Labor Day weekend has always been a paradoxical holiday: It is the end of the summer and kicks off the football season. Since last Thursday night, I have watched more football than I am willing to admit in print.
As a college fantasy footballer, I must prepare to hit the waiver wire in order to gobble up some of the early season difference makers. This column marks my ninth season writing a weekly waiver wire column for CFF diehards. I am honored to be joined by Joe Goodwin and Volume Pigs each week to assist in identifying the preeminent players in the free-agency pool…Let’s Go!
Week 1 College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
Jalen Milroe, Alabama (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 45%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 36.6
All offseason, I researched for clues in regard to the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback in 2023. Finally, confirmation came late last week that Jalen Molroe will open the season under center in Mobile, AL.
Against Middle Tennessee, the second-year dual-threat became the first Alambama quarterback to toss three aerial strikes and rush for two scores in the same game. Milroe completed 13-of-18 passes for 194 yards and scampered for 48 yards on seven carries. He led the Crimson Tide to a 42-0 lead before he exited the game for Tyler Buchner early in the second half.
A four-star recruit, Milroe saw limited action in four games last year. He passed for 41 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 57 yards on 15 attempts. At 6’2” and 220-pounds, the dynamic playmaker is a roster-changing signal caller and should double his rostership at the end of the waiver process this week.
Notebook: “…I think as he (Milroe) continues to develop and gain experience, he’s going to play better and better. But I thought he played well tonight,” coach Nick Saban stated after the game (tuscalosanews.com).
Byrum Brown, South Florida (Goodwin)
Fantrax Ownership: 26%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 34.6
Although Byrum Brown was impressive in two starts last season, injuries to Gerry Bohanon and Katravis Marsh contributed to those starts. In his two games calling signals, Brown tallied 404 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.
Where Brown shines may not be his ability to throw the ball but his ability to run with it. Last year, he rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Heading into this season, the expectations needed to be curtailed due to the competition at the position and head coaching change.
South Florida’s first game against Western Kentucky highlighted all the areas that Brown shines.
Against the Hilltoppers, Brown was 15-of-34 for 166 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions; not necessarily the stat line from a top-tier CFF starter. Nonetheless, throwing the ball is not where Brown makes a significant impact; it’s rushing the ball. Brown had 25 rushes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
If Brown continues to impact the game with his legs like he did against Western Kentucky, he should be on everyone’s radar in CFF.
Notebook: “We didn’t protect Byrum Brown today. He is a tough ass dude, and I’ll ride with him as our quarterback,” coach Alex Golesh said (usfrivals.com).
Emory Jones, Cincinnati (Volume Pigs)
Fantrax Ownership: 24%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 48.4
One of the most notable performances that deserves some attention was QB Emory Jones’ seven-touchdown performance. Granted, this was vs. FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky. For those unaware, new head coach Scott Satterfield joined by way of Louisville this offseason. At Louisville, he had QB Malik Cunningham, who has a very similar skill set to Jones, and who topped CFF charts in 2021. This offense is one you’ll want to keep an eye on going forward.
However, a word of caution for those interested in picking him up: the schedule over the next few weeks is rough, so you may end up stashing him until October. On the other hand, we should get a good barometer of how Jones could perform in this offense versus opponents like Oklahoma and Pittsburgh.
Notebook: “I think we really did a good job of finding players that are team guys in the portal, and that’s hard to do. (Emory) Jones played about as good as you can play,” coach Scott Satterfield reflected on his quarterbacks’ performance (cincinnati.com).
Honorable Mention Quarterbacks
- Mikey Keene, Fresno State
Fantrax Ownership: 11%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 27.6
- Jaxson Dart, Mississippi
Fantrax Ownership: 34%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 32.9
- D.J. Uiagalelei, Oregon State
Fantrax Ownership: 38%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 34.5
- T.J. Finley, Texas State
Fantrax Ownership: 6%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 31.7
CFF Twitterverse on Fire!
Who is the top target at quarterback on the CFF waiver wire this week?
