Welcome to the beginning of the long-awaited college football season! The season officially kicks off on Thursday, September 3rd at 6 P.M. with North Carolina taking on South Carolina in Columbia and Central Florida hosting Florida International in Orlando. Both of these games kick off the 2015 DFS College Football Season and I will be covering the sport on DraftKings all season long here on PlayPicks. Never played college football on DraftKings before? Sign up here and receive a special bonus!
This season I will be writing along side our newest writer, Tyler Salisbury, who will cover CFB on FanDuel this season as well as our primary DFS CFB writer, Eric Rasmussen who will cover all things college football. We should have a solid crew providing you DFS CFB content this year.
This article will change from week-to-week, but this week will be a special rundown of each game available on DraftKings’ contests with a 9/3 start time running Thursday only. The rundown will include the line, over/under, and a full rundown of the teams slated to face off.
IMPORTANT RULE CHANGE REGARDING CFB: DraftKings has taken out the “TE’ slot, making all eligible TE’s noted as “WR” on the site. Due to this change, DK has added another “FLEX” position where you can use a RB or WR. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to all tight-end’s as “WR” because of this being their designation on DraftKings. You can read all of the rules for CFB on DraftKings here.
FIU @ Central Florida (-14) — O/U: 47
This isn’t the most glorious game to kick off with but hey, we certainly don’t discriminate in DFS. FIU blogger Pete Pelegrin gave us insight into the summer practices and his takeaways.
QB: Alex McGough ($4,600) enters his sophomore season with a full year under his belt as starting QB. He was rather unimpressive in his freshman campaign, which was expected. His season-high passing yards were a mere 231 where he also set his season-high for 3 passing TD’s in a game. He did add 4 TD’s on the ground but is certainly not a rushing threat. Look for him to continue to learn and improve, but he will have very little relevancy for DFS this season.
RB: A running-back-by-committee will continue between senior Athon Samuel ($3,700) and sophomore Alex Gardner ($3,900), limiting the upside of both. Expect Samuel to get the bulk of the carries near the goal line, as he tallied 5 rushing TD’s last season compared to Gardner’s 1. Neither are a threat in the passing game, and should be avoided unless one of the two emerges as the season progresses. For this week, you can safely avoid both.
WR: Senior Jonnu Smith ($4,200) led the team last season by an overwhelming margin. He tallied 61 grabs for 710 yards and 8 TD’s. Expect him to lead the way again this season, going above and beyond those numbers especially with FIU expected to be behind in several games. Smith is bargain-priced and should be a solid cash game play (production wise) but also go under the radar for GPP’s as well.
QB: Justin Holman ($6,500) returns as the UCF starting QB and will look to be the leader of a much younger squad than a year ago. Holman averaged 18.2 fantasy-points-per-game (FPPG) and likely will be asked to throw the ball less with an inexperienced WR group and a strong junior RB in Stanback. I expect UCF to run more than pass once again this year. After all, head coach George O’Leary did say last season he typically approaches each game with a 60/40 run/pass ratio.
RB: Despite everything not looking so bright with Holman for DFS purposes, we do have William Stanback ($6,600) who is expected to lead the way once again over freshman Taj McGowan ($3,000) and sophomore Dontravious Wilson ($3,800). McGowan is actually expected to be slated behind Stanback while Wilson moves to #3 on the chart, according to Shannon Green of the Orlando Sentinel. Regardless, I expect McGowan & Wilson to both get some carries, which severely hurts each’s fantasy value. Stanback is the clear-cut #1 option and should be a solid play Thursday evening. Expect 15-20 fantasy points (FPS) from Stanback.
WR: The inexperienced group will be led by sophomore Jordan Akins ($4,000) but I expect we will see a lot of spreading the ball around, similar to last year where no receiver tallied more than 22% of the receptions.
You can see the entire projected depth chart here.
North Carolina @ South Carolina (-2.5) — O/U: 63.5
This one is certainly the most intriguing of the slate, and you can catch it on ESPN. For the record, I see the battle of the Carolinas’ going to the men in powder blue.
