2015 NCAA College Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview (Thursday)

The College Football season is almost here! Before we get started, I encourage you to bookmark this site, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Subscribe to our posts via e-mail. I guarantee you will not find another site that covers daily college fantasy football like Daily Fantasy Grind. I do extensive research each week and watch dozens of games per week. I’ve been watching spring games & talking to beat reporters during the offseason. All other sites are going to recommend the “Heisman Trophy” type names, or the top schools because that’s all they know/watch … but this site digs deep and finds players & matchups that will help you win. I tell grinders all the time – the NFL is a luck-box league where anyone can win any given week (since so few games/players are being selected). College Football is where your skill & knowledge will win you money (since there’s way more players/teams involved).

Now let’s take an early look at some of the games on the schedule for Thursday 9/3. I will be adding to this page as the offseason rolls along, and I will post my final selections during the last week of August. All of our daily college fantasy football picks are archived here.

Thursday CFB – QB Picks
Thursday CFB – WR Picks
Thursday CFB – RB Picks
Thursday CFB – TE Picks

Week 1 – Friday Game Preview

North Carolina vs South Carolina
This is the marque matchup on day #1 of the college football season. The early Vegas line in this game is predicting a very close game that is high scoring (65 o/u) … two great things for daily college fantasy football players. Last season, North Carolina’s defense was terrible – and was a consistent target by daily fantasy players. Here is how the stats breakout: 263.5 passing yards per game, giving up a hefty 29 TDs and only 12 INTs. UNC’s run defense ranked even lower, giving up a whopping 232.2 yards per game on 46.4 carries … capped off with 30 TDs. UNC is returning a decent number of defensive players, which based on last years performance – may not be a good thing. We will assume the team will get slightly better on defense, but won’t improve to a powerhouse by any means.
Accounted for 34 TD’s last season through the air & ground so he’s a very effective daily college fantasy football QB. He will likely be one of the most expensive QBs week-to-week in the daily leagues, so he won’t be a value play like he was at times last season. South Carolina is returning the bulk of its defensive starters from last season, however the team wasn’t exactly steller against the run or pass – in fact the run D could be considered poor last season. Given these facts + this game is played at a neutral site and not the rockus Gamecocks’ stadium, I think Williams will be one of the more ‘safe’ QB plays you can play during the Week 1 Thursday game selections.

Depending on how the daily fantasy sites price him … he could be a sleeper/value QB pick week 1. In 2 QB leagues, he could be a option as your cheaper #2 – but I’d wait on further word about his development this off-season. While this will be his first time starting at the NCAA level, he is second all-time in North Carolina state history in passing yards behind Chris Leak … so the kid can throw the ball. I’d expect the Gamecocks to run the ball quite a bit, but Mitch should get some room to throw against a weaker UNC defense.
Wilds is going to be listed as the starter, but Williams should see some action … and could ultimately be the best back of the two. From a daily fantasy perspective, you’d like there to be one of these RBs to be “the guy” but unless one of them gets injured or screws up royaly in pre-season workouts … I’d expect both to be used week 1. I think most grinders will be targeting Wilds, but I’d wait until further word out of Gamecocks’ camp emerges about potential playing time. If one or the other gets injured/can’t play week 1 … the healthy back is a must-start against what we assume will be a weak UNC run defense.
I fully expect daily fantasy sites to have Pharoh Cooper listed as one of the top WRs during the Thursday games. He had over 1,100 yards last season and comes into this season being the only real experienced Gamecocks’ WR after Shaq Roland transferred. The only real issue is that Cooper should draw a double-team … so his upside might be limited somewhat. Also, QB Connor Mitch appeared in only 2 games last season, so his ability to deliver the ball at this level is still a question mark. However, given the matchup against what we assume will be a weak pass-defense, Cooper should be a target for daily fantasy players week 1.
More effective in 1pt PPR leagues over 0.5 ones because he’s not a huge playmaker or TD machine, but he’s consistent enough to be your #2 or #3 WR if you’re playing in Thursday one-day leagues.

TCU at Minnesota
I’m currently not in love with this matchup, as neither team is a cupcake on defense, but there are some solid players and intriguing situations that will be worth monitoring in this game.

