The college football DFS season is finally here. With Week 1 action set to kick off on Friday, DraftKings and FanDuel have great contests for this slate of games. This CFB DFS 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, datasheets for more information. With that said, let’s dive into the first iteration of the college football DFS picks for Friday’s matchups. Be sure to check out the Awesemo YouTube channel for more CFB DFS picks and tips from myself and Ben Rasa.
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College Football DFS: Week 1 CFB Picks Friday
North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
North Carolina (35 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 74.1 (42nd)
Pass Rate – 44.29% (85th)
At quarterback North Carolina returns Sam Howell ($8,500) for his third year under center. Howell is an elite quarterback in a solid game environment. He averaged 296 yards passing per game last year and provided solid mobility with 146 yards rushing. He will have to overcome the departures of multiple elite skill position players, but Howell is still viable in stacks.
At running back North Carolina loses Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. However, they landed Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler ($5,200), who projects to lead this backfield. Caleb Hood ($4,600) and D.J. Jones ($3,000) were listed as the primary backups, but Chandler should handle a vast majority of the work. Chandler had at least 456 yards in three straight seasons for Tennessee. He is also an excellent pass catcher with 58 career receptions to date. He is an excellent price-adjusted play in the offense.
North Carolina also lost immense production at receiver. Both Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome went to the NFL and Beau Corrales will miss this game due to injury. This leaves former four-star recruit Josh Downs ($7,200) as the top receiver. He caught seven passes for 119 yards but flashed big-play ability down the stretch. The other starting positions went to Antoine Green ($4,600) and Emery Simmons ($6,400). Khafre Brown ($3,000) also projects to play a rotational role. Both are veteran receiving options, but Green has the more attractive price.
Garrett Walston ($3,500) returns at tight end. He caught 19 passes for 255 yards and air of touchdowns last year. He is a middling option.
Virginia Tech (29.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 68.2 (95th)
Pass Rate – 36.93% (119th)
Virginia Tech lost Hendon Hooker to the transfer portal and will start Braxton Burmeister ($7,200). The former Oregon transfer boasts a 56.4% completion percentage. However, he also has excellent mobility. Last year, he rushed for 193 yards on 47 attempts. He is a solid option at quarterback and particularly intriguing in game stacks.
Virginia Tech also lost Khalil Herbert at running back. This leaves Jalen Houston ($4,300), Raheem Blackshear ($3,600), and Keshawn King ($3,000) to handle running back duties. Blackshear has doubled as a slot receiver at times and figures to handle the largest workload and pass catching duties. King is a former four-star recruit, who should battle Houston for more of the early down role. Blackshear looks like the top option in a game slated for negative game script.
The Hokies return their top three receivers in Tre Turner ($6,200), Tayvion Robinson ($6,800), and James Mitchell ($4,200), who plays tight end. The third listed starter is Kaleb Smith ($4,800). Robinson caught 38 passes for 592 yards, which narrowly edged Turner at 34 catches for 529 yards. Both will play a good deal in the slot as Virginia Tech likes to rotate players around the formation. Even Mitchell, who caught 26 passes for 435 yards will play a decent amount in the slot. All three are fine options here.
Duke vs. Charlotte
Duke (32.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 78.7 (13th)
Pass Rate – 49.42% (47th)
Chase Brice transferred, leaving Gunnar Holmberg ($6,300) to start. Duke has a shockingly high implied team total in this matchup. Holmberg is an unproven commodity with just 25 career pass attempts. He was not recruited as a dual threat, but he has positive yards in both seasons as the backup. He is worth a flier in tournaments based on the team total and unknown potential
Duke’s backfield narrowed after Deon Jackson went to the NFL. Mateo Durant ($7,200) returns and should handle most of the work. Jordan Waters ($6,200) will complement him in a change of pace role. Durant carried 120 times for 817 yards as the team’s most efficient rusher last year. Duke has a history of running back by committee, but Durant should receive an opportunity to carve out a three-down role. He is an appropriately priced option.
Duke returns their top three pass catchers in Jalon Calhoun ($5,800), Eli Pancol ($4,300), and Jake Bobo ($4,900). Noah Gray leaves vacated targets in the slot, which Jake Marwede ($3,300) should pick up. Bobo led the team with 32 catches for 358 yards, while Calhoun notched 39 for 349. None of these Duke pass catchers separated themselves last year, so choosing the cheaper options in Pancol and Bobo in stacks has its merits.
Charlotte (26 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 72.0 (62nd)
Pass Rate — 44.14% (77th)
Charlotte returns Chris Reynolds ($5,000) at quarterback. Reynolds averaged 218 yards passing per game with little mobility as Charlotte’s signal caller last year. Charlotte tends to lean run-heavy, but they may be forced to throw more as sizable underdogs. Reynolds is extremely cheap, keeping him in play for cheap stacks of this game.
