The college football season is finally here. With Week 0 action set to debut on Saturday, DraftKings and FanDuel provided a three-game college football DFS main slate. This breakdown will look at each team and provide information about each skill position player of note within the contest. Make sure to check out our projections, depth charts, data sheets for more information. With that said, let’s dive into the first iteration of the CFB DFS picks.
College Football DFS: Week 0 CFB Picks
Nebraska vs. Illinois
Nebraska (31 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 72.4 (58th)
Pass Rate – 42.31% (95th)
Nebraska went 3-3 last year with wins over Penn State, Purdue and Rutgers. However, they also dropped winnable games against Minnesota and Purdue. After starting his career 12-20, Scott Frost is very much on the hot seat with Nebraska. Seldom living up to his recruiting classes, Frost will rely on the services of failed Washington offensive coordinator Erik Chinander as his right-hand man. Nebraska returns seven starters on offense and 10 on defense. They return three starting offensive linemen but lose their top two pass protectors in Brendan Jaimes and Matt Farniok. With Wan’Dale Robinson also departing, this team could take a step back.
Nebraska will trot out three-year starter Adrian Martinez ($6,800) at quarterback. A former four-star prospect and strong dual threat, Martinez showed improvement last year. He completed 71.5% of his passes for 1,055 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. His 6.6 yards per attempt leaves much to be desired, but Martinez has enough talent to produce for DFS. Scott Frost benched him for a period of time last year in favor of train wreck Luke McCaffrey, so hopefully Martinez’s improvement earned him a longer leash. Martinez has strong dual-threat ability with at least 521 yards rushing in every season and 600+ in his first two. He is extremely affordable here and one of the best price-adjusted options on the slate.
The running back room is unsettled for Nebraska. Freshman Gabe Ervin ($4,100) has taken many of the first team reps. Ervin has been complimented for his strong pass protection and pass catching ability. Behind him, USC transfer Markese Stepp ($4,900) has missed most of the offseason while recovering from toe surgery. Stepp never lived up to his four-star recruiting status with the Trojans. He has never eclipsed 307 yards in any individual college season. Lastly, Sevion Morrison ($3,000) projects to play a complementary role immediately for the Huskers. Morrison joined the team in 2020 but failed to log any game action. He has impressed during camp and ascended the depth chart. Marvin Scott ($4,600) and Rahmir Johnson ($3,500) have fallen behind.
Nebraska’s receiving room is significantly worse after losing Wan’Dale Robinson. Their top receivers look like Oliver Martin ($5,200), Omar Manning ($4,000) and Samori Toure ($4,900). Toure joins the program from Montana after earning FCS All-American honors in 2019. He projects to handle slot duties. Martin is now with his third college program after playing at Michigan and Iowa for a season apiece. He only caught five passes for 63 yards last year, but he ran more routes than Zavier Betts. The last projected starter is Manning. Manning failed to record a stat last year, playing in just one game due to injury. However, he is a former four-star recruit and the top receiver recruit coming out of JUCO in 2020. Betts ($3,700) is also a candidate to take a leap. Betts is a former four-star prospect and the No. 20 receiver from the 2020 class. He caught 12 passes for 131 yards last year.
At tight end, Nebraska’s top tight end is Austin Allen ($3,800). Nebraska often uses two tight ends, but Allen is the top receiving option. Last year, he caught 18 passes for 236 yards. Both numbers ranked second on the team overall. Allen also played in the slot on 42% of his snaps. Travis Vokolek already suffered an injury, potentially elevating Allen’s role further. Another candidate for elevated playing time in two-tight end sets is Levi Falck ($3,200).
