The college football DFS season is finally here. With Week 1 action set to kick off in full on Saturday, 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 Saturday’s matchups. Be sure to check out the Awesemo YouTube channel for more CFB DFS picks and tips from myself and Ben Rasa.
College Football DFS: Week 1 CFB Picks Saturday
Stanford vs. Kansas State
Stanford (25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.5 (68th)
Pass Rate – 53.85% (22nd)
Stanford listed Tanner McKee ($6,000) and Jack West ($6,400) as co-starters at quarterback. Neither has played much to this point, but West played over McKee as the primary backup last year. This is a situation to avoid with uncertain playing time.
Austin Jones ($7,200) returns as the starting running back for Stanford. Nathaniel Peat ($4,400) figures to play a change of pace role. For reference, Jones handled 63.6% of the team’s carries to 14.7% for Peat. Jones rushed 126 times for 550 yards, but he redeems that poor efficiency with solid pass catching skills. He caught 21 passes in six games last year.
Stanford listed Brycen Tremayne ($$5,700) and Elijah Higgins ($3,900). Tremayne caught 14 passes for 265 yards last year, while Higgins brought in 15 for 176 yards. Stanford lost their leading receiver in Simi Fehoko, so both should be in line for more work. Stanford sometimes uses a fullback and two tight ends, rending all other players pure dart throws in the offense. None of the pass catchers stand out for DFS.
Kansas State (28.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 61.4 (125th)
Pass Rate – 42.35% (94th)
Kansas State will implement their traditional slow, run-heavy offense again this year. Skylar Thompson ($6,600) returns at quarterback after missing most of 2020 with injury. Thompson is a middling passer, throwing for 2,315 yards as the starter in 2019. He remains notable from his rushing ability. He notched 405 yards on the ground in 2019. Still, he will rely on efficiency in this low volume offense, making him a dicey play.
Deuce Vaughn ($6,300) will handle most of the running back work, but Joe Ervin ($4,300) will play a change of pace role. Vaughn is severely undersized, but he carries 123 times for 642 yards last year with 25 receptions. Efficiency is a concern in Kansas State’s archaic offense, but Vaughn should receive enough volume to consider in tournaments.
Kansas State rarely throws, and when they do five or six receivers rotate onto the field. Phillip Brooks ($3,500) and Malik Knowles ($5,300) were listed as the starters and would need an outlier performance to hit value. Vaughn was the leading receiver last year and no one else caught for than 22 passes. Ignore this situation.
Tulane vs. Oklahoma
Tulane (18 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.8 (66th)
Pass Rate – 40.42% (108th)
Tulane typically plays slow, run-heavy football. Michael Pratt ($6,300) is the returning signal caller. Pratt only passed for 1,806 yards last year in 10 games, but he has some rushing ability. He put up 229 yards on the ground last year. However, with a low total on a 13-game slate, Pratt is a pass.
Cameron Carroll ($4,500) and Tyjae Spears ($5,600) project to share the work at running back with transfer Devin Brumfield ($3,000) potentially working in. Carroll carries 122 times for 741 yards last year, scoring 12 touchdowns. He is the best bet for touches in the backfield, but this is not the place to target a Tulane running back as 31.5-point underdogs.
Tulane also runs a nasty rotation at receiver, featuring Jha’Quan Jackson ($4,400), Deuce Watts ($4,800), Jaetavian Toles ($3,000), Shae Wyatt ($3,000) and Phat Watts ($3,600). Deuce Watts finished as the team’s leading receiver with 512 yards, but 50 yards per game will not cut it on a 13-game slate.
Oklahoma (49.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 73.0 (52nd)
Pass Rate – 47.40% (61st)
Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler ($9,700) returns to command Lincoln Riley’s prolific Oklahoma offense. Rattler averaged over 275 passing yards per game with some mobility on the ground. Even at $9,700, Oklahoma stacks could break the slate.
Oklahoma has an abundance of riches at running back with Tennessee transfer Eric Gray ($6,900) and 2019 leading rusher Kennedy Brooks ($5,900). Gray is a Tennessee transfer, who rushed for 539 and 772 yards in his first two seasons with Tennessee. He also caught 30 passes last year. Brooks opted out of 2020, but he rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons with Oklahoma. Both will see the field, and both are perfectly viable tonight.
At receiver, Oklahoma returns sophomore sensation Marvin Mims ($6,900). He will be complemented by Mike Woods ($5,400), Jadon Haselwood ($4,500), Drake Stoops ($3,000) and tight end Austin Stogner ($4,400). Mims led team with 610 receiving yards, despite playing limited snaps. Wease matched his catches with 37, but only managed 530 yards. He will miss this game with an injury. Athletic tight end Stogner caught 26 passes for 422 yards. Haselwood and Stoops are cheaper attachments better left to GPPs.
Western Michigan vs. Michigan
Western Michigan (25.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 66.5 (104th)
Pass Rate – 40.85% (106th)
Kaleb Eleby ($7,300) will return at quarterback for Western Michigan. Eleby averaged 284 passing yards per game in an all-MAC schedule last year. Eleby is not very mobile, and this will be a significant jump in competition. He is a signal caller to avoid outside big GPPs.
The Broncos utilize a running back by committee, featuring La’Darius Jefferson ($5,400), Sean Tyler ($5,700) and Jaxson Kincaide ($4,000). With this time share, any of them would require an outlier performance for DFS success today. Jefferson is a former Michigan State transfer and led the team with 112 attempts for 624 yards. however, Tyler missed time with injury and is a candidate to receiver more work. Underdogs by multiple touchdowns, taking a stand in this three-man committee looks like a bad idea.