QB: UNC will be led by senior Marquise Williams ($9,700) who, if healthy, very well could lead UNC to their first 10-win season since 1997. Call me crazy, but I am VERY high on this team and a lot of it is due Mr. Williams. He is one of the top dual threats in the game, completing 63.1% of his passes last year, and rushing for 788 yards–the completion percentage higher than both TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Mississippi’s State Dak Prescott. USC didn’t face too many dual threat QB’s last season, but they did allow Nick Marshall to rush for 10 carries / 87 yards, then allowed Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs to rush for 166 yards on 24 carries the next week. UF’s Treon Harris rushed for 111 the next week, and Clemson’s DeShaun Watson added 2 rushing TD’s in the final regular season game. Last season, USC ranked 109th out of 128 allowing 214.4 rushing yards per game. MORAL OF THE STORY: Williams is the 2nd most expensive QB on the board, and should be relatively under-owned due to his price, and Boykin at just $500 more. He’s my top QB play on the board.
RB: Junior T.J. Logan ($5,000) is expected to be the top RB on the depth chart, but should still be well behind Williams in # of carries. Logan did average a solid 4.9 yards-per-carry (YPC) last season–good for 136 of 308 of all rushers in 2014. With that said, not only was Logan well behind Williams in carries (113 to Williams’s 193) but he only tallied 3 rushing TD’s. Senior Romar Morris ($3,200) and Sophomore Elijah Hood ($3,600) both had 4 each. It looks as if Hood could be the up-and-coming star so definitely be sure to monitor him throughout the season. Bottom line: Logan’s upside is limited too much to consider for use on Thursday and will stay that way throughout the season unless he can start to reach the end zone more.
WR: One of the main reasons I love playing CFB on DraftKings is the full 1-point per-reception. Junior Ryan Switzer ($4,900) averaged over 2 FPPG more than his teammate last season and led the team in receptions with 61. Switzer looks like a potential cash game play once again this season. He’s looking for more this season, and is a “game-changer” according to CarolinaBlue. The “deep threat” for the Tar Heels is junior Mack Hollins ($3,900). Last season, Hollins averaged 17.5 yards-per-catch (YPC), almost 3 yards more than his next closest teammate. Unfortunately, there are several other options at Williams disposal including Quinshad Davis ($5,200) and Bug Howard ($3,000) who combined for 83 receptions, and 8 TD’s in 2014. It will be a wait-n-see game to see who emerges as the top couple options early in the season but for the time being, look for Hollins as a nice GPP play at his price this Thursday, with a chance to sneak behind the USC secondary who may be a little too focused on Williams’s running game.
You can find CarolinaBlue’s top 10 players list here.
QB: At the time of writing, we have zero idea of who is going to start the season. Connor Mitch ($6,900) is seemingly the favorite, but no one is standing out here whatsoever. Fortunately, that makes things easy on us for DFS purposes: avoid the USC QB situation. Update: Mitch has been named the starter, but this does not change the outlook. He can safely be avoided.
RB: Brandon Wilds ($7,500) is expected to start the season as the starter, in front of David Williams ($4,300) and should get the majority of the carries. Wilds is in the best shape he’s been since coming to USC and averaged a solid 5.4 YPC last season. Moving onto Williams, the explosive sophomore who can do some amazing work in space. Look for USC to get him the ball more this season–in various ways–including a potential Wildcat formation as well as being the primary receiving back. This certainly could boost his value tremendously on DraftKings. The Verdict: With the uncertainty at QB, I expect USC to run the ball more than previous seasons. Wilds should get the majority of carries, especially in the red zone, which gives him a leg up on Williams. Williams won’t see nearly as many snaps but certainly has that big play ability. For Thursday, you could go WAY out there and plug in Williams for a GPP punt, but Wilds will be the safer bet. I’m not all too excited about Wilds price, but it could drive down his ownership a bit.
WR: Junior Pharoh Cooper ($8,100) is back and poised for another strong season. Cooper last year did, well, everything. He caught 69 passes for 1,136 yards & 10 TD’s, added 27 carries for 200 yards & 2 TD’s, AND completed 5 of 8 passes for 2 TD’s. It’s safe to say he can do it ALL. I’m not worried about the QB situation because I can guarantee you that Cooper will be the primary target on every passing play. I mean, if the QB’s are struggling, Cooper could just take over, right? He’s THE top option on the board Thursday (although he’s priced liked it as well) and should be a top 5 option on the season. I expect USC to be behind in several games, and Cooper should surpass the already impressive numbers he put up last season.