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Illinois (24.5 Implied Total)
Points/Game – 20.1 (111th) / 32.2 (36th) App State numbers
Plays/Game – 66.9 (103rd) / 71.3 (70th)
Last year, Illinois went 2-6, beating only Rutgers and Nebraska. They hired Bret Bielema as their head coach this offseason. Bielema brought in former Appalachian State offensive coordinator Tony Peterson to handle the offensive side of the ball. Illinois returns nine starters on offense and defense after battling multiple Covid-19 absences and injuries last year. They also return four starting offensive linemen after playing multiple combinations throughout the year. Now healthy, this unit should return as a strength for Illinois.
At quarterback, Illinois returns former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters ($6,500). Peters only played in five games, due to Covid-19 protocols. Peters completed 48.8% of his passes for 429 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Peters was somewhat active in the run game. He rushed for 136 yards on 24 attempts last year. While Peters does not have eye-popping box score numbers, he is Illinois’ best quarterback and should come with solid job security. Illinois felt good enough about their quarterback room to change the position of Isaiah Williams and Coran Taylor this offseason.
At running back, Illinois returns Chase Brown ($5,000) after a breakout season. Brown rushed for 540 yards on 104 attempts last year. He also caught seven passes for 64 additional yards. Illinois could look to implement a committee with transfer Chase Hayden ($3,700) coming in. Hayden transfers from East Caroline, but initially committed to Bielema with Arkansas. He carried 16 times for 62 yards last year in two games. Bielema has not been shy about using a feature back, so Illinois’ deployment of these two rushers is important for DFS. Reggie Love ($3,900), Jakari Norwood ($3,000), Mike Epstein ($4,800) could also turn this into a nasty committee. There is a lot of uncertainty but a lot of upside behind an experienced offensive line.
At receiver, Illinois returns Brian Hightower ($5,800) as their top wide out. Hightower caught 11 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns last year. From there, they moved Isaiah Williams ($5,000) to receiver this offseason. Williams has very little experience at the position, but he is a dynamic athlete. He caught three passes as a freshman and carried 63 times for 389 yards last year. He is a weapon in space. With Marquez Beason out for this game, Casey Washington ($3,200) is a candidate to start. He finished fourth on the team in receiving with 10 catches for 106 yards. However, veterans Donny Navarro ($4,500) and Dalevon Campbell ($3,600) could also see extra time, as well as Notre Dame transfer Jafar Armstrong ($3,000).
At tight end, Illinois returns a strong weapon in Daniel Barker ($4,200). He is the leading receiver among returners with 19 catches for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Barker played 61.8% of his snaps in the slot last year. He ran more routes than any receiver except Josh Imatorbhebhe last year, making him an excellent price-adjusted option within the Illinois offense.
UConn vs. Fresno State
UConn (17.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 68.8 (86th)
Pass Rate – 51.65% (37th)
UConn did not play football in 2020 due to Covid-19. They went 2-10 in 2019, defeating Wagner and UMass. They still have Randy Edsall at head coach, along with his coordinators. This team technically has seven starters back on both sides of the ball, but nothing suggests they will take a step forward. Fortunately, they throw enough to gather some cheap production at the skill positions.
This is a quarterback battle, but Jack Zergiotis ($5,100) has been taking most of the first team reps. Zergiotis was benched for a period of time in 2019, but he ultimately started nine games. He does not offer much mobility and accrued -46 yards rushing in 2019. He only completed 57.7% of his passes for 6.9 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He is a legitimate threat to get benched at any point during the game for Steven Krajewski, Micah Leon or Tyler Phommachanh. Zergiotis is a pure punt play at $5,100 for a team that threw the ball 51.7% of the time in 2019. He should be considered only in GPPs.
Kevin Mensah ($4,200) is the lead back for UConn. He rushed for 1,045 and 1,013 yards in his last two seasons. Mensah is a solid receiver and has 32 career catches to this point in his career. UConn lost backup Art Thompkins, so former four-star and Miami transfer Robert Burns (3,800) may play a role. Interestingly, Edsall listed freshman Nathan Carter ($3,200) as the starting running back opposite Mensah (UConn lists two starting running backs on their depth chart). UConn has not updated his weight since, but hopefully he has put on a little size in his two years with the program (Covid-19 cancelled his 2020). Coach Edsall compared Carter to Donald Brown and said he will be featured heavily alongside Mensah. Both backs are cheap, and Mensah should be somewhat popular as a salary saver.
