Course No. CFB 101
Daily Fantasy College Football can seem like a daunting proposition on the surface. After all, you have 120+ teams to keep track of, with somewhat limited information with regards to injuries, depth chart situations, etc.
Before I scare you off completely, let me outline the “flip side" of that equation. This also creates a huge edge for those who know what they are doing. You can certainly be one of those people by applying the principles outlined in these Daily Academy Courses.
So with that, let's get right into it.
Daily fantasy college football is growing at a pretty decent rate, as we took a giant leap forward in 2015 with three live finals hosted by FanDuel, DraftKings, and FantasyAces. As the mainstream picks up on CFB DFS, the prize pools and events should only get bigger.
As a result of that increased popularity, more and more sites are starting to cover college football. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are a beginner. I would advise for newcomers and veterans alike to check out multiple sources to look for daily fantasy CFB information (especially the cheat sheets, articles, and podcasts provided on DF-Café) to get jump started with the appropriate information.
Let's face it, combing through each team can be very meticulous, and there's a pretty decent chance that you overlooked an item or two, which is why “checking your work" with different sources is never a bad thing in daily fantasy college football.
Begin With Vegas
This is similar to many other sports: you want to begin by looking at the Vegas lines. My personal preference is to get a notebook/pen and write-down every matchup within that particular game slate. I will then go to a sportsbook or odds site (can google search “college football odds" and get hundreds of different outlets) and write down the corresponding spread and total for the game.
Identifying Games With High Point Totals
The total is the first thing we are going to fixate on. This suggest which games will be high/low scoring. Obviously, a higher scoring game is what we are looking for. After all, more real-life points translates to more fantasy points. For all intents and purposes, a game total over 60 is one that you will want to key on for daily fantasy purposes. Sometimes in college football, we'll see game totals well over 70 and sometimes into the 80's. This is very different from the NFL, where the totals often lie somewhere between 50-40. This actually creates a bigger edge in college football if you can identify the high scoring games, as a there can be a ton of discrepancy between several games on the slate.
Interpreting Point Spreads
So now we have written down the totals for each game within the slate. The next thing we are looking at is the point spread. The point spread is usually identified with a team as (-) x amount of points. For instance, Oregon -28 vs Colorado. The Oregon Ducks are favored by 28 points over Colorado in this scenario.
Why is this important? First off, we can identify which team is supposed to score more points within a high totaled game. For instance, let's say that Oregon-Colorado matchup has a 72 point over/under. You may think to target both teams equally on the surface, but a 28 point spread signifies that Oregon is expected to gobble up more than a vast majority of those points. Therefore, players from Oregon make better fantasy prospects than those from Colorado. That's not to say that Colorado is devoid of fantasy producers, but they are expected to score less touchdowns overall, so there will likely be less fantasy points to be had from that side of this matchup.
Secondly, the point spread can be an accurate predictor of game flow. What do I mean by game flow? Well, essentially we are trying to predict how each game will play out, which team will have a lead in the second half, and which team will be trying to catch up. Going back to our example is probably the easiest way to explain this. Oregon is a 28 point favorite, which means they have a fair amount of security to hold a second half lead. Teams with a second half lead tend to run the ball more often in hopes to bleed the game clock and preserve a victory. Therefore, looking towards the running backs of a highly favored team is a nice place to start (if the matchup also looks good). On the other side of this, Colorado will likely be throwing the ball more than usual while trying to keep pace with Oregon, or in desperation to stay in this game. Therefore, looking towards the Colorado QB or WR's wouldn't be a bad idea, especially the WR's, who can easily rack up receptions in garbage time with the other team playing prevent, passive defense.
This also differs from the NFL in a more predictable fashion. Most NFL point spreads fall between 1-7 most of the time, signifying highly competitive games that could realistically go either way. There are far more 10-20+ point spreads in college football, as you can predict with a fair amount of accuracy that a certain team will lead for majority of the game. In turn, we can more accurately predict game flow, looking at which teams will go into “run-heavy" and “pass-heavy" mode because of this.
Of course, there are several exceptions to the rule here, as will be elaborated on in the next section.