H2H College Football: Initial Roster
Mark Taylor talks strategy behind constructing your initial roster in H2H College Football, the only contest to use real players.
If you haven’t yet, get caught up on our first two installments of the Head2Head College Football Salary Cap game. These cover an in-depth introduction to this hybrid-style game and then one with general strategies to roll with as the season progresses. They can be found here:
With the season ready to be kicked off on Thursday (yippee!), we can really start looking at some initial roster strategies. You are tasked with setting a weekly 10-player roster (QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, K, DEF, Flex) and duplicate this each week while playing in a 30-team league. The goal is to accumulate as many head-to-head wins and make the playoffs. If you are successful in this feat - you’ll be in the running for a $5,000 grand prize. You can play for free but transactions cost $4.00 a pop. So, you’ll have to invest in your team throughout the year as injuries and bye weeks start becoming a factor.
As I mentioned in each of the first two articles for this game, you’ll probably want to purchase the $24,99 “Starter Kit” to get a full-team trade certificate (10 trades). There are two ways to play this.
You can say to yourself, I’ll pay what I have to in order to set the BEST possible team each week and go for the league title and potentially the weekly high-score bonuses.
You can take the cheaper approach and do everything you can to make that one trade per position allotted in the full-team trade certificate and focus on making the playoffs.
Neither is a bad strategy but is dictated by your willingness to invest (literally) in your team throughout the season. So, in this “Initial Roster” article, I’ll be providing options at each position for both of these strategies.
Here we are. Less than four days away from this contest kicking off and we need to build our inital roster to get started with. I will go position-by-position and give you some of the top plays for week one (the each week strategy) and for a few weeks into the season (the cheaper approach). Make sense?
Just like all fantasy football formats, the quarterback (QB) position is of the utmost importance. Dual-threat guys are the best to target and there are plenty of them in the college ranks.
Quinton Flowers (South Florida) - One of the top players in the game, Flowers already has a solid (though not spectacular) performance under his belt this past Saturday against San Jose State. He went 11-for-23 through the air for 212 yards and two touchdowns, adding 17 totes for another 70 and a score. This is the standard from Flowers. He isn’t likely to play the entire game if USF handles FCS-Stony Brook as they should. The following week the Bulls get a bad UConn team and then followed up by another lackluster Illinois squad. You can ride Flowers for a while here, though, he is expensive.
Shea Patterson (Ole Miss) - There is plenty of hype surrounding the heir apparent to Chad Kelly in Oxford. The Rebels are in hot water with the NCAA for violations and are not post-season eligible, but why should we care? Ole Miss gets a cake walk first three games of the season with South Alabama (101st in pass defense S&P+ from Football Outsiders); FCS Tennessee-Martin and then an expected shootout with Cal.
Lamar Jackson (Louisville) - You can’t go wrong with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He’s a stat-producing monster and the (mostly) consensus No.1 overall pick in season-long leagues. The Cardinals gets Purdue to start things off. At his price - the most in the game at $19.5 - you can ride him for a couple of games against the Boilermakers and at North Carolina (potential shootout) before bailing in a tough week three matchup against the defending champs in Clemson. It’s difficult to warrant spending just under 20% of your bankroll on one player in that matchup - no matter who he is.
Eric Dungey (Syracuse) - A dual-threat at it’s finest in the lightning-fast paced Dino Babers offense at Bowling Green. Dungey is coming off an injury but is good to go for 2017. The Orange get FCS Central Connecticut this week and then should have high-scoring affairs with Middle Tennessee State and Central Michigan the following weeks.
Steven Montez (Colorado) - Many are hyping the now full-time Colorado quarterback this season. He has plenty of weapons surrounding him and after what could be a relatively tough matchup with Colorado State in week one, the Buffs get a really bad Texas State team in week two followed up by FCS Northern Colorado. At $15.7, he is affordable for this three game stretch. Be prepared to make a trade after that though as Colorado starts their Pac-12 schedule against Washington in week four.
Saquon Barkley (Penn State) - We last saw Barkley running all over USC in the Rose Bowl, rumbling all over them for 195 yards and two scores. He finished 2016 with 1,496 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s a good as they get and we can’t mention running backs without him. As a bonus, he’ll usually throw in 2-3 catches per game and when he has the ball in the open field - well, let’s just say it’s something to watch. The Nittany Lions get Akron, Pitt and Georgia State in the first three weeks. He will pick up right where he left off.
