The College Football Rundown – DraftKings CFB DFS – September 3, 2021
Welcome back everyone – it is a joy and honor to be back for the 2021 College Football season. If you are reading this, you likely can note that it is completely free. All written content on FantasyCruncher is free – the only time you will be charged is if you want access to the optimizer and access to my projections. In that case, you can follow this link to sign up – with weekly/monthly/annual options across three different tiers that should be able to fit every level of DFS player. I will be providing written content for any slate of four games or more, though projections and optimizer access will be available for all normal and showdown slates.
As a quick note before jumping in, FanDuel has not yet released any salaries for this slate. Therefore I am only going to be listing the DraftKings ones for this article and only publishing a DraftKings cheat sheet. Plays in this article can be used on each site though FanDuel may choose to leave off some of the schools DraftKings decided to add.
Sam Howell, UNC – DK: $8,400
I want to start this article by saying this slate is very high variance and ultimately, not a very good one. Outside of UNC/VT and MSU/NW, this slate is full of teams who we likely won’t see again this season – teams like Old Dominion, Northern Colorado, South Dakota, and South Dakota State. While as always there is going to be some value in the obscure teams, Wake Forest is a 31-point favorite over Old Dominion, while Colorado is a 38-point favorite. Those two games are going to really be up to us on how we want to attack them because these are games where the starters likely won’t see work into the second half as long as the game script follows. So our outcomes cover the starters playing one half and likely dominating on the offensive side, but we are also paying top-dollar for them and have no real guarantee on how long they will go. This applies to Sam Hartman, Christan Beal-Smith, and Jaquarii Roberson for Wake Forest. So while I do like all of those players, I am worried that playing time will cap their upside if they do not all achieve X by halftime. With that out of the way, Sam Howell is our best pay-up option here as the Tar Heels have a matchup that shouldn’t affect any starter’s minutes with their game against Virginia Tech. UNC is a 4-point favorite here with a team total of five touchdowns. Howell threw for 3,586 yards last season and last season against Virginia Tech completed 79% of his passes for 257 yards and three scores. Howell doesn’t possess any real mobility, but he does have one of, if not the, strongest arm in college football and accuracy to boot. Howell has a first-round NFL draft grade and the departure of his two leading backs in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter to the NFL could force a few more passes. That being said, I think the rushing game at UNC is in a fine spot still and I will touch on that shortly. Ultimately the talent of Howell is the top of this entire slate and by the sheer number of bad quarterback options on this slate, Howell is the best if you have some money to spend.
Brendon Lewis, COL – DK: $6,600
Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis takes the ball for the Colorado Buffalos on Friday night and offers us a pretty interesting option at his price. Lewis is a 4-start recruit who received 14 D1 offers before landing at Colorado last year. Lewis ranked as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in his class. Over his High School career, Lewis compiled 8,922 yards of passing and 3,240 yards of rushing for a grand total of 12,162 yards and 151 touchdowns. I know this is high school, but those numbers are too good to not share. Lewis got in just one game last year against Texas, completing 6-of-10 passes for 60 yards, but adding 73 yards and a touchdown on the ground. And that last stat is exactly what we are looking for out of Lewis as he offers us a huge dual-threat ceiling. The key here for me is the fact that this will be Lewis’ first career start and if all goes well, the likely face of the QB position in Colorado for years to come. Despite the soft matchup with Northern Colorado, the coaching staff has more to gain here by letting Lewis build as much confidence as he can. Therefore, despite being a five-touchdown favorite, I don’t think we need to worry about a quick hook on Lewis here. Add in the fact that he can get it done with his legs, this price of $6,600 is just an absolute smash for me.
Chris Oladokun, SDSU – DK: $5,200
I originally wrote up Gronowski here, but Oladokun was named the starting QB as Gronowski apparently isn’t back from injury and it will keep him out most of this season – the joys of researching over 80 teams on opening weekend. Oladokun is a sixth-year quarterback who had his best year in 2019 for Samford passing for 2,058 yards and rushing for 491 yards and eight touchdowns. This is going to mostly be a run first offense, but the price is still appealing here.
Gronowski led the Jackrabbits to the 2021 Division 1 Championship last year where South Dakota State eventually fell to Sam Houston State 23-21. What makes that more heartbreaking is Gronowski was injured early in that game and did not get to see his season end the way he wanted. Gronowski started all 10-games as a true freshman last year, winning the FCS Freshman of the Year award amongst a slew of other high honors. In total, through 10-games, Gronowski passed for 1,565 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for another 577 and seven touchdowns. South Dakota State faces Colorado State in what is actually just a three-point favorite edge for CSU right now. Gronowski offers us the thing we most look for out of our QB’s, and that is a rushing upside. Colorado State’s defense was a top-40 defense last year, so I don’t think Gronowski breaks this slate wide open, but he is a nice super-flex option.
