Fantasy Elite rolled out its college daily games Thursday, and anyone who selected Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill likely went home a winner. The game offers a unique blend of draft strategy paired with a salary cap, forcing managers to choose between high-priced studs and undervalued sleepers with each pick.
Each week, we'll highlight some players in each of those categories, helping identify where value can be found, and when the right time is to spend half of your budget on a top-notch option.
QB - Anu Solomon, Arizona - $5,000
Solomon is not likely to play all four quarters; a result of an unsettled quarterback depth chart and an inferior opponent. That said, he's in line to start and is the most obviously underpriced player at his position
RB - Adam Hine , BYU - $8,765
Hine is a one week plug in for both owners and the BYU coaching staff. With starter Jamaal Williams suspended for the opener, Hine is the most likely to take on a big workload.
RB - Jasen Oden, Colorado State - $10,146
Oden's stock for Week 1 is fluctuating as Alabama transfer Dee Hart appears more likely to play by the day despite an ankle injury suffered earlier in the week. But Oden remains the starter over a healthy Hart for at least one week, which puts him in line to pick up where last year's standout back, Kapri Bibbs, left off. In 2013, Bibbs ran for a remarkable 31 touchdowns, including two against Friday's opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes.
RBs Adonis Smith, Nick Wilson or Terris Jones-Grigsby, Arizona - $5,000
The Arizona depth chart features more o(a)rs than a rowing competition. Jones-Grisby is the starter, but UNLV transfer Smith and freshman Wilson will see action against UNLV. The Rebels' rush defense allowed 216 yards per game last season, bad enough to rank 108th in the nation. Guessing which back ends up with the most carries is a challenge, but at the bargain basement price, any one of these three could be worth the gamble.
WR Geremy Davis, Connecticut - $13,282
Wide receiver does not appear to offer any obvious value plays, so this is where I would dedicate a good portion of my budget. The Husky offense does not figure to be potent, and while touchdowns were scarce for Davis in 2013, he went for nearly 1,100 yards. Call it a hunch, but Davis could be in line for more targets than he can handle in 2014. If you are looking to save some money by not selecting Houston's Deontay Greenberry, Davis could be a volume catcher.
WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado - $11,220
Spruce closed 2013 by scoring in consecutive games and with Paul Richardson now in the NFL will assume the top receiving role in Boulder. A budding quarterback in Sefo Liufau and the need to score points to keep up with the Rams should help Spruce produce.
TE Sean McQuillen, Connecticut - $5,000
The real message here is not to select Colorado State's Kivon Cartwright. He's the only player at his position over the minimum salary, and is unlikely to play due to an ankle injury. McQuinllan missed time late last season, but had at least two catches in seven of the eight games he played. He won't be shut out.
SATURDAY MORNING GAMES
QB - J.T. Barrett, Ohio State - $17,879
There aren't many bargains under center for the early slate Saturday. Barrett offers a nice price break from the top options, as well as a decent matchup. It's possible the Buckeyes take things slow with their new quarterback, but unless you're willing to gamble on either Western Michigan's Zach Terrell or Purdue's Danny Etling, Barrett seems to be the choice by default.
RB - Dontre Wilson, Ohio State - $5,274
Wilson arrived at Ohio State last season and immediately drew comparisons to Percy Harvin in coach Urban Meyer's offense. His touches were limited in 2013, but the Buckeyes are likely to get him the ball in a variety of ways this season. He'll be a weekly boom-or-bust pick.
RB - Curtis Samuel, Ohio State - $5,000
This section of the column has rapidly turned in to an Ohio State preview. Samuel has drawn significant praise from coach Urban Meyer during the preseason and is one of three running backs listed as co-starters. As a true freshman, Samuel could be the last of the three to enter the game. Ezekiel Elliott just returned to practice after breaking his wrist in early August and Rod Smith is more of a banger. Samuel should get his carries.
WR - Devin Funchess, Michigan - $12,129
I sense a growing theme in that my preferences are to save at quarterback and running back, and ensure I have spent appropriately on wide receivers. The only disappointment here is that Funchess isn't tight-end eligible.
WR - Keeon Johnson, Virginia - $6,621
Truth be told, I'd prefer Ohio State's Devin Smith, but I'll refrain from spotlighting more Buckeyes. Johnson isn't listed as a starter for the Cavaliers, but he's their best wide receiver, and while the team would like to run as often as possible, they will be playing from behind early Saturday. Maybe Johnson grabs a touchdown.
TE - Zachary Swanson, Virginia - $5,000
Michigan's A.J. Williams is the only player above the minimum at this position, and has not caught a collegiate pass in his two seasons as a Wolverine. Swanson hauled in 19 balls last year as the second tight end to Jake McGee, who has transferred to Florida. With a new quarterback in Greyson Lambert, Swanson could provide a security blanket.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON GAMES
QB - Nick Marshall, Auburn, $13,682
Despite Marshall's suspension for a portion of Saturday's game, it would be a surprise if he wasn't the man under center for the second half of the contest. At the least. And he's capable of putting up plenty of stats in limited time.