Charlotte projects to feature a running back by committee, consisting of Shadrick Byrd ($4,200) and Calvin Camp ($3,400). Camp carried 19 times for 86 yards last year, but Byrd offers more upside as a transfer from Iowa. Charlotte generally prefers a run-heavy approach and will be replacing a lot of production at the running back position. Byrd is a cheap dart throw in GPPs.
At receiver Charlotte will start Victor Tucker ($5,300), Cameron Dollar ($4,300), and Tre’ Goode ($3,000). Ryan Carriere ($3,000) will play tight end. Tucker led the team with 30 catches for 400 yards last year on a 29% target share. Collar caught 10 passes for 178 yards and will play a larger role here. Goode initially joined Marshall in 2019 and has since ascended the depth chart. All three are options here.
Old Dominion vs. Wake Forest
Old Dominion (16.25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 72.3 (54th)
Pass Rate — 50.94% (43rd)
Old Dominion has not played football since 2019. Their starting quarterback should be UCF transfer D.J. Mack ($5,100). They also have Hayden Wolff ($5,000) and former starter Stone Smartt ($4,500) on the roster. Old Dominion refuses to release a depth chart, so Mack doesn’t bring job security. With a low total, this is a situation to avoid.
The backfield will be comprised of a committee between Elijah Davis ($4,900) and Blake Watson ($3,900). Davis rushed 79 times for 337 yards in 2019. Watson carried 25 times for 116 yards as well. Neither played a significant role in the pass game. Their prices look enticing, but seeing one of the other outperform expectations would be a surprise.
At receiver Aaron Moore ($4,900) and Nigel Fitzgerald ($4,200) project to play a significant role, along with Ali Jennings ($3,000) and Isiah Paige ($3,000). Moore led the team in receiving in 2019 with 26 catches for 389 yards. Fitzgerald ranked second with 14 catches for 219 yards. From there, Jennings transferred from West Virginia and should play a role. Paige is another unproven option projected to ascend the depth chart. Jennings would be the preferred play at minimum price, but all are dicey.
Wake Forest (47.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 81.2 (6th)
Pass Rate – 48.46% (54th)
Wake Forest returns Sam Hartman ($8,900) at quarterback. Hartman excels in shootout situations, which is not the case here. Hartman offers no mobility and plays for a team that embraces the run when playing with a lead. Hartman could always throw multiple touchdowns on the way to a victory, but he looks a bit overpriced here.
They lose Kenneth Walker to transfer, but Christian Beal-Smith ($6,400) remains in place as the lead runner. He will be complemented by transfer Christian Turner ($4,000). Beal-Smith rushed for 732 yards on 142 carries, while adding five receptions. Wake Forest just rarely throws to their running backs overall. Turner, meanwhile, carried 44 times for 171 yards in 2019 with Michigan. He should play a change of pace role, which becomes even more attractive in a potential blowout. Beal-Smith is an excellent play on this slate.
Wake Forest lost Donavon Greene early in the offseason but returns Jaquarii Roberson ($8,600). Roberson did not play every snap last year, but he was targeted at a high rate when on the field. He finished with 62 catches for 926 yards. A.T. Perry ($7,600) was listed as the other starter, with Taylor Morin ($6,600) and Donald Stewart ($5,600) listed as co-starters for the final receiver position. Perry finished with 15 catches for 211 yards. Moring and Stewart each notched 32 for 405 yards and five for 41 yards. All of these players are expensive, but worthy targets in Wake Forest stacks. Roberson averaged 9.7 targets and 102.9 yards receiving per game for Wake Forest.
South Dakota vs. Kansas
South Dakota (19.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 67.0
Pass Rate — 61.11%
Carson Camp ($5,000) looks like the starting signal caller for South Dakota. He started last year as a true freshman, completing 63.1% of his passes for 967 yards and three touchdowns. He was labeled as a dual threat but finished with -39 cumulative yards. South Dakota is towards the bottom of implied team totals, but their pass-heavy offense makes Camp a back end GPP consideration at quarterback.
Travis Theis ($6,000) returns as the team’s second leading rusher. He managed 161 yards on 37 carries last year. He also caught eight passes for 79 yards. Shomari Lawrence ($3,700) should play a change of pace role, but Theis projects to lead the backfield. Neither are particularly good plays on this slate.
Caleb Vander Esch ($5,500) and Carter Bell ($5,000) return as the top two receiving options for this team. Vander Esch caught 23 passes for 273 yards and one score, while Bell caught 17 passes for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns. These are the better options to target in South Dakota’s pass-heavy offense, but neither are standout plays.