Their top returning receiver is Cameron Ross ($4,800). He caught 60 passes for 723 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman in 2019. Behind him, they took a huge hit this offseason. Their third leading receiver in Matt Drayton suffered a season-ending knee injury. He caught 21 passes for 278 yards in 2019. Now behind Ross the second and third receiver spots are up for grabs. Heron Maurisseau ($3,100) was listed as the starter opposite Ross on the depth chart. Maurisseau caught 10 passes for 113 scoreless yards in 2019. Their third receiver could be any of Kevens Clercius ($3,000), Keelan Marion ($3,000), Cameron Hairston ($3,300) or Elijah Jeffreys ($3,500). Clercius and Marion are both unproven players listed as backups on the team’s official depth chart. Hairston and Jeffreys have more experience, but neither saw their name listed on the depth chart. Hairston caught eight passes for 168 yards in 2019. Jeffreys caught 11 passes for 143 yards and a score. He comes from a track background. Their returning tight end Jay Rose ($3,400) was their fourth leading receiver. He and caught 27 passes for 261 yards as a junior in 2019. Still, Rose only ran a route on 54% of UConn’s dropbacks in 2019 with their propensity to use two tight ends and two running backs at times. Taking a stab on one of these cheap receivers could pay off in GPPs, but figuring out which one is going to be exceedingly difficult.
Fresno State (45 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 81.3 (5th)
Pass Rate – 55.74% (14th)
The coaching staff for Fresno State is intact after Kalen DeBoer took over the job last year. Fresno State went 3-3 last year, while uncharacteristically allowing 5.2 yards per carry to opposing rusher. They return nine starters on offense and 10 on defense, including eight offensive linemen who have started a game. However, none were all conference players and they ranked 63rd in pass blocking. That should not matter against an opponent like UConn but could hurt them in conference play.
At quarterback, Fresno State returns their starter in Jake Haener ($9,700). With a slate-leading 45-point implied team total, Haener is the most expensive player on the slate. Fortunately, he benefits from a pass-friendly Fresno State offense. Last year, the Bulldogs threw the ball 55.7% of the time, while running an uptempo 81.3 plays per game. Haener only played six games, but he completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,021 yards, 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Haener does not offer much dual-threat ability with just 18 cumulative yards, but he is a still a strong option here.
In the backfield, Fresno State returns multi-year starter Ronnie Rivers ($7,800). Rivers rushed for 507 yards in six games last year, while adding 27 receptions for another 265 yards. Back in 2019, he also rushed for 899 yards, while catching 43 passes. He is an excellent play from this offense. Behind him, they also return Jordan Mims ($4,700) and received a transfer from Utah in Jordan Wilmore ($3,000). Both could be considered tournament options in a potential Fresno State blowout.
At pass catcher, they return their three starters in Jalen Cropper ($7,300), Keric Wheatfall ($5,500) and Josh Kelly ($4,400). Cropper led the team with 37 catches for 520 yards and five touchdowns. Cropper played in the slot on 91% of his routes. Wheatfall finished second in receiving with 23 catches for 363 yards and one touchdown. Kelly finished third with 22 catches for 330 yards. Zane Pope ($6,700) is also still with the team after playing in just two games last year. He caught 47 passes for 525 yards as a sophomore in 2019. He led the team in receiving that year and could reassert himself this year. Unfortunately, he was listed on the depth chart behind Kelly. Interestingly, Fresno State did list Wheatfall as a co-starter with Washington transfer Ty Jones ($3,900). Jones caught 31 passes for 291 yards and six touchdowns in 2018. He has struggled to reach the field since, but he offers Fresno State much needed size. Cropper stands out as a strong stud to target with his 24.5% target share, while Kelly offers solid salary relief behind his 18.1% target share. Everyone else should be reserved for GPPs.