Skyy Moore ($5,900) projects to lead this receiving room in 2021. The other starters should be Jaylen Hall ($5,500) and Bryce Nunnelly ($3,300), but Corey Crooms ($3,600) could also play a role. Moore finished second on the team in receiving with 25 catches for 388 yards. Hall finished third with 12 for 323. They both look slightly overpriced given the game environment and total in this game.
Michigan (42 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 65.5 (112th)
Pass Rate – 56.23% (10th)
Michigan moves forward with Cade McNamara ($8,100) as starting quarterback after beating out Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman ($7,300). McNamara played a bit last season when Joe Milton was benched. He completed 60% of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt, which was an improvement. He still does not offer much mobility, making him a bit expensive at $8,100 for this traditionally run-heavy offense. He does offer some untapped potential that is worth targeting in stacks for GPPs because of the large total.
Michigan will use a running back by committee featuring Hassan Haskins ($6,200), Blake Corum ($3,600) and Donovan Edwards ($5,400). Haskins led the team with 375 yards on 61 carries. Corum was wildly inefficient with 28 yards per carry. Haskins is a solid play here as a massive favorite against a poor run defense.
Michigan is deep at receiver with Ronnie Bell ($7,000), Cornelius Johnson ($6,700) and Roman Wilson ($3,500) projected to lead the team. However, a number of high-profile recruits should see the field early and potentially push any of these targets. Erick All ($3,900) is one of the better receiving tight ends on the slate. Bell is the top receiver, catching 26 passes for 401 yards last year. This is still a low-volume passing attack. Unless they can drastically improve efficiency, all of these pass catchers except Wilson are overpriced.
Penn State vs. Wisconsin
Penn State (22 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 73.8 (44th) Texas numbers/ 81.9 (3rd)
Pass Rate – 49.86 (42nd) / 45.45 (76th)
Sean Clifford ($7,500) is the clear starter at quarterback for Penn State with Will Levis transferring. Clifford played reasonably well in 2020. He completed 60.6% of his passes for 1,883 yards and 7.5 yards per attempt. His 16:9 touchdown to interception ratio leaves a little to be desired, but outside of turnovers, he was solid. He also offers strong dual-threat ability with 335 yards on 99 carries. He is middling target and would look more attractive if this game did not have one of the lowest totals on the board.
Noah Cain ($5,400) returns from injury at running back. He likely shares time with Devyn Ford ($3,700), Keyvone Lee ($4,400), Caziah Holmes ($3,000) and Baylor transfer John Lovett ($5,100). All of these backs produced to some degree due to injuries last year. Cain is the favorite to lead the backfield after he rushed for 443 yards on 84 carries in 2019. He also caught seven passes. For those rolling the dice on a Penn State rusher, Cain would be the pick.
Penn State returns leading receiver Jahan Dotson ($7,500) and breakout candidate Parker Washington ($5,000). The starting group will round out with KeAndre Lambert-Smith ($3,200) and Brenton Strange ($4,100) playing tight end. Dotson led the team with a 30% target share, averaging 9.3 targets per game last year. He is expensive, but his usage warrants consideration. As does Washington’s, who emerged at the end of 2020. He should improve on his 20% target share from last year. Lambert-Smith and Strange only caught 15 passes for 138 yards and 17 passes for 164 yards, but both are potential dart throws.
Wisconsin (27.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 72.4 (57th)
Pass Rate – 42.21% (96th)
Graham Mertz ($6,500) will quarterback a low volume, run heavy Wisconsin offense. Mertz only averaged 177 passing yards per game and offers very little mobility. On top of that, he recorded poor efficiency stats, completing 61.1% of his passes for 6.4 yards per attempt. He is not a strong play.
Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi ($5,000) beat out former four-star recruit Jalen Berger ($6,1000) for the starting job. This could be a time share to some degree. Berger rushed for 301 yards on 60 carries while battling injuries last year. Mellusi has performed well in mop up duty for Clemson behind Etienne. He has 71 career carries for 427 yards, averaging 6.0 yards a crack. The split between these two rushers remains unknown. However, Wisconsin runs the ball at one of the highest rates in the country. Mellusi will get the first crack at this job. If he performs well in the opening series, there’s massive upside for Mellusi in this game and throughout the year. For that reason, he is an excellent GPP play.
Both Danny Davis ($5,800) and Kendric Pryor ($4,100) return from injury to start for the Badgers at receiver. This is a low volume inefficient passing attack, making both GPP dart throws at best. Plus, their top pass catcher is athletic receiving tight end Jake Ferguson ($5,200). Ferguson also battled injury last year. Davis has never received more than 418 yards in a season. Pryor has never received more than 278. Ferguson has at least 305 yards in every year with Wisconsin. None are standout options.
Fresno State vs. Oregon
Fresno State (21.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 81.3 (5th)
Pass Rate – 55.74% (14th)
Fresno State enters this game as a three-touchdown underdog after dismantling UConn last week. Jake Haener ($7,600) will continue to quarterback Fresno State. Unchallenged, he threw for 331 yards on 26 attempts last week. Haener is not the most mobile quarterback, so he needs to get there with pass volume. Luckily, Fresno State runs an uptempo, pass heavy offense. Unfortunately, they face a strong Oregon defense as massive underdogs. Haener is a thin GPP play.
