This article is part of our DraftKings College Football series.
DraftKings College Football DFS Picks: Main Slate Plays, GPP Targets and Strategy for Week 1
Week Zero is always a fun DFS exercise that allows us to shake off the rust of a long offseason before Week 1 arrives. Well, now it's here as all major FBS programs are in action this weekend and DraftKings has cooked up a 14-game main slate for us to add to our Week 1 enjoyment.
Only two games on this slate have totals under 50 while eight games have totals over 55.0 points, which gives us a lot of different ways to attack it and differentiate our lineups from the field.
UTSA-Houston is the game with the most points expected on either side (33-29 Houston on the implied total) while Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma and UCLA are all expected to score 40-or-more points in lopsided matchups.
Below, you'll find our DFS tools along with matchup info, positional breakdowns and GPP targets to consider.
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Matchup Info (Odds, Statistics, Implied Totals)
DraftKings College Football DFS Week 1 Main Slate Plays: Quarterback
Dillon Gabriel, $9,200 Oklahoma vs. UTEP
UTEP has the advantage of having already played its first game. But that's about the only advantage it has, and it was not a particularly promising showing in Week 0 as the Miners were handled by North Texas at home.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, begins a new chapter with Dillon Gabriel at quarterback under new coach Brent Venables. The offense should remain explosive with Jeff Lebby, who was Gabriel's OC at UCF, designing the scheme. Gabriel and the Sooners should be able to score at will against a UTEP defense that allowed nearly 6.0 yards per play to a North Texas offense that should wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack, nationally, when the season is over. This isn't a slate with a ton of value plays at quarterback so I'll target the talented Gabriel who commands an offense expected to score north of 40.
This is a prime game to target on this slate. Not only is the total the second-highest (62.0) but it's also expected to be the most competitive game by far among matchups with a total higher than 57.0. That leads us to believe there will be plenty of offense on either side here.
Harris returns after a stellar 2021 and he has his top receivers back in the mix with Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De'Corian Clark ready to roll. With Sincere McCormick gone, some of the rushing burden may be picked up by Harris, who has run over 200 times over the last two seasons.
On the other side we have Tune who broke out with 30 passing touchdowns last season. Running back Alton McCaskill is out for the season, so Houston may have to steer even more towards the pass this year. And when Nathaniel Dell, known to many as Tank Dell, is back, the Cougs would be wise to pursue that angle.
Looking at the game as a whole, both of these defenses have a high percentage of returning production and were among the best run defenses of teams on this slate a season ago. Both were more susceptible through the air, particularly UTSA which allowed 8.3 YPA.
It could be worthwhile to deploy both quarterbacks and both top receivers (Franklin, Dell) in a lineup this week and fill in the remainder with value plays. It's something I will experiment with in at least a few lineups.
DraftKings College Football DFS Week 1 Main Slate Plays: Running Back
Zach Charbonnet, $7,900 UCLA vs. Bowling Green
UCLA should throttle Bowling Green on the ground with Charbonnet leading the way. The Bruins had the 13th-best rushing attack in the nation a season ago while Bowling Green surrendered nearly 190 yards per game on the ground. Bowling Green ranks 4th in returning defensive production but I'm not sure it matters here. If you're going with a top-tier running back in your lineup build, Charbonnet should be in consideration. Zach Evans, now of Ole Miss (vs. Troy), is also worth a look at $7,800; he's more explosive than Charbonnet and that might be enough for him to outscore the Bruin back, even on fewer touches.
The spreads in those two games are comparable so there's a roughly equal risk of both backs being pulled when the game gets out of hand. Charbonnet got to 20 carries in almost half of UCLA's games last season while Evans has eclipsed that total just once in two years, albeit in a different system than what he's playing in now.
Christopher Brooks, $6,100 BYU @ South Florida
This is an interesting case. BYU travels to Tampa to face a South Florida team that was abysmal defensively last season, allowing 206.8 rushing yards per game at a 5.8 YPC clip. That defense ranks 9th in returning production, so this will be an interesting test of continuity's impact on a bad but mostly intact unit from a year ago.
With regards to Brooks, we can't expect the California transfer to be 100 percent of what Tyler Allgeier was in the last couple of years. However, we can expect BYU's line to get push up front and the Cougars might be more inclined to lean on the ground game with receivers Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua both dealing with some undisclosed issues late in camp. With Brooks expected to step into the starting role with a rock-solid volume projection, he's a strong mid-tier option among running backs this week.
Jordan Houston, $5,900 North Carolina State at East Carolina
This game has one of the fishier lines (NC State -11.5) of any game this weekend but that's a story for a different article. The point here is that NC State might not have the same blowout risk of some other major teams on this slate, so the starters should see a full four quarters of work.