Tight end is an absolute disaster for Fresno State. Four players project to see the field and none had more than three receptions last year. This is a position to ignore.
Hawaii vs. UCLA
Hawaii (25.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 74.1 (41st)
Pass Rate – 51.42% (34th)
Hawaii enters the second season under head coach Todd Graham. They finished 5-4 last year, finishing the season with a win over Houston in the bowl game. Graham promoted his son to offensive coordinator this offseason. Hawaii returns seven starters on offense and 11 on defense. They lost two starters on the offensive line, but their three starters all earned all-conference honors at some level. This team should continue to move the ball.
Hawaii is quarterbacked by Chevan Cordeiro ($7,500). Now entering his second year as the starting quarterback, Cordeiro has strong dual-threat ability. Last year, Cordeiro completed 62.3% of his passes for 2,083 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games. He also led the team in rushing with 483 yards and another seven touchdowns on the ground. Hawaii has the fourth-highest implied team total at 24.5, but Cordeiro’s dual-threat ability keeps him in play.
Hawaii lost their lead running back in Miles Reed this offseason. However, the Rainbow Warriors implemented a rotation through most of the year and they returned Dae Dae Hunter ($4,400). Hunter rushed for 183 yards on 46 attempts last year. He also caught 12 passes for 71 yards. However, Hunter will not have the backfield to himself. Hawaii uses a hybrid running back/receiver in Calvin Turner ($6,400). Last year, Turner carried 60 times for 331 yards, but he also caught 33 passes for 546 yards, which led the team. Turner played 54% of his snaps in the slot and 19% in the backfield last year. Lastly, Howard transfer Dedrick Parson ($3,000) also projects to play a role in this rotation. This makes sense with Hawaii historically utilizing multiple backs.
At receiver, Hawaii returns their top overall receiver in Jared Smart ($6,200). Smart caught 36 passes for 320 yards and a score last year. He played 94.7% of his snaps in the slot for Hawaii last year. Smart went over 1,000 yards receiving in 2019. With the slot accounted for, Hawaii lost their top two outside receivers in Rico Bussey and Melquise Stovall. Hawaii listed Nick Mardner ($4,700) as a starter after he caught 11 passes for 188 yards and a score last year. He makes sense on the perimeter given his size. Behind Mardner, Zion Bowens ($3,800) has experience. He caught five passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns last year. However, he was listed as a backup, alongside freshman Jalen Walthall ($3,000). Transfers Aaron Cephus (Rice) and Tru Edwards (JUCO) are also in the mix to receive extra playing time. At tight end, Stanford transfer Caleb Phillips ($3,000) gets the nod. Hawaii typically does not rely much on the tight end position, making him someone to ignore.
UCLA (43 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 75.9 (29th)
Pass Rate – 39.92% (111th)
UCLA went 3-4 last year, with only single digit losses to Colorado, Oregon, USC and Stanford. Head coach Chip Kelly enters his fourth season as head coach, running his patented up-tempo offense. However, He has played more run-heavy in recent years with his dual-threat quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson. UCLA returns 10 starters on both sides of the ball, including all five offensive linemen. This unit ranked 50th in pass blocking and should again be a strength of the team.
Thompson-Robinson ($8,500) returns as the starter. Last year was a shortened season for UCLA, but Robinson put up his best season to date. He completed 65.2% of his passes for 8.1 yards per attempt. Both were career highs. He also threw for 1,120 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions while running for 306 yards on 55 carries. His backup will be Ethan Garbers, but Thompson–Robinson looks to have solid job security. UCLA has a massive 43-point implied team total, making Thompson–Robinson the best quarterback option on this slate with his dual-threat ability.
