In this college football DFS preview, I’ll break down the DraftKings Saturday main slate into three categories: players to build around, value plays, and players to avoid.

Players to build around carry more expensive salaries, but they are worth prioritizing in your lineup due to their high ceiling. Value plays are lower-salaried options that come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the expensive stars. Players to avoid are fantasy-relevant options you might normally consider but have a tough matchup this week and are unlikely to meet their usual expectations.

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All references to fantasy points per game are based on the DraftKings scoring system. All references to spreads and totals are from BetMGM.

Key Play-Calling Data

TEAMSECONDS PER PLAYOVERALL PASS RATE2ND HALF PASS RATE W/ LEAD2ND HALF PASS RATE TRAILING
Texas A&M28.155.7%50.0%66.3%
Missouri24.458.3%35.6%71.1%
Florida26.846.5%41.6%47.0%
LSU25.163.2%58.2%67.5%
Auburn24.055.5%19.6%55.9%
Arkansas26.437.6%25.9%44.6%
Oklahoma State25.539.9%37.1%38.5%
Texas26.543.4%29.0%58.5%
UCF23.854.0%39.0%46.3%
Cincinnati26.451.7%43.6%47.1%
Michigan State24.845.5%42.9%75.0%
Indiana26.552.7%41.3%58.6%
Nebraska25.445.1%30.6%60.9%
Minnesota32.033.9%25.0%40.7%
Kentucky29.643.5%31.4%66.7%
Georgia29.339.2%29.8%--
Miami FL21.957.7%38.6%63.8%
North Carolina25.454.3%38.7%62.8%
BYU27.149.1%37.9%64.9%
Baylor27.842.4%35.1%52.6%
Pittsburgh24.454.8%38.3%72.7%
Virginia Tech27.552.0%42.9%57.6%
Purdue25.561.7%46.3%76.7%
Iowa29.246.5%39.9%50.0%

Color Code: Blue: Top 20th Percentile | Green: 60-79th | Yellow: 40-59th | Orange: 20-39th | Red: 0-19th

CFB DFS PLAYERS TO BUILD AROUND

QB Sam Howell, North Carolina vs. Miami FL

Salary: $9,200

Since that highly-publicized Week 1 dud against Virginia Tech, Sam Howell has posted at least 28 fantasy points in every game. The Tar Heels’ passing attack isn’t quite as potent as years past, but Howell has made up for on the ground with double-digit rushing attempts in every game and three 100-yard performances. 

In three games against Power 5 opponents, Miami is allowing 30.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. 

QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

Salary: $8,400

Given his recent performance (three straight games over 35 fantasy points) this is a surprisingly affordable salary for Kenny Pickett

Against FBS opponents, Pickett has reached at least 30 pass attempts and five rushing attempts in each game. That usage, coupled with Pitt’s implied total of 30 points, Pickett looks like a safe cash game play and he also has weekly tournament upside.

QB Emory Jones, Florida at LSU

Salary: $8,300

LSU is giving up 33.2 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in SEC play. LSU’s issue is a lack of a pass rush, as it generates pressure on just 28.3% of dropbacks versus FBS opponents, according to Sports Info Solutions

Emory Jones has struggled versus pressure, but when kept clean he’s completing 71.7% with 7.7 yards per attempt. 

Jones’s steady run game production (at least 10 rush attempts in five of six games) gives him a safe floor and LSU’s sinking ship of a defense boosts his ceiling considerably. 

QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati vs. UCF

Salary: $8,100

Though his fantasy production hasn’t reached the elite levels of last season, Desmond Ridder looks like an ideal target with a salary that’s dropped $900 from last week. In every game against FBS opponents, Ridder has reached at least 22 fantasy points, making him a perfect cash game option. 

Cincinnati is favored by 21.5 points, but given their weak remaining schedule, there’s incentive for the Bearcats to run up the score on respected opponents such as UCF, in an effort to pad their playoff resume. 