Oklahoma St (-24.5) @ Central Michigan — O/U: 56
I’m a bit surprised to see OK State as this big of a favorite on the road, although they did rank 28th in the first AP Poll. The Chippewas are coming off of a 7-6 season that ended with a heart-breaking bowl loss to WKU in the final seconds. OK State is also coming off of a disappointing record for their standards. If you’re a betting man/woman, I’d definitely go +24.5 here.
QB: With former QB Daxx Garman now at Maryland, Sophomore Mason Rudolph ($8,100) now takes over the job for the Pokes. Rudolph had the highest passer rating, yards-per-attempt, and completion percentage of the three starters last season, and it’ll be interesting to see him to continue to develop. He has the talent to be a star, but I think he still needs one full season of experience under his belt. We know that OK State loves to throw the ball which certainly bumps him up for DFS purposes, but he’s way too expensive for Thursday’s slate. It would be wise to monitor his first few games and see how he handles the offense.
RB: The OK State RB situation was dreadful last season, as they ranked 102nd in yards-per-game on the ground. 2015 RB Desmond Roland graduated, and his former back up, Tyreek Hill was dismissed from the team after pleading guilty to domestic assault and other charges. To make matters worse, Ronald Jones, who was verbally committed to the Cowboys for the 2015 season, decommitted in December of 2014. So, safe to say it’s been a bit of a rough road for the Pokes. There is good news however: JUCO transfer Chris Carson ($6,200) will make the start on Thursday with Rennie Childs ($5,400) in the #2 slot on the depth chart. Childs averaged just 3.8 YPC on 78 carries last season. This is another “wait-n-see” situation, especially with OK State being a pass heavy team. In the mean time, read a short scouting report on Carson here.
WR: A more experienced WR corps. will return lead by senior Brandon Sheperd ($6,000) who racked up 737 yards on just 39 catches, a 18.9 AVG. David Glidden will start at WR2 and is more of a points-per-reception (PPR) guy with limited upside. Despite leading the team in receptions last season, he was held to just 2 TD’s. James Washington is the primary deep threat returning, and he actually led the team with 6 TD’s last season despite just 28 catches. One more variable (as if we needed one) will be true freshman Jalen McClesky ($3,000). McClesky brings speed and quickness, despite his small stature. He could very easily become the new deep threat. Expect him to get a good amount of time in the slot this season, especially if he starts off the season hot. I actually really like him for Thursday as a DEEP GPP play, but it’s obviously a major risk. Bottom Line: Shepard, Glidden, McClesky, Washington in that order if you’re looking at taking an OK State WR Thursday.
IMPORTANT: Our thoughts & prayers go out to head football coach John Bonamego who continues to battle in his fight with cancer.
QB: Cooper Rush returns as starter and will look to improve his TD/INT ratio which he finished 2014 at 27/13. He did have a rather impressive completion percentage at 63.6% — good for 27th in Division I. He’s worth monitoring, as CMU was a little better than middle-of-the-pack in passing last season, but it’s nothing to get too excited over.
RB: Thomas Rawls has moved onto the NFL, leaving Martez Walker ($4,100) and Devon Spalding ($4,000) to carry the load. Walker is shown at the top of the depth chart, but I expect split carries regardless, limiting DFS consideration for either.
WR: Jessie Kroll ($4,100) and Anthony Rice ($3,400) are #1 & #2 on the depth chart after combining for 66 receptions last year. Kroll has more upside and is the only WR worth consideration on Thursday. He should emerge as Rush’s clear #1 option in the first few weeks.
See the official CMU depth chart here.
Western Kentucky (-2) @ Vanderbilt — O/U: 63.5
Vandy is favored here but won’t be getting the victory. Western Kentucky brings in the nation’s top passing attack and should obliterate the Vandy D. With that said, WKU might have a worse defense–but Vandy won’t have the offense to keep up.
QB: The nation’s reigning #1 passer returns for his senior year and will look to better his already incredible collegiate stats. Brandon Doughty ($9,000) averaged 32.6 FPPG on DraftKings last season and is my #2 QB for Thursday evening. I fully expect him to lead the nation in passing once again and as a result, he’ll be an elite fantasy option all season. The most impressive fact about Doughty is not even that he threw for 4,830 yards but that he did it with great accuracy–a 67.9 completion percentage, good for 6th in Division I.