At running back, UCLA loses leading rusher Demetric Felton, but they return Brittain Brown ($5,600). Brown ran for 543 yards on 82 carries. He is a decent pass catcher and caught 14 passes in 2017. They also added Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet ($5,300). Charbonnet carried 19 times for 124 yards last year after losing the starting gig. Keegan Jones and Kazmeir Allen will provide depth. Allen has also worked with the receiver, so perhaps UCLA views him in a similar light to Felton. He is also a state-champion sprinter. Overall, this is expected to be a timeshare primarily between Brown and Charbonnet. Both are solid options in GPPs.
UCLA returns their top receiver in Kyle Phillips ($7,000) after a 38-catch, 370-yard season. Phillips played 83.6% of his snaps in the slot. Delon Hunt was also supposed to return but may not play this season due to off-the-field issues. With Hunt out of the picture, Texas A&M transfer Kam Brown ($3,400) saw his name listed among the starters. Brown caught five passes for 55 yards last year. This leaves Chase Cota ($4,600) to round out the starting group. Cota caught 11 passes for 79 yards last year. In 2019 he had a better season with 25 catches for 350 yards. They also have 2020 four-star Logan Loya and 2020 three-star Matt Sykes. Keontez Lewis, Ezavier Staples and D.J. Justice all come in as three-star recruits this year and could ascend the depth chart. Phillips is a bit expensive, and Greg Dulcich is $1,000 cheaper. Brown and Cota are also very strong punt options on this slate.
Dulcich returns ($6,000) after leading the team in yards receiving. He caught 26 passes for 517 yards and 5 yards. He had 19.9 yards per reception and played 42.4% of his snaps in the slot. Mike Martinez and David Priebe will offer rotational options at tight end, but Dulcich is the entrenched starter. He only ran five fewer routes than Phillips last year, making him a strong price-adjusted play.
UTEP vs. New Mexico State
UTEP (33 Implied Total)
Points/Game – 23.8 (95th)
Plays/Game – 70.7 (78th)
UTEP enters this year after finishing 3-5 last year. Dana Dimel remains the head coach, but he overhauled his assistants after the letdown season. UTEP ran a creative offense last year, feature an abundance of four-wide receiver sets. This year, they hired former Michigan State offensive coordinator Dave Warner to handle play-calling duties. This offense should look more traditional here. Overall, they return every starter on offense and eight starters on defense. This includes every offensive line starter, bringing in 101 combined starts as a unit.
UTEP’s starting quarterback should again be Gavin Hardison ($5,700). Hardison completed 54.3% of his passes for 1,419 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions with UTEP last year. He offers no rushing upside with -32 cumulative yards last year, but he benefits from facing an atrocious New Mexico State defense. This makes him a strong consideration by default.
In the run game, UTEP returns their top rusher from 2020 in Deion Hankins ($7,000). Hankins rushed for 592 yards on 121 carries. Hankins offers very little as a receiver after catching just one ball last year. He should be complemented by Quardraiz Wadley ($3,300), who led the team in rushing with 627 yards in 2018. Last year he only played in one game. He missed 2019 with a medical redshirt and opted out after just one game last year. Ronald Awatt ($3,800) is also a candidate for more work. Awatt carried the ball 42 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns. The departure of Joshua Fields opens an additional 67 carries from the offense.
At receiver, UTEP returns their top three receivers Jacob Cowing ($6,800), Justin Garrett ($5,600) and Walter Dawn ($3,800). Cowing caught 41 passes for 691 yards and three touchdowns last year. Cowing had an excellent breakout season as a freshman with 550 yards as well. He played 68.3% of his snaps in the slot. Garrett finished second on the team with 38 catches for 510 yards and three touchdowns. He ran one more route than Cowing on the year. From here things get interesting for UTEP. Dawn was their third-leading receiver with 20 catches for 202 yards. However, he played 93.5% of his snaps in the slot, opposite Garrett. Depending on how the new offensive coordinator deploys these pass catchers, he may opt to use more Trent Thompson ($3,100). Thompson only caught two passes for 56 yards last year, but he ran the fifth most routes. Thompson plays primarily in line. If Warner sticks with the four-wide sets of recent years, Tyrin Smith ($3,000) may take a step forward. Smith has been receiving the hype of coaches in recent weeks, bringing a much-needed element of speed to the offense.
