College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 1 Gemstones
Labor Day Weekend is one of my favorite times of the year. Across the nation, college football headlines the sports universe, and Americans get to enjoy a long weekend as the summer comes to a close.
After 13 years playing college fantasy football, there is no question in my mind that championships are won within the first three weeks of the season on the waiver wire. Over the past three campaigns, Rondale Moore (2018), Joe Borrow (2019), and Zach Wilson (2020), just to name a few, were all available on the vast majority of waiver wires after the season kicked off.
I have invited my friend, and college fantasy football diehard, JD Yonke, @YonkersCFB, to join me to identify the top players to target each week off the waiver wire. The first look into the available free agents of the 2021 campaign is loaded with top-shelf pickups and astute diehards must be active to improve their rosters…Good luck this week!
College Fantasy Football provides alternative-reality zealots, NFL Draftniks, and Dynasty and Devy owners a competitive advantage against their opponents. What are you waiting for this summer? Get off the sideline and into the game on Fantrax. We guarantee that you will not regret playing in a CFF league this fall.
Week 1 College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
Tanner Mordecai, SMU (Yonke)
Fantrax Ownership: 48%
Tanner Mordecai has big shoes to fill for the Mustangs as he replaces Shane Buechele, who threw for 7,024 yards and 57 touchdowns over the past two seasons. What impression did Mordecai make in his first game as the new signal-caller? Not too shabby, considering that he threw for a school-record seven touchdown passes! He had five aerial strikes in the first half alone and has immediately made his name known as a CFF star.
A transfer from Oklahoma, Mordecai was neck-and-neck with Spencer Rattler for the starting quarterback job a year ago, by some reports. If he possesses enough talent to be considered in the race for the Sooner quarterback battle, he certainly has enough talent to thrive in the American Athletic Conference.
He’ll be throwing to one of the most loaded receiver rooms in Group 5, with weapons like Reggie Roberson, Jr., Rashee Rice, and Danny Gray at his disposal. Shoot, he even has a quality tight end to throw to—he and fellow Oklahoma transfer Grant Calcaterra connected for two scoring passes in the very first quarter.
Expect Mordecai to be a fantasy producer for the remainder of the season. SMU’s schedule is fantasy-friendly enough that he should be considered worthy of a start in pretty much every match-up this season. TCU in Week 4 and Cincinnati in Week 12 represent his toughest opponents, but the rest are manageable. Mordecai should be owned everywhere now and started next week against a North Texas defense that allowed over 44 points per game in 2020.
Will Rogers, Mississippi State (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 25%
When I turned on the Louisiana Tech-Mississippi State game in the third quarter, the Bulldogs trailed 34-14. I decided to stay with the game to watch how QB Will Rogers would handle adversity…I am so happy that I did. The sophomore led Mississippi State to a 35-34 come-from-behind victory with a dramatic fourth quarter.
At the end of the afternoon, the sophomore signal-caller completed 39-of-47 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns, matching his career-high. Rogers has thrown a touchdown pass in seven straight games with 13 touchdowns in that span. He also logged his third 300-yard game and is the program leader in completion percentage (70.7%).
Unfortunately, coach Mike Leach does not care about our fantasy teams, and CFF managers bypassed Rogers in many drafts because of the lack of lucidity in regard to the team’s starter over the summer. I have already moved the Bulldogs’ starter from my bench to the starting lineup for the upcoming week. In the next two games, Mississippi State welcomes North Carolina State and travels to Memphis, which should provide a buffet of fantasy points. Grab Rogers off the waiver wire immediately.
Chris Reynolds, Charlotte (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 20%
Last summer, I liked Chris Reynolds and drafted the dual-threat quarterback on a couple of my teams. Unfortunately, the 49ers lost both of their first two games, and Reynolds did not play well. Also, Charlotte had a game canceled and one postponed in September and played only six games in all of 2020. When the season ended, Reynolds did not come close to his 2019 crusade when he passed for 22 touchdowns, scampered for 791 yards, and scored six times.
On Friday night, the redshirt senior led the 49ers to their first victory over a Power 5 program, defeating Duke 31-28. He guided the team downfield on a seven-play, 75-yard, game-winning drive with less than two minutes on the clock. The offense looked far better behind Reynold’s pinpoint passing. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 42 yards rushing on 10 carries and a touchdown.
“When times are tough and it’s crunch time, you go back to your training. When I looked into the guys’ eyes (in the huddle) there was a sharp glare and you felt that energy,” Reynolds stated after the game (qctimes.com).
Looking ahead, the 49ers play Gardner-Webb (FCS), Georgia State and Middle Tennessee over the next three weeks. The only daunting matchup is at Illinois on October 2 for the remainder of the year. In 2021, Reynolds and the 49ers are poised to produce victories and put points on the scoreboard. Fantasy footballers must acquire Reynolds while he is still available.
