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College Fantasy Football 101: The Explosion of a New Game and How to Kickoff the First Season

Do you love fantasy football? Want to enjoy even more gridiron action every weekend? College Fantasy Football (CFF) is the premier way to expand your football obsession and enjoy a new challenge in our marvelous hobby.

Across the fantasy football world, the explosion in popularity of DEVY leagues has taken the community by storm. More and more leagues are going to this concept of including developmental players from college football on rosters to be used only when they enter the NFL.

With this new form of fantasy football, managers began to monitor the college ranks more intensely; since they now have a vested interest in how their DEVY players are performing. From that, interest grew so rapidly, managers no longer wanted to just wait for those players to wear NFL uniforms. Instead, the advent of CFF began to become more popular.

There’s no such thing as too much football! 2022 is the perfect time to add the college game to your fantasy football repertoire. Whether you want to create your own league or join an existing league, the Fantrax College Football Commissioner is the place to go!

College Fantasy Football 101

In CFF, managers are playing the same type of fantasy football where players receive points for yards, receptions, and touchdowns; and depending on the league, even more avenues to score points like points for first downs, gains over 40 yards, or completions. However, playing fantasy football with NFL players and NCAA players can be, at times, different.

One area in which the two games are different is the player pool in CFF is much greater than in the NFL. This can make doing homework on potential players a lot more challenging because there are more teams and players to research. Another area that has made CFF very challenging is the transfer portal which sees thousands of athletes moving from one team to another.

We will cover some of the best-used strategies to start in your first CFF league and how to prepare for your first draft.

Winning Strategies for CFF

Strategy #1: Do not draft players from just the games you watch on ESPN or ABC!

I know it’s easy to think that College Football is all about Georgia, Alabama, and Notre Dame. However, you would be incredibly wrong to think that about CFF.

Just because teams or players are not regularly seen on tv highlights, does not mean they won’t be valuable commodities in CFF. Some of the best players in CFF are not from traditional football powers.

Some of the lesser-known teams that have players you should target:

Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, SMU, UTSA, Tulane, James Madison, Memphis, Appalachian St, North Texas, East Carolina, Memphis, Toledo, Fresno St, Georgia St

Each of these teams scores plenty of points to warrant consideration of their key skill players being drafted. You may not get to see these teams regularly in prime time, but they are worth using for CFF.

Strategy #2: Follow the teams that move the ball

One of the great indicators in drafting successful fantasy players in CFF is to follow the yards.

The table below lists the Top 10 teams in yards gained per game in 2022.

SchoolYards Gained per game
Western Kentucky497.3
Ole Miss496.4
Ohio St490.7
Florida St484.2

Yes, many of those teams are well-known schools; except for Western Kentucky, I’m sure that surprised you a bit. Looking farther down the list of yards per game, it includes:

  1. UTSA (Univ. of Texas – San Antonio) at 476 yards per game (ypg.)
  2. SMU (Southern Methodist University) at 472.8 ypg.
  3. Georgia Southern at 465.9 ypg.
  4. North Texas at 461.8 ypg.
  5. East Carolina at 461.1 ypg.
  6. Appalachian St. at 455.3 ypg.

I hope by seeing this list, CFF freshmen have a better understanding that teams with offenses to draft on rosters are not just from Power 5 Conference teams. So, when drafting for CFF rosters, managers have to understand the “universe” that exists of players to draft exceeds over 31,000 college football players. With that quantity of players, savvy managers will not limit themselves by just taking players on Top 25 teams, but from many of those schools listed above based on their ability to move the ball up and down the field.

CFF managers need to diversify their repertoire of teams and players to best maximize a fantasy team’s potential while also balancing their rosters with marquee players from national powers. Want a chance to see these high-powered offenses? Check out these marquee games on the schedule and get ready for some fireworks!

Games to Watch for CFF Fans in 2023

  • September 16th, Western Kentucky versus Ohio St
  • September 23rd, UTSA versus Tennessee
  • October 12th, East Carolina versus SMU
  • October 14th, Georgia Southern versus James Madison
  • November 4th, Washington versus USC
  • November 10th, North Texas versus SMU
  • November 25th, Georgia Southern versus Appalachian St.

Strategy #3: Names of Players you DEFINITELY should know for your draft!