- Jaxson Dart, Mississippi: 21%
- Emory Jones, Cincinnati: 25%
- Brayden Schager, Hawaii: 20%
- Jalen Milroe, Alabama: 34%
“As I sit in my Mahalo T-shirt it is tough not to answer Brayden Schager, but Jalen Milroe for me. Kid can run and throw, and he plays for ‘Bama.” @aceholesrule
“Emory Jones with seven total touchdowns! Best passing performance in a while on 19-of-23 for 344 yards and five aerial strikes while hitting ten different receivers. Xavier Henderson and Emory are revived in Cincy.” NinoBrown_T2T
“I voted for Jalen Milroe for rushing upside.” @CffDfs
“Brayden Schager is just getting warmed up. Watch out once those Mountain West games start!” @CFFLists
“The Run and Shoot offense is back in Hawaii, and I want pieces!” @copieps
Dylan Edwards, Colorado (Volume Pigs)
Fantrax Ownership: 25%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 44.9
Every year in CFF, the Week 1 waiver wire is rife with fool’s gold. Savvy CFF managers generally understand the red flags to look for, and it saves them a lot of trouble in sifting through the trash in search of true value.
In the case of Edwards, he had a total of six rush attempts on Saturday. He also caught all five of his targets for 135 yards and three scores! Four total touchdowns on a total of 11 touches is not sustainable over the long term. I’ll also remind the reader that RB Alton McCaskill is coming back soon from injury.
Edwards is a smaller player at 5’9” and 170-pounds, so it’s unlikely he’ll be used heavily between the tackles, but the aerial usage was encouraging. This should be a high-octane offense, so I’d expect this won’t be the last time we hear from Edwards, but he’s not a player I am prioritizing on the wire this week.
Another thing to note is that TCU is likely to be a very bad team this year (this isn’t the type of program that reloads after losing a dozen or so players to the NFL in one offseason). I wouldn’t get too carried away by the Buffs’ numbers in week one. This is a player that I’m happy to miss out on if it turns out that he’s productive, given the information we have currently.
Notebook: “Dylan Edwards was phenomenal. I’ve been saying this since he was four-years old. And we see that in practice all the time. Don’t let the size fool you. Dylan looks in the mirror like Shallow Hal. When he looks in the mirror, he sees a 215-pound man that’s probably about 6-4. That’s the way Dylan addresses life,” coach Deion Sanders, who previously coached Edwards in youth football, stated after the game (Buffzone.com).
Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 23%
Scrimmage Yards: 112
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 21.2
After a disappointing 2022 campaign, Arizona State hired former Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who is the youngest head coach among all P5 programs in the nation. While Deion Sanders garnered the spotlight for roster turnover (88 new players) at Colorado, the Sun Devils also remade the team with 78 newcomers from all levels of competition.
Throughout the summer, I heard whispers about Cameron Skattebo, one of the newcomers on the team, and his potential impact on the Sun Devils’ backfield. Against Southern Utah, the junior ball carrier led the team with 17 carries for 71 yards and a score while adding four catches for 41 yards.
In 2022, Skattebo, who played at Sacramento State, earned Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year after rambling for 1,382 yards and seven touchdowns, leading his team to the No. 2-ranking among FCS teams. His rushing yards were seventh in the FCS, and he added 31 catches for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
A hard-nosed runner, he logged a first down or touchdown on 40.3% of touches. At the line of scrimmage, he was stopped for a loss, or less, just 5.1% of the time, which was the sixteenth-lowest total. In his first game at Arizona State, the 5’10” and 225-pounder illustrated a three-down skill set, and astute CFF managers will pluck him from the waiver wire.
Notebook: “Skattebo is not as shifty or dynamic athletically as some of the guys we’ve seen at ASU at running back recently, but I think he’s going to get the majority of the carries. He’s a guy that’s going to get a lot of yards after contact. He’s going to intimidate people: You don’t want to hit him. He’s very intense at practice,” writer Chris Karpman stated on an August radio interview (arizonasports.com).
Honorable Mention Running Backs
- Marcus Carroll, Georgia State
Fantrax Ownership: 26%
Scrimmage Yards: 192
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 39.2
- Blake Watson, Memphis
Fantrax Ownership: 32%
Scrimmage Yards: 112
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 34.2
CFF Twitterverse on Fire!
Who is the primary running back that CFF players should target on the waiver wire?
