This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
We're back for Week 2 of the college football season with a great, 12-game slate on deck for Saturday. There are many different ways to attack the slate, all of which we will dive into below. You'll also find our suite of DFS tools along with matchup info, a slate overview and position-by-position breakdowns.
- DraftKings Lineup Optimizer
- NEW Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
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- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
We've got an interesting slate on tap for this weekend with a clear top tier of teams in terms of implied total (Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia) all checking in above 35.0. There's also a glut of teams with respectable IT's of 25.0 or higher, so there are plenty of ways to attack the board.
Florida tops the list with an implied total of 43.75. The question isn't whether they will get to 40+, but rather how? Last week Florida rotated quarterbacks with Emory Jones ($9,000) and Anthony Richardson ($8,400) and will likely go back to that well given the lopsided spread. Jones is the better passer but might not have enough volume to return value on that lofty price tag. Meanwhile, Richardson is still raw as a passer but his running ability is undeniable after he gashed FAU for 160 yards and a score on seven attempts. Can you justify throwing down $8,400 on a quarterback who isn't even going to start? It's tough. Perhaps targeting the Gator run game is the way to go against this hapless USF run defense. Of course, there's the potential of getting vultured by the quarterbacks, but neither Malik Davis ($5,600) or Dameon Pierce ($6,000) are prohibitive. Neither will need much volume to return value on a USF run defense that might not be able to hold UF under 8.0 YPC.
Speaking of run defenses to target, USF, Notre Dame, East Carolina, Texas A&M and Ohio State all fared the worst against the run in Week 1. There are caveats, including small sample or tough opponent, so these aren't necessarily the five I would load up against. Toledo doesn't have the speed to make Notre Dame hurt in the run game; Texas A&M is too talented to have a repeat of last week against the run; Ohio State is in the same boat, plus Oregon doesn't have a clear Alpha at running back. South Carolina's backfield could be a key to solving running back this week. 2020 breakout star Kevin Harris is apparently ready to roll after sitting out Week 1 against an FCS opponent following his back injury in fall camp. He's $7,500, which is a lot to cough up for a player with workload uncertainty. Harris could absolutely return value with 10+ carries, though. Make sure you get some exposure if you're going with multiple lineups. Marshawn Lloyd is my interesting pivot from that Gamecock backfield. More on him later.
As for pass defenses to pick on, East Carolina, USF, Tulsa, Ball State and Ohio State check in with the worst numbers in YPA. Again, small sample caveats aside, this list can be informative. Tulsa stands out in particular. It surrendered 311 yards on 8.9 YPA to UC Davis in the opener. That doesn't bode well when Spencer Sanders is set to take back over for Oklahoma State. Getting some OK State passing game exposure could be a fruitful strategy this week.
Looking at the other end f the board, Tennessee's 4.9 YPA allowed looks more intimidating than it really is, considering that the Vols were facing Bowling Green at home. If you were in on Kenny Pickett, Jordan Addison and Co. coming into the season, a trip to Rocky Top shouldn't deter you.
Jack Coan ($8,900), Notre Dame vs. Toledo
Coan looked impressive in his Irish debut, pushing the ball downfield in a way that we have not seen in quite some time from a Golden Domer offense. He racked up 366 yards and four touchdowns with a 10.5 YPA against Florida State. This week he gets Toledo, a defense that stands to be overmatched. The only potential pitfall here is game flow. Notre Dame is a 17.0-point favorite, the third-widest mark on the slate. Can we expect Coan to throw 35 times again? Probably not. But 30 times with equal or better efficiency would still set Coan up to return value. He also has a bevy of options in the passing game for stacking purposes, which cannot be said about some of the other upper-tier quarterbacks this week.
