This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
Last week's main slate was largely dictated by how much exposure you had to the UNC-App State bonanza along with some strong one-off performances from Jacob Cowing, Zay Flowers, Ladd McConkey and others.
This week we're treated to another 14-game main slate headlined by an Alabama-Texas game that has the makings of a blowout, which changes how we view the game with the highest total on the board. Vandy-Wake Forest is next up at 65.0 on the total but the spread has changed drastically over the last few days with Sam Hartman being cleared to play. Beyond those games, Pittsburgh-Tennessee, Texas Tech-Houston, and Illinois-Virginia are expected to be high-scoring and competitive games that should draw plenty of interest. Kansas State-Missouri is an interesting game that may get lost in the shuffle a bit with so many other marquee matchups and teams like Penn State, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are all expected to put up plenty of points against overmatched opponents. Like last week, there are a lot of different ways to attack this slate and I'll detail my thinking below.
College Football DFS Tools
- DraftKings Lineup Optimizer
- Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
- Advanced Team Stats
DFS Matchup Info
DraftKings CFB DFS Picks: Quarterback
There's a lot more value to be had at quarterback on this week's main slate with several viable options checking in at $8K or below compared to last week where other than Drake Maye and Chase Brice, targeting the top drawer quarterbacks was the way to go. We benefit from the Sam Hartman announcement coming after salaries were released, and that is invariably going to make him one of the more popular plays on the board. I'll have plenty of Hartman exposure as he makes his return against an untested Vanderbilt team, but it's important to target some other quarterbacks to differentiate your lineup from the field in GPPs. I will also explore running Vanderbilt's Mike Wright on the other side of Hartman in a lineup or two; Vanderbilt hasn't played anybody yet but Wright has been impressive nonetheless and he doesn't need to do that much to return value at $5,400. Beyond that, here's my approach to this week's quarterback options.
Hendon Hooker ($7,800) Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Tennessee's offense looked like it hadn't skipped a beat in its opening night drubbing of Ball State, hanging 59 points on the Cardinals, including 38 in the first half. Hooker himself accounted for four total touchdowns before Joe Milton and Gaston Moore took over in mop-up duty. We won't have to worry about Hooker being pulled in a blowout scenario here as the Vols are on the road against a Power 5 opponent and favored by 6.5 points.
Tennessee's up-tempo tendencies from 2021 carried over as the Vols ran 86 plays in Week 1; look for that to continue -- maybe not to that extent -- Saturday, which means plenty of opportunities for Hooker both on the ground and through the air. Bru McCoy being eligible means that Hooker has three legit options out wide along with Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt. UT has an implied total of 35.5 and I expect Hooker to be responsible for the bulk of those points. It's fair to point out that Pitt's defensive struggles mostly came against the run last week, but when Hooker is likely to push for double-digit rushing attempts, it becomes less of a concern for his fantasy outlook this week.
Brennan Armstrong ($6,300) Virginia at Illinois
I had some concerns about Virginia changing up its offensive philosophy under Tony Elliott and one game against Richmond doesn't totally erase them, but we have to be encouraged by Brennan Armstrong's showing nonetheless. Armstrong ran for 105 yards and a score and threw for two more against the Spiders and now faces an Illinois defense that just gave up 330 passing yards (albeit on 52 attempts) to Indiana. Virginia is still built to push the tempo and whatever success the Cavaliers had on the ground against Richmond is unlikely to transfer over to this game, so there will be a greater onus on Armstrong to steer the ship. We could see upwards of 40 passes and 10 rushing attempts from Armstrong here, and at $6,300 with his track record and a strong supporting cast of pass-catchers, he's tough to ignore on this slate.
Donovan Smith ($7,700) Texas Tech vs. Houston
Texas Tech doesn't lose much by going from Tyler Shough to Smith in my opinion and apparently, Vegas agrees with that sentiment as the Red Raiders are favored over the Cougs. Smith was solid after taking over late last season (60.4 completion %, 8.3 YPA, 7:2 TD:INT, 83 RuYD, 1 TD) and looked sharp in relief of Shough last week, albeit against Murray State. Houston's run defense is stout but the Cougs are somewhat susceptible through the air and Texas Tech is already geared towards the pass as it is. There could be upwards of 35-40 pass attempts from Smith in this spot in what should be a back-and-forth game with plenty of scoring. Look for a high-volume day through the air from Smith with a bit of rushing production as an added bonus.
DraftKings CFB DFS Picks: Running Back
Chase Brown ($6,400) Illinois vs. Virginia
I don't know what more Brown needs to do to earn DraftKings' respect after rushing for at least 150 yards in each of his first two games against two decent opponents. It's extremely clear that Illinois is hamstrung at quarterback, which means Brown has to be Mr. Everything in this offense. Expect Brown to push for 25+ touches in this one against a Virginia defense that allowed 5.5 YPC to Richmond running backs last week.
Devon Achane ($6,800) Texas A&M vs. Appalachian State
Achane was one of the notable disappointments last weekend as A&M struggled to get traction on the ground against Sam Houston State (???). That presents a buying opportunity this weekend however as people may be off Achane after getting burned last weekend, along with there being a deep menu of strong RB options on this slate.