- Marcus Carroll, Georgia State: 31%
- Dylan Edwards, Colorado: 43%
- Zachary Larrier, Air Force: 11%
- Blake Watson, Memphis: 15%
“Marcus Carroll for me. He added some weight and looks great. KZ Adams is no threat for touches right now.” @aceholesrule
“Jalen Buckley from Western Michigan for me: 30 carries is the volume I’m looking for in a running back. Next couple weeks might be rough, but by MACtion, I want him on my team.” @copieps
“Blake Watson had three scores but got outperformed by Sutton Smith…it’s Dylan Edwards. As a true freshman, he had four total touchdowns. He was an integral part of the Buffs’ offense and 27 ypc. is bonkers.” NinoBrown_T2T
“Dylan Edwards did what he did yesterday on just 11 touches. If that volume speaks to you as a waiver option, go ahead and be my guest. 27 yards per catch and four touchdowns is not happening every week.” @CFF_Jared
“Gimme Marcus Carroll. And it’s not particularly close. Blake Watson would be next. Touch volume is far more reliable for CFF success than touchdowns. Dylan Edwards getting four touchdowns on 11 touches is not sustainable.” @CFFNate
Week 1 CFF All-Portal Team (Goodwin)
RB George Holani, Boise State: 7.8 points
Fantrax Ownership: 86%
There is a changing of the guard in the Boise State backfield. Ashton Jeanty outperformed George Holani against Washington. Holani had 10 carries (like Jeanty); yet was not as explosive. He will still get touches but Holani is no longer an automatic CFF starter.
RB E.J. Smith, Stanford: 8.2 points
Fantrax Ownership: 89%
It could be hard to pinpoint a leadback for the Cardinals. E.J. Smith only had four of the team’s 34 attempts. The backfield is too muddled, and there are not enough touches for Smith.
WR Alex Adams, Akron: 4.1 points
Fantrax Ownership: 97%
The Zips emphasized the running game, and it doesn’t appear to be a big-time passing offense. And Alex Adams logged a measly 3.9 ypc.
Xavier Legette, South Carolina (Goodwin)
Fantrax Ownership: 2%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 26.6
In a game that saw North Carolina sack South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler nine times, it appeared the Gamecocks were overmatched on offense. Then, CFF fanatics watch the play-by-play and witness the emergence of Xavier Legette, overmatching cornerbacks as Rattler’s top target.
After an injury to Juice Wells, Rattler targeted Legette 11 times, completing nine of them for 178 yards. Although Legette did not notch a touchdown in the game, Rattler trusts Legette with the volume he was given.
If the injury to Wells extends into this week, Legette should be primed for a massive game against Furman and beyond. Legette has played 37 NCAA games and has already gained more yards this year than any other season—167 yards all of last year.
After Legette’s first game, it could be the start of a huge season for him. After this week, it may be the last chance to add him to CFF rosters. It now appears that Legette is the receiver to add from the waiver wire.
Notebook: “(Legette) had a great game, and I didn’t expect anything else from him. He’s had the best camp so far, the best summer, and he’s our WR No. 1 right now,” Gamecocks’ quarterback Spencer Rattler stated.
Pofele Ashlock, Hawaii (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 20%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 31.4
As a lifelong run-and-shoot fanatic since the USFL in the Eighties, Hawaii will always hold a special spot among my college football memories. The Rainbows became must-watch football at the turn of the century when the offense flung the football all over the field.
In 2000 and 2001, Hawaii employed WR Ashley Lelie, one of the best playmakers in the nation. Over two seasons, he corralled 158 passes for 2,823 yards and 30 touchdowns, which propelled him to a first-round selection by the Denver Broncos in the NFL Draft. While there have been other productive Rainbow receivers, none left an indelible mark like Lelie.
It appears that the Run and Shoot scheme is back to full throttle, providing prolific passing numbers for CFF managers. Pofele Ashlock did not see any action last year; nonetheless, the redshirt freshman has exploded in his first two college contests.
At 6’2” and 175 pounds, Ashlock has dominated opponents. Against Vanderbilt, he corralled seven passes for 127 yards and a score. Versus Stanford, the slim pass-catcher snatched eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. While he will be hard-pressed to surpass Lelie’s numbers, Ashlock looks primed to be a 1,200-yard receiver with double-digit touchdowns in an improved aerial assault.
Notebook: “We got a good core of receivers, and no one knows any of them until they start playing. Once they start playing, you’re gonna know some of these guys and get familiar with their names. If they keep playing well, they’ll get national recognition. I’m really excited about our guys. Young guys that we’ll develop here and really get locked in,” coach Timmy Chang proclaimed recently (khon2.com).