Sean Clifford ($8,100), Penn State vs. Ball State
Yes, this is another game with a big spread so that puts some of the passing volume into question. However, this is a prime matchup for Clifford and the Nittany Lions to get the offense in gear in advance of the big Week 3 matchup against Auburn. Clifford struggled to generate much against Wisconsin in the opener but that won't be the case against a Ball State defense that surrendered over 350 passing yards with an 8.5 YPA to Western Illinois.
Whether Ball State's offense is up to the challenge and able to keep this one competitive into the second half is an unknown. But a quarterback like Drew Plitt and receivers like Justin Hall and Yo'Heinz Tyler make it possible. And if that's ultimately the case, Clifford could push for 30 pass attempts with much better efficiency than what we saw from him in Madison. There are added bonuses to backing Clifford, including a low roster percentage and a strong supporting cast of stackable options like Jahan Dotson or Parker Washington.
Spencer Sanders ($7,500) Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa
As mentioned above, Tulsa is a defense to target. Zaven Collins is no longer there to cover up for the deficiencies elsewhere on the defense, which lost nearly half its production from 2020. Now it's on Sanders to take advantage. Sanders was held out of Week 1 due to COVID protocols but should take back over after it took Shane Illingworth 40 attempts to hit 315 yards against Missouri State. The system should allow for Sanders to post strong passing volume and he's also a threat as a runner, having racked up over 100 attempts in each of his first two years as the starter. If you're bargain hunting in this tier of the quarterback field, Sanders is worth consideration. Some confirmation on his starting status prior to kickoff will be an important part of the equation here, though.
Others to Consider
Holton Ahlers ($7,100) East Carolina vs. South Carolina
The Pirates get to host an SEC opponent this weekend with the Gamecocks coming to town. This game has the fourth-highest total on the slate but a narrow spread at South Carolina -2.0 (and even narrower at some other books). That sets this up as a game to target on both sides. It's difficult to know much about the SC defense after a game against Eastern Illinois, but the defensive front is a strong suit. That complicates the ECU run game projection, but Ahlers is plenty comfortable when the Pirates ask him to throw it early and often. He has averaged over 35 pass attempts per game over the last two seasons and threw it 40 times in the opener. Ahlers also offers a bit of rushing upside, though that seems to be less of a part of his game now than it was early in his ECU career.
South Carolina Backfield vs. East Carolina
There's a load of options to choose from in this backfield. Not only is Kevin Harris ($7,500) back after resting in the opener, but ZaQuandre White ($4,900) is making his case for a role after a strong debut and MarShawn Lloyd ($3,400) is a former five-star who is just starting to tap into his potential. I have serious doubts about the South Carolina passing game and expect the Gamecocks to keep it on the ground as much as possible.
So, how do we determine who to target? Harris is the most accomplished of the group, but will South Carolina give him 20+ carries in his first game coming off a back injury, especially when White and Lloyd are capable? That makes Harris risky, and sinking $7,500 into a player with that kind of uncertainty is often hard to justify. Harris becomes a GPP-only option, but an intriguing one at that given his talent, track record and matchup. Even 15 carries could wind up being enough for him to return value.
I'm also very interested in Lloyd at $3,400. The talent is for real and, again, I expect South Carolina to lean heavily on the backfield here. Harris not projecting for much more than 20+ at most bodes well for Lloyd and White to split the rest of the work. Lloyd may see the third-most carries Saturday, but his explosiveness should allow him to make the most of his work against this soft Pirate defense. If a sub-$3,500 runner with a pulse is what you need to make the rest of your lineup work, Lloyd is your guy.
On the other side of this matchup, Keaton Mitchell ($6,600) has game-breaking speed that will translate, even against SEC competition. He's active as a pass-catcher, too, having reeled in five grabs for 79 yards and a score last week.