Remember, Achane is a player who averaged 7.4 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns over his first two seasons and averaged over 10.0 yards per target on a 35-target sample. One sluggish game isn't enough to undo that. A&M's offensive line needs to play better, and it has the talent to do so. Getting a home game against an App State defense that just allowed 6.1 YPC against North Carolina is a good get-right spot. Achane might be the sleeping giant of running back plays on this slate.
Brad Roberts ($6,500) Air Force vs. Colorado
The Buffs got gashed for 9.2 yards per carry last week against TCU. That's bad news when they're hitting the road to face a team that simply has no interest in throwing the ball. Of course, Colorado knows what type of offense Air Force is running, but that doesn't mean it can stop it.
Roberts saw just eight carries in the opener and split the work with John Lee Eldridge but still managed to run for 114 yards and a score. This is a back who averaged 23 carries per game last season. Look for that number to tick up Saturday against a Colorado defense that looks very susceptible against the run.
DraftKings CFB DFS Picks: Wide Receiver
Virginia Wideouts vs. Illinois
This sets up as one of the more competitive games on the slate (and unquestionably the one with the most orange garb) with Illinois checking in as four-point favorites. Virginia ran it much more than it threw it last weekend (56% run split) but that tendency should shift this weekend.
Virginia's pass catchers are also appealing because it's a fairly predictable target tree between Dontayvion Wicks ($6,300; 11 Wk 1 targets), Keytaon Thompson ($5,200, 6 Wk 1 targets) and Lavel Davis ($3,500, 5 Wk 1 targets). Wicks is likely to continue on as the No.1 in the offense but as Virginia goes to the air more, Thompson and Davis stand to see their targets tick up as well. Thompson was a 78-catch player last year and Davis had one of the most unique receiving lines I've seen back in 2020 when he caught 20 of 46 targets...for 515 yards and five touchdowns. He's a 6-foot-7 problem for defenses. Any of these three will work at their salary and nabbing two from this group to pair with Armstrong could be a strong start to a lineup build.
Texas Tech Wide Receivers vs. Houston
Again, I'm attacking the Texas Tech passing game on this slate. Last week turned some preseason expectations on their heads as Jerand Bradley led the charge while Myles Price saw just four targets. It's important to remember the context; that was against Murray State. Things could shift this week. Price is the top-salaried option at $7K but carries some risk after the quiet opener, though that also could signal that this is the week to jump back in while roster percentage is low. Loic Fouonji ($6,000) is definitely in play as well after catching four of five targets for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jerand Bradley ($5K) is the wildcard; he led the team in targets (7) in the opener and crossed the century mark with two touchdowns as well. He's short on track record as a redshirt freshman with just 11 career receptions but those have totaled 207 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 Bradley is worth a look if you're targeting the TTU passing attack.
College Football DFS GPP Plays
Tyler Buchner, $6,000, Notre Dame vs. Marshall
Notre Dame mustered just 10 points, including zero in the second half, in the loss to Ohio State. That doesn't scream DFS must-play the following week usually, but we have to consider last week's context and weigh it against this one. That was Buchner's first start against an improved and star-studded OSU defense on the road at night. He still averaged 9.8 YPA and also showed a willingness to run with 11 attempts. This week's setup is much more favorable as Notre Dame is 20.5-point favorites at home against Marshall. Look for Buchner to be active on the ground again and for Notre Dame's pass catchers to find the end zone this week. This is a spot where Notre Dame can build up Buchner's confidence before next week's game against Cal and I think the Irish will take advantage of that. Plus, $6,000 is not much to tie up in a quarterback so playing Buchner gives some lineup flexibility on top of the likelihood that he checks in with a low roster percentage.
Dane Kinamon ($4,100) Air Force vs. Colorado
I know, a receiver from Air Force is generally not a direction you want to go. He's going to see three targets at most. But Kinamon also had three total touches for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week against UNI. He should be in line for a few touches once again and he offers some per-touch explosiveness, especially against a weak Colorado defense.
Frank Gore Jr. ($6,200) Southern Miss at Miami
Like all good GPP plays, this one isn't for the faint of heart. Gore plays running back for a team that brings up the rear in terms of implied total on this slate (13.25) and is a 25-point underdog. Those aren't great factors for an RB play. However, Gore is basically the entire Southern Miss offense. He had 32 carries in the season opener for 178 yards and two touchdowns against Liberty. We can't expect that type of efficiency against Miami but Gore is extremely talented and should still push for 20+ carries. I'm chasing volume and low roster percentage with this play; I'll likely only deploy Gore in 1-2 lineups but this might just be crazy enough to work given his outsized role in the offense.
Michael Mayer ($3,900) Notre Dame vs. Marshall
Mayer being $4,000 against Ohio State made sense. Mayer being $3,900 against Marshall does not. He still saw eight targets -- twice as many as any other Irish receiver or tight end -- in the opener. That resulted in just 32 yards but it's clear that the Buckeyes were keying on not letting him beat them up the seam. Marshall may have a similar game plan but it won't be able to execute it the way Ohio State did. Mayer may not be needed for eight targets again but even five or six should be enough for him to return value. He's a value play whether you're using him as a one-off or pairing him with Buchner.