College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Saturday 9/18/21
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. And, most importantly, don't forget to enter the free-to-play $25K Take on Anything Contest Presented by Facebook on FanDuel for your chance at part of the $25,000 in guaranteed prizes.
Sam Howell ($10,800): Many of the top options at quarterback are in squash matches that could see them holding a clipboard by the second half. Howell is likely the top option of those forecasted for a decently competitive game, as Howell's Tar Heels are an 8.5-point favorite hosting Virginia. The 65.5 total in this game is second-highest on the slate, so it helps to get a future NFL quarterback in one of the best games of the day. Howell busted out for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing alone last weekend on poor FCS opponent Georgia State, so his dual-threat upside more than exists for this contest with UVA. Only two of the top six quarterbacks on the slate are in a game with a closer spread than 20 points, and Howell is by far the most accomplished fitting that category. If the Cavaliers keep pace, Howell could bust 40 FanDuel points once again.
Will Rogers ($9,600): The Mississippi State stack in the helper last week did not pan out in terms of FanDuel points, but it did work out in terms of opportunity. Despite leading a majority of the game, Rogers threw the ball 49 times for a second straight contest. At 49 attempts per game, Rogers ranks 4th in all of FBS in attempts per game, and that is far from a surprise with head coach Mike Leach pulling the strings as he did for Texas Tech. Honestly, Rogers and the MSST offense just need a team to keep pace, and as many TTU quarterbacks did for Leach, he should blow by 60 pass attempts in a game. Despite negative game scripts, Rogers is also averaging 7 yards per attempt, which is above the collegiate average. Hopefully, the Memphis Tigers can keep pace and turn this game into the shootout of Saturday's main slate.
McKenzie Milton ($6,500): The former Central Florida quarterback did DFS players a favor by stinking up the show last weekend off the main slate. His services were not needed to dispense of Jacksonville State, and because of his per-game production after coming off the bench against Notre Dame as well, Milton is at a ridiculously low salary for Super FLEX consideration. He is projected to start against Wake Forest in one of the better game environments of the day. The Seminoles are 4.5-point underdogs against the Demon Deacons, and the 61.5 total is the fourth-highest on the entire slate. Assuming his FCS production was just a concentration issue, he could do significant damage against Wake Forest at a salary that is closer to a wide receiver with an undefined role.
Others to Consider: D'Eriq King ($9,200), Jack Coan ($8,700), Emory Jones ($8,000), Michael Penix Jr. ($7,800)
Leddie Brown ($10,000): The 44th-ranked Virginia Tech rushing defense is the only slight downside to using the highest-salaried back on the slate. Still, with plenty of value at other positions, there is more than enough room to jam in two stud running backs. Brown is just that, as he has 32 carries across two games this season. It would have been far more if he was needed last weekend against FCS opponent Long Island, but Brown is a dual-threat back with pass-catching ability as well. He turned 6 targets into 43 yards and a touchdown against Maryland, and that security is nice should the game script move away from the Mountaineers. He may not be stellar value at $10,000, but there is plenty of per-dollar value elsewhere to factor him heavily into tournament builds as a 2.5-point home favorite.
Kyren Williams ($9,200): The Golden Domers' latest star running back separated from Chris Tyree ($6,700) last weekend against Toledo. He saw 16 carries and 5 targets compared to Tyree's 7 carries and 2 targets -- even though Tyree did house a long touchdown reception. Notre Dame's backfield is coveted again this weekend hosting undefeated Purdue as a modest 7.5-point favorite, so paying up for the volume of Williams over the production of Tyree seems like the correct call. With a freshman quarterback, Notre Dame had more rushing attempts (39) than passing attempts (36) last week as well, and that should be a trend that continues into the season behind their strong offensive line. That makes Williams the place to target a solid 37.7 implied team total.
Jo'Quavious Marks ($8,600): Running backs that see passing game work are the cream of the crop of NFL daily fantasy, and that does carry over to college as well. There are no running backs in college football that currently have a better receiving role than Jo'Quavious Marks next to Will Rogers. Marks has 18 targets in 2 games for Mississippi State under Leach's system, catching 16 of those for 55 yards. Marks is also in the top half in total carries (18) with one fewer game than some eligible running backs. Simply put, his workload is elite. At $8,600, he has the same receiving target share of Alabama's Jameson Williams ($8,000) and the same rushing workload of Tulane's Cameron Carroll ($7,100). It is only a matter of time before Marks is one of the top-salaried backs in college.
Others to Consider: Brandon Thomas ($9,600), Jashuan Corbin ($8,900), Ty Chandler ($7,400), Noah Cain ($7,300), Cam'Ron Harris ($7,200), Stephen Carr ($6,900)
Calvin Austin III ($10,500): Lining up to stack Mississippi State again, it only makes sense to include a "bring-back" option for a shootout, and Memphis's top receiver will do. Austin III not only carries the elite workloads discussed with other top options, as he has a 29.5% target share on 18 total targets, but he has been beyond productive. Austin III is currently averaging 23.5 yards per reception, and he has piled up 4 touchdowns in just two contests. Mississippi State will present his toughest defensive challenge to date, but Austin torched Memphis's only ranked foe in 2020 (the Cincinnati Bearcats) for 121 yards on 7 receptions. He is an NFL prospect -- not a Group-of-5 stat piler. He likely will have a gigantic role in the Tigers keeping pace as 3.5-point underdogs.
David Bell ($9,400): Purdue's Bell is a great way to run back a mini-stack with Kyren Williams. Bell has definitely taken command of the Boilermakers' market share, as he leads the team in targets (18), target share (24.7%), and yards per reception (19). It is likely things skew further in his favor as the competition gets stiffer, as he just needed 6 targets to dust Connecticut in a 49-0 blowout. Notre Dame will be a different story, but his projected game script as a 7.5-point underdog is tremendous for a star wide receiver, and Notre Dame's 65th-ranked passing defense is not particularly menacing. They allowed Devin Maddox of Toledo to snag 9 receptions for 135 yards, and Bell is of equal caliber.
Makai Polk ($6,500): As frustrating as it may be, the identical salary on Makai Polk means returning to him one Saturday after he delivered just 4 catches for 33 yards. Not great! Still, Polk saw 10 targets for a second consecutive game, bringing his total to 20 for the year. That is a team-high 21.1% target share in a heavily distributed Mississippi State passing game. Polk is a 6'3", fast receiver that plays outside, even though his 6.4 yards per reception on the young season might closer profile him statistically to a shifty slot guy. In 2020, Polk caught 7 of 17 receptions for more than 10 yards, and he just has not had the downfield opportunities yet this season against fairly stingy defenses in North Carolina State and Louisiana Tech, but the lowly Memphis defense may present his opportunity to break out Saturday.
Others to Consider: Jahan Dotson ($9,000), Michael Mayer ($8,500), Josh Downs ($8,400), Sean Dykes ($8,300), Ty Fryfogle ($7,500)