RB: Typically, teams who throw the ball so much are one-dimensional, but not WKU. Leon Allen ($9,200) also returns for his senior season, looking to build on his excellent 2014 season where he finished 18th in Division I with 1542 yards. Not just that, but he added 51 receptions–good for 3rd on the team, and should be an absolute monster on DK this season. He’s in the top 5 in running backs to consider for DFS this year and should best his 2014 27.7 FPPG this season.
WR: Someone’s got to be on the other end of those Daughty passes right? Last year, the ball was spread around quite a bit with 8 players tallying 22 or more receptions. The leader of the pack was Jared Dangerfield ($5,900) who led the team in receptions (69), yards (825), and TD’s (11). He’s the clear-cut #1 option, but there are a few others to watch with Willie McNeal’s graduation. Taywan Taylor ($4,800) had an excellent sophomore season, averaging 17 yards per catch and adding on 7 TD’s. Antwane Grant ($3,700) added 41 catches and 6 TD’s. Also expected to be in the mix include Nacarius Nant ($3,000) who was praised by offensive coordinator Tyson Helton and newcomer (kind of), senior George Nant ($3,000) who is playing his FIRST season of football since 8th grade. He’s a 6’6 270 LBS tight-end who ranks 13th in career scoring and 8th in rebounding for WKU’s basketball team. It’ll be fun to watch and see how he progresses. For Thursday: Dangerfield is an elite option (even though he’s not priced like one) and any of the other 4 mentioned could be solid GPP sleepers, with my favorite being Taylor with his deep-threat ability. If I had to rank them in order: Dangerfield, Taylor, A. Nant, G. Nant, Grant.
QB: Patton Robinette has retired from football to focus on a career in the medical field leaving the starter’s job to sophomore Johhny McCrary ($5,700). McCrary possesses incredible mobility and is an excellent athlete. Unfortunately, throwing the football is not so much a strength as he completed just 51.3% of his passes (78/152) last season throwing 8 interceptions and 9 TD’s. Obviously this was in his freshman campaign and he’s certainly going to continue to mature and improve, but I don’t expect much from the Vandy passing game this season. They ranked 108th one year ago. McCrary actually could make a sneaky GPP play on Thursday due to the short slate, his price, and potential to rack up rushing yards. But beware, he “rushed” 22 times for just 39 yards last season which tells me two things: 1) he got sacked a lot — CFB considers any sack to be a “rushing attempt,” and 2) he didn’t attempt to run all that much. So yes, consider him for Thursday as Vegas expects a high scoring game & Vandy to stay close, but for the majority of the season, McCrary can be safely avoided.
RB: Another sophomore will man the RB position as Ralph Webb ($6,500) will carry the load after toting the ball 212 times for 907 yards in 2014. He’ll carry the load once again, although I expect McCrary’s mobility to lower the number of carries Webb receives. Unfortunately, Vandy is expected to be behind in the majority of the games they’ll play which obviously hurts Webb’s value. Webb only caught 10 passes out of the backfield last season and would need to be much more active in the passing game for me to consider him on Thursday, and the rest of the season.
WR: Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the passing game makes this Vandy WR group rather unappealing for DFS purposes. Perhaps the only guy I’ll have my eye on will be TE (“WR” for DFS) Stephen Scheu ($3,200). Scheu led the team in receptions (39) and receiving yards (525) as well as touchdowns (6) in 2014 and should do the same in 2015. I don’t recommend him for Thursday, but we’ll be keeping an eye on him in the early parts of the season.
Michigan @ Utah (-6) — O/U: 46.5
The low over/under typically indicates a game we’d like to avoid for DFS. Nonetheless, we’ll highlight some options to keep an eye on as Jim Harbaugh makes his head coaching debut with U of M.
QB: As of the time of writing, we still do not know who will start the season at QB. Jake Rudock ($5,800) is seemingly the favorite and is a much more proficient passer than his teammate Shane Morris ($6,100). Rudock, the 5th-year senior transfer from the University of Iowa, threw for 2,436 yards last season, completing 61.7% of his passes. He had 16 TD’s on the season with only 5 interceptions. Morris on the other hand, is certainly the better athlete, but completed just 35% of his passes last season (14/40). There’s truly a chance both could see the field Thursday (and actually could make a nice 2 QB combo) and as a result, can safely be avoided on Thursday.
