We’re almost there, friends. It’s almost time. Time for the final DFS slate of the season. We could not be more excited for this year’s title game matchup between LSU and defending-champion Clemson. Below are our preferred lineup plays for the title game on Jan. 13. It’s been a fun season. Thanks for reading our various DFS ramblings, putting up with our failures and (hopefully) winning here and there. Let’s do it one more time, friends. Player values below provided by DraftKings.
Player pool drawn from: LSU vs. Clemson
Captain: Clemson RB Travis Etienne ($14,100) -- Etienne is the third-most expensive option at captain, trailing only Joe Burrow ($19,200) and Justin Jefferson ($14,700), but we are not scared off by the price tag. We see him as the most trustworthy option in this game. Even when Etienne is not blasting peeps as a runner -- for instance, Ohio State held him to just 36 yards rushing on 10 carries -- he remains a threat in the passing game. Against the Buckeyes he also caught three passes for 98 yards and a pair of scores. Now, he has just two games this season with more than three catches (each of those saw him catch four), so we’re not talking extreme volume.
Etienne has scored touchdowns in eight straight games entering entering the title game, with six games in that space seeing him over 100 yards rushing. We understand the temptation of LSU’s offense, but temptation can be dangerous when Clemson DC Brent Venables is standing on other sideline.
Utility: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence ($10,800) -- We are high as kites on Clemson, as you’ll see. Lawrence wasn’t at his sharpest against OSU in the semis, completing just 18-of-33 passes while throwing for a ho-hum 259 yards. And yet. He ended up accounting for three touchdowns while showing off a remarkable sixth-gear as a runner. Lawrence put the wheels in motion with a long galloping touchdown in the second quarter to help spark an offense which had been sagging and finished the game with a career-best 107 yards rushing.
You don’t bank on a Lawrence as a rusher, of course. But we wonder if Clemson tries to tap that rock once more in a week, in the hopes that they can draw out the problematic LSU defense which allowed Ole Miss QB John Rhys Plumlee to rush for 212 yards in November. We thought OU would try to rush Jalen Hurts more in a similar vain in the semis. Though to be fair, you can’t really implement your game plan when the opposition is taking a flamethrower to it by scoring a billion points. Even in that blowout, we’ll note, Hurts ended up rushing for two touchdowns.
Lawrence has thrown multiple touchdown passes in nine consecutive games, including two against Ohio State’s best-in-the-country pass defense at the end of December. We think he has a considerably easier time in this game.
Utility: Clemson WR Justyn Ross ($7,400) -- Our preferred Clemson receiver is Tee Higgins, but we’re shying off of Higgy in this one. It’s not a price tag thing -- Higgins is just $600 more expensive than Ross. Rather, we worry at least a little on the health front after he suffered a possible head injury against Ohio State. Now, Higgins was able to return to the field after sustaining that injury, but he finished with just four catches for 33 yards untold. While we aren’t doctors ‘round these parts, we would prefer not to take the risk of reinjury, especially with something as sensitive as any kind of head injury.
Ross, himself, was held to six catches for 47 yards in that game, so not great, there, but he comes with zero questions on the health front and caught touchdown passes in four of Clemson’s previous five games before the Buckeyes put a stop to the fun. As with Lawrence, we like Ross for a better effort against LSU than he put in versus OSU. Again, that Buckeyes pass defense, really really good. Our ultimate feel for Ross over Higgins could be off, but that’s just our feel.
Utility: LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. ($6,800) -- Marshall, too, is working through an injury suffered in his Playoff match, banging up his shoulder in LSU’s mauling of Oklahoma. While we don’t love to play injury risks -- eliminate unnecessary variables, friends -- Marshall earns his slot as the last of the more/less “have a good shot to do something” guys in this game. Everybody below his price point would generously fall into the category of a hope and a prayer (to varying degrees, of course). And hey, we love rolling with those kinds of guys (see below). But even with the balky shoulder, we want Marshall in our lineup before we start gambling.
Before Marshall sustained the injury, he was having a delightful game against the Sooners, catching six passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns. He also logged two touchdown grabs against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. So long as Marshall can actually play in a week, he makes for an intriguing option at an affordable price. But do monitor his practice progress during the coming days.
Utility: Clemson WR Amari Rodgers ($4,800) -- Remember the hope and prayer options below Marshall that we were talking about. Guys like Rodgers are the guys we’re talking about. Rodgers is capable of cutting through opposing defenses with his speed, and if he catches one in stride downfield he’s an immediate touchdown threat. That’s all great. It’s just that mostly, Rodgers has been a missing man in the offense as the weather has chilled. He has just 28 catches on the season, just one against Ohio State in the semis. He has also dealt with injury even beyond his continued rehab from a torn ACL sustained in the spring. It’s possible that Rodgers’ body is just naturally slowing down. Regardless, we’ll give it a shot for the long touchdown potential as well as the value -- plugging Rodgers into the lineup allowed us the cash to plunk down for Lawrence above.
Utility: LSU TE Thaddeus Moss ($4,200) -- If Clemson does mess with LSU’s passing flow -- and that’s how we kind of see things going with this game -- we think that could actually end up helping Moss. There’s a reason why tight ends are known as a quarterback’s best friend. Moss is also coming off a strong showing vs. Oklahoma (seriously, Sooners, come on) in which he logged a 4-99-1 receiving line. That’s not the norm -- if it was, Moss wouldn’t be available for $4,200 -- but again, as with Rodgers, you save a few pennies and if you happen to get nice production, sweet.