topped 30 points scored. Asiasi has been a major factor in that upswell, catching touchdown passes in three of his last four games while rolling for a season-best 72 yards receiving against Utah two Saturdays ago before promptly bettering that mark via a 5-141-1 line against USC last weekend.
While Cal possesses one of the top defenses in the Pac-12, they’ve been susceptible to allowing big receiving games to spread outfits in November, with both Washington State and USC turning in a pair of 100-yard receivers against the Golden Bears this month.