RB: I wish I could say that the running back situation is clearer, but…it’s not. De’Veon Smith ($4,500) will start Thursday ahead of Derrick Green ($4,600). Senior Drake Johnson ($3,300) is still rehabbing from off-season knee surgery but is very well expected to be in the mix. To add a little more confusion, USC-transfer Ty Isaac ($4,900) should also see some carries. Johnson led the team in yards-per-carry (6.0 avg) followed by Green at 5.7, and Smith at 4.8. Isaac is unproven at the college level, but did have 40 carries for 236 yards (5.9 YPC) in 2013. Isaac was a star in high school, totaling 4,129 rushing yards, 64 TD’s in his final two seasons at Joliet Catholic Academy. So…where do we go from here? It’s another wait-n-see game! How fun! 🙂 In all seriousness, it should definitely be fun to watch. With such a rotation expected, it’s hard to imagine any of these guys will emerge as serious options for DFS, but we will certainly keep an eye on it for you.
WR: 2014 star, Devin Funchess has moved on to the next level and is looking to be a starter for the Carolina Panthers this upcoming NFL season. That’s some big shoes to fill for the Michigan wide-outs. Here’s the good news: true freshman Drake Harris ($3,000), a four-star recruit out of Grand Rapids, MI, is expected to make an immediate impact. He’s been praised for his ability to snatch jump-balls out of the air, using his 6’3, 172 LB frame. He struggles in route-running but makes up for that a bit with his speed and acceleration off the line of scrimmage. He’s stated to be the No. 1 receiver along with senior Amara Darboh ($3,800). Expect Jehu Chesson ($3,500) and TE Jake Butt ($3,300) to also be in the mix–although I don’t expect either to make enough of a fantasy impact to garner consideration. Having Jake Rudock at QB would be a huge boost to this group and we’ll definitely keep an eye on the situation to see if any one of these guys emerge as the clear top-option in the passing game.
QB: Travis Wilson ($6,600) returns in hope to build on his best (statistically) season as a Ute one year ago. Wilson returns for his senior season with a much thinner WR corp. then last season. Both Kaelin Clay (2014 leader in receiving yards) and Dres Anderson (tied for 2014 lead in TD’s) are now in the NFL. Wilson struggled with his confidence at times last season, even being benched in favor of Kendal Thompson ($5,400) before Thompson went down with a injury. Wilson threw for 2,170 yards, completing 60.7% of his passes, tossing 18 TD’s and 5 INT’s. He also added 309 yards and 5 TD’s on the ground. I think there’s no doubt he’ll have an impact on what’s looking to be another promising season for the Utes, in tandem with the top running back in the PAC-12.
RB: Devontae Booker ($8,300) tallied 292 carries last season, 8th most in the conference. He totaled 1512 yards and 10 TD’s, averaging 5.2 YPC. Booker also added 43 receptions for 306 yards with 2 TD’s in the passing game–a great sign for us 🙂 I expect Booker to be a top 10 fantasy option on the ground this season, although I’d temper your expectations for Thursday night with the low over/under, and enough value at the RB position to pay up elsewhere. Look for Booker to build on his 2014 success and perhaps even top last year’s already impressive numbers.
WR: Despite Clay and Anderson being gone, Senior Kenneth Scott ($5,000) is returning after leading the team with 48 receptions one year ago, compiling 506 yards and 4 TD’s. With the lack of experience at WR, I expect Wilson to heavily rely on Scott this season. Buy low while you can, as Scott makes a great value play Thursday night. If I did have one concern here, it’s that Wilson loved to spread the ball around last season. Also in the WR mix will be true freshman Britain Covey ($3,000) and Caleb Repp ($3,000) both three-star recruits. Covey will do most of his work in the slot, and while he lacks true speed, his elusiveness is what will make him successful out in space. Repp stands at 6’5 and specializes at catching in traffic. His speed can get overlooked and he looks to be a potential red-zone threat for Wilson. It’s definitely worth monitoring these two early in the season and see if Scott will pull away as the #1 option or if Wilson throws these two right into the fire and spreads the ball around as much as he’s done in previous seasons.