Ronnie Rivers ($6,700) is the staring running back for Fresno State. Rivers only carried 14 time for 72 yards in his debut, but he showed off his explosion with 66 yards on three targets in the pass game. Rivers is an excellent pass catching back with 27 receptions last year. This should keep him viable in negative game script for tournaments.
Jalen Cropper ($6,100), Josh Kelly ($3,300), Keric Wheatfall ($4,000) and Ty Jones ($3,600) are the top four receivers in that order. Cropper led the team with 37 targets for 520 yards last year. Interestingly, Fresno State listed second-leading receiver Wheatfall as a co-starter with Jones. This theoretically gives Kelly a clearer path to targets. Kelly finished third on the team in receiving with 22 catches for 330 yards and saw five targets last week. They are all best left for GPPs with Kelly looking like an intriguing price-adjusted option.
Oregon (42 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 62.7 (122nd)
Pass Rate – 46.01% (69th)
Former Boston College signal caller Anthony Brown ($8,300) will quarterback Oregon. Brown only played a limited role last year, but he is the former starter for Boston College. He has a 55.2% career completion percentage with 7.0 yards per attempt. He is somewhat mobile, but he has never eclipsed 210 rushing yards in a season. Only the team total props him up here, keeping him viable for stacks. Unfortunately, Oregon plays at one of the slower paces in college football.
C.J. Verdell ($6,000) and Travis Dye ($5,500) will form a one-two punch at running back. Verdell battled injury last year but still finished with 65 carries for 285 yards. His injury allowed Dye to step up for 443 yards on 64 carries (6.9 yards per carry). Both are solid pass catchers, making this a near-even split. Still the 42-point total and poor projected run defense for Fresno State keeps both backs viable in tournaments with a slight price preference towards Dye.
Oregon listed Johnny Johnson ($6,200) and Troy Franklin ($3,000) as two clear starters at receiver. Oregon listed Mycah Pittman ($4,100) and Jaylon Redd ($6,500) as co-starters for the final receiver slot. Redd finished as their second-leading receiver but still listed as a co-starter. Their leading receiver Devon Williams ($4,600) was listed as a clear backup. This does make some sense with the number three freshman receiver in the country in Franklin committing to the program. Johnson finished as the team’s third-leading receiver last year and Pittman ranked sixth, but mostly due to injury. Franklin has the best price but is the most unproven. It appears he will get an opportunity early, making him, Johnson and Redd the top plays in that order with Williams and Pittman remaining volatile GPP options.
Alabama vs. Miami
Alabama (40.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.8 (75th)
Pass Rate – 48.26% (58th)
With Mac Jones moving to the NFL, Alabama will move forward with Bryce Young ($8,900) under center.
Alabama also loses Najee Harris to the NFL. Fortunately, they have a stable of experienced backs in the program, headlined by Brian Robinson ($6,500). Behind him, Alabama listed Jase McClellan ($5,800) and Trey Sanders ($3,000) as co-backups.
At receiver, Alabama again loses immense production with Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Miller Forristall heading to the NFL. John Metchie ($8,100) is the in-house replacement with Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams ($5,200) occupying the other starting spot. Metchie was productive without Waddle, catching 55 passes for 916 yards. He is a fine play. Williams never latched on at Ohio State, but he was a big recruit. Alabama’s thin receiver room makes him a solid play in GPPs as well. When Ohio State lost Waddle last year, they turned to more 12 personnel sets. They listed Cameron Latu ($3,000) as the clear starter at tight end, but Jahleel Billingsley ($4,300) should play as well as the move tight end. The third receiver position was listed a timeshare between gadget player Slade Bolden ($3,600) and JoJo Earle ($4,000). Bolden caught just 24 passes for 270 yards even with the injury to Waddle in Week 5. Earle is a four-star freshman and the number six receiver recruit in the country. He is the best dart throw in the offense in Week 1 as an unproven, underpriced commodity Agiye Hall ($5,400) is another candidate for an increased role at some point this season, but he appears to have fallen behind in fall camp.
Miami (21 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 75.6 (33rd)
Pass Rate – 49.28% (50th)
D’Eriq King ($7,400) will quarterback Miami’s offense despite tearing his ACL in December. King is an excellent dual-threat quarterback with 538 rushing yards last year. This makes his ACL injury even more scary. Still, King was efficient as a passer, completing 64.1% of his passes for 8.2 yards per attempt. He is a risky option in stacks and a fine bring back in Alabama stacks.
Miami is not known for their prolific rushing attack, but Cam’Ron Harris ($5,500) should lead the backfield. Notable younger players in Don Chaney ($4,300) and Jaylan Knighton ($5,500) continue to wait in the wings. Harris ranked second on the team in rushing with 543 yards and 10 touchdowns. He began losing work towards the end of last year to Chaney and Knighton. Chaney was slightly more efficient, but this still projects to be a time share.
The top receivers for Miami will be Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo ($4,300), slot specialist Mike Harley ($6,600) and Keyshawn Smith ($3,000). Rambo caught 43 passes for 743 yards with Oklahoma in 2019 before taking a step back to stud freshman Marvin Mims last year. He should compete with Miami’s leading returning receiver Harley, who notched 799 yards on 57 catches as the slot specialist. Smith only caught two passes for 58 yards, but he jumped Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins on the depth chart. Smith is still unproven and could split time, making him a risky option. Rambo is the best price-adjusted play for Miami stacks and run back to the Alabama side.
