Fanium's FantasyElite.com games are some of the most unique DFS formats out there, as the game combines the salary cap aspect of traditional DFS with a twist: the games are head-to-head and players are acquired through a draft, meaning no two teams in a single contest can own a given player at the same time. There's never overlap, and it's not as simple as picking the 'best' player at each pick – you need to consider how any given player's salary might limit your selection options at the subsequent picks. You can play either on the web or through the site's iPad/iPhone app.
On Wednesday night I drafted a team in FantasyElite's $8,000 College Kickoff tournament, a 32-entry bracket with a $250 entry fee and big payouts ($625-$2,000) for the players that manage to make it into the Elite Eight. As you might expect with a relatively high-stakes contest like this, this bracket is nothing less than a shark tank. The first round's player pool drew from the four FBS games in Thursday's slate – South Carolina/Texas A&M, Mississippi/Boise State, Washington State/Rutgers, and Vanderbilt/Temple.
The game starts QB/QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/FLEX/FLEX/FLEX, with the flex spots allowing the use of RB, WR, or TE-designated players. The scoring system is somewhat unorthodox – it's 2PPR, awards 0.1 points per carry, and all touchdowns are worth six points. This puts a premium on high-level passing quarterbacks and reception-heavy players at RB/WR/TE.
I drew a matchup with DFS user 'headchopper,' who by any account is one of the previously mentioned sharks. Indeed, he immediately confirmed he was for real when he selected little-known but projected Vanderbilt starting running back Ralph Webb (Jerron Seymour is out with an injury) at the dirt-cheap price of $5,000 with the first overall selection.
After his initial pick, headchopper and I rotated back-to-back selections until the draft's conclusion. With my first two picks I took Washington State QB Connor Halliday ($19,519) and Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill ($5,000). I love Halliday's matchup, but I hate Hill's. Still, I felt like his $5,000 price tag made him a difficult value to pass up, and the South Carolina defense did lose an awful lot of talent in the offseason. It would mean a lot to my team if Hill has a good game today.
headchopper's subsequent selections went pretty much as I feared – he secured PPR monster wideout Laquon Treadwell ($11,556) of Mississippi, and he negated some of Halliday's utility toward my squad by selecting big Washington State receiver Vince Mayle ($9,213). Since he was wisely looking to profit from whatever production my quarterbacks might have, my next two picks were Texas A&M wideout Ricky Seals-Jones ($7,304) and Washington State's River Cracraft ($9,670).
South Carolina running back Mike Davis was headchopper's next selection – a pricey player but one that was affordable due to the Webb selection earlier. With Webb and Davis, headchopper's running backs are definitely a problem for me. He also snatched one of Hill's primary targets in A&M wideout Malcome Kennedy ($13,449). I'm not high on Kennedy, but I could be wrong, and the fact that he's a Hill target gives him plenty of inherent value.
Rutgers' Paul James ($16,362) was my first running back selection, and he could prove to be a solid one as the Scarlet Knights take on Washington State. James has the ability to catch passes, and he looked like a pretty good runner last year, too. The rest of the running back pool was relatively bare at this point, though, and I decided my best option was to aim for both of the Ole Miss co-starters at the position – the undersized but explosive duo of Jaylen Walton ($10,927) and I'Tavius Mathers ($15,449). Both players can catch the ball well, and I should get decent numbers out of them if Mississippi jumps to an early lead and looks to run out the clock on the Broncos. I could only take Walton for the time being, but headchopper likely had no interest in Mathers.
With his next picks, headchopper finally picked his quarterbacks. One was Rutgers' Gary Nova ($14,726) – a player who can definitely match Halliday's numbers in that shootout – and the other was Mississippi's Bo Wallace ($20,526). Both were strong selections. Boise State's defense wasn't nearly as good last year, and playing on the road against a peaking Mississippi squad means the Rebels will likely score plenty of points Thursday. Even though Mississippi will occasionally rotate Anthony Alford at quarterback, Wallace will likely score any passing touchdowns the Rebels might throw, and he also holds a huge share of the team's rushing production, particularly in the red zone.
Now that headchopper had Nova, I obviously needed to protect myself a bit by getting Rutgers' top receiving target. I'd normally guess this player to be tight end Tyler Kroft, but I decided to swing for the fences and take wideout Leonte Carroo. Carroo was less consistent than Kroft last year but showed major big-play ability, averaging 17.1 yards per catch and scoring nine times on just 28 catches. I took Mathers with the other selection. It's a pick I hated to make, but I thought I was somewhat cornered.
Headchopper's last two picks were Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil and Washington State WR Dom Williams, but he dropped both for Rutgers TE Tyler Kroft and Mississippi TE Evan Engram. He can make more moves up until game time, so his roster might change again.
My last pick was South Carolina WR Shaq Roland, a former top recruit who ended last year strong and faces a questionable A&M defense.
I made the decision to cut Mathers after the draft. It's a risky move, but Walton played better last year and showed significantly more PPR upside. I picked up Washington State WR Kristoff Williams, who's supposed to be starting with Gabriel Marks' availability seemingly in doubt. Williams caught 18 passes in the final three weeks of last year, and I'm hoping he can get to the eight-catch mark if Marks sits Thursday. IF Marks sits Thursday. Mike Leach is not worried about my DFS investments, so putting Marks at the bottom of the depth chart could be some stupid ploy. Whatever. Maybe headchopper will pick up Mathers and Mathers will have a huge game as I claw my own face off, making the Marks point moot.
To be honest, I don't really like my chances today.
I need Cracraft to catch at least one of Halliday's touchdown passes, and I need him to catch at least six passes for at least 100 yards. I need Seals-Jones to score if Kenny Hill does. I need some kind of production out of Hill, but ideally a big portion of it would be as a runner. I need Walton to catch at least four passes, and I need Mathers to get no more than 12 carries. Anthony Alford would ideally vulture any potential running scores of Bo Wallace's. What might make or break my squad, though, is what happens with Carroo and Roland. I need those two third-year wideouts to perform like the elite big-play threats people took them for as former high recruits.
QB: Gary Nova, Bo Wallace
RB: Mike Davis, Ralph Webb
WR: Vince Mayle, Laquon Treadwell
Flex: Malcome Kennedy, Tyler Kroft, Evan Engram
QB: Connor Halliday, Kenny Hill
RB: Paul James, Jaylen Walton
WR: Ricky Seals-Jones, River Cracraft
Flex: Leonte Carroo, Shaq Roland, Kristoff Williams