Ohio (-8.5) @ Idaho — O/U: 56.5
Perhaps the most exciting part of this game is that it’s played in the newly-renovated Kibbie Dome. It’s unique design is well…unique. Check it out here. Back to football: Ohio is favored by more than a TD here which is more of an insult to the Vandals than anything. A 56.5 over/under is respectable and warrants consideration for DFS with the majority of these players going under-the-radar because of the low prestige of the game.
QB: Senior Derrius Vick ($7,700) returns as the starter, poised to build on a solid 2014 season but he’ll have to share his position. Junior JD Sprague ($5,500) is expected to split time with Vick. Vick is the more polished passer, completing 58.8% of his passes, compared to Sprague’s 48.5%. Both are excellent athletes, combining for 147 carries, 654 yards, and 4 TD’s. I personally see Vick as the better player but head coach Frank Solich has said all off-season that he’ll use the two as a tandem. We’ll see if Solich keeps his word, but for now, we can’t consider either of the two QB’s until we get some clarity.
RB: Leading the way is explosive sophomore A.J. Ouellette ($6,400) who burst on to the scene as a freshman, rushing for 785 yards and 7 TD’s on 160 attempts (4.9 YPC). Senior Daz’mond Patterson ($4,400) will also get some carries, but expect Ouellette to be the #1 option by a sizable margin. Last season, Ouellette averaged 18.2 fantasy points per-game compared to Patterson’s 5.0. A.J. also added 21 catches for 133 yards and 3 TD’s through the year. The only downside to Ouellette and the Ohio RB’s is the fact that both QB’s will take away several rushing attempts, limiting the RB’s upside to an extent. For Thursday, I actually really like the sophomore RB vs. a porous Idaho defense which ranked 116th in the nation in rushing defense last season.
WR: Let’s start here: 6 different receivers last season finished with 17-31 receptions, with 4 guys having between 303 receiving yards and 443 receiving yards. 4 of those 6 guys are returning. Moral of this story? Ohio QB’s spread the ball around quite a bit. Sebastian Smith ($4,400) is expected to be with #1 guy, followed by Brendan Cope ($3,800) but neither are expected to do enough to warrant enough consideration for DFS.
QB: Sophomore Matt Linehan ($4,400) returns for the Vandals after throwing for 2,540 yards in his freshman campaign. Interceptions were a huge problem for him however, as he threw 18 INT’s compared to a mere 11 TD’s. He’s going to need to show some major improvement to consider any fantasy consideration and can be safely avoided.
RB: Elijhaa Penny ($3,800) is back for his senior season after averaging 14.8 FPPG, compiling 590 yards & 12 TD’s on 138 attempts. Last season, he shared carries with Jerrel Brown (117 attempts) but Brown has since graduated, leaving Penny as the clear #1 option. At this price, I think he’s worth a flier on Thursday and until his price increases, he has value, provided he continues to punch the ball into the end zone.
WR: Dezmon Epps ($3,200) should easily be the top option for the Vandals this season. Epps has had off-field issues, causing him to be dismissed from the team for the 2014 season. In the 2013 season, Epps had 79 receptions for 980 yards and 4 TD’s, the 79 receptions good for 25th in the nation. Epps had 5 or more receptions in 11 of the 12 games that season. There’s not HUGE upside here because of the offense he’s on but his ceiling is high. At this price? Epps is a MUST PLAY on Thursday and will continue to be until his price trends upward, provided he can mirror that 2013 season.
TCU (-14) @ Minnesota — O/U: 57.5
Texas Christian returns with the goal of making the CFB Playoff after being left out last season. Minnesota will look to build on a solid 8-5 season but will have their hands full with the Horned Frogs. Minnesota is expected to keep this one relatively close and we could see a nice output from both teams here for DFS.
QB: The Horned Frogs will be led by Heisman favorite (8/31 — tied with Ezekiel Elliot) Trevone Boykin ($10,300) who was 8th in the nation in passing yards (3,901), 7th in passing TD’s, while adding 707 rushing yards and 8 TD’s. Boykin averaged 32.4 FPPG last season and a case can be made that he’ll be the #1 fantasy option at QB this season. He’s not my favorite for #1, but he’s definitely up there, and I can’t argue with you for choosing him on Thursday and frequently the rest of the season.
