College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 12/30/21

While many NFL-bound players are sitting out Thursday's bowl games, Josh Downs is playing in his to make a statement. Who else stands out on Thursday's four-game FanDuel slate?

Bowl season is here! Four bowl games are on tap for Thursday, and then, the College Football Playoff takes place on Friday's slate.

In case you're unfamiliar with how daily fantasy college football 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 and identify some players with lower salaries who will provide value to get to them.


Payton Thorne ($9,500): This slate has been decimated by players leaving early for the NFL Draft, and Michigan State tailback Kenneth Walker III is amongst them. Thankfully, the way to attack Pitt is through the air. The Panthers are allowing the fifth-fewest yards per rush attempt (2.7) in the country, but they're ranked just 79th per attempt via the pass. Thorne has both of his wideouts back to help fulfill Sparty's end of the 56.0-point total in the Peach Bowl.

Jayden Daniels ($7,600): Daniels' matchup is as bad as it gets. Wisconsin is a top-20 team against both the rush and pass per attempt, but we've seen some special quarterbacks exploit them this season. Daniels certainly classifies as a dual-threat weapon; he averaged 64.2 yards rushing per contest in Arizona State's last five games. Like Thorne, ASU may lean more on their quarterback than normal with star running back Rachaad White sitting out the Las Vegas Bowl for the draft.

Others to Consider: Sam Howell ($11,500), Aidan O'Connell ($10,200), Graham Mertz ($6,400)

Running Backs

Braelon Allen ($9,800): Both feature running backs on this slate are tailbacks that were in committees all season but have been abandoned. Allen should get all the work he can handle for Wisconsin since their leading rusher Chez Mellusi (34.9% rush share) is out with a knee injury. Allen averaged 21.3 carries in three games after Mellusi got hurt. ASU was a solid 32nd against the rush in terms of yards per attempt (3.7), but Sconny's offensive line should have a massive size advantage in this one.

Kevin Harris ($6,100): We haven't seen Harris in a featured role, but this salary is very forgiving should he end up splitting with one of the Gamecocks' other backs. The expectation is he'll see more work for South Carolina with ZaQuandre White headed to the NFL Draft. North Carolina was terrible against the rush in the regular season (4.5 yards per attempt; 86th in FBS), so the only thing that could halt the USC backs in this game would be the 10.0-point spread getting out of hand.

Others to Consider: Ty Chandler ($9,000), Jabari Small ($8,400), Jaylen Wright ($5,900), British Brooks ($5,800)

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Josh Downs ($9,500): While many will turn to the sensational Jordan Addison ($9,600), Addison has lost his star signal-caller, Kenny Pickett, to the NFL Draft. Downs will still have Sam Howell ($9,500), and it's hard to turn down his consistent volume. Downs had a crazy 41.4% target share for UNC this season, and he'll get plenty of work in this contest with a 58.0-point total. He feels like a must to correlate with Howell when turning to the highest-salaried quarterback on the slate.

Jayden Reed ($8,600): Both Reed and Jalen Nailor ($7,500) are appropriate stacking partners for Payton Thorne. Nailor has been out with injury, but he averaged 7.6 targets per game in the contests he played. Reed not only was the slightly more voluminous target (7.7 targets per game), but he doesn't come with the unknown of the injury. No other target averaged over 4.0 targets per game this season, so MSU's passing attack mostly comes without the bowl season guessing game.

Jackson Anthrop ($7,400): Tennessee and Purdue have a slate-best 64.5-point total, but their market shares are pretty messy. Purdue's passing game will be wildly different than the regular season with David Bell heading to the NFL and Milton Wright unlikely to play with a knee injury. That should funnel most of the work the way of Anthrop and Payne Durham ($6,500) -- the Boilermakers' impact tight end that missed most of the season with an injury of his own. Either is a good bet to lead Purdue's aerial assault.

Others to Consider: Jordan Addison ($9,600), Velus Jones Jr. ($8,000), Jalen Nailor ($7,500), Josh Vann ($6,600), Payne Durham ($6,500)