New Mexico State (23.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.6 (69th) – 2019 stats
Pass Rate – 56.37% (13th)
New Mexico State did not play fall due to Covid-19. However, they played a spring season featuring two games. They lost by double digits to Tarleton State before overcoming Dixie State by a score. Doug Martin enters his ninth season as head coach and handles play-calling duties. This offense is very pass-heavy but tends to struggle with efficiency. They are only returning three starters on offense. This completely revamped team should struggle in 2021.
New Mexico State listed Jonah Johnson ($6,000), Weston Eget ($5,000) and Dino Maldonado as co-starters ahead of the fall season. Johnson is a former JUCO transfer from Fresno City College. He started the opener and threw three interceptions against Tarleton State. After struggling again against Dixie State, Johnson was benched for Eget. Eget led two scoring drives, but injury ultimately forced him from the game. Johnson returned and led them to five scoring drives in the second half. According to coach Martin, Johnson excelled this fall and has received a majority of the first team reps. Johnson completed 60% of his passes last year. Johnson also has dual threat ability after rushing for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. However, the spring season showed how short his leash is. Johnson is a solid play based on volume and dual threat ability in a pass friendly offense.
At running back, New Mexico State received a high-profile transfer in O’Maury Samuels ($4,500) from Michigan. Samuels has not played since 2018, but he was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and the number 20 running back in the 2017 class. With Samuels missing the spring, Juwaun Price ($5,900) led the team with 22 yards on 33 carries. He also caught five passes. Price should complement Samuels. Alex Escobar ($4,200) filled the change of pace role without Samuels this spring. He carried 14 times for 81 yards.
At receiver, New Mexico State runs a lot of four wide sets. The three main starters will be Jared Wyatt ($3,000), Dominic Gicinto ($3,000) and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda ($3,400). Gicinto enters the picture after transferring from Missouri. He caught just four passes for Missouri last year. He projects to man the slot. Garcia-Castaneda looks like one of the primary boundary receivers. He only caught five passes for 61 yards, but New Mexico State listed him as a clear starter on the depth chart. The last receiver position listed co-starters between Wyatt and Robert Downs ($5,100). Wyatt only caught three passes for 26 yards last year, but he ran the most routes on the team. Conversely, Downs caught five passes for 54 yards, but ran the seventh most routes on the team. Downs has versatility to play inside and out. In four-wide sets, Terrell Warner (4,100) should see the field as well. He led the team with eight catches and 105 yards last year. Other candidates would be Cole Harrity ($3,500), Andre Bodison ($3,900) and Lawrence Dixon ($3,300). This position is particularly unsettled.
New Mexico State does not often use a tight end, but when they do, it is Thomaz Whitford ($3,000). He is purely a blocker.
Southern Utah vs. San Jose State
Southern Utah (16.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.5
Pass Rate – 60.3%
Southern Utah went 1-5 last year, with their only win coming over Cal Poly. They lost all of their other games by single digits against Northern Arizona, Idaho State, Idaho, Weber State and Northern Arizona a second time. Demario Warren enters his sixth season as head coach. Matt Wade enters his second season as offensive coordinator. He is known for his pass-heavy approach.
The quarterback for Southern Utah is Justin Miller ($6,700). Miller started in the spring season for Southern Utah and completed 65.7% of his passes for 1,713 yards, 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Southern Utah’s pass-heavy approach will give Miller plenty of opportunities here. However, Miller finished with negative cumulative yards rushing and now faces an immense step up in competition against San Jose State’s stout defense. At $6,700, he looks like a player to potentially avoid on this slate.