TCU Cheerleaders

Is near the top of many pre-season Heisman Trophy lists and is clearly a top QB in all of college football. You’ll likely see his name at the top of the daily leagues salary list & on many other college football blogs who don’t do research past the top players. Last season against Minnesota, Boykin was 27/46 for 258 yards and 2 TDs, along with 92 yards on the ground. Certainly numbers you can live with in daily fantasy leagues …. but it’s unclear how much value you’ll get from Boykin considering his salary number will be large. I’m not in love with this matchup on the road either, but as the game draws closer, Boykin could develop into a must-start player …. but you’ll need to fill the rest of your lineup with mostly value-type players.

Was a huge part of the Gophers offense last season, and with the other huge pieces (David Cobb and Maxx Williams) in the NFL – Leidner will be a QB worth monitoring all season. We’ll assume TCU will likely be a fairly solid defense, so Leidner will not be a really explosive play this week, but certainly against weak defenses, he could be a nice value #2 QB in some situations. Last season against TCU – Leidner had one his worst games of the year with only 151 yards passing and only 4 yards rushing – I think its safe to assume you’ll avoid him week 1 against TCU.

TCU is a 2 1/2 score favorite in this one, plus their defense was relatively solid last season … so we’ll assume that will again be the case. With that being true, I’m likely not going to recommend Williams or Edwards for week 1, but I think this is a situation to monitor going forward when Minnesota plays weaker defenses. Last season David Cobb (Tennessee Titans) got the bulk of the carries and rushed for over 1,000 yards. If either one of these players gets hurt or slips up (fumbles too much) I’d expect one to emerge as a consistent starter. However, it appears they’ll likely split carries making this a wait-and-see sleeper option that might emerge at RB sometime this season.

Not a household name at WR, but could emerge as one over the course of the college football season. NFL scouts still see him as being raw and needing to work on his game, but he does have size & speed to beat most defenders. Last season he caught 2 TDs against the Gophers in two.

UTSA at Arizona
This was a good game last season – but not really from a fantasy perspective. UTSA almost won, and probably should have. It’s likely that Arizona will be better prepared this season, as almost losing will still be fresh on some of the players minds. Vegas has AZ as a 30+ point favorite, so we’ll assume this game will be more of what fans would expect from a Pac-12 teams facing a team like UTSA. While UTSA was a respectable defense last season, basically the entire team has been rebuilt during the off-season due to a massive amount of starters graduating in 2014. I doubt the experts in Vegas know if the incoming players from UTSA are going to measure up to the previous group …. but we’ll assume the team will have a learning curve and could potentially be far worse than last years’ team.

Emerged as a solid QB last season, but was often too inconsistent to be considered unless it was a weak team. He’d often throw for 3+ TDs or only get 1. Not much of a running threat, but is capable of getting outside the pocket. Last season against UTSA he had a pretty poor game with only 1 TD and 231 yards throwing. I think his price week 1 won’t leave too much room for upside, and there’s always the chance Arizona struggles again against a team they are supposed to blowout. There’s also a chance he throws for 4 TDs …. that’s the risk/reward in this matchup and with a QB like Solomon.

As a true-freshman, Nick Wilson was sensational for Arizona most of the season … even as the #2 RB in some games. He’s not a huge threat receiving out of the backfield, but he’s explosive enough on the ground to get you big chunks. I think he’ll be a highly priced RB week one against UTSA, so his value will only occur if he gets you 125/yards and 1+ TDs … but he capable of that and more.

Ohio at Idaho
I’m going to do some further research on this matchup as the game draws closer, but the key stat is last year Idaho was one of the worst rush defenses in the NCAA. Unfortunately Ohio’s RB situation isn’t cut & dry, so we’ll have to see if one back emerges over the course of the offseason workouts.

QB – Matt Linehan
Son of the Dallas Cowboys OC. Had a nice season as a freshman with 2,500+ passing yards but had 18 INTs vs only 11 TDs. Last season Ohio wasn’t super strong against the pass, so Linehan could prove to be a sleeper/flyer type #2 QB pick this week.

