DraftKings unveiled a big surprise for College Football fans on Thursday. After a two season hiatus, College Football DFS is back – at least for users in 23 states, that is. The complete list of eligible states can be viewed here.
DraftKings will offer games in both classic salary cap and single-game showdown formats. The action kicks off this Saturday with the abbreviated four-game slate. The lobby currently has showdown contests for the Duquesne @ UMass game which kicks off at 5:30 PM EST, as well as for the Wyoming @ New Mexico State game that gets started at 10 PM EST.
There’s also a classic format option for the three later games on the schedule, and we’re going to dive and examine picks for that slate right here. Before getting started, there’s two things to keep in mind.
First, DraftKings has switched things up on roster requirements for the salary cap contests. There are 8 slots to fill, broken down as one QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, one Flex, and one Super-Flex. Backs and receivers are eligible for the flex spot, while QBs can also be used at super-flex.
Next, you will likely find that pricing is pretty tight for the return of CFB DFS. With only three games on the slate, that can make lineup building challenging. However, we’re going to file that away in the good problems to have folder.
Here are some picks to keep in mind for each position as you build out your lineups.
QB: K.J. Carta-Samuels – Colorado State Rams ($10.8k)
Seeing what the oddsmakers have to say is always a good starting point for DFS research. That’s especially true for College Football DFS, as many slates can feature a large number of games. Perusing the odds can help you quickly find games to key in on, as well as ones that you may want to avoid.
Since we only have three games to sort through, we’re not going to be crossing any names off of the list. However, we’re still going to follow the same process and see if we can get a handle on where the points may come from. Current lines suggest that points are in the forecast at CSU Stadium on Saturday night.
Colorado State is currently a 14-point favorite in a game with a projected total of 56.5 points. Drilling down into that total allows us to come with a projected score of 35.25-21.25 in favor of Colorado State. A baseline of 35+ points is what we call a positive sign for an offense, and that leads us to want a piece of it.
K.J. Carta-Samuels is a graduate transfer from Washington that didn’t play all that much at his former school. He has been handed the keys to the offense after a strong preseason, and optimism is high among Rams faithful. He’s going to cost you a pretty penny as the most expensive option on the slate, but he also looks to be the safest choice at QB.
Question marks and inexperienced signal callers abound at the other schools on the docket, so we’ll bite the bullet and pay up for safety.
RB: Izzy Matthews – Colorado State Rams ($7.2k)
Sticking with the same matchup, Izzy Matthews is the Rams top returning rusher and at the top of the depth chart as a result. He ran for 613 yards and 8 scores last year, and added on 12 catches for 140 yards and a score for good measure. While that may not sound like a ton of production, that’s because he was second on the depth chart last year.
He’ll find more opportunities this season, and that should be especially true with a new starter at the helm. Carta-Samuels could potentially lean on his top back as a safety blanket of sorts, and that would be a welcome development when you factor in DraftKings scoring of a full point per reception. Matthews is the second-most expensive back on the slate, but he looks like a wise investment.
RB: Emmanuel Esukpa – Rice Owls ($6.9k)
Switching gears, we’re going to look towards a run-heavy club to potentially fill our 2nd running back spot. In 2017, Rice quarterbacks flung the rock 246 times, while the club kept it on the ground a whopping 486 times. There’s nothing to suggest Rice’s offensive philosophy has changed heading into the 2018 season, and uncertainty at quarterback all but guarantees that.
Emmanuel Esukpa sits at the top of the depth chart for Rice, and that’s enough to pique our interest. Last season, he produced 298 combined yards and a score. That’s obviously not lights out production, but Rice employed a committee approach. They will likely do the same this year as well, but last year’s top rusher – Nahshon Ellerbe – is expected to miss the opener. That should open up additional opportunities for Esukpa, who should be able to feast on an FCS squad.
WR: OJ Clark – New Mexico State Aggies ($5.4k)
If we pay up at QB and RB, we’re simply going to have to find spots to save money. That’s especially true with the aforementioned tight pricing for the return of CFB DFS. Normally, we’d love to pair up our signal caller with his top target. However, the $8,700 salary for CSU’s Olabisi Johnson mutes our enthusiasm.
If we’re going to go bargain hunting, WR looks to be the spot. PPR scoring can add up in a hurry, and that means cheaper value plays can sometimes pay off with attractive multiples. OJ Clark is a player that may fit the bill. New Mexico State was very pass-heavy last season – 641 pass attempts vs. 357 carries – and there’s nothing to suggest that will be changing in 2018. The redshirt-junior is expected to be one of the top targets this year, and we’ll take our chances as a result.
WR: Markcus Hardy – Prairie View A&M Panthers ($4.4k)
Risk is inherent to shopping on the discount rack, but we can mitigate at least some of it by doing our homework. Doing the heavy lifting helps us to uncover some interesting tidbits, such as the results of the last game between Rice and Prairie View A&M. Back in 2016, Rice walked away with a 65-44 victory. Yep, that’s 109 points.
As such, we’re going to want to get a piece of this game. If we assume that the FCS squad will be playing catch-up, that leads us to dig into Prairie View’s passing attack. Marckus Hardy has been selected as a second team all-Southwestern Athletic Conference Preseason selection. Assuming this game follows a similar script to the 2016 affair, Hardy is potentially an excellent value play.
WR: Jaeger Bull – Rice Owls ($3.6k)
This is a risky play that’s not for the faint of heart. As previously mentioned, Rice features a run-heavy offense. However, our quest for affordable pass catchers leads us to a player that may be worth a dart throw in hopes of finding a cheap touchdown – or at least a couple of catches and yards so he doesn’t provide us with a big fat zero for our lineups.
In addition to having a stellar name, Jaeger Bull is listed as the starting tight end for Rice. He’s listed as a WR for DraftKings purposes, but that’s because the platform is including TEs with WRs. That’s partially because tight end is generally a wasteland when it comes to College DFS. Bull is a big risk, but he serves the dual purpose of providing your lineup with diversification on a short slate while freeing up cap space.
Flex: Dawonya Tucker – Prairie View A&M Panthers ($4.1k)
Dawonya Tucker is another second team all-Southwestern Athletic Conference Preseason selection, and he has history from the previous meeting with Rice to boot. For the 2016 game, he managed to find the end zone twice during the high-scoring tilt. He’s expected to be a leader in the backfield coming off of a productive 2017.
Last year, Tucker produced 600 combined yards and found the end zone five times. While reliable lines have yet to make an appearance for this tilt, recent history tells us this could very well be a high-scoring affair. If that proves to be the case, Tucker could be a big part of the festivities once again.
S-Flex: Matt Romero – New Mexico State Aggies ($7.5k)
While we can certainly go in a number of different directions at super-flex, it’s pretty tough to pass on slotting a quarterback in here. That said, there are a lot of unsettled situations at quarterback for this small slate. The starter for New Mexico State isn’t included on that list, as Matt Romero is locked in as the starting signal caller for a club that loves to air it out. The juco transfer played at Palomar College last year, throwing for 2,915 yards and 26 scores.
While the game against Wyoming doesn’t have a huge Over/Under – currently 45 points – there could be some sneaky upside here. New Mexico State has joined the ranks of the FBC Independents, and there’s a school of thought that suggests the school is heavily focused on boosting its profile. What better way to do that than with an air show for a game which will be broadcast on ESPN2?
Thanks for reading and best of luck with your lineups!
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