College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 9/2/21

Ohio State's CJ Stroud is one of several intriguing options on Thursday night. Who else should we consider targeting?

Week 1 of college football is here! FanDuel's college football DFS main slate on Thursday includes six 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 Thursday's main slate, which locks at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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


CJ Stroud, Ohio State ($10,500)Ohio State reloads at the quarterback position with another five-star prospect. Stroud was considered the number two pro style quarterback coming out of high school. The redshirt freshman is set up to succeed immediately. Stroud will have the privilege of throwing to two future high NFL draft picks at wide receiver. Finally, Stroud dazzled in Ohio State’s spring game by throwing for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

Devin Leary ($8,900) – Leary returns to the starting lineup after his season was cut short in 2020 due to an injury. Leary averaged 222.5 passing yards and 2.0 touchdown passes per game over four games a season ago. He's in a great position to succeed this season. North Carolina State is loaded on offense this season. They have two talented running backs, an experienced wide receiving group, and the ACC's fifth-best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus. The matchup with South Florida Bulls is advantageous. The Bulls' secondary has been ranked seventh (out of 11) in the AAC by Pro Football Focus.

Noah Vedral, Rutgers ($7,500) – Vedral is my favorite punt play at quarterback. He has his top three wide receivers from last season back. He also possesses dual-threat upside. Over seven starts in 2020, Vedral threw for 1,253 yards, ran for 193 yards, and accounted for 10 total touchdowns. Throw in a phenomenal matchup with a terrible Temple Owls defense on Thursday night, and Vedral becomes a great option at his salary. Temple was throttled for 33 touchdowns on defense last season. Per Pro Football Focus, the Owls have the AAC's worst secondary to start this season. I will note that Vedral may lose some snaps in the red zone to wildcat quarterback Joey Langan. South Florida's Cade Fortin ($6,600) is a viable pivot off Vedral. Like Vedral, Fortin possesses dual-threat upside.

Others to consider: Dillon Gabriel, Joe Milton III, Holton Ahlers, Hank Bachmeier, Chase Brice, D'Wan Mathis, and Cade Fortin.

Running Backs

Mo Ibrahim, Minnesota ($10,000) – Ibrahim was one of the top DFS running backs last season. He should be the centerpiece of the Minnesota Golden Gophers' offense once again this season. Big Mo racked up 1,076 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 201 carries last season. The sophomore received 20-plus carries and topped 100 rushing yards in all seven games. The Minnesota running back is a fine investment despite the difficult matchup with Ohio State.

Zonovan Knight, North Carolina State ($8,700) – Knight asserted himself as one of the better running backs in the ACC last season. The sophomore found pay dirt in each of the last six games. He led the Wolfpack with 788 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. Further enhancing his appeal is that he plays well in the passing game. Knight had 20 receptions and 136 receiving yards a season ago. He should easily extend his touchdown streak to seven games. The Wolfpack’s season-opening opponent, South Florida, was hammered by opposing ball carriers last season. The Bulls allowed 20 rushing touchdowns in nine games.

Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State ($8,300) – Peoples exploded onto the national scene last season. He racked up 1,124 rushing yards and 12 TDs on 168 carries. The junior running back is a workhorse. Peoples averaged 19.2 carries per game over the last six games a season ago. He’s in a phenomenal spot as the Appalachian State Mountaineers face off with the East Carolina Pirates. In 2020, East Carolina was carved up for 23 rushing touchdowns in only nine games. They allowed 201.3 rushing yards per game, including 5.16 yards per carry.

Peoples’ backfield mate, Nate Noel ($5,500), makes for a solid play if you need salary relief. Noel averaged 6.2 yards per carry last season. Ohio State’s Miyan Williams ($6,400) looks like a fantastic bargain. While it’s unknown if Williams or Master Teague ($9,000) will start at running back, that may not matter. Ohio State considers them options 1A and 1B.

Others to consider: Master Teague, Jabari Small, Isaih Pacheco, Tiyon Evans, George Holani, Ricky Person Jr., Isaiah Bowser, Miyan Williams, Edward Saydee, and TreVeyon Henderson.

Wide Receivers

Khalil Shakir, Boise State ($9,500) – Shakir was nearly unstoppable last season. The versatile pass-catcher averaged an impressive 7.5 receptions and 102.6 receiving yards per game. He scored six times in seven games. Shakir was also the Boise State Broncos second-leading rusher with 148 rushing yards.

Ryan O'Keefe, Central Florida ($6,800) – It remains to be seen if the Central Florida Knights change much with the head coaching switch from Josh Heupel to Gus Malzahn. I believe the Knights will still play fast -- they ranked first nationally in offensive plays per game last season -- as Gus Malzahn had the Auburn Tigers playing an up-tempo spread offense during his tenure there. If that assumption plays out, there should be plenty of opportunities for O'Keefe to make plays. O'Keefe's 19.6 yards per reception led the Knights last season. When he was on the field, O'Keefe ran a route 92.8% of the time. Perhaps, more importantly, he provides a steep discount off his more popular teammate, Jaylon Robinson ($8,700). Robinson is also an excellent investment if you have the salary available.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State ($5,300) – Smith-Njigba has drawn a starting assignment for the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense. He’s earned lofty praise from fellow wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Wilson stated that Smith-Njigba is the best wide receiver he has ever seen. While that’ll be hard to live up to, we need salary relief somewhere and Smith-Njigba offers that.

Others to consider: Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Bo Melton, Jaylon Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Emeka Emezie, Tyler Snead, Jaden Blue, Velus Jones Jr., CJ Johnson, Thayer Thomas, Ronald Jones, Chris Autman-Bell (if he plays), Malik Williams, Thomas Hennigan, Shameen Jones, Aaron Cruickshank, Latrell Williams, Jeremy Ruckert, Xavier Weaver, and Brandon Johnson.

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.