Devon Achane ($5,900) Texas A&M at Colorado
I can't understate how talented I think Achane is. If not for Isaiah Spiller, Achane would have the type of workload that would allow him to be talked about in the same breath as some of the other uber-talented sophomore running backs. He averaged 8.5 yards per carry as a freshman and provided a spark in the opener, gashing the Flashes for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Colorado hasn't been tested on the ground just yet, having played North Colorado in the opener. Slowing the Aggie ground game will be an entirely different story. Again, Isaiah Spiller projects to be the leader of this backfield Saturday and beyond, but this is an offense that can support multiple backs from a fantasy perspective. Achane getting 10+ carries against a Buffs defense that allowed 5.4 YPC last season will get the job done at $5,900. Spiller is also a strong play at $6,700; GPP folks may gravitate more to Achane at his slight discount.
Malik Davis ($5,600), Florida vs. USF
Instead of guessing on a Florida quarterback, I'll pivot to the backfield. There's a case to be made for Dameon Pierce at $6K and I'm certainly considering him as well, but Davis presents a slight bit of savings while also having a promising workload volume projection. Davis actually led the Gators in carries last week and delivered 104 yards and a score. Pierce was good with his opportunities, punching in two of six carries for touchdowns. He also caught five passes, which is extra valuable on DraftKings. This blurb isn't about threading the needle between Davis and Pierce's workload projections, though. I fully expect both Davis and Pierce to eat against this USF defense. FAU has a respectable defense and yet these two managed to shred it. USF is several steps down and will be completely overmatched. Going Florida backfield gives you exposure to the team with the highest implied total on the board. Davis and Pierce should both be in consideration, but Davis gets the slight lean if choosing between the two.
Others to Consider
Isaih Pacheco ($5,200) Rutgers vs. Syracuse
Syracuse stifled Ohio's run game last week but won't have that same advantage this time around. Pacheco, who can impact the game as both a runner and as a pass-catcher, should get the bulk of the backfield work. 15+ touches against this Syracuse defense should pay dividends for Pacheco.
Jahan Dotson ($7,000) Penn State vs. Ball State
Penn State has a fairly narrow target tree with Dotson, KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Parker Washington accounting for over 75 percent of the targets in the opener. Dotson alone saw 35 percent of the targets (11) and managed to rack up 102 yards and a score despite catching less than half his looks against the Badgers. Penn State may not need to lean on Dotson for 10+ carries again this week, but his catch rate should spike and his efficiency could tick up as well. Washington is a decent dart throw from this passing offense at $4K as well.
Yo'Heinz Tyler ($4,200) Ball State at Penn State
Ball State is going to be trailing for the bulk of this game and therefore this sets up as one of the Cardinals' highest pass attempt projections of the season. This is a really nice buy-low opportunity on Tyler, who is coming off a disappointing opener in which he caught four of eight targets (29.6 percent share) for 32 yards against Western Illinois. Don't let that distract you from the fact that Tyler reeled in 42 of 70 targets for 607 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games last season. Justin Hall will draw most of the attention of the Penn State secondary, and the 6-foot-3 Tyler can take advantage if left one-on-one. Look for there to be a steady stream of targets going Tyler's way Saturday as he bounces back despite the tough matchup.
Bryson Green ($3,300) and Jaden Bray ($3,700), Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa
Oklahoma State's passing game is one to target this week. Tay Martin is the leader in the clubhouse coming out of Week 1 as he led the 'Pokes in every major receiving category, but this pair of freshmen are worth a look. Green drew seven targets in the opener, converting them into three catches for 41 yards. Bray was more efficient but drew less volume, nabbing two of three targets for 52 yards. Both project to be involved again this week and the quarterback play should be improved with Spencer Sanders back in the saddle.
Kevin Austin ($5,400) Notre Dame vs. Toledo
It looks like Austin has finally arrived in South Bend after the hype was met with injuries and disappointment through his first couple of years with the program. He was the Irish's best pass-catcher not named Michael Mayer last week, reeling in four of seven targets for 91 yards (13.0 YPT) and a touchdown. Austin will be featured again this week against a softer opponent. At $5,400, Austin is one of the best midtier options on the board at receiver.