Every week, the first step of your daily fantasy homework should be to examine the opening Vegas odds on all the College Football games for the week. Through some fairly simple algebra, it is easy to derive a spreadsheet that predicts team totals for every game, thereby allowing you to develop a rudimentary gamescript to help narrow down your decisions for the week. Most of your lineup should be filled with players on the teams expected to score the most points (highlighted in Green and Yellow). Once the appealing (and unappealing) games have been highlighted, it becomes easier to focus upon those games to help build your core of players for that week.
A second factor to strongly consider in making your daily fantasy lineup decisions is the impact of the week's matchup on player production compared to average and this is where the Matchup Adjustment comes into play. The Matchup Adjustment number you see below will provide a helpful first step in adjusting each player's projected output for the given week. For example, let's say we project a certain Quarterback to score 20 points per game for the season. If his Matchup Adjustment for the week is zero, his starting point in our projection system remains at 20 points. If he instead has a positive 20% Matchup Adjustment, we would adjust his projections upward accordingly and our 20 PPG Quarterback would then project for 24 PPG for the week. A negative Matchup Adjustment number will dod the opposite with a -30% turning our 20 PPG Quarterback into a 15 PPG player for the week. (Note: The Footballguys player projections go much more in-depth, with adjustments for other factors including relative strength of passing/running defense.)
Let's take a look at the Week 1 Slate of Games.
|Team||Expected Points||Matchup Adjustment|
|New Mexico State||10.5||-45%|
|Texas San Antonio||10.5||-69%|
Thursday Night Slate
Oklahoma State stands out as a top option for the Thursday night slate. The team total of 38+ falls into the top tier of games and the matchup rating of 35% is also an attractive number. The Cowboys pass game projects to be especially effective against a suspect Central Michigan pass defense. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is a strong option. The Cowboys spread the ball around to multiple Wide Receivers, but Brandon Shepard is the most experienced target and a safe option for production. Sophomore James Washington has shown the most explosive ability and is arguably the most talented pass catcher and maakes for a strong upside play in GPPs.
Arizona has the highest team total on the slate at 42 points. The matchup adjustment is slightly negative however due to the 30+ point spread and the possibility that the Wildcats' top players may find themselves on the bench for much of the 4th quarter if all goes according to script. While the threat of not playing the full 60 minutes does limit the upside to some extent, the top players for the Wildcats are still safe plays overall. Anu Solomon and his top target Cayleb Jones should have a big day against a UTSA squad that graduated 40 seniors and is facing a major rebuild effort on both sides of the ball. Samajie Grant is also worth looking at amongst the Wide Receivers. Running Back Nick Wilson is priced at a premium but is a safe bet to rack up 100 rushing yards.
TCU also comes in with a high team total of 36 points despite facing a relatively stingy Minnesota defense. Unlike Arizona (and possibly Oklahoma St.), there is very little concern that the Horned Frogs will be calling off the dogs at any point in this highly anticipated contest. We are going to see a full 60 minutes of QB Trevone Boykin, RB Aaron Green, WR Josh Doctson and WR Kolby Listenbee. Each of the four should be heavily involved and put up good numbers in a must-win road contest.
North Carolina against South Carolina has a chance to turn into a shootout with both team totals at 30+ points. The Tar Heels have a deep offensive cast with dual threat Quarterback Marquise Williams leading the way. Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan are a talented backfield duo and Ryan Switzer, Quinshad Davis and Mack Hollins are a strong trio at Wide Receiver. They face a South Carolina defense that must replace a number of players. South Carolina is led by Pharoh Cooper at Wide Receiver. Cooper is not only a top receiving target, but could get some snaps as a Wildcat QB. Brandon Wilds is the top runner in what could be a highly effective committee against a Tar Heels defense that gave up more than 200 rushing yards per game in 2014.
Western Kentucky against Vanderbilt also should be a high scoring affair with both teams projected to score more than 30 points. Western Kentucky faces a step up in competition going on the road against an SEC opponent. While the offense that averaged more than 45 points per game last season may find tougher sledding aainst the Commodores defense, they should still have plenty of success. Brandon Doughty at Quarterback and Leon Allen at Running Back are one of the top fantasy duos in the nation. WR Jared Dangerfield is the top returning pass catcher. For Vanderbilt, a step down in competition makes this a tasty matchup (92% matchup rating) for an offense that averaged under 20 points per game last season. Running Back Ralph Webb could be a strong option as Vanderbilt transitions into a more run-heavy offensive scheme. Tight End Steven Scheu could have a big game as the most experienced pass catcher.
Ohio was not a strong offensive team in 2014 but with a team total of 32 and a favorable matchup with Idaho looming, Running Back AJ Ouellette makes for an intriguing option.
Central Florida (UCF) has a very favorable matchup against Florida International (FIU) and the usually pedestrian offense could have a strong day. Running Back William Stanback and Quarterback Justin Holman are both worth considering in your lineup.
Satruday Early Slate
Check back on Friday for analysis of the weekend slate of games.