College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 8/28/21

Week 0 of college football is finally here! FanDuel's Saturday college football DFS main slate includes three games.

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 as many slates as possible in the lead-up to the College Football Playoff. This week, we are only breaking down Friday's main slate, which locks at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Let's break down which players are in great spots as well as identify some players with cheap salaries that will allow you to roster the high-salary players.


Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA ($11,500) – Could this be the year that we finally see Chip Kelly put it together at UCLA? The offense returns 10 out of 11 starters including the entire offensive line, which could provide a strong boost for their offense. Thompson-Robinson accounted for 15 touchdowns in five games last season, making him a strong DFS option on any slate. While the experienced signal caller’s passing game is a work-in-progress, Thompson-Robinson’s dual threat upside is tantalizing. He cleared 40 rushing yards in all five games that he played in last season. His upside is sky-high this week against Hawaii’s awful defense. Per Pro Football Focus, the Warriors start the season with Mountain West Conference’s second-worst defensive line and the ninth-ranked secondary (12 teams).

Chevan Cordeiro, Hawaii ($9,500) – Cordeiro has been plagued by inconsistency due to his wildness as a passer. However, Cordeiro has tremendous upside due to his dual-threat ability. He averaged 231.4 passing yards per game and 53.7 rushing yards per game last season. The Hawaii signal-caller accounted for 21 touchdowns in nine games. Also, this is a fun game to target as both teams like to push the pace which drives up the number of plays run. Hawaii averaged 74.1 offensive plays per game (41st) while UCLA averaged 75.9 offensive plays per game (29th). The FBS average was 71.9 offensive plays per game last year.

Adrian Martinez, Nebraska ($8,600) – I’m expecting Martinez to be the most popular player on this slate due to his salary. The dual-threat quarterback enters this season virtually unchallenged as the starting quarterback with Luke McCaffrey transferring out of the program. Much like Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Martinez is an inconsistent passer, however, we’re not rostering A Mart for his passing ability. The dual-threat quarterback ran for 521 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in seven games last season. He ran for 85-plus yards in four of those games. The opening day matchup with Illinois is a phenomenal spot, as Pro Football Focus ranks Illinois’ defensive line at second to last amongst Big Ten teams and dead last in the secondary (14 Big Ten teams).

Others to consider: Jake Haener and Brandon Peters.

Running Backs

Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State ($10,500) – Gamers may have to pick between rostering Rivers or his quarterback Jake Haener ($11,000), due to salary restraints. I side heavily towards Rivers, so let's break that down. Rivers averaged 22.3 carries per game in Fresno State’s three wins last season, meanwhile, Haener averaged only 31 pass attempts in those three wins. In Fresno State’s three losses, Haener averaged an eye-popping 46.3 pass attempts.

This weekend we see Fresno State is nearly a four-touchdown favorite against Connecticut on Saturday. This puts Fresno State in a spot to run the ball with the lead, thus, limiting Haener's passing upside. Anyways, Rivers ran for 507 yards and 7 touchdowns on 100 carries last season. He was the Bulldogs’ fourth leading pass catcher with 27 receptions, 265 receiving yards, and 2 touchdown receptions on 30 targets.

Brittain Brown, UCLA ($8,600) – Brown is the listed starter on UCLA’s season-opening depth chart. He has big shoes to fill with former Bruin running back, Demetric Felton now in the NFL. Fortunately, we may have been given a preview of how UCLA plans to deploy Brown this season. In last season’s final game (Felton was out), Brown was given 29 carries and ran for an incredible 219 yards. I’m expecting Brown to take advantage of Hawaii’s porous run defense. The Warriors were carved up for 211.7 rushing yards per game last season including 5.0 yards per carry. Zach Charbonnet ($6,600) is also viable as he should have a fairly sizeable role as the complementary running back to Brown.

Markese Stepp, Nebraska ($7,200) – Targeting the correct Nebraska running back may break the slate. We’ll have to monitor pre-game reports because Nebraska isn’t tipping their hand on which running back will start. Markese Stepp, Gabe Ervin Jr. ($6,500), and Sevion Morrison ($4,400) have all been mentioned as the potential starting running back. Both Ervin Jr. and Morrison are freshmen, leaving Stepp as the only experienced running back. Due to that variable, I believe Stepp has the upper hand. Regardless, the Nebraska runners are in an advantageous spot to kick off the season. Illinois was hammered by opposing ball carriers last season. The Fighting Illini allowed 230.1 rushing yards per game, and they surrendered 17 rushing touchdowns in only eight games.

Others to consider: Calvin Turner, Chase Brown, Kevin Mensah, Jordan Mims, Zach Charbonnet, Dae Dae Hunter, Gabe Ervin Jr.(if he starts), Sevion Morrison (if he starts), and Nate Carter.

Wide Receivers

Jalen Cropper, Fresno State ($9,400) – Cropper stands out above the rest of the wide receivers on Saturday for a few reasons. First, he’ll square off with a Connecticut defense that hasn’t played a football game since 2019 due to Covid-19. Next, the emerging star ended the 2020 season with a bang. He blistered New Mexico for 12 receptions, 134 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown in the season finale. Prior to that, he posted 7 receptions and 107 receiving yards against Nevada. He also torched Utah State for 10 receptions, 202 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. The junior was Fresno State’s most targeted pass catcher in 2020 (58 targets in eight games). I also like his teammate Josh Kelly ($7,100) at a steep discount. Kelly led the Fresno State wide receivers with a 14.1 ADOT last season (average depth of target).

Samori Toure, Nebraska (7,000) – Nebraska got almost no production from the wide receiver position in 2020. Consequently, they went out and searched for help at wide receiver via the transfer portal. Fortunately, they nabbed 2019 first-team All-American FCS wide receiver, Samori Toure. Toure tallied 87 receptions and 1,495 receiving yards during the 2019 campaign as a member of the Grizzles. Reportedly, he has already emerged as the leader of the wide receivers group.

Isaiah Williams, Illinois ($5,500) – We have to save on salary somewhere and wide receiver seems like a logical spot to do that on this slate. With 2020’s leading wide receiver, Josh Imatorbehbe, now in the NFL, Illinois enters this season with a major question mark at wide receiver. Enter Isaiah Williams. Yes, the former four-star quarterback prospect made the transition to wide receiver during the offseason. He possesses elite speed and is a serious threat with the ball in his hands (389 rushing yards in four starts at quarterback last season). He’ll likely start in the slot to kick off the 2021 season. Ty Jones ($5,800), Omar Manning ($6,000), and Kam Brown ($6,100) are all viable wide receiver plays at a similar salary. All three players possess low floors but provide enough upside to be viable at their current salaries.

Others to consider: Kyle Philips, Oliver Martin, Omar Manning, Bryan Hightower, Daniel Barker, Cam Ross, Heron Marisseau, Jay Rose, Kearic Wheatfall, Ty Jones, Josh Kelly, Nick Mardner, Jared Smart, Kam Brown, and Chase Cota.

Matthew Hiatt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matthew Hiatt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username easternmh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her 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.