Twitterverse on Fire!
Who Ya Got at quarterback after the first weekend of games on the waiver wire?
- Chris Reynolds, Charlotte: 9.6%
- Michael Pratt, Tulane: 43.9%
- Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland: 38.6%
- Frank Harris, UTSA: 7.9%
“Michael Pratt showed guts and that is enough for me!” @aceholesrule
“Pratt for me. He kept coming back for more: a sign of a true leader.” @kevski07
“I chose Pratt in this poll. He took a beating and played really well. Impressed with his toughness and playmaking ability.” @DevyDeepDive
“Taulia looks like he’s finally coming into his own! With Demus and Jarrett as his weapons, he’s a great addition if you’re struggling at QB!” @CFF_Jared
Isaiah Bowser, UCF (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 5%
Over the past five seasons, few offenses have produced as many fireworks as the Knights in Orlando, FL. With new coach Gus Malzhan taking over the program, I had trepidation over the offense continuing to fly. My offseason concerns may have been unwarranted.
On Thursday, UCF spotted Boise State a 21-point lead and came storming back for a 36-31 victory. Of course, QB Dillion Gabriel and the passing game replicated their dominant aerial assault. But the ground game with Isaiah Bowser proved to be a terrific complement. The former Northwestern runner earned 32 carries and bulldozed for 170 yards and a touchdown. He also added an impressive four catches for 29 yards.
As a freshman in 2018, Bowser rambled for 866 yards and six scores for the Wildcats. In the last two campaigns, the senior never regained his mojo, rushing for only 434 yards and a touchdown. In the offseason, he transferred to UCF, and the coaching staff and his teammates are excited to have him on the team. “Bowser reminds me of the turtle in Mario Kart. He’s a big dude. I love him and I’m glad to have him on my team,” teammate Jaylon Robinson quipped afterward (orlandosentinal.com).
At 6’1” and 225-pounds, Bowser packs a punch and welcomes contact. In the next three weeks, the Knights host Bethune-Cookman (FCS) and travel to Louisville and Navy. All three matchups are enticing for Bowser and the running game.
Mataeo Durant, Duke (Yonke)
Fantrax Ownership: 35%
The past few seasons haven’t given College Fantasy Football managers much reason to roster a Duke player. The program is in a bad place after going 2-9 a season ago and falling 31-28 to Charlotte on Friday night. That being said, there was one notable bright spot from that game: the stellar play of running back Mataeo Durant. The senior ball carrier exploded for 255 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 29 carries, helping many owners take home a Week 1 victory by putting up nearly 50 fantasy points.
Durant will be one of the most popular players on the waiver wire, and for good reason. This Duke offense doesn’t have much else to work with and should continue to feed Durant throughout the year. The Blue Devils’ senior should thrive with the increased workload. Last year, he outgained fellow teammate Deon Jackson by more than 2.5 yards per rush, but the coaches did not reward his efficiency and explosiveness, as Jackson was given 41 more carries throughout the season in the same number of games. Jackson is no longer on campus, and Durant should be given as much work as he can handle as the focal point of this offense.
While the schedule won’t remain this easy for the entire season, he has some decent matchups up next with North Carolina A&T, Northwestern (more on them later), and Kansas on the slate over the next three weeks. He should be added and started in most leagues.
CFF All-Americans: Week 1
- QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky, 45.3 points
- QB Tanner Mordecai, SMU, 40.6 points
- RB DeAndre Torree, North Texas, 51 points
- RB Kenneth Walker, Michigan State, 50.4 points
- WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU, 41.8 points
- WR Corey Rucker, Arkansas State, 40.8 points
- WR Justin Hall, Ball State, 33.9 points
- TE Payne Durham, Purdue, 31 points
- Flex Mataeo Dutant, Duke, 48.2 points
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (Yonke)
Fantrax Ownership: 28%
Talk about an impressive opening performance! Kenneth Walker exploded onto the scene in his first game for the Spartans after transferring from Wake Forest, taking 23 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns against Northwestern. Yes, you read that correctly—those are his stats from just one game!
Walker has impressed in his career when given opportunities, most recently going for 579 yards and 13 touchdowns in only eight games in 2020 before deciding to transfer. He’s an immensely talented back that will certainly garner NFL draft buzz. He must have felt that the move to East Lansing would help increase his draft stock, and after one game, it certainly seems like he made the right decision.
Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson opted for a comical comparison after the game. “All week I was saying I can’t wait to watch Kenneth run because that’s the kind of stuff he was doing against us in practice…I’m like, oh, I can’t wait for him to do that against someone else. Y’all ever seen ‘The Longest Yard?’ He looks like Nelly off ‘The Longest Yard.’ Or we call him Boobie Miles–he can do it all,” (247sports.com).
While CFF managers can’t expect 50.4 fantasy points as a weekly occurrence, he needs to be added in every single league as he appears poised for a big season as the focal point of this offense. There were some questions about his workload going into the season, but those fears have been assuaged after no other Spartan back had more than five carries.
With Youngstown State, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, and Rutgers on the schedule for four of the next five games add Walker and expect big returns over the next month.
Jo’quavious Marks, Mississippi State (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 47%
I did not expect Jo’quavious Marks to remain available in over 50% of CFF leagues. Yet. The sophomore tailback is still a free agent in the majority of leagues on Fantrax so I added him to the list.
Marks’ value is wildly dependent on CFF scoring formats: In PPR-scoring leagues, The pass-catching runner skyrockets up rankings while in other formats he is less valuable. As a true freshman last year, he appeared in all 11 games with eight starts and established the single-season record for receptions by a freshman, and a running back, with 60 catches—the receptions tied for the most by an FBS freshman with Pittsburgh’s Jordan Addison.
At 5’10” and 205-pounds, Marks scored twice in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs overcome a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He posted his first career multi-touchdown game—two rushing and one receiving—and scored twice in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard run and a 5-yard carry. Marks garnered 21 touches: 12 carries and nine receptions for 98 yards from scrimmage.
If CFF managers miss out on the top-rated waiver wire running backs, the Mississippi State sophomore is a nice consolation acquisition. Of course, he is far more valuable when he earns a point-per-catch; nevertheless, he warrants a roster spot in all CFF leagues in 2021.
Brandon Thomas, Memphis (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 10%
All summer, I sought transparency on the Tigers’ backfield, and little was provided by the coaching staff or beat reporters. Finally, Memphis could not cloak its rotation on the field; Brandon Thomas out-snapped Rodrigues Clark 35-21. Earning his first start against Nicholls State, he sauntered for 147 yards on 16 carries and scored once.
In 2020, the Tigers never got the running game on track and disappointed fantasy players, including myself. Memphis rushed for over 300 yards last week and Thomas stands atop the depth chart. “I didn’t want it to be a running back by rotation or constantly changing our starters. So I think we know who our starter is,” coach Ryan Silverfield stated. CFF managers yearn for clarity in the backfield, and it looks like Thomas is the guy, which is tremendous news.
At 5’11” and 200-pounds, Thomas is an elusive runner, who constantly forced missed tackles against Nicholls State, and produced four runs over 16 yards. I always preach systems, and Thomas is in an idyllic scheme to produce fantasy points on a weekly basis.
Twitterverse on Fire!
Who Ya Got at running back on the waiver wire after the first weekend of games?
- Isaiah Bowser, UCF: 25%
- Kenneth Walker, Michigan State: 51.2%
- Mataeo Durant, Duke: 15.9%
- Jo’quavious Marks, Mississippi State: 8.5%
“Mataeo Durant is the offense for Duke. He will be a stud throughout the season.” @aceholesrule
“I underestimated Kenneth Walker. Never again. All of these guys are waiver targets. You can’t go wrong with any of them.” @CFF_Jared
“JoMarks isn’t available on any waiver wires in leagues I’m involved in.” @KHookem
Honorable Mention Gemstones
- QB Michael Pratt, Tulane
Fantrax Ownership: 30%
- QB Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Fantrax Ownership: 43%
- QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Fantrax Ownership: 10%
- RB Treyson Potts, Minnesota
Fantrax Ownership: 4%
- RB DeAndre Torrey, North Texas
Fantrax Ownership: 10%
- RB Rasheen Ali, Marshall
Fantrax Ownership: 1%
- WR Tay Martin, Oklahoma State
Fantrax Ownership: 9%
- WR Kevin Austin, Jr., Notre Dame
Fantrax Ownership: 12%
- TE Joshua Simon, Western Kentucky
Fantrax Ownership: 15%
- TE Cameron Latu, Alabama
Fantrax Ownership: 6%
Jameson Williams, Alabama (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 35%
Throughout the offseason narrative, CFF owners pontificated about the talent and depth of Alabama’s freshman wide receivers. Of course, John Metchie, III stood tall among the returning upperclassmen in the locker room. There was little discussion of Jameson Williams, who transferred from Ohio State to Alabama.
On Saturday, Williams showcased his extraordinary speed when he outran the Miami secondary, scoring a 94-yard touchdown, the second-longest touchdown pass in Crimson Tide history. The former Buckeyes’ speedster corralled four passes for 126 yards, averaging over 30 yards per catch.
