This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! While the bowl season kicks off with a small taste of games Friday, Saturday gives us our first big bite. SMU and Florida Atlantic combine for the highest expected score of the slate at 68.5 and actually possess the two highest implied totals as well. Needless to say, that's likely the best game to target on the slate. Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and FIU are the three other teams all projected to notch 30 or more points.
Link to matchup chart for sorting/research purposes
Note: RotoWire expected scores are generated by a mathematical equation excluding special teams and points directly off turnovers (from what I understand).
Shane Buechele, SMU ($10,500) vs. FAU
As I mentioned in the opener, this is the game to target and there's little reason to stray away from the highest-priced quarterback on the board. Florida Atlantic's defense lives off of interceptions, notching a nation-high 21 on the season, but Buechele has thrown just nine interceptions on 443 pass attempts and just two in the last four games. If he can take care of the ball, Buechele should be able to take advantage of an Owls defense surrendering 7.0 yards per pass attempt and 1.6 passing touchdowns per game. The status of wide receiver Reggie Roberson (foot) is worth monitoring, however, as he's been Buechele's clear No. 2 in the receiving game behind James Proche.
Chris Robison, Florida Atlantic ($8,300) vs. SMU
On the flip side of the same contest, Robison is coming off of one of his best fantasy showings of the year, throwing for 267 yards and four touchdowns against a normally stingy UAB defense. The Mustangs have been much more accommodating to opposing passers, allowing 7.7 yards per attempt and slate-high marks for passing yards per game (284.9) and passing touchdowns per game (2.6). He will have a new playcaller for the contest with Lane Kiffin gone to Ole Miss, but offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. has been around the program long enough and will presumably take over the duties for at least this game.
Stephen Calvert, Liberty ($7,100) vs. Georgia Southern
A price this low for Calvert is a bit puzzling. It's true that he's coming off of a pair of down weeks, having posted a combined 26.2 points versus New Mexico State and Virginia, but just before that he went for 23.3 against BYU and 35.6 versus UMass. Georgia Southern's defense falls toward the lower end of the college spectrum, finishing the regular season having surrendered a slate-high 7.8 yards per pass attempt and 2.3 passing touchdowns per game. While Georgia Southern doesn't typically allow too many offensive plays per contest (68.2 on average), they do surrender 5.6 yards per play and are much more vulnerable to opposing passers.
One more to consider: Shai Werts, Georgia Southern ($7,900)
Anthony Jones, Florida International ($7,900) vs. Arkansas State
Jones actually ranks seventh on the slate in terms of price, but he's the top-priced back that I'm specifically recommending for Saturday's slate. Jones averages 15 totes per contest on the season and has taken 16 or more in three of the last four games. Arkansas State has allowed 33.2 FanDuel points per contest to opposing backs in 11 FBS games and Jones should be the primary beneficiary of that action. In the three games earlier this season he has faced rush defenses ranked 99th or worse in fantasy points allowed to backs, he has gone over 20 points in each. It wouldn't be shocking to see him return to that territory Saturday.
J.D. King, Georgia Southern ($7,700) vs. Liberty
King's price tag is slightly puzzling given that he's coming off of back-to-back 100-yard efforts with four touchdowns between them. He did miss a contest between the two, but King actually saw more work than fellow back Wesley Kennedy (16 carries to 11 carries) in the regular-season finale and averages a team-high 16 totes per game. To be clear, I'm not opposed to deploying both of Georgia Southern backs if you're looking at backs top of the board, but King appears to be a far greater value going against a Liberty rush defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry and 192.7 rushing yards per contest.
Marcel Murray, Arkansas State ($7,600) vs. FIU
Murray is expected to give it a go Saturday and should be relied upon a bit more Saturday against an FIU defense allowing the fewest passing yards per game (178.5) on the slate. The same defense is allowing north of 200 rushing yards per game (201.3), 5.1 yards per carry and 2.2 rushing touchdowns per game. The sophomore back has proven he can handle a heavy workload, rushing 22-plus times three weeks in a row earlier this season, and it would make sense to lean more on the ground game in this contest.
James Proche, SMU ($9,500) vs. Florida Atlantic
The Florida Atlantic defense sits squarely in average territory versus both the pass and the run, but Proche is as trustworthy as they come at the receiver position. In fact, Proche leads the nation in targets per game (12.8), trails just Devin Duvernay for the most receptions nationally and is tied for third for the most receiving touchdowns. With No. 2 wideout Reggie Roberson (foot) a question mark at best for the bowl game, Proche could be in for major looks again Saturday should Roberson sit out. It's certainly worth keeping an eye on Roberson's status, but Proche is playable regardless.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty ($8,600) vs. Georgia Southern
Gandy-Golden has matched Proche target-for-target in the last couple weeks of the season, collecting 24 of them. While he only reeled in 10 of the 24, his matchups in the past two contests were only average in terms of passing defenses. Georgia Southern ranks 91st nationally in the same department, allowing opposing offenses to rack up 26 touchdowns over 12 games. Gandy-Golden iis no stranger to the end zone, reaching pay dirt nine times through 12 games and 29 times over the past three seasons. He needs one Saturday to reach 10 for the campaign in each of the last three and there's reason to believe he will reach that mark.
Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic ($8,400) vs. SMU
Bryant steamrolled toward the end of the season, recording double-digit FanDuel points in each for the last six games and 19.4 in the last three tilts. SMU has had its struggles against the tight end position this season, ranking 104th nationally in points per game allowed. While that only adds up to 8.9 fantasy points per game allowed to the position, that's largely because most offenses don't heavily utilize the position. In fact, no tight end the Mustangs has faced this season has averaged more than 5.4 fantasy points per game. Given that fact, it's fairly reasonable to anticipate Bryant exceeding the 11.0 FanDuel points per game he's averaging this season, especially given his recent run of success and the expected high-scoring nature of the game.
Tony Gaiter, Florida International ($7,400) vs. Arkansas State
Gaiter has quietly emerged as one of the primary targets for quarterback James Morgan down the stretch, posting his best two games of 2019 in the last two weeks of the regular season versus Miami and Marshall. The two defenses weren't slouches either, ranking 22nd and 67th in terms of passing yards allowed per game. Arkansas State, on the other hand, sits 104th nationally against the pass, opening the door for another strong receiving performance. If you can't quite slide Gaiter into your lineup, teammate Shermar Thornton ($7,000) is a little cheaper, has five touchdowns under his belt this season and is coming off of 20 targets in the last two games. Both options are fine but I'm putting my salary toward the one who seems to have the best connection of late.