Miami Ohio vs. Cincinnati
Miami Ohio (14 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 63.0 (120th)
Pass Rate – 47.09% (62nd)
Miami Ohio returns Brett Gabbert ($6,200) at quarterback. Gabbert is not very mobile and completes just 56.4% of his passes throughout his career. This is an extremely difficult matchup, making him a contrarian target at best.
They also return Jaylon Bester ($5,200), Tyre Shelton ($3,500) and Davion Johnson ($3,000) at running back. No one on this team rushed for more than 92 yards last year in three regular season games. Bester was the team’s leading rusher in 2019 with 741 yards on 171 carries. he is the best option, but still should cede some work.
Receiver is a position of strength for Miami Ohio with Jack Sorenson ($7,300) returning. He will be complemented by Jalen Walker ($4,000) and Mac Hippenhammer ($3,000). Sorenson caught 18 passes for 354 yards in an all-MAC schedule last year. His 31.3% target share is awesome, but a $7,300 price tag is egregious with this low team total. Avoiding Miami Ohio altogether looks like a wise decision.
Cincinnati (36.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 69.6 (88th)
Pass Rate – 45.69% (74th)
Cincinnati returns prolific starter Desmond Ridder ($9,200) at quarterback. Cincinnati lived off efficiency last year and that stemmed to their quarterback, who threw for 19 touchdowns, despite averaging just 28 attempts per game. Fortunately, Ridder is an excellent dual threat, minimizing his risk of reduced volume. He rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, much to the frustration of Doaks backers. He is an appropriately priced option here.
Cincinnati loses Gerrid Doaks but has a capable replacement in Jerome Ford ($7,000) on the roster. Charles McClelland ($4,800) should play a change of pace role. Ford rushed for 483 yards on 73 carries last year and proved far more efficient than Doaks. He also caught 8 passes for 51 yards, showing the ability to function on all downs. McClelland will play a change of pace role, but Ford is an excellent option in DFS this week, considering price and matchup.
Cincinnati skews run-heavy, but they return three excellent receivers in Alec Pierce ($7,200), Michael Young ($4,300) and Tre Tucker ($3,900). They also have a solid tight end in Josh Whyle ($4,600). Cincinnati’s low volume pass attack makes the receivers tough sells outside of tournaments. Whyle led the team with 28 catches for 353 yards. Pierce battled injury and typically functions as the top option when healthy. He is very expensive for the volume he typically receives. No receiver on Cincinnati finished with more than 353 yards last year, making them all tough sells outside of the cheaper options in tournaments.
Marshall vs. Navy
Marshall (25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 66.1 (107th)
Pass Rate – 44.03% (87th)
Already a slow-paced, run-heavy offense, Marshall’s usual concerns are exacerbated by a matchup against a triple option team in Navy. Grant Wells ($6,800) returns as starting quarterback for Marshall after averaging 209 passing yards per game last year. Wells is somewhat mobile but does not project to receive volume here. He is a low-upside option reserved for tournaments.
Marshall listed Sheldon Evans ($4,700) and Rasheen Ali ($3,300) as co-starters in the running back position vacated by Brenden Knox. Evans ranked second on the team in rushing with 327 yards on 72 carries. Ali only handled five carries for 22 yards, but this running back room is unsettled. The workload is uncertain, but Evans is a cheap option for GPPs in a game with the lowest total on the board.
Marshall listed co-starters at all three receiver positions including Corey Gammage ($5,100), Willie Johnson ($4,700), Talik Keaton ($3,600), Stone Scarcelle ($3,000), Shadeed Ahmed ($3,000) and E.J. Horton ($3,000). On top of that, their best receiving option may be their tight end Xavier Gaines ($4,300). Gaines caught 28 passes for 404 yards last year and rushed 10 times in the run game. He is the only option worth mild consideration here.
Navy (22.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 62.8 (121st)
Pass Rate – 23.25% (124th)
Navy runs the triple option, making Xavier Arline ($6,300) a low upside option as the starting quarterback. Arline averaged 3.6 yards per carry and rushed for 210 yards on 59 carries. Playing Arline is the equivalent of playing a low upside running back in the flex.
Navy will have multiple rushers involved in the game play, somewhat cannibalizing each other. Isaac Ruoss ($4,300) should start at fullback, with Chance Warren ($4,200) and Carlinos Acie ($3,000) operating at the starting slot backs. The top rusher for Navy finished with 645 yards last year. Outside of an outlier performance, that is not enough.
Navy does not throw enough to consider a receiver.
Indiana vs. Iowa
Indiana (21.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.8 (65th)
Pass Rate – 52.61% (27th)
Starting quarterback Michael Penix ($7,000) is coming off an ACL tear, but he will be ready for this game. Penix was labeled a dual threat coming out of high school, but rarely used his legs last year. He finished with just 25 rushing yards. However, Penix was a prolific passer averaging 274 passing yards per game. Iowa is a tough matchup and Indiana has a low team total. These concerns are exacerbated by Penix’s injury, but he is still talented enough to consider in large-field tournaments.
Indiana listed USC transfer Stephen Carr ($6,400) as their starting running back. Tim Baldwin ($4,000) and David Ellis ($4,900) should also factor into this game play. Stevie Scott vacates a lot of production here and Indiana’s second-leading rusher Baldwin finished with just 141 yards on the ground. Carr is a former five star running back, who never eclipsed 396 yards in a single season with USC. Carr averages 5.0 yards per carry through his career and now should find a clearer path to production. This is still a tough matchup, but Carr is a middling tournament play.
