College Football Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 1/2/23

With daily fantasy football so popular, it was only a matter of time before it translated to the college level.

FanDuel offers college football daily fantasy contests now in most states, and there's a twist on the NFL ruleset. You select a quarterback, two running backs, three wideouts (which can include tight ends), and a "SuperFLEX" that can be any of those positions.

Finding target data for pass-catchers in college can be difficult, so finding out which players are on the field and getting work can make all the difference. Naturally, there are also more lopsided outcomes in college, so balance game scripts appropriately! Your running back's monstrous first half could lead to a bagel in the second.

After two phenomenal CFP bowl games on Saturday, Monday's four-game slate is the second-to-last college football day of the year. We've got "The Granddaddy of Them All" one day later than usual, and that's the afternoon cap on a fun day of action.

Note: All stats are from All tables are sortable by any category.

The Slate

AwayTeam HomeTeam HomeSpread Total RoadTotal HomeTotal
Mississippi St Illinois +2.5 45.5 24 21.5
Tulane USC -1.5 63.5 31 32.5
LSU Purdue +15.5 54.5 35 19.5
Penn State Utah -1.5 52.5 25.5 27

Mississippi State and Illinois were defenses we avoided all season, so it's no surprise to see their total lagging quite a bit behind the others.

On the flip side, Southern California's Heisman quarterback and atrocious defense are shaping up to partake in another shootout with Tulane.

Louisiana State's large spread seems shocking initially, but Purdue lost their top signal-caller and pass-catcher to the NFL Draft. It'll be a tough day at the office for the Boilers.

Defensive Matchups and Rankings

Note: Higher numbers are easier matchups for the opposing team. Lower numbers are better rankings and tougher matchups.

Team Defensive Passing YardsPer Attempt Rank (FBS) Defensive Rushing YardsPer Attempt Rank (FBS)
Mississippi St 2679
Penn State48

I wasn't kidding about USC's defense, which is bottom-35 in FBS against the rush and pass in terms of yards per attempt (YPA). The Green Wave, though, had a phenomenal pass defense all season, and that'll be a phenomenal test for the Trojans' lethal offense.

Purdue's struggling pass defense isn't good news versus an LSU passing attack that lit it up in the SEC Championship. LSU's defense isn't a lockdown unit, though.

On the flip side, we'll want to look at target Mississippi State's rush defense -- though not with the usual suspect in the Illini backfield. Illinois had an exceptional year defensively, ranking top 15 in both phases.

In the Rose Bowl, Penn State had a great year on paper, but we remember the pounding Michigan gave them on the ground. I'm not sure how real their ranks are. What is real is that the Utes have played shootouts all year behind a so-so defense, and this one figures to be no exception.


USC's Caleb Williams ($12,500) had one game below 18 FanDuel points all year. On the flip side, he returned nine contests over 30 FanDuel points. I love the Green Wave's defense, but expecting him to not light them up isn't smart.

We've got a strong cast behind him. Facing Williams' atrocious defense, Michael Pratt ($10,000) is a great reminder this isn't the Tulane triple-option attack we knew for years. He's topped 325 yards three times this year -- including the AAC title game.

Jayden Daniels ($11,200) might be an even better play than both at salary given he heads an LSU rushing attack (70.0 yards per game) with no clear back behind him. He'll be involved even if a rout of Purdue is on.

Cam Rising ($9,800) might be a bit overrated as a rusher thanks to three scores against USC earlier this year because he's only got six all year. Against a weaker defense, I prefer Sean Clifford ($9,200) on the other side, who heads a Penn State squad with some nasty market shares around him. They're hard to target.

Will Rogers ($8,500) also held a five-digit salary on many slates this year. I know the matchup with Illinois is brutal, but his upside at that mark is pretty insane in the air-raid offense (47.5 attempts per game) that the late Mike Leach has now departed.

I wouldn't consider Purdue's backup -- whoever is chosen -- or the Illini's Tommy DeVito ($6,800), who is salaried below both for a reason.

Running Backs

With the best matchup on the slate, Tyjae Spears ($10,200) enters having eclipsed 125 rushing yards in three straight, totaling five touchdowns in that time. The lone concern with him is that he's a junior with NFL Draft potential, but this is a huge bowl game for his small Tulane program.

On the other side, Austin Jones ($9,700) has taken on 78.4% of USC's carries since Travis Dye went down, so he's a full feature back. The senior was a backup and isn't a top draft prospect, so he'll play this one to full capacity.

Devin Mockabee ($8,800) might go ignored due to Purdue's low implied team total, but he received some monstrous workloads at times this year, surpassing 28 carries twice. At 3.2 targets per game, he's a decent factor in the passing attack, too.

Jo'Quavious Marks ($7,400) is a can't-miss value guy on the slate -- even in a tough matchup. His committee mate, Dillon Johnson, transferred after the season.

Of course, the headliner here was canceled. Chase Brown is onto the NFL, and Reggie Love III ($7,800) isn't the slam dunk he would appear. Josh McCray ($5,100) is back practicing in full, and this one feels like a committee. Per that source, McCray is valued within the program; I think I'd lean on him for the salary.

Penn State and Utah -- unfortunately -- are committees in the game we'd most love to target. In the past five games, Kaytron Allen ($8,000) and Nicholas Singleton ($8,200) have handled 42.2% and 37.7% of PSU's carries, respectively.

For the Utes, Tavion Thomas is still out, so Ja'Quinden Jackson ($7,500) and Micah Bernard ($7,200) will split the work as they did in the Pac-12 title game. Jackson got 13 carries and no targets; Bernard got 11 carries and 7 targets. I prefer the pass-catcher.

Wide Receivers

USC's target tree should be a bit narrower in the Cotton Bowl. Jordan Addison is going pro, so Tahj Washington ($8,600) and Mario Williams ($8,300) are both phenomenal targets. Williams' target share (17.2%) was higher than Washington's (13.6%) this year, which is unsurprising due to their history at Oklahoma.

Duece Watts ($7,000) and Shae Wyatt ($6,700) saw an identical seven targets in the AAC title game. I still wouldn't have a bulk of confidence targeting either for Tulane; no pass-catcher had north of an 18.0% target share this year.

Kayshon Boutte is headed to the NFL, too. Malik Nabers ($9,000) had a team-best 22.4% target share that should only get better, and tight end Mason Taylor ($5,400) also joined him with over 30 routes per game this year. TJ Sheffield ($7,500) is a solid bring-back option with the Tigers given his running mates, Charlie Jones and Payne Durham, are also going pro.

One of my favorite targets on the slate is Mitchell Tinsley ($7,100) after the big-play threat's running mate, Parker Washington, declared for the draft. On the other side, Utah's leading target earner, Dalton Kincaid, is out due to injury. Devaughn Vele ($7,600) is the top guy on the outside, but Jaylen Dixon ($6,500) and Money Parks ($5,700) also ran plenty of routes in the Pac-12 Championship.

Rara Thomas is now committed to Georgia, so the Bulldogs' air-raid tree is a bit narrower entering Monday. Caleb Ducking ($6,800) and Rufus Harvey ($6,000) should see the bulk of the looks.

As you can see, we've got enough value to leave Illinois' subpar passing game behind.