CFB DFS versus NFL DFS: Similarities and Differences
Each and every year a fun conversation I like to have with colleagues, friends, enemies, and even mutual football fans is whether they prefer the NFL over college football or vice versa. At the heart of the game, it’s all the same, but when you dig deeper into it there are differences between the two that make them truly unique. And just like the real thing, there are major similarities and differences to how we play DFS NFL and CFB DFS. With the season starting up later this month, let’s break down how DFS college football is similar to NFL but also very different.
Much like in DFS NFL, it’s a near required strategy to stack your quarterback with their top targets in DFS college football. As I’ll note later on, there are offenses that will throw it 40+ times. We want to target not only that quarterback but also the top receiver or two from that same offense to capitalize on the heavy volume. Our premium product features an optimizer that is configured with easy to use stacking rules as well as advanced settings.
Vegas Totals are Key
Combine high implied total games with a competitive game and you’re looking at fantasy gold. Much like the NFL, you have to focus your attention on the high totals first and foremost. The projections in our premium product integrate vegas team totals to help derive our player level projections using a variety of statistical inputs.
Safety With Workhorses
In the NFL there are players that receive a heavy volume of touches/targets and therefore are typically considered a safe play (high floor with an even higher ceiling). This is also the case in college football as players can routinely see upwards of 20+ touches or 10+ targets. Last season, there were 18 players in college football that ran the ball 20+ times per game. Of those 18 players, 14 recorded 10+ touchdowns on the ground. These players will cost you a pretty penny on most occasions but do give you a high floor you can rely on. Our player projections that are part of our premium product lean on player archetypes to help identify and project workhorse backs.
Now, what makes these two different…
Playing Hard to Get
The biggest thing I can stress when it comes to differences between these two is “the injury report.” I put that phrase in quotation marks because there is no such thing as one in college football. Coaches are not obligated to announce whether a player is battling the stomach flu, a sore knee, or is under concussion protocol. Our team will be monitoring projections up until 12PM EST every Saturday to try to account for the late-breaking news. On top of that, CFB DFS players should use team beat writers on Twitter to help decipher who is likely to be in or out.
Quarterback Upside is Huge
A common DFS NFL strategy is to pay down at the quarterback position due to the majority of them having similar ceilings. Well, in college football paying down likely means you miss out on a player with huge upside. Kyler Murray threw for over 4,300 yards and 42 touchdowns, but he also added 1,001 rushing yards and 12 more touchdowns on the ground. D’Eriq King (Houston), Khalil Tate (Arizona), Nathan Rourke (Ohio), Bryce Perkins (UVA), and Holton Ahlers (ECU) are just a few others who routinely have this kind of potential. It is not uncommon for a quarterback of this kind of caliber to hit both the rushing and passing bonus in the same game.
Game Stacks Can Give Massive Upside
Unlike the NFL, college football games can become wildly high scoring and missing out can quickly change your weekend. A high-scoring affair in the NFL sees the game total ending in the 60s whereas a college football game can easily end in the 100s. Just last year we saw Ohio State take down Maryland 52-51, Oklahoma fend off West Virginia 59-56, and a 74-72 game between LSU and Texas A&M! Those are just a few examples of how crazy college scores can get and stacking these high total games can lead to huge points.
Overtime Can Get Weird
Those unfamiliar with college football may not know that there are no ties. I’m not going to break down the entire rulebook of what happens (you can read about these rules here thanks to the NCAA breakdown) but know that things can get crazy. That 74-72 game between LSU and Texas A&M last season went to seven overtimes! It doesn’t happen every week, but there are plenty of examples of games going into multiple overtimes each and every year. While impossible to predict, this is something that definitely differs from professional football.
Watch Out for Blowouts
With the NFL having fewer teams and more parity, you don’t typically see starters resting in the third or fourth quarter often. In college football though, you see this every week especially early on in the season. One amazing stat from last season was the number of passes attempted by Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s star quarterback and the 2018 Heisman runner-up. He attempted only three passes in the fourth quarter last season! This was in part due to having an able-bodied backup but mainly because they were consistently up big by the fourth quarter. Be aware of game spreads and potential for a blowout. While we want to target high team totals, we’d prefer to target high team totals with close spreads than we would a team favorite to win 45-13.
Receivers are Used Differently
In college football, receivers are used in a way that is unique compared to the NFL. Both sides of the spectrum are seen as one player may see 40-50% market share of the targets (high even for a stud NFL WR) or we may see 5-6 see an equal share of looks. The rotation of WRs at the college level can be deep and change dramatically on a week-to-week basis. Knowing and understanding a team’s offensive philosophy is even more important here especially with the extreme difference of styles from one team to another.
One really unique aspect of college football is the fact that there are so many different styles of offense. From air raid to triple option to run and shoot, every team is a little different than another. There are teams that will throw it 40+ times per game and others that will throw it less than 10 times. On the other hand, those same teams throwing it less than 10 times per game all averaged over 56 rushing attempts per game.
To sum it all up, many of the same principles that we use to build lineups for DFS NFL are the same for college football (game totals, high floor players, stacking appropriately), but it’s the little things like extra research when it comes to player status, understanding offenses and their stars, and where to spend each week that’ll put your towards the top of the leaderboard.