Indiana returns star receiver Ty Fryfogle ($6,800). He will play alongside returner Miles Marshall ($4,500) and Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews ($3,600). Peyton Hendershot ($4,200) is also an excellent receiving tight end. Fryfogle caught 37 passes for 721 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He is expensive, but he is also the clear preferred stacking option with Penix. Matthew projects to take over the high-volume slot role, vacated by Whop Philyor, making him an intriguing punt play. Marshall caught 19 passes for 290 yards as a middling option. Hendershot caught 23 for 151 and remains somewhat dependent on touchdown scoring.
Iowa (25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 69.4 (89th)
Pass Rate – 46.67% (64th)
Iowa plays a slow, run-heavy brand of football led by game manager Spencer Petras ($6,000) at quarterback. Petras is an inefficient, non-mobile signal caller on a team with a low total. He is not a strong option.
Fortunately, Iowa has a stud returning running back in Tyler Goodson ($6,800). Unlike Petras, Goodson directly benefits from Iowa’s archaic offense. Goodson rushed for 762 yards on 143 carries last year, while adding 15 receptions out of the backfield. He is an excellent three-down back with locked in volume. He should be considered at this price.
Iowa does not have a productive passing attack, but Tyrone Tracy ($5,000) and Nico Ragaini ($4,200) should be the top options outside of their athletic receiving tight end Sam LaPorta ($4,000). LaPorta led the team with a 20% target share, but only averaged 33.9 yards per game. This Iowa pass game is one to forget.
West Virginia vs. Maryland
West Virginia (29.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 77.1 (20th)
Pass Rate – 55.76% (13th)
Pocket statue Jarret Doege ($6,700) returns as the starting signal caller for West Virginia. Doege offers no semblance of mobility and plays behind a questionable offensive line. Still, West Virginia is pass heavy and uptempo, giving Doege a theoretical ceiling. Doege averaged 258 passing yards per game last year. Their team total is fine to target.
Leddie Brown ($8,000) returns at West Virginia’s top running back. Brown is one of the few locked in three-down backs on this slate. Brown rushed for 1,010 yards on 199 attempts last year. An excellent three-down back, Brown caught 31 passes last year. He is a fine, but expensive target as a slight favorite here.
The Mountaineers listed Winston Wright ($5,600), Bryce Ford-Wheaton ($4,000), Sam James ($3,700) and Sean Ryan ($3,500) as starters. Stud freshman Kaden Prather ($3,300) is a candidate to receive early opportunity as well. Wright led the team with 47 catches for 553 yards last year and is rightfully the most expensive option. Ford-Wheaton caught 27 passes for 416 yards as the team’s primary deep threat. James was at one point this team’s leading receiver before getting benched last year. He appears to have rehabilitated his status and was listed among the starters. Ryan is a low upside option after catching 25 passes for 264 yards last year. Wright and James make the most sense in potential GPP lineups.
Maryland (27 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 65.0 (113th) / 68.4 (91st) Miami numbers
Pass Rate – 53.85% (21st) / 55.05% (19th)
Taulia Tagovailoa ($7,200) returns at starting quarterback after a breakout 2020 campaign. Tagovailoa averaged 252 yards per game last year in a limited sample. He also showed moderate dual-threat ability. Aside from a 94-yard performance in his debut, Tagovailoa hit at least 241 yards in each of his next three games. He is a solid tournament option in a projected back and forth affair.
Maryland loses Jake Funk but returns Tayon Fleet-Davis ($5,800). Interestingly, Maryland listed Challen Faamatau ($3,000) as the primary backup, but Fleet-Davis should operate as the clear lead back. Fleet-Davis only carried 10 times for 26 yards, but he rushed for 332 yards and 265 yards in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He should get the first crack at this job, giving him upside in GPPs.
Receiver is a position of strength for Maryland. Both Dontay Demus ($7,100) and former five-star recruit Rakeem Jarrett ($6,300) return to the offense. Maryland also has productive rotational players in Jeshaun Jones ($3,900) and Darryl Jones ($3,000) to help. Demus led this team with 24 catches for 365 yards last year on a 32% target share. Former five-star recruit Jarrett missed a pair of games with Covid-19, but he still finished second on the team on receiving. He is a strong breakout candidate this year and another strong stacking option with Tagovailoa.
Louisiana Tech vs. Mississippi State
Louisiana Tech (15 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 73.0 (53rd)
Pass Rate – 53.12% (25th)
Louisiana Tech named transfer Austin Kendall ($5,100) their starting quarterback. Kendall formerly played for Oklahoma and West Virginia but seldom saw the field. He completed 61.5% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt in 2019 before losing the starting job to Jarret Doege. He is not mobile whatsoever, but Louisiana Tech plays a pass-heavy, uptempo style offense. He is extremely cheap, but still not a strong option.
Louisiana Tech also has a transfer at the starting running back position in Marcus Williams ($4,100). He will play ahead of backups Greg Garner ($3,200) and Keyon Henry-Brooks ($5,300). Williams had at least 500 rushing yards in four straight seasons with Appalachian State. He was listed as the team’s clear starter of last year’s third-leading rusher Garner and Vanderbilt transfer Henry-Brooks. All three could see the field, but expect Williams to lead this backfield with an uncertain workload at this point.
