This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
After an appetizer in Week 0 and a smattering of contests Thursday, we've finally arrived at the main course of Week 1. The opening contest brings with it a number of headlining contests, including Clemson-Georgia, Wisconsin-Penn State, Iowa-Indiana and UCLA-LSU, all with spreads of less than a touchdown. We also have a few expected blowouts on the week from some of the top teams. Despite sounding like a good game on paper, Alabama (40.5 expected) is still favored by 19.5 points over Miami, while Oklahoma leads the way in expected score (49.5) and Michigan (42.0) rounds out the 40-plus points group.
Other than some potential light rain at the start of Purdue-Oregon State, there are no real weather concerns.
Myles Brennan, LSU - Underwent surgery for left arm injury and out until at least mid-season.
SaRodorick Thompson, Texas Tech - Game-time decision (shoulder)
David Ellis, Indiana - Game-time decision (lower leg)
Sampson James, Purdue - Not currently eligible
Chabastin Taylor, Kansas State - Limited role for opener (knee)
Michael Wilson, Stanford - Likely out first few games (foot)
Theo Wease, Oklahoma - Likely out a few weeks (lower body)
Peny Boone, Maryland - Absent from depth chart and had earlier concussion
Troy Omeire, Texas - Out for opener (knee)
Broc Thompson, Purdue - Ended last season injured (leg) but likely available for opener.
Brannon Spector, Clemson - Out due to respiration issues stemming from contracting COVID-19 in spring.
George Pickens, Georgia - Tore ACL in spring and is still a ways away from return
Dominick Blaylock, Georgia - Out for opener (knee)
Jermaine Burton , Georgia - Should play in opener after suffering ankle injury early in camp.
Kearis Jackson, Georgia - Also expected to play in opener after having his knee scoped during the offseason.
Arik Gilbert, Georgia - Will miss opener for personal reasons.
Brett Borske, Western Michigan - Doubtful for opener (knee)
Mike O'Laughlin, West Virginia - Listed as starter on depth chart after missing time with lower-leg injury
Darnell Washington, Georgia - Conflicting word surrounding his status leaves him questionable for the opener with a foot injury.
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Week 1 Plays
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma ($12,000) vs. Tulane
Rattler's salary grades out $1,200 higher than any other quarterback on the slate but is likely still well worth shelling out. On the schedule is a Tulane defense that yielded 2.3 passing touchdowns and 279.1 passing yards per contest and 8.5 yards per attempt, all the second-worst marks on the slate. Rattler certainly has both the physical tools and weapons to take advantage of that secondary, having thrown for 288 or more yards in six of the 11 games on the schedule in 2020. Although he will be down Theo Wease (lower body) for the contest, Marvin Mims returns and the team has skilled pass-catchers abound to replace him. The Sooners also have an elite pass-catching option out of the backfield in Tennessee transfer Eric Gray, who reeled in 30 of his 37 targets a season ago. Rattler also has the ability to add a bit as a runner, rushing for 160 yards and six touchdowns a season ago.
Skylar Thompson, Kansas State ($8,800) vs Stanford
Thompson's 2020 season got off to a strong start prior to his injury, opening Big 12 play with 334 passing yards and a touchdown while rushing for three more in an upset win over Oklahoma in Norman. Unfortunately, his season ended the next week due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. He retakes the helm and kicks off the 2021 season against a Cardinal foe that surrendered 5.5 yards per carry, 222.0 rushing yards per contest and a pair of scores per game on the ground last season. Given Thompson's propensity to cash in around the goal line and his returning weapons of Deuce Vaughn and Malik Knowles at the top of the chart, he should have plenty of options to turn to in the passing game as well.
Jack Plummer, Purdue ($8,600) vs. Oregon State
Plummer's value skyrockets from a fantasy perspective and even moreso for daily following his being named the starting quarterback for Purdue to open the 2021 campaign. Plummer was only a partial starter last season after getting beaton out by Aidan O'Connell, but he finished the season strong averaging 25.2 fantasy points under center over the last three games. To be fair, the showings included games against Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska, but Oregon State is far from a juggernaut defensively and Plummer has one of the better college wideouts in the country at his disposal in David Bell. Milton Wright returns to flank him and Zander Horvath, who reeled in 30 passes over just six games last year, also provides a major receiving threat out of the backfield.
Leddie Brown, West Virginia ($9,600) at Maryland
Brown laid claim to the clear lead back role for the Mountaineers last season and averaged just over 100 yards per games on the ground while turning in nine rushing scores in 10 games. He also added more than three catches per contest and a pair of air scores and enters 2021 easily atop the depth chart again. He should receive north of 20 touches per game again in 2021 and squares off against a Maryland defense that failed to contain the run last year, yielding 230.0 rushing yards and 2.8 rushing scores per game last year, both slate-worst marks. With a 2.5-point spread in the contest, there shouldn't be much risk of starters leaving the field early on either side.