Lincoln Victor, Washington State (Volume Pigs)
Fantrax Ownership: 3%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 27.8
There was much speculation in the offseason about who would be taking over the coveted slot position in Ben Arbuckle’s (formerly of WKU, where he had Malachi Corley and Jerreth Sterns) offense. Many CFF diehards, including myself, thought early on that it might be DT Sheffield.
The language out of camp was positive in that direction, however—at least after one game—it would appear that Victor has secured this role. The slot man in this system has been absolute money in CFF over the past few seasons—giving us a bit more security in projecting Victor’s ability to last as a sustainable stud over the course of the season amongst some of the other current options that have more question marks. Victor was targeted 14 times in this game and went over 100 yards receiving.
Notebook: “…Victor, the 5’9” Hawaiian whose hands are surer than the sun rising in the morning. On one occasion, he hauled in a deep ball from quarterback Cameron Ward, a completion of some 25 yards. On the very next play, Ward hit him on a crossing route, good for another dozen yards,” observed writer Greg Woods after a practice session in mid-August (spokesman.com).
Erik Brooks, Fresno State (Goodwin)
Fantrax Ownership: 5%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 38
With transfers Jaelen Gill, Tre Watson, and Jalen Moss joining the Fresno program, it seemed to bode poorly for the returning players at Fresno. When looking to target wide receivers in CFF, it’s hard to be excited about a 5’7″ and 171-pound wide receiver with only 37 receptions and 391 yards the previous year.
The CFF community may need to be more attuned in assessing Brooks’ impact on the offense. The Bulldogs went into their game on the road against Purdue as underdogs but didn’t play that way. Erik Brooks grabbed nine passes on 12 targets for 170 yards and two touchdowns as Fresno upset host Purdue by a score of 39-35.
Of the 32 completed passes, Brooks and Gill are the top targets for UCF transfer and starting quarterback Mikey Keene after grabbing 17-of-32 passes thrown. Erik Brooks led all receivers in receptions, targets, yards, and touchdowns.
The Bulldogs offense averaged 30.6 points last year and is off to a strong start this year after notching 39 points on a defense that only gave up 27 points a game last year. If Fresno performs consistently to this standard, Brooks will be a huge asset on CFF teams.
Notebook: “When I first came here, I was hoping I could contribute to a college football team in any way that I could. Get on the field and make those big plays, hear my name called, score touchdowns. Looking back on every little progress I’ve made each season to get better as a football player has been really cool to see,” revealed Brooks in July (yourcentralvalley.com).
Honorable Mention Wide Receivers
- Deion Burks, Purdue
Fantrax Ownership: 4%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 31.2
- KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State
Fantrax Ownership: 15%
Fantasy Points (Week 1): 28.3
CFF Twitterverse on Fire!
Who is the elite wide receiver to target on the CFF waiver wire?
- Erik Brooks, Fresno: 13%
- Tre Harris, Mississippi: 30%
- Roman Wilson, Michigan: 13%
- Pofele Ashlock, Hawaii: 44%
“It’s Tre Harris. I’ve been talking about Tre since he transferred from LATech (900-plus yards, 10 scores and 14.4 ypc.). Harris and Smoke were deadly, and now he enters Lane Trains offense without Zakhari Franklin, who was injured. Harris logged six catches for 133 yards and four touchdowns. QB Jaxson Dart seems locked in for Mississippi also.” NinoBrown_T2T
“Have to go with Pofele Ashlock for now, producing like the Hawai’i of old in the first two games.” @CFBWinningEdge
“Pofele Ashlock by a mile. Since the second half of the opening game, he has been on fire.” @aceholesrule
CFF All-Americans: Week 1
- QB Emory Jones, Cincinnati, 48.4 points
- QB Cameron Ward., Washington State: 40.1 points
- RB Dylan Edwards, Colorado: 44.9 points
- RB Marcus Carroll, Georgia State: 39.2 points
- WR Tre Harris, Mississippi: 43.3 points
- WR Kris Mitchell, Florida International: 41.1 points
- WR Keon Coleman, Florida State: 39.2 points
- TE Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford: 28.8 points
- Flex Braelon Allen, Wisconsin: 35.6 points