RB Tyler Badie, Missouri vs. Texas A&M

Salary: $8,000

The game script likely doesn’t favor the Missouri rushing attack in this matchup, but Tyler Badie runs routes on 40% of Missouri’s pass plays, according to Sports Info Solutions, and is second on the team with a 13% target share. 

With at least 27 fantasy points in all but one game, Badie’s production appears to be matchup proof. 

Although Badie may not see a heavy workload in the run game, it’s worth noting Texas A&M’s defense ranks 101st in explosive rush rate (percentage of attempts for 10 or more yards) at 15.1%. 

RB Jaylen Warren, Oklahoma State at Texas

Salary: $7,100

The Texas defense is allowing 30.6 fantasy points per game to running backs (ranked 99th) and was just gashed by Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks last week (217 yards, 38.3 fantasy points). The Longhorn defense also ranks 107th in explosive rush rate at 15.7%.  

Oklahoma State has added incentive to lean on Jaylen Warren in this matchup to slow the game down and avoid a shootout, as the Longhorn offense is considerably more explosive. 

Warren has over 30 touches in three straight games and should see another big workload against a friendly Texas defense. 

RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State at Indiana 

Salary: $6,700

Indiana’s defense is getting a level of respect it probably doesn’t deserve, as Kenneth Walker III’s salary has dropped significantly from its peak of $8,100 last week. 

On traditional handoffs (excluding quarterback runs, jet sweeps, etc), the Hoosiers’ defense is allowing 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks 60th in the nation, according to Sports Info Solutions. 

Walker was shut down by Nebraska’s defense earlier this year (6.1 fantasy points on 19 carries) but he’s topped 30 fantasy points in every other game against FBS opponents. 

When the game is within one-score, 39% of Michigan State’s offense has been a handoff to Walker. With Michigan State favored by 4.5 points, expect a big workload.

RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M at Missouri

Salary: $6,600

Missouri’s defense is one of the worst in SEC history 一 it’s on pace to surrender 3,458 rushing yards and hasn’t even faced Texas A&M, Georgia or Florida yet.

Texas A&M divvies up carries between Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane ($5,100) but with Missouri allowing an FBS-worst 48.4 fantasy points per game to running backs, it’s worth having exposure to both players this week. 

In three games against Power 5 opponents, the lead back against Missouri has topped 30 fantasy points in each game with an average score of 39.4 points 一 so there’s a high floor and a ridiculous ceiling for Spiller in this matchup. 

RB Tyler Goodson, Iowa vs. Purdue

Salary: $6,500

The Purdue run defense has been surprisingly steady, ranking 27th in yards per attempt allowed versus FBS opponents. However, Tyler Goodson should see enough volume to produce on this reasonable salary. 

Goodson has reached at least 20 touches in every game, and Iowa runs the ball 60% of the time with a second-half lead. As 11.5-point favorites against the Boilermakers, the game script should play into Goodson’s favor. 

WR Josh Downs, North Carolina vs. Miami FL

Salary $8,700

The nation’s fourth-highest scoring receiver (29.9 fantasy points per game) should always be on our radar. Josh Downs has at least eight receptions and a touchdown in every game and there’s no reason to think Miami slows him down. 

Downs exclusively lines up in the slot, and Miami is allowing 9.3 yards per target to slot receivers, ranked 12th in the ACC according to Sports Info Solutions. 

WR Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

Salary $8,700

According to Sports Info Solutions, Jordan Addison had three drops in his last game, so maybe we should be slightly concerned his role diminishes this week. However, his steady production 一 at least five receptions and a touchdown in every game 一 probably means he’ll be trusted to bounce back. 

Addison primarily lines up in the slot and the Hokies have allowed 8.7 yards per target and 108 yards per game to slot receivers, according to Sports Info Solutions. 

WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas vs. Auburn

Salary $6,600

In five of six games, Treylon Burks has led Arkansas receivers in fantasy points. He’s a boom-or-bust weapon, with three games over 24 points and three games in the single digits. 