The names listed below are some of the most recognized names in college football; with many of these players seeing their names already being hyped as first-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Caleb Wiliams (USC)Marvin Harrison Jr (OSU)Quinshon Judkins (MISS)Brock Bowers (GA)
Drake Maye (UNC)Emeka Egbuka (OSU)Raheim Sanders (ARJ)Oronde Gadsden (SYR)
Bo Nix (ORE)Rome Odunze (WAS)Braelon Allen (WI)Ja’Tavion Sanders (TX)
Michael Penix Jr (WASH)Xavier Worthy (TX)Blake Corum (MI)Brady Nesbit (UNC)
Jordan Travis (FSU)Troy Franklin (ORE)Nick Singleton (Penn St)Ben Yurosek (STAN)

Strategy #4: Names of Players you might not know, but DEFINITELY should know for your draft!

I’m going to make you a top 5 list of the players at each position that should be on your radar for your draft that may not be household names. This list could be a lot longer, so take this as a quick reference guide for players to be aware of heading into your draft. If you see players on the list, you are familiar with, then GREAT! You are already ahead of most other CFF newcomers.

Austin Reed (WKY)Malachi Corley (WKY)Rasheen Ali (MAR)Brant Kuithe (Utah)
Frank Harris (UTSA)Tory Horton (CSU)Frank Gore Jr (USM)Jalin Conyers (ASU)
Riley Leonard (DUKE)Derwin Burgess (GASO)Sieh Bangura (OHIO)Brady Hunt (BALL)
Michael Pratt (TUL)Zakhari Franklin (n/a)Damien Martinez (ORE St)RJ Maryland (SMU)
Dillon Gabriel (OK)Sam Wiglusz (OHIO)Kevorian Barnes (UTSA)Caden Prieskorn (MISS)

Strategy #5: Pay Attention to the Transfer Portal

This can be a very tricky strategy for players who are still learning. So, I will provide you a list to use during your draft that will help you navigate through drafting players that are on new teams. This list is not exhaustive (how could it be?) but it should provide you with some basic knowledge of the key players that have changed teams and what to expect in the 2023 season.

Situations have changed, but not necessarily for the better:

Lorenzo Styles (WR), Notre Dame to Ohio St: There is so much competition at the wide receiver position, it will be hard to shine with Marvin Harrison Jr and Emeka Egbuka on the team. I think staying at ND with Sam Hartman would have produced a better fantasy season for Styles.

Brian Battie (RB), USF to Auburn: Battie will see himself in a greater battle for snaps and opportunities as the competition increases at Auburn and the opposition is better in the SEC.

Sean Tyler (RB), Western Michigan to Minnesota: Tyler was a smash at Western Michigan. However, the defenses in the Mid-American are not as stout as the Big Ten. Tyler will regress some this season.

Xavier Weaver (WR), USF to Colorado: Coach Sanders is amassing a lot of talent for the Buffaloes and it will be difficult to decipher the primary receiver for Colorado. As a transfer, I would pay close attention to summer practices to have a better understanding of his situation in Colorado.

Dominic Lovett (WR), Missouri to Georgia: Being a primary receiver for Mizzou, then going to a team with Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey, may not provide Lovett with the same opportunities.

Zakhari Franklin (WR), UTSA to ?: This is a transfer to pay close attention to as it develops. Franklin posted ridiculous numbers last year by grabbing 93 passes for 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns. Leaving an offense ranked 12th in yards per game for more exposure may not result in similar fantasy numbers for Franklin.

Dante Cephus (WR), Kent St to Penn St: Cephus was one of the most dynamic playmakers at Kent St during his time there. Now, he heads off to the Big Ten and their more stringent defenses. Cephus hopes to replace the production left behind when Parker Washington was drafted by the NFL, but he won’t match all the production he posted at Kent St.

Tyrin Smith (WR), UTEP to Texas A&M: Smith replaced Jacob Cowing at UTEP as their leading receiver and similarly dominated Conference USA like Cowing. Now, Smith gets set to play against the highest level of athleticism on defense in the SEC. Smith is a talented player, but he will see his numbers dip as he now has to compete against a different level of competition in the SEC.

Carson Steele (RB), Ball St to UCLA: Carson Steele was the exact type of player in CFF that savvy managers would draft from an unheralded team that casual fans are not as familiar with. Steele hopes to continue the success that Zach Carbbonnet has left behind after being drafted by the Seahawks. However, Steele is not guaranteed to amass the yards or the touchdowns he did at Ball St. Steele is still a solid player to draft, just don’t expect the same results.