Mataeo Durant, DUKE – DK: $7,200
Duke opens as just a six-point favorite over Charlotte here with a team total of 33. Duke is now lead by Gunnar Holmberg, as he takes over for Chase Brice who transferred to App State. Holmberg has sat patiently in the Duke QB room waiting for his chance as now he gets it four years after arriving at Duke. Though this is not about Holmberg, it is about Mataeo Durant, who takes over as the lead back for Duke. Durant rushed for 817 yards on 120 carries last year and eight touchdowns. While Durant did lead the backfield, Deon Jackson managed 161 carries and 682 yards of his own. The only other running back on the Duke depth chart is Jordan Waters, but we can assume Durant is going to be tasked with more of a workhorse role this year. In this opening matchup with a new quarterback, Durant should be the focal point of the offense.
Velton Gardner, KU – DK: $5,800
Kansas is a 14-point favorite. I do not think that is a sentence I have ever typed before, but Kansas is still *only* a 14-point favorite against South Dakota. South Dakota only played four games last season and went 1-3. So while Kansas is a 14-point favorite, it still feels way too low for a matchup of this caliber. The Kansas depth chart has an “OR” besides three quarterback names, so the one thing we should know for certain is Velton Gardner will get the starting carries. For a losing team, Gardner performed fine, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 72 carries last year. It comes as no surprise that Kansas can’t really utilize their running game when they are losing by double-digits every game. All signs out of Kansas camp is new head coach Lance Leipold (coming from Buffalo) is going to implement a similar offense. While I won’t draw literally any comparisons between Velton Gardner and Jaret Patterson, the idea of Gardner running in an offense based around him is exciting. Kansas should win this game – it may be their only win – but they should take advantage of it.
Ty Chandler, UNC – DK: $5,200
Ty Chandler transferred from Tennessee to UNC and will grab the starting job out of the gates. Much like UNC dominated a two-headed rushing/passing attack with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, Ty Chandler and Eric Gray did something similar at Tennessee. While both Gray and Chandler find themselves in new homes this year, Chandler should instantly fill a hole left in the UNC offense. Chandler rushed for 456 yards and four touchdowns last season while adding 16 receptions for 111 yards in the passing game. While these numbers aren’t groundbreaking, the Tennessee offense also wasn’t much of a well-oiled machine. Chandler brings experience to a UNC offense that has lost a lot of it recently, I view this price just way too low for the scheme that UNC likes to deploy with their running backs.
Jaquarii Roberson, WAKE – DK: $8,600
If you want to reference what I said in the first writeup about the high variance of Wake Forest players in a lopsided matchup be my guest because writing up Roberson does kind of directly contradict that. However, Roberson averaged 14.9 yards a reception last year, catching 62 passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games. Roberson had over 126 yards receiving in five different games last season and six or more receptions in all games but two. Despite Wake Forest being a large favorite, discounting the pure ceiling of Roberson here would do him an injustice. Roberson also having as big of a year last year while playing some top-notch ACC talent is impressive in its own right. Old Dominion has not played football for roughly two years now, and Roberson finished 2020 as the #2 rated receiver in college football by PFF. You *can* fade this pick if you believe Wake mops the floor, but if Old Dominion keeps it even sort of close, or Wake decides to just let it ride, Roberson will be the top receiver on this slate.
Dante Wright, CSU – DK: $6,000
Colorado State only played four games in 2020 and Dante Wright only made appearances in three of those four. In those three though, Wright compiled 20 catches for 315 yards and all against decently ranked defenses in the conference of Wyoming, Boise State, and San Diego State. Back in 2019, Wright caught 56 balls for 802 yards and four touchdowns and that was while Warren Johnson led the team with 77 catches and 1,119 yards. With Wright entering his third year, he will be a big play anchor next to tight end Trey McBride. Despite being an underclassman to the rest of the starting Colorado State receiving core, he has leaps and bounds more experience. This game with South Dakota State should remain competitive and Wright offers us upside as not only a solid PPR option but also a big-play threat.
Ali Jennings III, ODU – DK: $3,000
I like to finish this article with at least one cheap option on the slate that carries a nice ceiling and I think that could be Ali Jennings the third from Old Dominion. While ODU hasn’t played football since 2019, Jennings is a transfer from West Virginia who just never quite broke onto the field enough. In 2019, Jennings caught 19 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown and in 2020 he caught seven for 48 yards and touchdown. I don’t necessarily think that was due to a lack of talent, but the West Virginia depth chart actually ran pretty deep for what was a run-first offense. Stone Smartt is listed on top of the Old Dominion depth chart and he was the starter back in 2019 when he started seven games that season. It wasn’t a huge season for Smartt, completing 101 passes for 1,006 yards and a touchdown but at least there is a quarterback entering this game with a familiarity of the program. Jennings enters this wide receiver corp as the most talented of the bunch and at least from the outside looking in, Jennings has created a buzz around the program and has been said to have been the best wideout in camp. Old Dominion is a large underdog here, but that also implies that the ball should be in the air alot. While Jennings may not top the list of top-10 scorers at slates end, I would be shocked to not see him add some strong value to his basement salary.