Louisiana Tech often runs four receiver sets, which should feature Isaiah Graham ($3,700), Tre Harris ($3,000), Smoke Harris ($4,900) and Griffin Herbert ($4,000). Leading receiver Adrian Hardy departs, but Smoke finished second on the team in receiving with 39 catches for 304 yards. Herbert finished second on the team in receiving with 19 catches for 275 yards. Graham finished fifth with 20 catches for 225 yards. Tre Harris is the most unproven commodity here, but Louisiana Tech has an unfortunate tendency to rotate receivers. Smoke is the top target followed by Herbert and Graham.
Mississippi State (37.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 72.3 (59th)
Pass Rate – 74.34% (1st)
The Mississippi State, Mike Leach offense will again be quarterbacked by Will Rogers ($8,700). After a poor debut season in 2020, his leash should be short here. Rogers averaged just 220 yards per game despite 39 pass attempts per game. He offers no mobility whatsoever. Transfers Chance Lovertich, Jack Abraham and Jack Kristofek all joined the program this offseason to push Rogers. However, as long as he starts raw volume will make him a player to consider for DFS.
Jo’Quavious Marks ($6,600) returns as the starting running back and he should split time with Dillon Johnson ($4,800) to some degree. When this backfield is condensed to one player, it can have great value as players like Max Borghi have proven. However, a two-way split renders it difficult to target. Marks gets a slight edge in preference.
Mississippi State will use four receivers as their base package. Malik Heath ($4,000), Makai Polk ($3,900), Austin Williams ($4,200) and Washington State transfer Jamire Calvin ($4,800) project to start here. Jaden Walley ($6,900) and Lideatrick Griffin ($3,000) will also mix in. Polk caught 17 passes for 183 yards with Cal last year. Calvin caught 42 passes for 497 yards with Leach back in 2019. Walley led Mississippi State with 52 catches for 718 yards last year but was listed as a backup. Leach is exactly known for his honestly, so take this for what it is worth. Williams finished third on the team in receiving with Heath finishing fourth. All of these players are uncertain GPP options with an enormous ceiling. Spreading ownership between Mississippi State receivers makes sense.
Northern Iowa vs. Iowa State
Northern Iowa (2.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 61.9
Pass Rate – 53.44%
Will McElvain ($5,000) should start here. Tyler Hoosman ($5,600) and Dom Williams ($4,300) should share running back work. Isaiah Weston ($5,100) and Quan Hampton ($4,700) should be the top two receivers. All of these players are egregiously poor plays at their prices. DFS players should receive salary to put one of these guys in a lineup.
Iowa State (40 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.2 (85th)
Pass Rate – 45.96% (71st)
Brock Purdy ($7,900) returns for Iowa State as their veteran signal caller. Iowa State embraced the run and slowed their pace last year. Purdy only averaged 30 attempts and 229 yards per game. However, they returned to more of a pass heavy approach at the end of the year. Purdy finished the final four game with three at or above 247 passing yards. Purdy also has strong mobility with at least 249 yards in three straight years. Unfortunately, Iowa State should not need to use him much in this game.
Iowa State also returns All-American running back Breece Hall ($9,000). Hall averaged 25.4 touches per game with 130 yards coming on the ground alone. Hall is a strong pass catcher as well, but Iowa State likely removes him from this game early, making him a dicey play.
They Cyclones lead run heavy, but Tarique Milton ($4,100) and Xavier Hutchinson ($6,300) project as the top two receivers. Hutchinson caught 64 passes for 771 receiving yards. Milton battled injury through most of the year but caught 35 passes for 722 yards back in 2019. They also have an excellent receiving tight end in Charlie Kolar ($5,500). Kolar finished second on the team in receiving last year, with 591 yards. Iowa State uses a lot of 12 personnel, reducing the time spent for their third receiver on the field; position they list with three co-starters between, Sean Shaw ($4,000), Joe Scates ($3,900) and Darren Wilson ($3,000). This entire pass game is volatile against this FCS level of competition.
Louisiana vs. Texas
Louisiana (24.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 67.7 (98th)
Pass Rate – 42.68% (93rd)
Levi Lewis ($7,100) returns as the veteran signal caller for Louisiana. Lewis has solid mobility with 335 rushing yards last year. However, this low volume passing attack only allowed him to pass 27 times per game for 206 yards. He is a low upside option despite the projected negative game script.
Louisiana has a history of using multiple running backs. Chris Smith ($5,700) is the incumbent starter. He was the third-leading rusher with 62 carries for 350 yards. Smith also caught 16 passes and possesses the skills to play on third down. Unproven depth players Michael Orphey ($4,000) and Emani Bailey ($3,900) are candidates for an increased role, but this backfield remains unsettled. The safe bet is Smith in an increased role.
Louisiana typically plays run-heavy, slow-paced football, but Peter LeBlanc ($4,800) returns as the top receiver. John Stephens ($3,000) also transfers in. He should form a rotation with Errol Rogers ($3,100), Dontae Fleming ($3,800), Jalen Williams ($3,000) and Kyren Lacy ($4,400) as secondary options within the offense. LeBlanc battled injury, but functions as the top receiver when healthy. He caught 23 passes for 334 yards in a limited season last year.
Texas (34 Implied Total)
Points/Game – 42.7 (5th) / 48.5 (2nd) – Alabama #’s
Plays/Game – 73.8 (44th) / 70.8 (75th)
Texas named hyper-athlete Hudson Card ($6,900) the starting quarterback over Casey Thompson. Card is a former four-star dual-threat prospect, who previously ran a 4.5 40-yard dash. He is a completely unproven prospect but possesses tantalizing upside as a dual threat in a Steve Sarkisian offense.