In three games against Power 5 opponents (Georgia, Penn State, LSU), WR1s have scored 24.5, 27.5, and 27.7 fantasy points against Auburn. 

Burks looks like a tournament-only option, but his explosive potential should put him on our tournament radar weekly. 

CFB DFS VALUE PLAYS

QB Zach Calzada, Texas A&M at Missouri

Salary: $6,300

This looks like a week to target high-salaried quarterbacks but, if you’re hoping to save on the position, Zach Calzada is worth a look. 

Prior to last week’s upset of Alabama, Calzada was a liability, producing -30.2 EPA. But if he can post 23.6 fantasy points against Alabama, he certainly has a high ceiling against Missouri. 

Missouri’s defense ranks 93rd in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (22.6 per game). 

RB Malik Davis, Florida at LSU

Salary: $5,400

The Florida backfield is a timeshare between Malik Davis and Dameon Pierce ($6,000) and usually it’s best to just stay away. Against a terrible LSU defense, however, it’s worth having some exposure to each. 

LSU is giving up 37.0 fantasy points per game to running backs, ranked 121st in the nation, so there’s theoretically room for both Davis and Pierce to have fantasy relevance this week. 

Davis leads the backfield in touches and has the cheaper salary, so he gets a slight edge. Although Pierce appears to be the goal-line back, with six carries inside the opponent’s five-yard line to Davis’ three. 

RB Vincent Davis, Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

Salary: $5,000

The Pitt backfield has become a timeshare between Vincent Davis and Israel Abanikanda. Over their last two games, Abanikanda has been the breakout performer (over 20 fantasy points in each game), but the usage value still favors Davis. 

Davis leads the team with six carries inside the opponent’s five-yard line (only one for Abanikanda) and has a more established role in the passing game, running routes on 27% of the team’s pass attempts compared to 16% of Abanikanda. Even over the last two weeks, Abanikanda has just two targets on six routes.  

According to Sports Info Solutions, Virginia Tech is allowing 2.8 rushing yards before contact, ranked 107th in the nation, so this looks like a good matchup for the Pitt rushing attack. 

RB Mar’Keise Irving, Minnesota vs. Nebraska

Salary: $3,900

Due to Trey Potts’s season-ending injury, true freshman Mar’Keise Irving is expected to take over as Minnesota’s starting running back this week. 

King has just 25 carries, almost exclusively in garbage time, so we don’t know what to expect, but any starting running back on this salary is worth consideration. 

Between Potts and Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota starting running backs are averaging 25.9 fantasy points per game. 

WR Joshua Moore, Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Salary: $5,400

Texas slot receiver Jordan Whittington will be out for the remainder of the regular season with a broken collarbone. After Whittington was knocked out last week, Joshua Moore took over with three of his four receptions coming in the slot, including two touchdowns. 

Since Xavier Worthy ($7,400) emerged as the No. 1 receiver in the offense in Week 3, both Whittington and Moore have seen a 17.5% target share. So with Whittington out of the picture, there’s potentially a substantial workload available for Moore moving forward. 

WR Ty Fryfogle, Indiana vs. Michigan State

Salary: $5,300

The Indiana offense is the Ty Fryfogle show, as he leads the team with a 31.4% target share and an average depth of target (aDOT) 12.4 yards downfield. According to Sports Info Solutions, he’s averaging 5.6 targets per game at 10 or more yards downfield. 

That usage bodes well for Fryfogle against a Michigan State defense which has been vulnerable to the downfield passing game, allowing a 50.6% completion rate at 10 or more yards downfield, ranked 12th in the Big Ten.

WR Tre Turner, Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

Salary: $5,000

Pittsburgh is a fast-paced offense and Virginia Tech will likely need to increase its pass volume to keep up. Tre Turner leads the Hokies with a 29.7% target share and inexplicably has a salary $1,000 cheaper than teammate Tayvion Robinson (21.1% target share). 

