College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 9/17/21
From marching bands to upsets, there is nothing quite like starting a Saturday with College Gameday and 12 games on TV at once. College football is back for another normal season following the global pandemic, and while betting college football is always on the table, daily fantasy college football is a unique way to celebrate the monstrous numbers some of these athletes put up during their four-year careers.
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 (tight ends are included in this group), and one "Super FLEX" slot. In the "Super FLEX", you can insert one player from any position, including quarterbacks.
Here, our goal is to help you field a roster full of fantasy points, and we'll use numberFire's in-house projections, betting totals, and advanced statistics to tackle main slates all the way to the College Football Playoff. Because of limited information, college football can feel like a throwback to before advanced statistics become more widely available in the NFL, but there is still value in finding the volume to target on a given slate.
Let's break down which star players are in great spots, as well as identify some players with lower salaries who will provide value to get to them.
Dillon Gabriel ($11,400): This small, two-game slate has two contests that would be priorities on any larger slate, too. Both totals are over 60 points, and both spreads are hovering around just a touchdown, which makes an argument for stacking both. All four quarterbacks are in play but are led by Gabriel of the Central Florida Knights. The Knights have a balanced offense this year, as Gabriel threw only 33 times in their competitive game against Boise State, but more attempts could be on the docket if UCF trails Louisville at any point. Gabriel's Knights have the highest implied team total on the slate, and he is averaging a respectable 8.6 yards per attempt this season, which vaults him into consideration on a small slate like this.
Malik Cunningham ($10,800): The best quarterback for fantasy on the slate is Cunningham despite the lower salary. Cunningham's dual-threat ability sets him apart from Gabriel, as in their non-FCS game this season, Cunningham turned 18 rushes into 79 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. He also added 37 passing attempts in that game, meaning that Cunningham ended the play with the ball for 55 of the 77 plays Lousiville ran against Mississippi. That is the type of monopoly of volume to target with the luxury of getting to play multiple quarterbacks in the Super FLEX format. Cunningham's 7.8 yards per attempt is also a solid mark for someone with his rushing ability.
Brandon Peters ($6,800): Am I thrilled to roster a pocket passer in a Bret Bielema-led offense with the Illinois quarterback? Not exactly, but he is substantially under-salaried at $3,700 lower than the other three starting QBs in these two game environments. Peters returns from injury, playing just a few snaps against Nebraska before leaving with a shoulder issue. Peters was averaging 8.8 yards per attempt before the play, so even in a small sample, he was decently efficient. The most exciting potential case for Peters was his backup's performance. Artur Sitkowski averaged 31.0 pass attempts in the three contests filling in for Peters, and if Bielema allows that type of volume from his QB in a game Illinois is projected to trail, he has the most assured role below $7,000 for the Super FLEX spot contender.
Others to Consider: Taulia Tagovailoa ($10,500)
Isaiah Bowser ($10,000): Bowser was a bonafide workhorse against Boise State, as he toted the rock 33 times and added 5 targets in a do-it-all performance. That volume is unlikely to change against Lousiville, and his passing game involvement gives him a high floor regardless of game script. Bowser has 56.4% of the team's overall rushing attempts, and that is despite the early pull against Bethune-Cookman, whom UFC easily dispensed of without their star back. He also averages an efficient 5.1 yards per carry, and has had no problem with goal-line work, as he has added five touchdowns, as well. Especially given some of the salary flexibility on this slate due to injuries and suspension, he feels like a must-start in nearly all DFS formats.
Jalen Mitchell ($7,800): This salary is lower than it should given that Mitchell profiles very similarly to Bowser. Mitchell only scored 6.2 FanDuel points in the opener versus Ole Miss because they trailed so early, but with just a 6.5-point spread, conventional wisdom would state Mitchell sees his most neutral game script of the season in this contest, as Louisville blew out Eastern Kentucky last week, as well. Still, Mitchell has received 50% of his team's overall rush attempts, and there is an organic boost to that figure given that Cunningham carries the ball himself so often. Especially if Louisville does trail, Mitchell's skill as a pass-catcher should keep him in the fold because he is averaging 8.3 yards per reception on 5 targets this season. His volume also suggests touchdown regression is coming, as he has yet to find the end zone in 2021.
Reggie Love III ($4,800): The Fighting Illini's backfield is a mess, and it appears FanDuel was not even sure what to do with it. Lead tailback Mike Epstein will not play Friday, as he is away from the team, leaving Chase Brown ($6,500), Jakari Norwood ($5,300), and Love III to fight for carries in Bielema's rush-heavy approach. Some depth charts list Norwood as the lead back, and Chase Brown is the highest-salaried running back on FanDuel, but the production in 2021 has been entirely skewed toward Reggie Love III. Love has 24 carries this year, more than Brown and Norwood combined (23). However, especially in a game, they are projected to trail, Love also has seen a team-high six targets compared to Brown's four. The one glaring issue is that Love III got just one carry last week against Virginia, and that could be the coaching staff moving away from him. The best advice on a two-game slate may be to fade this backfield, but Love's salary opens up multiple studs in tournaments if his role is recreated without Epstein.
Others to Consider: Tayon Fleet-Davis ($8,500), Chase Brown ($6,500)
Dontay Demus Jr. ($9,700): This helper has been quiet on Maryland Terrapins, but both Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett ($9,000) are viable to use at their high salaries in this contest. Demus Jr. has a 25.0% target share on the young season, and Jarrett is not far behind at 23.4% himself. No one else on the team has more than six targets, which is a 9.4% share. Especially on a slate with plenty of value, they can be used together in the same lineup considering how often Taulia Tagovailoa -- yes, Tua's brother -- has been funneling opportunities their way. Both have two touchdowns this season, but Demus gets the slight nod considering his yards per target (16.3) has been slightly higher on the entire year.
Isaiah Williams ($7,000): Like his quarterback Peters, Williams is under-salaried given his role, albeit in a limited Illini offense. Williams has 31 of the 99 targets available from his team this year, which creates a 31.3% target share that is tops on this entire slate. When Illinois looks to pass, more often than any other player, it is Williams that is the potential target on the other end. Williams is averaging 5.9 yards per target on that heavy volume, and he's also added a touchdown on the young season. Keep in mind that these numbers have come with Illinois's backup quarterback, though. While the potential that Peters distributes the ball more exists, he also has been a more efficient passer in terms of yards per attempt, and the two factors combined could allow Williams to keep chowing.
Ahmari Huggins-Bruce ($6,000): I would be remiss to mention Cunningham as the top quarterback option without a pass-catcher to complete the stack. With 11 of 58 targets this year, Huggins-Bruce tops other Lousiville passing game options with a respectable 19.0% target share overall. Huggins-Bruce may be in a position to succeed much more so versus UCF than against Ole Miss, where he was blanketed by SEC-caliber redshirt senior Jaylon Jones. Huggins-Bruce has been even more efficient than the other stud receivers on this slate, however, turning in 15.6 yards per target so far. While Cunnigham dominates much of the offense, Huggins-Bruce is a respectable pairing for him who only needs a couple of targets to pay off.
Others to Consider: Jaylon Robinson ($9,500), Rakim Jarrett ($9,000), Brandon Johnson ($8,000), Ryan O'Keefe ($6,700)