Zander Horvath, Purdue ($8,800) vs. Oregon State
As mentioned above, Horvath was a reception machine for the Boilermakers last season, averaging five catches per contest in addition to 73.7 rushing yards per game. It's also worth noting that he doesn't have Rondale Moore – a target hog in his own right – to contend with for looks this season. In the three games Moore didn't play last season, Horvath averaged six targets per contest, up from 4.7 in the three games Moors suited up for. That could bode well for his chances of seeing more looks this season. Horvath also gets a ground matchup versus a Beavers defense that was among the worst in rush defense last year, letting up 16.7 rushing yards per game, 5.5 yards per tote and 2.6 rushing scores per game last year.
Brian Robinson, Alabama ($8,500) at Miami
After patiently waiting for his turn, Robinson sits alone atop the Crimson Tide running back depth chart for the opener against Miami. That seems like it could be a scary matchup given Miami's defensive history, but the Hurricanes weren't nearly as good last season, surrendering 174.5 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per tote, including a field day for the North Carolina backs when they faced Miami. Robinson is set up to lead Alabama's backfield in the opener at a reasonable salary and in a game where the game script (Alabama -19.5) suggests there could be a ground-heavy attack in the second half.
Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin ($5,400) vs. Penn State
Jalen Berger was the expected starting running back for the Badgers to open 2021 after he turned in an efficient 2020 campaign on the ground, but it was Mellusi who topped the depth chart when Wisconsin revealed it earlier this week. Coach Paul Chryst indicated he's been the most consistent throughout camp and he's now positioned to lead Wisconsin's backfield into battle Saturday at a highly affordable salary. That's particularly attractive as part of an offense that annually ranks among the most run-heavy approaches in the nation. Wisconsin toted the rock 57.79 percent of the time last year (32nd overall) and 62.09 percent in 2019 (13th overall), albeit with former star back Jonathan Taylor in the backfield. Lead backs at Wisconsin typically handle upwards of 20 carries per contest or more, which should prove productive behind the team's road graders.
David Bell, Purdue ($9,800) vs. Oregon State
Bell ranked fourth nationally in targets per game a season ago at 13.0 per game, but that doesn't tell the story about how big of a season he could have in store. the final three games of he year saw his target average dip to 9.7 per contest due to the return of start wideout Rondale Moore, who absorbed 14.7 per contest after deciding to opt back into the 2021 season. Moore is gone, leaving Bell alone at the top again. In the three games without Moore last year, Bell averaged a 16.3 targets per game, which would have topped the nation last year. He should receive that boost again with Moore out of the picture and is well worth it even as the highest salary on the board by $600.
Kayshon Boutte, LSU ($8,500) at UCLA
Boutte isn't too far down the list out wide and is a wideout most are expecting big things from during the 2021 campaign. The sophomore closed out his 2020 campaign on a tear, reaching up 27 catches for 527 yards and four touchdowns over the final three games, including 14 catches for 308 yards and three scores versus Ole Miss in the regular-season finale. His late-season surge came with Max Johnson at the helm and Johnson will start under center to open 2021 as well after Myles Brennan went down with a shoulder injury during camp. The Bruins' defense performed reasonably well in the opener against Hawai'i, forcing Chevan Cordeiro into a pair of picks, but the Warriors don't have receivers on the same level as Boutte and the Tigers. UCLA gave up 274.1 passing yards per game last year and this game could wind up being pretty highs-coring with a 64.5 over-under listed.
Jameson Williams, Alabama ($5,700) at Miami
Now we start looking into some of the receivers who were overlooked in pricing and are listed as starting wideouts. Williams never got a chance for a full starting role at Ohio State with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson ahead of him and decided to transfer this spring with both of them back. He couldn't have found much of a better landing spot than Tuscaloosa, where the team lost both Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith to the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams is listed as one of the starters for the opener opposite John Metchie and could be in line for a big day as part of an Alabama offense with an expected score of 40.5 points.
Xavier Worthy, Texas ($5,700) vs Louisiana
In a similar boat as Williams, Worthy may be slightly overlooked in the salary department considering he has claimed a starting spot in Texas' offense. To be fair, the Ragin' Cajuns held opposing teams to just 170.6 passing yards and 0.9 air touchdowns last season and there is some risk in using a player who doesn't have a track record catching passes from a quarterback who also doesn't have a track record. Still, if you're looking to get a piece of a Texas offense fifth in the slate in expected scoring (34.0) without investing too much, Worthy might be "worthy" of a look and the risk in GPP formats.
GPP Dart: JoJo Earle, Alabama ($4,000) at Miami
Earle is another Alabama wideout who could be involved in the game plan Saturday. Unlike Williams, however, Earle doesn't hold an unchallenged starting spot on the depth chart. Slade Bolden is listed as a co-starter along with Earle, but Earle has been impressive during camp and has been touted as the likely next superstar wideout for the Crimson Tide. If he's involved in the offense to a reasonable extent Saturday, there's plenty of value to be had given his rock-bottom salary.