Kansas (34.25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 75.9 (28th)
Pass Rate – 48.17% (59th)
Kansas listed Jason Bean ($8,500), Miles Kendrick ($7,400), and Jalon Daniels ($4,500) as co-starters at the quarterback position. Until a starter emerges, this situation is a disaster. Bean offers the most upside as the former North Texas quarterback. We will see how long it takes Kansas to realize that.
Velton Gardner ($5,800) returns as the clear starter in Kansas’ backfield. Gardner rushed for 325 yards on 72 carries. Unfortunately, Kansas insisted on using Gardner in a committee last year. However, new head coach Lance Leipold has a history of using a feature back. This gives Gardner upside. Amauri Pesek-Hickson ($4,800) was listed as his primary backup. He carries 40 times for 145 yards. Daniel Hishaw ($3,000) may also factor in. This is an unsettled situation, but one potentially worth targeting due to the team total.
Kansas will use Kwamie Lassiter ($8,100), Trevon Wilson ($3,000), and Steven McBride ($3,700) as their starting receivers. Lassiter led the team with 43 catches for 458 yards. McBride only caught three passes for 17 yards. Wilson follows Leipold over from Buffalo, where he also projects to start. Again, the high implied team total keeps all the receivers in play. Interestingly, Kansas listed last year’s second-leading receiver, Luke Grimm ($7,300) as a backup.
Mason Fairchild ($3,900) will play tight end. He is a low upside option, who caught five passes for 57 yards last year.
Northern Colorado vs. Colorado
Northern Colorado (10.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 70.4
Pass Rate — 54.24%
Northern Colorado did not play in 2020 and their roster looks much different now. Former Michigan signal caller Dylan McCaffrey ($5,700) projects to start for Northern Colorado. He has a 51.4% career completion percentage, but he has only attempted 35 passes. McCaffrey is a strong dual threat, with 166 yards on 23 carries. However, the low implied team total for Northern Colorado makes him a tough sell.
Another Michigan transfer in Tru Wilson ($4,400) will play running back for Northern Colorado. He rushed 44 times for 221 yards in 2019 and 62 times for 364 yards in 2018. Wilson only has eight career catches, but he is the most talented back on the roster. Unfortunately, Northern Colorado is a massive underdog here.
At receiver Northern Colorado returns their top option from 2019 in Jaren Mitchell ($5,900). Sam Flowers ($5,000) also returns as the team’s third leading receiver. Mitchell caught 48 passes for 740 yards in 2019, while Flowers brought in 48 for 493. Cole Ingersoll ($4,300) projects to be a seldom-used WR3. All of these players are a bit expensive.
Colorado (46 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 75.2 (35th)
Pass Rate – 50.83% (38th)
Brandon Lewis ($6,600) won the quarterback job for Colorado. Lewis only has ten career pass attempts for Colorado, but it looks like he brings strong mobility. He rushed for 73 yards on nine attempts last year. The massive implied team total makes him a strong if uncertain quarterback target.
Breakout rusher Jarek Broussard ($7,900) will lead this backfield against. However, Colorado is much healthier and Alex Fontenot ($6,900) and Ashaad Clayton ($3,300) could play a change-of-pace role after both were listed as co-backups. Broussard rushed for 895 yards on 156 attempts, while adding nine receptions. Fontenot rushed for 874 on 185 carries back in 2019. This is still a solid situation to target with both backs playing as major favorites. Clayton may also be targeted in massive GPPs.
The two clear starters at receiver are Dmitri Stanley ($6,100) and Brenden Rice ($5,100). La’Vontae Shenault ($4,500) and Daniel Arias ($3,800) were listed as co-starters for the WR3 gig. Stanley led the team with 20 catches for 335 yards. Shenault finished second with 17 catches for 193 yards. Rice finished fourth with six catches for 120 yards. Arias finished seventh with six catches for 105 yards. The prices are appropriate for all of these receivers, if not too cheap, given the total. Colorado looks likely to use a receiver rotation.
Brady Russell ($5,600) will play tight end. He caught five passes for 77 yards but ran the tenth most routes on the team.
Michigan State vs. Northwestern
Michigan State (21.25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.0 (72nd)
Pass Rate – 51.91 (30th)
Michigan State received Temple transfer Anthony Russo ($6,800) in the transfer portal. Russo completed 68.1% of his passes last year for 6.4 yards per attempt. He also rushed for 31 yards, showing some semblance of mobility. Russo benefits from a pass-heavy Michigan State team. However, the total leaves much to be desired, making Russo a middling play.
