College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: 9/8/18 Early Slate
Week 2 of the college football season is upon us. After an opening weekend of near upsets, hard-fought matchups and Week 1 Heisman hopeful performances, we're in store for another exciting Saturday, both on the field and on the daily fantasy slate.
College football DFS? Yes, you heard that right. And in case you're unfamiliar with how it works, you can check out the rules and scoring on FanDuel, where you can hit the lobby each week to see the full array of slates and contests being offered.
As for the basics, your roster consists of a quarterback slot, two running back slots, three wide receiver slots (which also includes tight ends) and one super flex slot. In the flex, you can insert one player from any position, including quarterbacks.
Here, our goal is to help you field a roster full of fantasy goodness, and in true numberFire fashion, we'll use our in-house projections as well as betting totals and advanced statistics to tackle both early and main slates all the way up to the College Football Playoff. This week's early slate includes eight games and locks at 12:00 p.m. EST.
Who should we be targeting, and why?
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,300): In his debut as the full-time replacement for Baker Mayfield, Murray basically turned 15 opportunities into 232 yards, 2 scores and 18.66 FD points in just one half of play. This week's opponent, the UCLA Bruins, is not on the same level as an FAU, but they still allowed 26 points to Cincinnati, and the oddsmakers have the Oklahoma offense pegged for 47 points as 30-point favorites in Norman. The only thing that could prevent Murray from a big day is if the score gets out of hand too early. If that scares you off of him, Virginia Tech's Josh Jackson ($10,000) is a worthy pivot against a lesser opponent in William & Mary.
Chris Robison, FAU ($7,900): As usual with college football DFS, paying up at quarterback is the way to go, but if you really want to be contrarian, FAU's presumed starter and freshman Chris Robison is the best bet. After a rough outing -- 5.48 FanDuel points -- against the Sooners, Robison is being backed by coach Lane Kiffin, and the Owls are being backed by the oddsmakers, boasting a 37.25 implied total as a 9-point favorite over Air Force. Air Force gave up a mere 45 passing yards and 75 total yards to Stony Brook in Week 1. But that was Stony Brook, and just last year the Falcons' defense was 109th in Passing S&P+ and 99th the year prior, per Football Outsiders. Look for FAU to get back on track in their home opener.
Karan Higdon, Michigan ($10,200): On the early slate, you really can't go wrong with any of the four backs priced above $10,000. But Jonathan Taylor ($11,400) and Rodney Anderson ($11,100) could have their ceilings capped by blowouts, and Higdon is the preferred play at $600 in savings compared to Devin Singletary ($10,800). The Michigan back's Week 1 workload tells us just how high his upside is. In a losing effort against a major defense (Notre Dame), he toted the rock 21 times for 72 yards and a touchdown (13.2 FanDuel points). Now, a 27.5-point favorite at home, the game script favors a heavy dose of the run, and Higdon will be the guy to put this one on ice. It only helps that while Western Michigan ranked 122nd of 130 teams in Rushing S&P+ a year ago, Michigan finished the year 20th in Adjusted Line Yards (114.2).
Trey Sermon, Oklahoma ($8,000): Sermon is second on the depth chart behind the aforementioned Rodney Anderson, but that didn't stop him from producing 69 yards, a touchdown and 12.9 FanDuel points on 9 carries a week ago. He should once again see close to 10 carries in a high-powered Oklahoma offense, especially if this gets out of hand at half. Our projections expect big yards from OU on the ground, with UCLA surrendering nearly 200 yards to Cincinnati in Week 1 and coming into this season with bottom-30 ranks in Defensive S&P+, Success Rate and Havoc Rate (a team's total tackles for loss, passes defensed, and forced fumbles divided by total plays). In the same vein as Sermon, Wisconsin's Taiwan Deal ($7,600) is another RB2 option as a backup in a similar potential blowout situation.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Marquez Stevenson, Houston ($10,300): If you have the cash after paying up at running back and/or quarterback, Stevenson is the elite pass-catcher to target. After being sidelined with an injury for all of 2017, the redshirt sophomore played a big part in last week's offensive attack. As a team, Houston passed the ball 25 times for 320 yards, with Stevenson accounting for 5 catches, 107 yards and a touchdown through the air. But he also managed to turn 2 carries into 60 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown. He's an athlete, and one the Cougars are looking to get the ball to in space. You can also look at teammate Courtney Lark ($9,500) in the same matchup, as the opposing Arizona Wildcats -- 91st in Passing S&P+ last year -- are fresh off a loss to BYU, who gouged them for 28 points and 392 total yards in their opener.
Jovon Durante, FAU ($7,200): Since you are probably paying up at quarterback and definitely paying up for at least one running back, you're going to have to find value somewhere, and that's in the FAU passing game. A transfer from West Virginia, where he totaled 60 catches and 7 touchdowns in 24 games, Durante should be the go-to guy on the outside. The speedy junior was solid against a good OU defense in Norman last week. He ended the game with 52 receiving yards and 6.9 FanDuel points, but it's the workload that's most encouraging. Not only did Durante haul in four catches on a what tied for a team-high nine targets, but he received two carries while his nine targets accounted for 25% of the team's target share, per NCAA Savant. Against an Air Force secondary that ranked fourth-worst in Havoc Rate (4.0%), he should eat this week.
Harrison Bryant, FAU ($5,800): If Air Force is that bad against the pass, why not go with a FAU stack in the passing game? We don't usually want to target tight end in college football, but the 6'5" Bryant is an exception for sure. Before missing the last three games of last year due to injury, the now junior took 32 catches for 408 yards and 5 touchdowns in 10 games. He even garnered three targets (two catches), which he took for 25 yards in the opener. So, with the Owls expected to put up over five touchdowns by the betting odds, it would be surprising if Bryant didn't find the end zone with the can't-miss target that he is. And at this price, he can help you afford the high-scoring studs at the other positions.
Brett Oswalt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Brett Oswalt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username BRO14THEKID. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.