On QB Bryce Young’s first throw of the game, he targeted Williams but the two did not connect. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien took note of the near-miss and dialed up another deep shot later in the contest. “To know we were going to take a shot early and for him to trust me and not try to hold back or changing the play calls, that means a lot,” Young proclaimed after the game (al.com).
In high school, Williams was graded as a four-star prospect, a top-150 player overall, and the No. 2-rated prospect in Missouri by 247Sports.com. He rarely got on the field at Ohio State and only registered 15 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns in two campaigns. I will always acquire upside pass catchers on the Crimson Tide, and Williams is still available in many leagues.
Victor Tucker, Charlotte (Yonke)
Fantrax Ownership: 30%
Tucker is one of those players that just seems like he’s been around forever. A reliable contributor at Charlotte since the minute he stepped foot onto campus. He has amassed over 2,100 receiving yards in his career to go along with 11 touchdowns. His experience should go a long way in seeing him achieve new heights this season, as this will be the fourth straight year that he’ll be catching passes from quarterback Chris Reynolds.
Another thing that will help Tucker this year is his confidence. When asked in July who the toughest defensive back to go against in the Conference USA was, Tucker responded by saying, “To be honest, it’s more about me and my mentality. None of them come to mind, I’m all about dominating whoever is in front of me, so nobody. None of ‘em good,” (UnderdogDynasty.com).
It appears as though Duke defenders weren’t up to the challenge of defending Tucker, either, as he dominated them to the tune of eight receptions and 133 yards. Tucker is in for a big year, and he knows it, too. He averaged 7.7 targets per game a year ago, and is a big-play threat who has averaged 15.0 yards per reception in his career.
As John mentioned previously with Reynolds, the schedule sets up fairly favorably going forward and he can be started next week against Gardner-Webb.
Neil Pau’u, BYU (Yonke)
Fantrax Ownership: 3%
Talk about a deep cut—only 3% ownership for my guy Neil? Pau’u made his name known as the likely go-to receiver in this BYU offense after catching 8 balls for 126 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona on Saturday night. If you didn’t stay up late enough to watch this game then you may have missed it, but Pau’u was the standout performer.
More of a tertiary option for last year’s offensive juggernaut, Pau’u would appear to be the number one option for a BYU team that is still capable of putting points on the scoreboard. His 11 targets are evidence of his connection with new starting quarterback Jaren Hall. It’s worth noting that teammate Gunner Romney (767 receiving yards last year) left the game with a knee injury and was seen heading to the locker room on crutches.
Pau’u is worth a look as long as he’s the top option for the Cougars. There is a chance that his workload decreases once the Nacua brothers return after both missing the opener, but Pau’u still appears to have made an important connection with his starting quarterback and will have the leg up.
He faces off against Utah and Arizona State over the next two games, which are difficult matchups. However, BYU plays South Florida and Utah State in Weeks 4 and 5, respectively, which could prove to be big-time scoring spots for Pau’u. If you have an empty roster spot, consider adding him and waiting until the cupcake matchups before playing him.
Dontay Demus, Jr., Maryland (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 47%
This year, I only rostered Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa in one league in which the starting lineup includes three quarterbacks each week. During the draft, I plucked the Terrapins’ field general as my fourth quarterback, and I am glad that I did after watching his performance against West Virginia.
Tagovailoa played so well that both starting receivers accumulated over 100 yards receiving. Donaty Demus, Jr. led the team with a career-best 133 yards on six receptions and crossed the finish line on a 66-yarder. The catch and run marked the fifth straight game Demus has scored a touchdown, and it’s the longest touchdown streak for a Maryland wide receiver in over three decades.
While teammate Rakim Jarrett garners the attention of the Devy community and NFL Draft scouts, Demus may be the better college fantasy football performer this year. At 6’4” and 215-pounds, the senior playmaker was named to the PFF preseason All-Big Ten team, Biletnikoff Watch list, and Reece’s Senior Bowl Watch list. There is no valid reason that Demus should remain a free agent in so many CFF leagues.
Twitterverse on Fire!
Who Ya Got at wide receiver on the waiver wire after the first weekend of games?
- Zakhari Franklin, UTSA: 32.1%
- Nathaniel Dell, Houston: 16.7%
- Danny Gray, SMU: 34.5%
- Victor Tucker, Charlotte: 16.7%
“Danny Gray is back! Tanner Mordecai seems very capable, and Gray will be a great pickup.” @aceholesrule
“Zakhari Franklin showed more upside yesterday that I was expecting out of him. I’ll absolutely be targeting him in any league that I’m struggling at receiver in!” @CFF_Jared
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