Stud running back Bijan Robinson ($7,400) returns to the offense. He will be spelled occasionally by Roschon Johnson ($5,200), but Robinson should handle a vast majority of the running back work. Robinson was hyper efficient last year with 703 rushing yards on 86 carries. He is also a strong pass catcher with 15 catches for 196 yards last year.
Joshua Moore ($6,000) returns as the top receiver for Texas. Slot specialist Jordan Whittington ($5,000) will also play a big role for this team. The third listed starter was Xavier Worthy ($4,700) on the depth chart. Moore led the team with 30 catches for 472 yards despite missing a game last year. Whittington missed much of the season in 2020 but still finished with 21 catches for 206 yards, while playing primarily in the slot. Worthy is an incoming four-star freshman receiver and the number eight receiver in this class. All three are cheap enough to play in Texas stacks.
Oregon State vs. Purdue
Oregon State (30.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 71.9 (64th)
Pass Rate – 48.71% (53rd)
Colorado transfer Sam Noyer ($7,900) beat out incumbent starter Tristan Gebbia ($5,600) for the starting quarterback job. Noyer only averaged 183.5 passing yards per game on 27 attempts last year. However, he is a moderate dual threat with 208 rushing yards. Oregon State has a decent implied team total and an uptempo, pass heavy offense. Noyer is an outside GPP consideration.
Oregon State replaces Jermar Jefferson at running back and listed three players as co-starters. This group includes Deshaun Fenwick ($6,400), B.J. Baylor ($6,300) and Trey Lowe ($5,500). None look like particularly attractive options in a potential three-man committee. Fenwick transfers in from South Carolina after 297 yards on 54 carries last year. Baylor only carried 27 times himself. Fenwick looks like the frontrunner, but this situation is completely unsettled.
Oregon State typically skews fairly pass heavy, putting receivers into play. Trevon Bradley ($7,200) and Tyjon Lindsey ($6,600) were listed as clear starters with Zeriah Beason ($5,900) and Champ Flemings ($5,000) listed as co-starters for the final starting spot. Bradford is the team’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 239 yards last year. Lindsey finished with 11 catches for 159 yards. Beason and Flemings both caught 16 and 10 passes, respectively. Bradley is cheap enough on FanDuel to focus on here.
Purdue (38 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.5 (82nd)
Pass Rate – 64.54% (2nd)
Jack Plummer ($8,600) returns as the starting quarterback for Purdue’s pass-heavy attack. Plummer averaged 313 passing yards per game in Purdue’s pass heavy attack. He is not mobile whatsoever, so he relies on these pass attempts. Purdue has a massive total, keeping him firmly in play for stacks.
Zander Horvath ($8,800) and King Doerue ($5,200) project to form a two-man committee at running back. Horvath will handle most of the work with Doerue providing a change of pace. Horvath averaged 20.2 touches per game last year. This included an average of six targets per game over his last four games last year. He is quietly a strong running back option on this slate.
David Bell ($9,800) returns as one of the top receivers in the entire Big Ten for Purdue. He recorded a 31% target share last year for 53 catches and 625 yards. T.J. Sheffield ($4,800) and Milton Wright ($6,800) will round out the starting group with Jackson Anthrop ($5,700) and Broc Thompson ($5,000) rotating in situationally. Payne Durham ($5,400) will play tight end. Wright finished as the team’s second-leading receiver with 24 catches for 305 yards. Sheffield only caught two passes and should rotate here. Durham caught 16 passes for 166 yards. Bell and Wright are the top two options here.
Texas Tech vs. Houston
Texas Tech (33 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 72.9 (55) / 70.6 (80th)
Pass Rate – 55.18% (15th) / 41.93% (98th)
Oregon transfer Tyler Shough ($10,500) won Texas Tech’s starting quarterback job. Shough completed 63.5% of his passes for 1,559 yards and 9.3 yards per attempt with Oregon last year. He is also a strong dual threat with 271 yards last year. Texas Tech plays fast and pass heavy historically but changes offensive coordinators here. He is a stackable on FanDuel.
Texas Tech listed SaRodorick Thompson ($8,000) as the starter with Tahj Brooks ($6,000) and Xavier White ($5,400) labeled co-backups. Thompson is a game-time decision, but the lead rusher when healthy. He finished with 610 yards on 109 yards last year. Brooks and White will split the work if Thompson misses this game. They carried 69 and 62 times respectively last year.
Erik Ezukanma ($8,400) is the clear alpha receiver in this offense. From there, Kaylon Geiger ($7,100), McLane Mannix ($5,300), Trey Cleveland ($6,500), Myles Price ($6,100), J.J. Sparkman ($4,500) and Dalton Rigdon ($5,500) were listed as co-starters at receiver. Ezukanma dominated opportunity last year with 46 catches for 748 yards on a 19.3% target share. Texas Tech likes to rotate receivers and deciphering the target order behind Ezukanma looks treacherous. They are dart throws in GPPs.
Houston (31.5 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 76.0 (26th)
Pass Rate – 51.81% (32nd)
Clayton Tune ($10,000) is the incumbent starter for Houston at quarterback. Houston plays uptempo, pass heavy football and Tune has solid dual-threat ability with 253 yards on the ground last year. As a passer, Tune averaged 255 yards, giving him stacking potential on this slate.
