This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
This weekend, conference championships begin with the Conference USA and Pac-12 Championships on Friday. DraftKings offers a wide array of contests for this two-game slate, so let's dive into the action, beginning with the latest numbers from the oddsmakers.
Western Kentucky (-3.5) @ UTSA O/U: 72.5
Utah (-2) vs. Oregon O/U: 57.5
The differential in predicted game totals is apparent right away, with the Conference USA Championship yielding more potential snaps than the Pac-12 game by a wide margin. Both games have a reliable history to refer to, as both of these contests are rematches from the regular season. UTSA squeaked out a win in Week 6, while Utah ended Oregon's CFP aspirations with a convincing 38-7 beatdown two weeks ago. Oregon's run game was squelched completely by the Utes, and it will be up to Anthony Brown to open up the passing game if they hope to take revenge. Despite the greater popularity of the Pac-12 game, we're going to find tremendous value with the Conference USA final, as you'll see beginning with the available quarterbacks tonight.UTSA is given an additional boost by playing in the Alamodome, ostensibly a home game for the Roadrunners.
Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky ($9,000) vs. UTSA
Forget about Kenny Pickett's Heisman-worthy season. The prolific Zappe has 12 more touchdowns than Pickett and has thrown for almost 5,000 yards, a milestone he will likely pass Friday. Coach Tyson Helton brought Zappe and other offensive pieces from Houston Baptist and got the Hilltoppers into contention early, with Zappe enjoying one of the best performances by a quarterback this season. WKU doesn't run the ball very often, as passing plays account for 67 percent of its snaps, so you can bet that the Toppers will continue to rely on Zappe. In his lone matchup against UTSA, Zappe blitzed the Roadrunners for 523 yards and five touchdowns. He is a pocket passer in the truest sense, but he's also rattled off three rushing touchdowns on the year. Finally, his nine interceptions in 581 passing attempts are nothing short of spectacular. You won't see Zappe making many mistakes against a UTSA defense, which is pedestrian against the pass.
Frank Harris, UTSA ($6,400) vs. Western Kentucky
For starters, we need to ignore UTSA's totals in their last game. The Roadrunners came into the matchup against North Texas with a berth in the championship well in hand and an undefeated record. After a slow start, coach Jeff Traylor elected to let his bench loose to play the rest of the day. As a result, totals from this recent matchup are not a true reflection of Harris, who only passed for 59 yards in the matchup. The Roadrunners execute a much more balanced offense than Western Kentucky, but Harris more than makes up for it with a proficient dual-threat ability. He's racked up over 484 yards and five scores on the ground, and while that doesn't come close to Anthony Brown's rushing numbers, Harris is arguably a better passer with 2,688 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to his credit. Like Zappe, Harris also went off in their regular-season matchup, posting 349 yards and six touchdowns.
Zappe and Harris should end up occupying most QB and S-FLEX positions, and they will no doubt be quite popular. As I've said in many articles, your best contrarian method is to ignore me and take a completely different route, but you'll be doing yourself a disservice by omitting these signal-callers.
Tavion Thomas, Utah ($7,700) vs. Oregon
Thomas didn't eclipse 100 yards against the Ducks in their last matchup, but he made up for it with three of his 18 rushing touchdowns this season. Thomas is a threat to beat the century mark weekly, and the only knock on his production is the presence of TJ Pledger ($5,300), who is also worthy of consideration if you start to have salary-cap concerns during your build. Pledger's' FP-per-dollar ratio is excellent, and he may be the best backup running back available on the slate. You can afford Thomas by skimping a wideout or the S-FLEX, and he should prove to be worth every penny.
Sincere McCormick, UTSA ($6,200) vs. Western Kentucky
I was honestly a bit shocked by McCormick's salary. It won't be easy to find a way around rostering McCormick, who is having one of the best performances by a running back this season. With 1,275 yards and 12 touchdowns, McCormick thrives in the Roadrunners' balanced offense. Although he failed to score a touchdown against WKU in their only matchup, he managed to rack up 120 yards against a defense that typically allows an average of 146 rushing yards to the opposition. If you have salary problems and need a McCormick pivot, Brenden Brady ($3,700) could be an interesting option. He showed up for 71 yards in Week 13 after missing seven weeks due to an undisclosed injury. I like Pledger a bit more as an RB pivot, but Brady is also viable.
If you've been building as you read, you know that with a Zappe/Harris/Thomas/McCormick build, you only have a little more than $5,000 per player for your three wideout positions. Luckily, we've found some cheap value, beginning with the higher-paced Conference-USA matchup.
WESTERN KENTUCKY TARGETS
It's simply too easy to profile Zappe's wideout corps, and we may only be able to afford one of them. Jerreth Sterns ($7,300) ranks second in the country with 1,529 yards and leads the nation in receptions, so he's the ideal wideout to slot in by a wide margin. We can also get Mitchell Tinsley ($6,000) at a reasonable price, but the Hilltopper who probably fits best amidst our salary issues is Malachi Corley ($5,300), who has 650 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on the season. Sterns is so good, the best way to roster him may be via the S-FLEX, thus omitting a second quarterback and going for a Zappe-Sterns QB/S-FLEX stack. The punt wideout is Daewood Davis ($4,400), who has eight touchdowns to his credit. He has been a consistent deep-threat option for Zappe all season.
Frank Harris likes to spread the ball around, so picking the right wideout for UTSA will be a bit of a dart throw. Joshua Cephus ($4,800) and De'Corian Clark ($4,200) had much better days than the higher-salaried Zakhari Franklin ($5,200) against the Hilltopppers' secondary, and this drill-down will turn out to be a salary-cap saver by going for one of these lower-priced targets.
Brant Kuithe, Utah ($4,900) vs. Oregon
I feel obligated to give the Pac-12 game a bit more love, and Kuithe fits the bill. The $4.8k price point is appealing for one of the best tight ends in the country, and Caermon Rising found Kuithe early and often in their blowout win against Oregon. Kuithe caught five passes for 118 yards in the win.