Houston is set up to lead this backfield following the departures of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person -- a combo that accounted for 74% of the rushing volume in 2021 -- and has been serviceable when given the opportunity in the past with 752 career rushing yards and six scores. Look for Houston to be busy against an ECU defense that might get handled in the trenches. If you're looking for a cheaper piece of this rushing attack, Demie Sumo-Karngbaye is projected to be the No.2 back in this offense and checks in at $4,400.
Donovan Edwards, $5,000 Michigan vs. Colorado State
Michigan is the heaviest favorite on the slate, so it stands to reason that we'll see plenty of runs from the Wolverine offense once the game is put away. The Wolverines do need to see what Cade McNamara can do in his audition before J.J. McCarthy gets his turn in Week 2, making a contrarian Michigan passing game stack somewhat appealing in GPPs, but this game should result in gaudy numbers from the UM rushing attack. Edwards is considerably cheaper than his backfield counterpart, Blake Corum, but could see a very similar workload. Colorado State's defense won't be able to slow Michigan no matter what it's trying to do, so even 10-12 touches for Edwards will be enough to do the trick at $5K.
DraftKings College Football DFS Week 1 Main Slate Plays: Wide Receiver
Zay Flowers, $6,300 Boston College vs. Rutgers
Flowers' production suffered last season with Phil Jurkovec missing the bulk of the season with a wrist injury and we get to benefit from the relative discount on his DK salary. Flowers, now a senior, is an explosive player who averaged 9.0 yards per target despite shoddy quarterback play for most of last season.
Though Boston College's implied total (27.75) hardly stands out on this slate, it's worth noting that Rutgers had one of the worst pass defenses on this slate from last season and it's a unit that doesn't have much continuity (90th in returning production). Flowers has a high target projection after drawing a 28 percent share last season, so combining a high level of points coming from receptions along with the potential for a high yardage output makes him an excellent play that only eats a modest portion of your salary cap.
Rakim Jarrett, $5,900 Maryland vs. Buffalo
It wouldn't be surprising for Jarrett to have one of the higher roster percentages among receivers on this slate. The former five-star is the No.1 option in an offense that has solid quarterback play from Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terrapins threw the ball over 50 percent of the time last season. Maryland has the second-highest implied total on the slate at 44.50 and Buffalo ranked 104th in defensive SP+ last season along with an 8.9 YPA allowed.
Dontay Demus figures to be popular this week as well, but Jeshaun Jones ($4,700) presents a path to getting exposure to this passing game with a lower roster percentage than his counterparts. He's coming off yet another season-ending injury but is healthy enough to be listed as a starter. In just a 10-game sample over the last two seasons, Jones has caught 29 of 40 targets for 405 yards and a touchdown. Expect him to be involved for at least 4-5 targets with a good catch rate and the potential for one of those receptions to go for an explosive play.
Jake Bobo, $5,000 UCLA vs. Bowling Green
UCLA is a run-first team under Chip Kelly and Dorian Thompson-Robinson with just a 39.2 percent pass play rate last season. That's unlikely to change much, especially in a game where UCLA is heavily favored. What will change is the target distribution following Kyle Phillips' departure for the NFL. Enter Bobo, a Duke transfer who is coming of a 74-catch, 794-yard season in 2021. He's listed as a starter and while he won't absorb all of Phillips' ~30 percent target share, there's a good chance Bobo leads the team in targets this week and this season. This is a favorable matchup, and one that Bobo should be able to return strong value from.
DraftKings College Football DFS Tournament and GPP Plays
Branson Robinson, $3,400 Georgia vs. Oregon
Georgia's top two backs are unquestionably Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton. However, a game like this with a 17.5-point spread means that there will be snaps available for the backups in the second half in all likelihood. Robinson is a highly touted freshman back who will be the last thing a tired Oregon defense wants to see late in the game. At $3,400, Robinson should be able to return value.
Tetairoa McMillan, $3,900 Arizona at San Diego State
Arizona might be on the upswing after a successful offseason that was highlighted by the additions of Jayden de Laura and Jacob Cowing through the transfer portal along with a successful recruiting class headlined by McMillan. The freshman is the highest-rated prospect in program history and is set to start at one of the outside receiver spots. With competent quarterback play and a solid role, McMillan has the potential for a solid return for a sub-$4,000 salary on a slate where this game may be largely ignored by the field.
Andre Greene Jr., $3,000 North Carolina at Appalachian State
If Josh Downs is out this week, Greene will step into a significant role in the UNC passing game. This isn't an ideal matchup, having to go to The Rock to face a tough App State team, but a steady target volume from Drake Maye should help Greene produce nonetheless. It wouldn't be surprising if Greene is the most popular player under $4K on this slate, though, so bear that in mind for your tournament lineups. Kobe Paysour ($4,700) may have a similar role with a much lower roster percentage.
Be sure to check out our college football custom rankings and our player rankings cheat sheet for up-to-date season-long rankings, as well as our college football weekly rankings to help guide your lineup decisions. During the season, our college football DFS optimizer and value report are powerful tools to help build DFS lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.