This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We are off into depth chart season to begin the 2022 campaign, with "or" designations galore and some starting jobs finally getting revealed. Other position battles, like Michigan's starting quarterback job, will continue into the regular season. Fortunately, we know we'll get Cade McNamara in Week 1 and JJ McCarthy in Week 2 before a full-season starter is determined.
Depth charts are the name of the game and finding any edge you can when it comes to salaries and potential production is wherein the value lies. As far as the games go, our matchups page should have you covered for over/unders, expected scores and spreads for the DFS slates.
Alabama claims the top spot in expected scoring this week -- shocking, I know -- sporting a 52.0 expected score Saturday. Michigan and Oklahoma are the only other two squads with projected scores topping the 40-point mark, while Ohio State could still bulldoze the fifth-ranked team in the country, Notre Dame, as a 17-point favorite carrying a 38.5 expected score to check in fourth.
Houston-UTSA ranks at the top of the single-digit spreads in terms of game total, clocking in as just one of three games expected to top 60 total points (Alabama and Michigan are blowout favorites). The aforementioned Crimson Tide and Wolverines are two of the biggest favorites at -41.5 (Alabama) and -30.5 (Michigan), while Oklahoma (-30.5) rounds out the clear-cut blowout options.
Notable Injuries/Absences for Week 1 in College Football
Dominique Johnson, Arkansas - Game-time call after undergoing offseason surgery
Antoine Green, North Carolina - Remains out with an upper-body injury suffered in a scrimmage during fall camp. Hoping for 9/24 return
Josh Downs, North Carolina - Questionable for Saturday with growing pessimism he may miss the game
Jadon Haselwood, Arkansas - Expected to play in season opener after missing some practice earlier in the month
JoJo Earle, Alabama - Recovering from foot injury
Avery Davis, Notre Dame - Out for season with a torn ACL
Isaiah Jones, Syracuse - Listed on Week 1 depth chart after missing some time in fall camp.
Mitchell Evans, Notre Dame - Expected back later this season but dealing with a broken foot. Was likely top candidate for TE2 job
College Football DFS Tools
- FanDuel Lineup Optimizer
- Matchups Page (Vegas odds, opponent averages, etc.)
- Advanced Lineups Page
- Team Trends
- Defense vs. Position
- Team Rankings
Week 1 CFB DFS Plays on FanDuel
Bryce Young, Alabama ($11,000) vs. Utah State
While I expect this one to be over by around halftime and don't anticipate the starters staying in much beyond that, Young should still toss several touchdowns before departing the contest. The passing game indeed took a hit with JoJo Earle going down due to injury and multiple departures -- Jameson Williams and John Metchie topping the charts -- but the Crimson Tide rarely struggle to gather talent at the position. The biggest add this offseason came via a transfer from rival Georgia in Jermaine Burton, who figures to headline the wide receiver room. Even if there are some growing pains in the new wide receiver room down the road, I don't see them emerging in this contest. Plus, Young picks up one of the best receiving backs in the country in Jahmyr Gibbs to add to his weapons.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State ($10,700) vs. Notre Dame
Sure, Stroud no longer has 2022 NFL Draft first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at his disposal, but that doesn't mean talent doesn't abound in the Buckeyes' passing attack. Future NFL wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba headlines the group, with Marvin Harrison Jr., who flashed in last year's Rose Bowl with three touchdown grabs, Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka all sporting upside at various points. Coming off of 44 touchdown passes last season, I expect Stroud to not skip a beat.
Phil Jurkovec, Boston College ($8,800) vs. Rutgers
One of my favorite dual-threat options under center when he's healthy, Jurkovec returns under center with weapons to boot. Boston College projects to tally around four touchdowns (27.75 expected score), and it would not shock me if Jurkovic has a hand in every one of them. The senior signal-caller faces a Rutgers defense that yielded a slate-high 8.3 yards per pass attempt, 1.9 passing touchdowns per game and 234.9 passing yards per game in 2021 and returns slightly more than half of that unit's production. The Eagles also sport continuity in the passing attack with Zay Flowers, Jaelen Gill and Jaden Williams set to return for 2022.
While I wouldn't discount the top of the board at running back, Week 1 is generally a time where some value at running back can be discovered.
Eric Gray, Oklahoma ($8,400) vs. UTEP
While more established backs rein atop the salary board, Gray is the lead dog in an offense that is undergoing a major change following Lincoln Riley's and Caleb Williams' departures, leaving the passing attack in flux. New offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby also likes to run the ball more than his predecessors on offense, compiling a 56.6 run play percentage at Ole Miss last year compared to Oklahoma's near-even 50.56 percent. Gray should benefit the most from the offense's new composition. Gray also proved to be a skilled receiver both at Tennessee with the Sooners last season. He combined for 53 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns between the campaigns.
Ta'Zhawn Henry, Houston ($7,700) at UTSA
Last season's Roadrunners defense tormented opposing run games, allowing just 3.4 yards per rush attempt and 114.7 rushing yards per game. The good news for Henry and the Cougars is that most of that run-stuffing front is gone, leaving behind a relatively green front to face in the opener. Henry is destined to claim the primary role out of the backfield in 2022 following the news that Alton McCaskill will miss the entire season and he should kick that off Saturday as the lead back for the Cougars. Houston's offensive line only returns 40 percent of its starts from last season, but they essentially return three key contributors along the line and added some help at right tackle from Texas via the transfer portal. This unit should be more than capable of making holes for Henry to run through, and the game script (Houston as a slight favorite) should allow for ample rushing attempts.