Phillip Lindsay (Colorado) - We mentioned the favorable schedule when writing up Montez above. Lindsay busted on the scene last year with just under 1,300 yards and 16 scores. He also caught 53 passes, making him a threat in the passing game as well. This is valuable in this PPR-style league.
Royce Freeman (Oregon) - Freeman shunned the NFL to come back for one more go around at Oregon after a disappointing Junior season. The previous two seasons, he rushed for 1,836 and 1,365 respectively, adding a ridiculous 35 touchdowns. Admittedly, Oregon isn’t the offense it once was, but he should handle FCS Southern Utah in the first half this week. Then, the Ducks get decent matchups with Nebraska and at Wyoming.
Justin Jackson (Northwestern) - What else can this guy do to get noticed? You may have never heard of him and he has already amassed over 4,000 rushing yards in his career at Northwestern. The only knock on him fantasy-wise in 2015 was that he had just five touchdowns. So, he responded with 15 in 2016. Definitely get on board this first week as Jackson and the Wildcats get Nevada (119th in rush defense S&P+).
Ryan Nall (Oklahoma State) and Damarea Crockett (Mizzou) - Both of these guys are cheap options playing FCS opponents and should provide a nice return on their price points.
James Washington (Oklahoma State) - He may be playing through a hernia this season, but even that won’t slow him down. Washington is a the key “big play” guy in the Oklahoma State offense - that - will possibly be the most fun to watch of any team going. He has a great rapport with quarterback Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys will be racking up the yards and points in the early going. Don’t sleep on Washington’s teammate Marcell Ateman, who is coming off an injury from last year. There is plenty to go around and if you can’t afford Washington, you can certainly do worse than Ateman.
Jimmy Williams (East Carolina) - Since Gardner Minshew won the quarterback job for the Pirates, Williams’ value has gone up quite a bit. If Duke transfer Thomas Sirk would have secured the job, this would have been a different offense - less vertical. Now that Minshew will be under center they’ll have more of a pocket passer and Williams will be his go-to target.
Courtland Sutton (SMU) - Another offense than can score with the best of them, the Mustangs will be fast-paced and be in quite a few shootouts this season. Last year, Sutton managed 76 catches for 1,246 and ten touchdowns. The SMU defense can’t stop a nosebleed, so they will be in quite a few back-and-forth affairs this season.
Steven Sims Jr. (Kansas) - Kansas is going to an “Air Raid” style offense with Washington State transfer quarterback Peyton Bender at the helm. That means lots of passes and lots of targets for Sims. Now, with second option LaQuivonte Gonzalez dismissed, even more will fall on the shoulders of this guy who managed 72 catches for 859 yards and seven scores a year ago.
Linnel Bonner (Houston) - Houston is working in a new quarterback and it’s believed to be Texas A&M transfer and former top recruit Kyle Allen. Allen is more of a pocket passer than the predecessor here in Greg Ward and Bonner will return as the top target. He caught a ridiculous 98 passes a year ago for 1,118 yards. He did manage to find paydirt just three times but that should change this year. Expect big things.
Simply, just go for the guys in the highest powered offenses and hope for the sure 6-7 PAT’s and any field goals on top of it are gravy.
Gary Wunderlich (Ole Miss); Matt Ammendola (Oklahoma State); Blanton Creque (Louisville); Clayton Hatfield (Texas Tech); Justin Yoon (Notre Dame).
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
In the early going, you can target the defenses that are playing the worst of the worst FCS opponents.
Washington - The National runners-up feature a great defense and even with some early suspensions for bad behavior, the Huskies get Rutgers, FCS Montana and Fresno State to start the season. They should feast on these lackluster offenses and put up solid points.
South Florida - The Bulls were solid in their first outing of the season against a decent San Jose State offense, netting three interceptions and a sack. Charlie Strong’s defense now gets FCS Stony Brook, at UConn and Illinois in the next three.
Kansas State - Bill Snyder is famous for re-loading on defense each year and after a season that saw the Wildcats hold opponents to 22.3 points per game, nothing has changed. They lose a few of their top tacklers but should replace them and be just as strong. Early on, they also have a few favorable matchups with FCS Central Arkansas, Charlotte and at Vanderbilt.
North Carolina State - The Wolfpack were strong a year ago, allowing just 22.8 yards per game in the offensive ACC. They get eight starters back and should be right up there again. In the early going, they play South Carolina, Marshall and FCS Furman.
As always, feel free to hit me up with any specific questions you have with your Head2Head College Salary Cap teams throughout the season at firstname.lastname@example.org