The Spartans also received Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker ($4,700) at running back. He will be complemented by Elijah Collins ($4,200) and Jordan Simmons ($3,000). All of Michigan’s backs have struggled in recent seasons, making Walker a much-needed addition. Walker rushed for 579 in back-to-back seasons in a time share at Wake Forest. Michigan State will likely use multiple backs, but Walker should handle a majority of the reps as a slight underdog here.
Receiver is a position of strength for the Spartans with Jayden Reed ($5,700) and Jalen Nailor ($5,000) returning. Ricky White is away from the team, but Tre Mosley ($3,300) and Terry Lockett ($3,000) are more than capable replacements. Nailor caught 26 passes for 515 yards. Reed caught 33 passes for 407 yards. Mosley caught seven for 71 and Lockett caught one for four yards. Nailor and Reed are the best options here.
Northwestern (24.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 76.8 (22nd)
Pass Rate – 42.98% (91st)
Former Clemson recruit Hunter Johnson ($6,500) won the starting quarterback job over South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski ($6,000). Johnson played poorly in spot duty in 2019. Johnson completed 46.3% of his passes for 4.0 yards per attempt. Fortunately, he rushed for 64 yards on 48 attempts, which helps a little. This is still a poor spot to target the new Northwestern signal caller.
At running back Northwestern continues to reel from the losses of Cam Porter, Isaiah Bowser, and Drake Anderson. Evan Hull ($5,700) will enter the season as the starter with Bowling Green transfer Andrew Clair ($4,500) projected to play a change of pace role. Hull was efficient in a small sample, rushing for 209 yards on 78 carries, while adding six receptions. Clair has battled injuries for multiple seasons, but he is an excellent pass catcher, who rushed for over 700 yards in his first two college seasons.
At receiver Northwestern earned a strong transfer from Kansas in Stephon Robinson ($6,000). He should start alongside Berkeley Holman ($5,200) and Bryce Kirtz ($4,300). Robinson caught 45 passes for 727 yards in 2019. Kirtz finished fifth on the team in receiving with six catches for 67 yards. Holman only caught two passes.
Charlie Mangieri ($3,100) will man the tight end position vacated by John Raine. Mangieri caught seven passes for 53 yards.
South Dakota State vs. Colorado State
South Dakota State (25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 59.8
Pass Rate — 41.95%
South Dakota State is a slower, run-heavy team in the FCS. However, they won their conference with an 8-2 record. At quarterback Mark Gronowski ($5,900) suffered a season-ending injury. This puts former USF quarterback Chris Oladokun ($5,100) in the starting lineup. Oladokun completed 51.1% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt with USF. He is somewhat mobile but still a downgrade from Gronowski. He is viable in tournaments with the line still quite close.
South Dakota State used a rushing tandem of Isaiah Davis ($5,500) and Pierre Strong ($5,000) last year. Davis was the more efficient rusher with 818 yards and ten touchdowns on 96 carries. Strong rushed 131 times for 707 yards. Davis earned more opportunities throughout the year. Davis caught seven passes for 107 yards to Strong’s 20 catches for 178 yards. Both are solid plays here.
At receiver Jaxon Janke ($5,000) and Jadon Janke ($4,700) will be the top two options. Jaxon caught 32 passes for 473 yards, while Jadon reeled in 21 catches for 425 yards. Nobody else on the team had over 200 yards receiver. These two are middling options at best.
Colorado State (27.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game — 70.8 (76th)
Pass Rate — 44.88% (82nd)
Todd Centeio ($6,200) returns as the starting signal caller for Colorado State. Centeio does not offer much as a passer in a run-first offense, but he has strong dual-threat ability. He rushed for 92 yards and completed 38.9% of his passes last year for 5.8 yards per attempt in just three games played. He is a middling quarterback option on this slate.
Boston College transfer David Bailey ($4,500) joins a crowded Colorado State backfield also including A’Jon Vivens ($5,900), Marcus McElroy ($5,400), and Jaylen Thomas ($3,000). All four were listed as co-starters. Vivens led the backfield with 49 rushes for 210 yards. McElroy finished second with 41 for 110. Thomas did not play but rushed for 222 on 68 attempts in 2019. Bailey rushed for 503 on 127 carries. This backfield looks like one to avoid until a lead rusher emerges.
As for pass catchers, Dante Wright ($6,000), Trey McBride ($6,300), and E.J. Scott ($5,200) return. Colorado State will often use 12 personnel, removing a third receiver from the formation. In three wide sets, Ty McCullouch ($3,500) and Justice McCoy ($3,000) project to play a role. Jordan Kress ($4,800) was not on the initial depth chart, but he should also play in three-wide sets. McBride caught 22 passes for 330 yards, which narrowly beat out Wright at 20 receptions for 315 yards. Scott finished fourth with eight catches for 64 yards.
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