Situations have changed, and appear to have improved from their previous position:

Adonia (AD) Mitchell (WR), Georgia to Texas: Mitchell leaves a team that has been as explosive as any team over the last two years for a less explosive one and it’s good? Yes, in this situation, it is. Mitchell is leaving a Georgia team without a clear QB in place for Texas and Quinn Ewers (presumptive 1st round pick in the 2024 NFL draft) and a complimentary wide receiver (Xavier Worthy) that will draw most team’s best cornerback.

Brennan Armstrong (QB), Virginia to NC State: Armstrong holds most passing records at Virginia. Now, he replaces Devin Leary as the signal caller for the Wolfpack. Leaving Virginia was not an easy one for Armstrong, but he heads to an offense more apt to show off his abilities.

Shedeur Sanders (QB), Jackson St to Colorado: At the very worst, this is a lateral move. However, the Pac-12 is full of future NFL QBs and the games should be high-scoring. Sanders is the focal point of the Colorado offense and will be the start of the show for Colorado against the likes of USC, UCLA, and Oregon.

Arik Gilbert (TE), Georgia to Nebraska: Georgia is one of the most explosive offenses in college football and is transferring to a team that is transformed by new coach Matt Rhule. His numbers will be better than last year, I just wonder what might have been if Georgia could have found a way to utilize Bowers and Gilbert at the same time. Overall, he will put up better numbers

Sam Hartman (QB), Wake Forest to Notre Dame: Similar to Sanders, this is at least a lateral move for Hartman. He will have better receivers to work with, however, the offense may not be as “high-powered” as it was at Wake Forest. Hartman is the most talented quarterback Notre Dame has had in the last ten years.

Hudson Card (QB), Texas to Purdue: Card may have improved his situation more than most other transfers as he leaves Texas after losing the QB competition to Quinn Ewers. The Purdue offense should suit Card well as he takes over the offense from Aiden O’Connell, who has moved on to the NFL.

DJ Uiagalelei (QB), Clemson to Oregon St: After being unseated by Cade Klubnik at Clemson, Uiagalelei was destined to find a new home after last year. And if he found that home at Oregon St. The story goes, Uiaglelei selected Oregon St having never even visited the campus; he chose the school based solely on its coach and playbook. I think DJ’s skill set is better served as a pocket passer and with the offenses in the Pac-12, Uiagalelei should provide us with big numbers.

Dorian Singer (WR), Arizona to USC: This has everything to do with the “Caleb Williams effect.” USC has the presumptive number 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft in Williams and added Singer to be a beneficiary of the elite talent at QB. Singer will have every opportunity to be the go-to receiver in the Trojans offense.

Strategy #6: With your first 3 picks, draft 2 QBs and an RB

This is definitely up to interpretation based on managers. However, as a newcomer, I believe this strategy is the simplest to follow which will maximize your ability to score points weekly.

Somebody in your draft is going to draft Marvin Harrison Jr in the 1st round. And yes, Harrison Jr is an amazing player. And should be a top-three player drafted in next year’s NFL draft. However, the top wide receivers in CFF are not separated by many points to warrant Harrison Jr being selected over players like Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr.

Guess how many wide receivers were in the top 25 of total fantasy points in 2022? If your answer was ZERO, you would be correct. In case you were wondering, there were also ZERO tight ends. Even running backs are underrepresented with only two backs cracking the top 25 from 2022 (Tyjae Spears and Bijan Robinson).

So you might be asking yourself, if there are that many quarterbacks in the top 25, what’s the rush to draft one?

I’ll give you the simple answer first: Elite QBs are not plentiful. If you can grab Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (UNC), Austin Reed (WKY), or Frank Harris (UTSA), that should be a priority for your team.

Last year, Caleb Williams with 437 (#1 in points scored in CFF)

outscored #2 by 15 points

outscored #5 by 50 points

outscored #25 by 145 points.


Last year, Tyjae Spears with 309 points (#1 points scored as a running back)

outscored #2 by less than 1 point

outscored #5 by 26 points

outscored #25 by 92 points


That’s why I advise you to grab two quarterbacks early in your draft to score the most points possible. In fantasy sports, exploiting an advantage is the key to winning.

In regards to wide receivers, Nathaniel Dell led WRs with 248 points; that’s 189 points lower than Wiliams and 61 points lower than Spears. The differential between Dell and the #2 WR last year was 32 points. However, #2 to #10 was only 41 points. This illustrates that investing in a wide receiver early won’t necessarily net you an advantage in points since the second through the tenth-best wide receivers is minimal.

Because most NCAA teams have 2-to-3 primary receivers, they tend to distribute the fantasy wealth more evenly than at QB or RB; both of which receive a majority of the positional snaps available.