Donovan Edwards, Michigan ($6,600) vs. Colorado State
As mentioned in the intro, the Wolverines are favorites. Big favorites. Even though Edwards joined the mix last season, he still had both Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum to contend with. While Corum remains, Haskins has moved on to the NFL ranks, opening more of a workload in the Wolverines' backfield than he saw as a freshman. I could also see, given the expected game script, Edwards handling more totes than usual in a game where Michigan isn't expected to face a challenge. On top of that, Edwards already has a big game in the bank catching passes from Cade McNamara, hauling in nine in a game last season versus Maryland before grabbing a 10th from backup JJ McCarthy late, totaling 170 yards and a touchdown on the day as a receiver. While that game occurred with Corum sidelined, it also points the fact that Edwards should be involved a lot more with only one back in front of him on the chart in a Michigan offense that likes to utilize multiple.
Kendall Milton, Georgia ($6,000) vs. Oregon
Speaking of teams who live on utilizing multiple backs, the Bulldogs and multiple backs go together like peanut butter and jelly. In the six seasons since Kirby Smart took over as head coach, Georgia has only gone without two backs finishing with at least 100 carries just once. While Milton won't start the game and has been banged up a bit in fall camp, he is reportedly healthy and should see ample playing time in his own right. Milton doesn't have a huge track record as a pass catcher but could net some sizable gains against the Ducks behind an offensive line returning 65 percent of its starts from last year.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Ohio State wide receivers vs. Notre Dame
At the top of the wide receiver board, Jaxon Smith-Njigba ($10,200) justifiably paces the field. He closed out 2021 on an impressive run, topping 20 FanDuel points in four of the last five games, including a massive 347-yard receiving effort in the Rose Bowl. He tallied at least 100 receiving yards in each of the last five and scored six touchdowns over that span, making him well worth the salary opening 2022 as Ohio State's top dog. Marvin Harrison ($7,500) also broke out in the bowl game to the tune of three receiving touchdowns and enters 2022 as the No. 2 wideout, while Julian Fleming ($6,400) seems the favorite to be the No. 3 wideout option. Given the salaries of both of those two in an offense expected to post 38 points, you can't go wrong with including at least one of the three in your lineup and could even pair two with Stroud.
North Carolina WR/TEs if Josh Downs sits at Appalachian State
While Drake Maye spread two-thirds of the targets around in the opener against Florida A&M, a third of them still went to Josh Downs. Unfortunately, Downs is also dealing with an injury, with growing pessimism that he will play Saturday. We will find out in the first round of kicks at 11, so there should be time to make changes. If Downs misses the contest, an extra 33 percent of the passing attempts will be available for the rest of the crew. Not of them carries a salary above $6,500 (Gavin Blackwell), with Kamari Morales ($6,200) and Bryson Nesbit ($5,700) both joining Blackwell in the end zone last week and J.J. Jones ($5,400) grabbing three passes for 31 yards. for what it's worth, Kobe Paysour ($5,100) is listed behind Downs on the depth chart, though it will be worth monitoring the pregame rotations if Downs isn't playing. In any event, North Carolina's defense will yield points (they are two-point underdogs) and this group will be forced to make plays to keep pace.
Devin Carter, NC State ($7,300) at East Carolina
I'm not opposed to Thayer Thomas ($8,300) if that is your preference, but Carter seems like the better value to me with similar upside. both will be catching passes from one of the more undervalued arms in college football in Devin Leary and the Wolfpack should score early and often in this one. It would also not shock me to see the offense shift in the direction of the passing attack in 2022 given the stability and continuity within the group, especially with both Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person gone from last year's backfield. Carter figures to be one of those primary beneficiaries
Traeshon Holden, Alabama ($7,300) vs. Utah State
Holden looks like the heir apparent to a starting wideout job entering 2022 and made it clear in the last scrimmage that he's up to the task, finding the end zone multiple times with the first-team offense, per SB Nation. You're telling me I can get a key piece of an offense expected to put up 52 at this salary? Yes Please! Holden and Burton should be the primary wideout targets for the Crimson Tide this season and the time is now to take advantage of the discounted salary before it climbs.
Looking down the list:
A few more names that intrigue me if you're really looking to save up at wide receiver/tight end include Dalton Kincaid ($5,800), who finished 2021 with a touchdown in each of the last three games and five of the last six and has a budding quarterback under center in Cameron Rising.
Memphis also typically features a breakout receiver. While there is no clear-cut stud for the Tigers entering 2022, Seth Henigan is a budding option under center and Javon Ivory ($6,400) is the favorite to seize that lead role if there is one to be found.
Lastly, Warren Thompson ($5,700) was also reportedly the Hogs' most consistent wideout early in camp and there are targets to be had in 2022 with Treylon Burks gone. You could do a lot worse than catching passes from KJ Jefferson.