Mulbah Car ($6,900) returns from injury at running back. He will be complemented by Chandler Smith ($5,800) and Texas Tech transfer Ta’Zhawn Henry ($5,400). Houston historically utilizes a running back committee and that looks likely to be the case again here. None have elite upside.
The top three receivers for Houston will be Nathaniel Dell ($6,800), KeSean Carter ($6,000) and Jeremy Singleton ($6,400). Christian Trahan ($5,600) will play tight end. UCLA transfer Jaylen Erwin ($4,900) may also ascend this depth chart with positive play. Dell led the team in receiving with 29 catches for 428 yards last year. Trahan finished fourth with 22 catches for 294 yards. Singleton only caught 10 passes, but he will now play larger role. Carter and Erwin are transfers into the program and deserve consideration as GPP stacking options. Dell is the top option here and already affordable.
Georgia vs. Clemson
Georgia (23.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.3 (84th)
Pass Rate – 46.37% (67th)
J.T. Daniels ($7,600) enters his first full season as Georgia’s quarterback. Daniels performed exceptionally well after returning from a serious injury last year. He averaged over 300 yards per game but does not offer any mobility. Clemson will be his toughest test to date, but he is cheap enough to consider in tournament.
Georgia returns their top five rushers and will use all of them to some degree. This group is headlined by Zamir White ($7,600), Kendall Milton ($4,800) and James Cook ($6,100). White is the top option here after averaging nearly 80 rushing yards per game. Georgia will use five running backs at times, making him unpredictable. The others simply do not receive enough volume for consideration here.
Georgia continues to battle receiver issues. Arik Gilbert, George Pickens, Darnell Washington, and Dominick Blaylock will miss this game. The top options in this game look like Jermaine Burton ($6,200), Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint ($5,500) and Kearis Jackson ($6,600). Jackson led the team in receiving last year with 36 catches for 514 receiving yards. Burton finished third with 27 catches for 404 yards. Rosemy-Jacksaint is a former four-star recruit and the number eight receiver from last year’s class. He battled injury last year. All are very cheap pairing options with Daniels.
Clemson (26.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 78.2 (15th)
Pass Rate – 56.05% (12th)
D.J. Uiagalelei ($8,100) is the next hyped Clemson quarterback prospect. Uiagalelei started two games for Trevor Lawrence last year, eclipsing 300 yards in both. Uiagalelei has the makings of an elite passer and a solid dual threat. He added 60 yards on the ground last year. He is affordably priced here and viable in stacks even against a tough Georgia defense.
Lyn-J Dixon ($7,000), Kobe Pace ($5,400) and five-star recruit Will Shipley ($5,000) project to form a committee replacing Travis Etienne. Dixon had 190 yards last year, while Pace added 75. Shipley has perhaps the highest ceiling as an incoming five-star recruit. This situation best left for GPPs till a rusher emerges.
Justyn Ross ($7,500) returns from injury for the 2021 campaign. Ross is a former 1,000-yard receiver and will function as the team’s alpha. From there, E.J. Williams ($6,200), Joseph Ngata ($5,800) and Frank Ladson ($5,300) were all listed as co-starters. Braden Galloway ($5,300) will play tight end. Galloway was fourth on the team in receiving with 27 catches for 369 yards last year. Williams was fifth with 24 catches for 306 yards. Ladson and Ngata have both battled injuries to this point in their careers. Both were elite recruits and candidates for increased playing time.
LSU vs. UCLA
LSU (34 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 81.1 (7th)
Pass Rate – 54.99% (16th)
Myles Brennan‘s injury opens the door for Max Johnson ($8,500) to start at quarterback for LSU. This LSU offense plays fast and pass heavy, leading to productive quarterback play by default. Johnson is the better dual threat of the two with is awesome for DFS. At this price, Johnson is a solid target.
Tyrion Davis-Price ($7,100) and John Emery ($6,800) will form a committee at running back. Davis-Price technically led the backfield with 104 carries for 446 yards, but Emery was not far behind at 75 carries for 378 yards. With more efficient either one could be GPP viable in this spot.
Breakout receiver, Kayshon Boutte ($8,500) will be Johnson’s top option. He had a breakout freshman season with 45 catches for 735 yards. He will be complemented by veteran receivers, Jaray Jenkins ($6,600), Trey Palmer ($4,800), Jontre Kirklin ($5,500) and Koy Moore ($5,100). Jenkins ranked third on the team in receiving with 23 catches for 397 yards. Everyone else played in part time role. Boutte is the top stacking option with Johnson.
UCLA (31 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 75.9 (29th)
Pass Rate – 39.92% (111th)
Dorian Thompson-Robinson ($10,800) is UCLA’s starting quarterback, and he will look to rebound from a poor performance against Hawaii last week. Thompson is a strong dual threat but has historically struggled as a passer. Better options can be found on this slate, including Johnson on the other side of this game.
Brittain Brown ($7,400) and Zach Charbonnet ($6,200) form a one-two punch at running back. Brown and Charbonnet both ran wild against Hawaii last week but will face stiffer competition here. They will split work 50/50, making them dependent on touchdowns and efficiency. With that said, both are cheap again here.
Kyle Phillips ($7,800) is the top receiver here, followed by tight end Greg Dulcich ($7,400). They starting group is rounded out by Chase Cota ($6,000) and Kam Brown ($5,800). No one had more than three targets for UCLA last week as the Bruins rolled Hawaii. Phillips will lead the team followed by Dulcich. They are viable in stacks.
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