So what about tight ends? That’s a conversation this year that begins and ends with Brock Bowers (Georgia). He should be treated like a wide receiver and drafted accordingly. Bowers outscored the #2 TE by 28 points. However, his overall total was only 165. There will be one manager that takes Bowers in the first round claiming a “monopoly” on the position and a distinct advantage over the competition. However, I will take advantage of having two elite QBs leading my team than a TE; who is dependent on the QB getting him the ball. Did I also mention the Georgia Bulldogs are looking for a new QB to feed Bowers? That’s the other reason I advise letting someone else draft Bowers early, while you load up on QBs and RBs in the earlier rounds of your draft.

Some of my favorite later-round tight ends in CFF

RJ Maryland, SMUJake Brinningstool, ClEMErick All, Iowa
CJ Dippre, ALAMichael Trigg, MISSOscar Cardenas, UTSA

There are many different ways to draft your first CFF team. I believe as you are learning how to play the game, drafting two elite QBs is the simplest way to score steady points from week to week. Then, supplement that core with RBs and WRs as you alternate between rounds. Then, take a few of the tight ends listed above to ensure a solid scoring rotation.

As in the NFL game, value is key. Although you may have entered round 6 thinking an RB was your next draft pick, if there is a WR still available from an offense that is high scoring, go grab him! That is how you build a championship team. Have a plan, but be flexible.

Strategy #7: Focus on Upperclassmen, but Don’t shy away from Freshman

Of the Top 25 fantasy point scorers last year, only 14 are returning. And yes, they are all quarterbacks.

We have already discussed the likes of Austin Reed and Frank Harris being on your radar. Most prolific point scorers in the college game are players that have been in their offenses for a few years and understand the playbook and the game. The highest returning player that plays a position other than quarterback is Quinshon Judkins, RB, from Ole Miss. He was the 37th-best fantasy scorer in CFF last year.

Some players that are juniors and seniors who are ready to step into the spotlight:

QBs: KJ Jefferson {Arkansas}, Joe Milton {Tennessee}, Jordan Travis {Florida St} and Jayden Daniels {LSU}

RBs: Re’Mahn Davis {Kentucky}, Jase McClellan {Alabama}, Nate Noel {Appalachian St}, George Holani {Boise St.} and Jermaine Brown Jr {UAB}

WRs: Jacob Cowing {Arizona}, Johnny Wilson {Florida St}, James Thrash {Georgia St}, Antwane Wells, Jr. and {South Carolina}

Not to be outshined by the upperclassmen, there are a few freshmen that project to be impact players in their first year on campus and I would encourage you to draft in the middle to late rounds:

Some freshman phenoms ready to take CFF by storm:

Cedric Baxter, RB, Texas

Zachariah Branch, WR, USC

Dante Moore, QB, UCLA

Rueben Owens, RB, Texas A&M

Strategy #8: Don’t Stress the Small Stuff…Have Fun and Enjoy the Games!

I’m confident when I say that most people playing a fantasy sport for the first time are more often at the bottom of their league rather than at the top. You need to learn how to play the game and focus on what makes the game enjoyable for you. Yes! It can be frustrating to realize you passed on the “next” Marvin Harrison Jr for a player that tears his ACL in week one and their season is done. Don’t stress about things you can’t control. Last year, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was many teams’ #1 WR in drafts, only to get injured, and take the remainder of the season off. It can happen to anyone; even the most seasoned veterans of the game.

In year one, I recommend playing in a Best Ball league.

What is Best Ball? Quite simply, you draft your team, sit back, and watch your team succeed. This type of league requires no in-season moves. The team with the highest accrued points at the end of the year wins. I believe this to be the safest way to enter the world of CFF and requires only a basic knowledge of players and draft strategy.

Best Ball provides you with multiple spots for your “bench” which allows you 6 to 9 players per position in the hopes you draft a few CFF stars. This type of game also takes the guesswork out of trying to predict the best players to start each week. Your best players will play in your lineup. This will allow you to enjoy rooting for your players, not being frustrated having not started a receiver who went for 12 grabs for 139 yards with 2 touchdowns.

College Fantasy Football can be exciting and maddening, all while offering players the chance to engage with College Football as much as NFL football. With college games being played morning, noon, and night on most Saturdays from September to November, you get to supplement your love of NFL football to include another day of action with the college game. Who doesn’t love another day of watching football?

Follow all of our College Fantasy Football analysis right here on Fantrax for all your CFF needs.

So, who is ready to play in a CFF league on Fantrax?

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