Pitt’s defense ranks 71st in the nation in explosive pass rate allowed (percentage of pass attempts producing 20 or more yards). 

Turner is also due for a breakout fantasy game, as he leads the Hokies with seven targets in the end zone, but has just one touchdown. In a potentially high-scoring contest, this could be his big game.  

TE Jalen Wydermeyer, Texas A&M at Missouri

Salary: $3,900

Since Zach Calzada took over as the Aggies starting quarterback, Jalen Wydermeyer has a 21.4% target share with an aDOT of 11.5. That hasn’t translated to much fantasy success, but Missouri’s defense elevates his ceiling. 

In each of Missouri’s last two games (versus Tennessee and North Texas), two pass-catchers have topped 15 fantasy points. If that trend holds, there’s a good chance Wydermeyer provides value on this salary. 

WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU vs. Florida

Salary $3,700

A season-ending injury to Kayshon Boutte has opened up 8.8 targets per game in the LSU offense. Freshman Brian Thomas Jr. was already seeing an increased role lately and could be the breakout performer in Boutte’s absence. 

Over the last three weeks, Thomas is third on the team with 15 targets, eight of which were at least 10 yards downfield. 

Boutte has accounted for eight of the team’s 17 end zone targets, so there’s also valuable scoring opportunities up for grabs. The 6’4” Thomas is a definite contender for those targets. 

WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia vs. Kentucky

Salary $3,600

It’s tough to trust the Georgia passing game, but Ladd McConkey has established himself as the number-one target with a 23% target share and 12.5 aDOT over the last three weeks. 

With 24 or more fantasy points in two of the last three games, he’s an obvious tournament target on this low salary. His floor is extremely low 一 he’s been held to five or fewer points four times 一 but you can’t find number-one receivers on salaries this low often. 

WR Drew Estrada, Baylor vs. BYU

Salary $3,100

Teammate Tyquan Thornton ($5,200) finally had his breakout game last week and stole the show with 41.7 fantasy points, but Drew Estrada quietly posted another strong game with four receptions on six targets. 

Over the last two weeks, Estrada has a 25% target share with an aDOT of 11.6 yards. 

Estrada appears to have replaced slot receiver R.J. Sneed ($5,200) as the number-two option in Baylor’s offense and is an incredible value this week. Thornton is also worth rostering, as his salary still hasn’t caught up to his strong role in the offense (32% target share). 

WR Kamari Morales, North Carolina vs. Miami FL

Salary $3,000

North Carolina tight end Kamari Morales is tied for third on the team in target share and is tied for the team lead in targets inside the 10-yard line. 

Morales’s floor is low 一 he had just one target last week against Florida State 一 but he’s reached double-digit fantasy points twice, peaking with 19.6 against Georgia Tech. 

Treat him as a tournament dart throw, but with the Tar Heels’ implied total at 35.5 points, there should be some scoring opportunities for him and it’s rare to find a player with a consistent role at the salary floor. 

CFB DFS PLAYERS TO FADE

RB Bijan Robinson, Texas vs. Oklahoma

Salary: $8,900

Texas running back Bijan Robinson is the third-highest scoring ball carrier in the nation (30.3 fantasy points per game), so you may want some limited exposure to him, but Oklahoma State is a tough matchup. 

Not only do the Cowboys have a strong run defense, but their offense is lacking, so this game is unlikely to turn into a shootout. 

According to Sports Info Solutions, Oklahoma State contacts the ball carrier at or behind the line of scrimmage on 53% of attempts. So we should expect diminished production from Robinson, and his value may be more touchdown-dependent than usual. 

WR David Bell, Purdue vs. Iowa

Salary $7,000

WR1s are averaging just 14.2 fantasy points per game against Iowa, ranked 16th in the nation, and only Kent State’s Keshunn Abram has topped 20 points against the Hawkeyes. 

Since Iowa also plays slow and can likely control this game on the ground, there likely won’t be enough volume and scoring opportunities for David Bell to provide value on this salary.