RB: With B.J. Catalon graduating, hopefully Aaron Green ($6,900) won’t be splitting as many carries. The senior from San Antonio had an excellent 2014 season, rushing for 922 yards on 122 carries. That’s an average of 7.1 yards per-carry–good enough for 11th in the nation among qualified players. Green also played a small part in the passing game, catching 19 passes for 166 yards and two TD’s. Green averaged 16.5 FPPG last season and I expect that to rise this season, especially with Catalon departed (Catalon had 10 TD’s on the season). Backing up Green will be sophomore Trevorris Johnson ($3,000) who rushed for 302 yards on 53 carries last season. While I do think he’ll make an impact, I believe Green will be the clear #1 option and approach 20-22 FPPG this season. His price is rather enticing for Thursday night and he may find a way into one of my lineups.
WR: 4 of the 5 TCU receivers who compiled 32 or more receptions last season are returning, making the tandem as dangerous as ever. Senior leader Josh Doctson ($7,200) and will headline the group. Doctson has been limited in fall camp due to an undisclosed injury, but is expected to play with no limitations on Thursday. Doctson led the team in 2014 with 65 receptions, 1018 yards and 11 TD’s. Another intriguing option is deep-threat Kolby Listenbee ($4,700) who averaged 18.7 yards per-reception amassing 753 yards on 41 catches. Deante Gray ($5,600) is expected to be very much involved as well but will MISS game 1 due to a foot injury. That will give a bump to all receivers for Thursday’s slate (especially Listenbee) including WR4 Ty Slanina ($3,800) who caught 32 passes for 383 yards and 2 TD’s last season. Doctson is expected to be the fantasy star once again this season, but Listenbee and Gray both warrant consideration on a weekly basis as this offense is potent. Give Slanina a bump for Thursday’s slate but I don’t expect a whole lot from him barring an injury. This WR group is one of the best in the nation and will be a blast to watch this season. Expect TCU in the college football playoff come December.
QB: Please welcome…the Minnesota Golden Gopher offense, Mitch Leidner ($5,600). No, that isn’t an overwhelming vote of confidence for Leidner, it’s just the truth. David Cobb is gone and Coach Jerry Kill is looking to go with 3 running backs to replace him. I’m not confident. Leidner had a decent 2014, throwing for 1,798 yards and 11 TD’s but he did have 8 interceptions and completed just 51.5% of his passing attempts. He has mobility and used that mobility to plow into the end zone 10 times last year, accumulating 426 yards along the way. Here’s what concerns me: He has no one to throw to… EIGHT of his 11 passing touchdowns were thrown to now Baltimore Ravens tight-end Maxx Williams. EIGHT. He better start running more or this offense may not have much of a chance…
RB: This new tandem will include senior Roderick Williams Jr. ($5,100), RS sophomore Berkley Edwards ($3,000), and RS freshman Rodney Smith ($3,400). Williams has compiled a 5.1 yards-per-carry average in his career at Minnesota, rushing for 707 yards on 140 attempts with 8 TD’s and is the “power” back of the three. Edwards possesses a 4.7 YPC average on limited attempts, rushing for 140 yards on 30 carries with 2 TD’s and possesses the big-play ability and speed to break one. Smith is more of a balanced back who will see his first collegiate action this season. He’s a back with patience who focuses on running north/south, which is a good thing. My overall concern for this whole situation is the lack of consistency. I’m hoping Coach Kill gives each of these three guys a chance and one emerges from the fog. In all reality, these three guys aren’t as bad as I made them seem in the QB column. It’ll be another “wait-n-see” situation and we’ll monitor it for you. For now, avoid all three of these options.
WR: Someone’s going to have to be Leidner’s “Maxx Williams” and if I’m choosing one, it’ll be Jeff Jones ($3,200), a former 4-star RB recruit who has moved to receiver this season. Jones was scouted as more of a well-balanced football player/athlete than pure running back. His straight-line speeds and quick initial cuts were highlighted and it’ll be fun to see if he can develop as a pass-catcher. Another option Leidner may look to is senior KJ Maye ($3,500) who has the most experience of the group. Maye has caught 34 passes for 417 yards in his career as a Golden Gopher.