RB - Alex Collins, Arkansas - $9,296
Running is what Arkansas does and to be able to acquire a 1,000-yard rusher like Collins for less than $10,000 seems like a bargain. The Auburn backfield tandem of Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant were tempting, but Collins is a safer option to see guaranteed touches.
RB - Greg Bryant, Notre Dame - $5,000
Running back looks like a deep position for the mid-day game. Rolling with another Arkansas back in Jonathan Williams, or either of Auburn's top two wouldn't be a bad choice. But if you're looking to save some money, Bryant is an option. He's too good to be the Irish's third back, and they figure to roll Rice, allowing for some late carries even if he is third into the rotation.
WR - Chris Brown, Notre Dame - $9,296
Someone has to catch passes for Notre Dame, and with Davaris Daniels suspended, Brown looks like the best bet. The Irish likely will pitch it around a bit early against Rice to get Everett Golson back into the swing of things, and Brown could be the beneficiary. As a buyer-beware statement, this mid-day game has values across the board, so you'll have to spend your money somewhere. If you're going to up the ante, California's duo of Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper look appealing.
WR - Kevin White, West Virginia - $5,000
White claims the light bulb has come on for him this offseason, and he's a decent bet to get some redzone targets.
TE - O.J. Howard, Alabama - $5,054
New quarterbacks, solid run game ... sounds like an opportunity for some play action dump offs to a talented tight end.
SATURDAY EVENING GAMES
QB - Jeff Lindquist, Washington - $17,114
Starting for the suspended Cyler Miles, Lindquist could be auditioning to play beyond Week 1. This may be an instance where I'd recommend going with one of the top two options, but Lidquist is at least $10,000 cheaper against a bad Hawaii defense.
RB - Thomas Tyner, Oregon - $13,267
Tyner has put real pressure on returning starter Byron Marshall and should see at least 10 carries Saturday. And at $7,000 less than Marshall, you'll get similar production.
RB - Royce Freeman, Oregon - $8,206
See above. Freeman has also impressed during August, and there is little doubt the Ducks will dismantle South Dakota.
WR - Jameon Lewis, Mississipi State - $12,271
Wide receiver is a landmine in the evening session. I don't trust Texas quarterback David Ash, and Oregon can name its score without throwing a pass, so the options have rapidly diminished. Lewis nearly topped 1,000 yards last year and is a solid bet to do so in 2014.
WR - Jaydon Mickens, Washington - $12,290
The team's leading receiver from last year should provide a reliable target in Lindquist's first career start.
TE - Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State - $5,000
Johnson could be the first tight end I'd be excited about, and comes at the minimum price tag. He was the team's second leading receiver a year ago and should pick up where he left off.
SATURDAY PRIME-TIME GAMES
QB - Cole Stoudt, Clemson - $14,362
I get the sense that Stoudt is being viewed as more of a game manager than a viable fantasy quarterback. No, he isn't Tajh Boyd. Yes, Clemson has many questions at wide receiver. But the system produces stats, and there are equally as many questions surrounding Clemson's running backs. Cody Kessler looks like a solid option for an additional $5,000, but Stoudt is the cheapest full-time starter on the list and a solid bargain.
RB - Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin - $15,211
Gordon's price seems to low because of the perception of the LSU defense. And while there is little doubt the Tigers will be geared up to stop Gordon, the price here is too low for arguably the nation's top back.
RB - Leonard Fournette, LSU - $5,000
The Saturday primetime slate is loaded with big games and big names. But if you're looking to gamble and have some fun doing so, why not do it on a freshman who comes with major preseason hype. There is no telling how much Fournette will play, and it may take him some time to live up to the billing. Or, he could come out of the gates blazing and you wont forgive yourself for not rolling the dice. If he's too risky, Florida State's Karlos Williams looks like a nice buy at $9,909.
WR - Nelson Agholor, USC - $15,013
Agholor is ready to shine as the Trojans' top receiver, and his Week 1 opponent, Fresno State, allowed 283 yards per game through the air, the seventh highest total in the country, in 2013. Points will be readily available in this game, and Agholor should find his way into the endzone.
WR - Charone Peake, Clemson - $7,459
Florida State's Rashad Greene is a tremendous bargain at $11,955. He's the only proven receiver the Noles have. But if you're looking to roll the dice, Peake is the choice. He's battled through injuries and watched Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant shine in this system, and now he's almost forgotten about amidst Adam Humphries and Mike Williams. Peake has size and speed, and will look for his coming out party against Georgia.
TE - Jordan Leggett, Clemson - $5,000
Leggett is destined to split reps with Sam Cooper and Stanton Seckinger, but has won the starting job, and could also see some time lined up in the slot. Apparently I'm all in on the Tigers offense this weekend.