At running back, Southern Utah utilized a four-man committee. Dayne Christiansen ($3,000) led the group with 240 yards on 35 attempts. Christiansen also led the backfield in receptions with ten. Jay Green Jr.’s ($4,900) 45 carries led the team, but he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry on his way to 156 yards. Karris Davis ($4,000) and Thomas Duckett (3,2000) also carried 28 and 33 times apiece, making this an unforgettable situation. At wide out, they return their leading receiver Landon Measom ($6,500), who caught 30 passes for 446 yards. Interestingly, Lance Lawson ($3,600) finished third on the team in receiving after turning 36 receptions into 275 yards. He led the team in targets. Lawson played 79.3% of his snaps in the slot. Their third receiver was Brandon Schenks ($4,400), who caught 15 passes for 324 yards. Their tight end Tanner McLachlan ($3,700) caught 12 passes for 120 yards. However, he ran fewer routes than Clayton Johnson ($3,100) at the position. Neither look like particularly intriguing options. Southern Utah will also use a rotation at receiver, rotating players like Judd Crockett ($3,200) and Frank Harris ($3,000) into the game on occasion. The best option looks like Lawson, if taking a stab on the Southern Utah receiving corps.
San Jose State (39 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 65.6 (111th)
Pass Rate – 56.38% (9th)
Last year, San Jose State went 7-1. Their only loss came to Ball State (34-13). They did not have any single digit losses at all last year. This year, they return nine starters on offense and 10 on defense. This includes seven players who started games along the offensive line. This unit ranked 33rd in the country in pass blocking and only allowed eight sacks all season despite numerous injuries. The entire coaching staff is intact.
At quarterback, San Jose State will play two quarterbacks. Nick Starkel ($8,700) typically starts and handles traditional passing situations. Last year, he completed 64.2% of his passes for 2,174 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He finished with -40 cumulative yards rushing and offers little mobility. Nick Nash ($8,000) will also play situationally for San Jose State. Nash is an elite dual threat, who finished 2020 with 204 yards on 40 carries. He also completed 58.8% of his passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He typically plays a gadget role but has spelled Starkel occasionally. Starkel is the preferred play of the two.
At running back, San Jose State returns their top two rushers in Tyler Nevens ($6,500) and Kairee Robinson ($5,300). Nevens rushed for 515 yards on 66 carries last year (7.8 yards per carry). His efficiency dwarfed Robinson, who totaled 313 yards on 82 attempts (3.8 yards per carry). Robinson plays primarily on third downs. He caught 19 passes to Nevens’ four last year. Nevens will be used more at the goal-line. He scored five touchdowns to Robinson’s two. This will primarily be a two-man committee.
At receiver, San Jose State shook up their depth chart after the departures of Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither this offseason. Isaiah Hamilton ($6,200) finished third on the team in receiving and presumably steps up as their new leader. He caught 13 passes for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year. Hamilton played 99% of his snaps in the slot last year. They also returned their sixth-leading receiver in Jermaine Braddock ($5,800), who was listed among the starters on the team’s initial depth chart. Braddock caught 11 passes for 109 yard and a pair of touchdowns last year. The natural replacement for the third receiver job looked like Isaiah Holliness ($5,400). However, the team listed Holliness third on the depth chart and put freshman Terence Loville ($3,000) into the starting lineup. Loville was not heavily recruited coming out of high school. San Jose State will rotate receivers on occasion, meaning Illinois transfer Trevon Sidney ($4,000) and Nevada transfer Charles Ross ($3,000) remain candidates for elevated playing time. Sidney caught 16 passes for 123 yards and a score with the Illini last year. Ross caught four passes for 37 yards last year with Nevada.
However, San Jose State’s top pass catcher may be tight end Derrick Deese ($4,700). Deese finished third on the team in receiving with 20 catches for 240 yards and five touchdowns. He flexed out into the slot on 43.8% of his snaps. He ran the second-most routes on the team last year, making him a solid price-adjusted play among San Jose State pass catchers.
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