Duke (-7.5) @ Tulane — O/U: 47.5
This game features two offenses that were in the bottom half of Division 1 last season with Duke at 63rd and Tulane at a lowly 113th. Both had middle of the road defenses and I expect this one to be the lowest scoring game on the night. Regardless, let’s take a look at both teams.
QB: With 2014 Anthony Boone graduated, junior Thomas Sirk ($6,000) will take his first snaps under center as a starter. Sirk, a 3-star recruit out of Glen Saint Mary, Florida, is built like a pocket passer with the mobility to move outside the pocket and make plays with his legs. He’s attempted just 14 passes at Duke but completed 10 of those with 1 TD. What’s more important is the work he did on the ground, carrying the ball 47 times for 238 yards and 8 TD’s. He’s tough to bring down at his 6’4 210 lb frame and could be a real nice sleeper this season. Don’t look to him on Thursday but be aware of his potential going forward.
RB: Senior Shaquille Powell ($4,700) will start, sharing carries with sophomore Shaun Wilson ($3,800). The two split carries last season as well with Wilson outperforming Powell by far. Wilson averaged an incredible 7.7 yards per-carry with 5 TD’s. Powell on the other hand averaged just 4.6 per carry. Powell will start out with the majority of the carries but I expect Wilson to slowly take over as the season continues. Until a clear #1 option emerges, neither warrant fantasy consideration.
WR: With Jamison Crowder and Isaac Blakeney now in the NFL, Max McCaffrey ($3,700) will take over as the #1 option after a 37-reception, 385 yard, 3 TD season in 2014. Junior Johnell Barnes ($4,200) will start opposite of McCaffrey. Both McCaffrey and Barnes are more PPR guys than deep threats, so look for a solid slot receiver to emerge as the season progresses with some potential options being Chris Taylor ($3,100), Ryan Smith ($3,000), Anthony Nash ($3,000), or Trevon Lee ($3,000). All should see the field so it will be interested to see who impresses.
QB: Tanner Lee ($4,800) returns as starter after completing 55.1% of his passes last season, throwing for 1,962 yards, 12 TD’s, but throwing 14 interceptions. He averaged 10.2 FPPG last season and is not recommended as a fantasy option.
RB: Tulane has a trio of RB’s that each rushed for over 450 yards. All three have returned and will continue to work as a rotation, making it an easy decision not to take any of the three for DFS.
WR: Teddy Veal ($3,800) is expected to be the #1 option for the Green Wave but had just 1 TD last season, averaging 7.5 FPPG. Don’t expect much improvement as it’s safe to avoid this entire Green Wave offense.
UTSA @ Arizona (-31.5) — O/U: 54
Arizona is going to have a cake-walk. Who knows how long the starters will remain in the game as this one should be over by half-time. The only thing UTSA has going for them is their awesome name (Go Roadrunners!) and their mascot, Rowdy.
Honestly, there’s no reason to waste your time. UTSA was 121st in total offense last year and won’t be improving much.
QB: Man, this offense is going to be fun to watch. Anu Solomon ($9,200) is only a sophomore and is only going to improve upon 3,793 passing yards and 28 TD’s. He also added 2 TD’s on the ground to go along with 291 yards. He’s got countless weapons at WR and should put up another excellent season.
RB: As if Solomon wasn’t impressive enough, perhaps the most impressive part of the 2014 Wildcat team was Nick Wilson ($9,000). Wilson was a workhorse, rushing 236 times for 1,375 yards and a whopping 16 TD. Also, that was when he was giving up carries to then senior Terris Jones-Grigsby. Wilson should get even more carries and exceed the numbers that led to an overwhelmingly impressive freshman campaign.
WR: The ‘Cats #1 receiver from a year ago is back after catching 73 passes for 1,019 yards and 9 TD’s. Cayleb Jones ($6,100) should lead the Cats once again with Samajie Grant ($5,100) back as well after 45 receptions for 718 yards and 6 TD’s. And it doesn’t end there. Trey Griffey ($3,900) & Nate Phillips ($3,200) return as well after combining for 56 catches, 677 yards, and 3 TD’s. There’s so much talent on this team, it’s ridiculous. Sit back and enjoy the show. Note: Trey Griffey will NOT play on Thursday due to a foot injury. Give a bump to the other options above 🙂
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this article! I truly hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. WELCOME BACK TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!
Good luck Thursday and all season!!