RB – A.J. OUELLETTE – Daz’mond Patterson
Okay, so Idaho was near the bottom in the NCAA in stopping the run in 2014 and I doubt much will change this season. At the current moment, there’s no clear #1 RB for Ohio, so further investigation will be needed leading up to the game. However, last season Ouellette lead the team in carries as a non-scholarship walk-on and had some nice games including 132 yards and 2 TDs against Idaho on 27 carries. Daz’Mond Patterson is an intriguing talent, and some bloggers see him as a slot-WR, which could make his a target if he still has RB eligibility. There’s also some other backs that might get some touches. Given the matchup, we’ll monitor this situation and hopefully have a clearer picture on if one or the other is worth starting week 1 against Idaho.

Was the most consistent player for Idaho last season, racking up 76 reception and 1,100+ yards. Against Ohio last season, he had one of his best games of the season with 5 catches, 150 yards and 2 TDs. I don’t think his salary will be super high on daily sites unless they really dig-deep into the numbers meaning McCain might be a nice value WR with #1 upside potential.

UC Davis at Nevada
I’m not 100% sure this game will be on the board given the lopsided nature of the matchup, but if it is – I’d likely target at least 1 Nevada player.

Sleeper type selection here given he hasn’t thrown a pass since 2013. His only real action happened in back-to-back weeks in 2013 when he saw action against Florida State (7/15 49 yards 1 INT) and Hawaii where he was 14/20 for 202 and 3 TDs. Against a weak team like UC Davis, Stewart could emerge as one of the better sleeper options at QB during week 1.

There’s not a ton of coverage on the Wolfpack as of today, however I have to assume it could be the Don Jackson show at running back this season. Last season Jackson got the bulk of the carries (216) and was second on the team in rushing (957) behind departed QB Cody Fajardo. RB James Butler is listed as #2 and had 140 carries last season, so it’s possible it’ll be a dual option out of the backfield … especially in a game like this against a cupcake like UC Davis. We’ll see leading up to the game, but if Jackson or Butler’s salary is low, I think either one makes an ideal #2 or Flex play during week 1.

Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt (-2) 65.5 O/U

5th year senior who put up some sensation numbers last season through the air, including an 8 TD game against Marshall. On FanDuel, he’s the second highest priced QB behind Boykin. Vanderbilt was essentially middle of the pack defensively against the pass last season, so it’s likely you can assume they’ll be in that range again this season.

He’s the 3rd highest priced WR on FanDuel for the Thursday games. WKU spread the ball around quite a bit through the air last season but Dangerfield lead the team in reception (69), yards (825) and TDs (11).

Is more of a value WR play this week and could be a solid #2/3/FLEX type play because of this. He was second on the team with 767 yards last season, and lead the team with 17 yards per catch.

Is basically a minimum priced WR on FanDuel this week – but he could prove to be a nice sleeper pick at WR. Norris is expected to be the teams’ slot WR and with attention being paid to the other WRs for WKU, Norris could sneak in and provide some upside considering he’s a cheap option at WR.

Had 212 of the teams 383 rushing attempts last season as a freshman. Was also present on the podium of the teams’ SEC Media Day, which is often a sign of importance on the team. Not going to be an RB you will target week-to-week however this is likely a great matchup against a Western Kentucky team which struggled on defense all last season.

Very effective in 1pt PPR leagues because he’s often good for several catches per game. He’s a more effective runner when he gets lots of touches. Vanderbilt wasn’t a strong rush defense in 2014 and I’d assume the same in 2015. WKU’s head coach Jeff Brohm has indicated he’d like a more balanced attack this season, so Allen could be in line for more carries. On FanDuel, Allen is the 3rd most expensive running back, which leaves some value so I expect his usage rate to be fairly high week 1.

Michigan at Utah (-6) 46 O/U

RB – Devontae Booker
Last season against Michigan he rushed for only 34 yards on 11 carries. He added 2 receptions for 9 yards as well. But Booker really didn’t get rolling for Utah until after that game where he rushed for 100+ yards in each of the next 6 games. Michigan was a top 15 rush defense last season, and I’d expect them to be solid on defense again this season. Booker is the second highest priced RB behind Arizona’s Nick Wilson.

Oklahoma St (-22) at Central Michigan 54 O/U

Central Michigan likes to run the ball. Last season the team had 504 rushing attempts vs 382 passing attempts. Walker is listed as the teams #1 RB, but RB Devon Spalding is expected to see action too. Oklahoma State’s run defense was about average last season, so Walker could prove to be a deep sleeper type RB that could get you some production given his cost.


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