CFBDynasty gathered a few of the top College Fantasy Football Experts for a Q&A session. Read, make notes, and draft better with tips from the pros. Shoutout to Mike Bainbridge, Thor Nystrom, and Justin Heisey for participating! Check out their bios at the bottom of the post and give these guys a follow on Twitter if you like winning.
Comment below if you have questions for a potential round 2 version!
Nystrom – “I typically play in 3-4 college leagues, four NFL leagues and one Devy league each fall. I plan to double the number of college leagues I’m in this season, though.”
Bainbridge – “I typically participate in three leagues per year, while also assisting in multiple mock drafts over the offseason. Like to get a variety, so I am one dynasty league, one standard league with friends and I also am in the Pro’s vs. Joe’s league each year that was created by my friend John Laub.”
Heisey – “I usually participate in four fantasy college football leagues and two fantasy football leagues annually. “
McElfresh – “There was a time in my life when I participated in 5+ leagues and may have a bet or three on a few games and an O/U or two. I recall a day when I was stressed out watching college football because I had a WR for a team in one league but the opposing defense in another league while in another league my opponent had the other WR combined with a parlay’d bet on the O/U. It killed my joy and #1 hobby of college football so I cut back to a single league, my dynasty college-to-pro league in season 9. I now participate in John Laub’s Pros vs Joes and this will be my 2nd season of that.”
Laub – “It is my ninth year playing college fantasy football, and I will likely play in five leagues. I also manage 10 NFL fantasy teams and play DFS; therefore, I can’t manage more CFB teams even though I would love to participate in as many as possible.”
Nystrom – “It’s pretty chill. I do my player rankings in June and update them throughout the summer, so before a draft, I simply print mine off and try to stick to a best-available-player strategy throughout. If I’m in an expert draft, I’ll also open the tabs of my competitor’s rankings so I can get an idea of which direction they may go early. That sometimes allows me project a couple guys who may slide 10-20 slots below where I have them ranked. This is sneaky practice, to be sure—like the Vikings having access to the rest of the NFC’s draft boards in April—but I assume a few of my industry CFB buddies are doing the same to me, so I don’t feel too bad about it. #sorrynotsorry”
Bainbridge – “Each season I create both a depth chart spreadsheet and a projection spreadsheet that ranks over 1000 players from all offensive skills positions based on their projected fantasy points per game. So really no preparation from my end with those in hand as I reference them frequently during drafts as they are helpful tools. The goal is to have my subscribers utilize these same methods to succeed in their upcoming drafts.”
Heisey – “I start about a month after the conclusion of the previous season and I open an excel sheet and type out all the returning starters from the previous season that piqued my interest. Then after the spring games have taken place I go back in and add in the standouts of the spring games. I pick up Phil Steele’s College Football Previews, Athlon’s College Football Preview, and Lindy’s College football preview and look through all 130 teams and add in their offensive players. I then go through and rank them by position based on point systems and player performance. Then I update it as injuries occur, or transfers happen.”
McElfresh – “It’s never-ending. I have a Draft Board in Google Sheets that I keep updating year-round during the many hours of college football and as news breaks. Participating in a college-to-pro dynasty league, I’m always looking at the next great. I certainly pickup the Phil Steele magazine along with Athlon. Coaching changes, transfers, projected statistical potential, and plain ole intuition also play a big role in how I may favor one player over another.”
Laub – “It starts during the bowl season in which I watch nearly every game. I need to examine the underclassmen, who might start the following campaign. I closely monitor the coaching changes across the county and analyze the new schemes team’s implement. And finally, the spring practices and games provide additional insight on possible starters in key positions. Afterwards, I make my player rankings.”
Nystrom – “Last season, I grabbed Cal WR Chad Hansen late in the leagues where I was able. He was one of my favorite sleepers heading into last season—Sonny Dykes was slobbering all over him to any reporter who would listen last spring and summer—and it turned out pretty well. I’m also extremely active on the waiver wire in the first few weeks of the college season and was able to land Amba Etta-Tawo in multiple leagues.”
Bainbridge – “I don’t recall exactly what round he was selected in last season, but in my current dynasty league, I draft Colorado State WR Michael Gallup well beyond the 10th round of our 26-round draft. Gallup was a little-known junior college transfer coming into last season but wound up as a regular starter in my lineup that led me to second place in the league. Gallup now enters this season as a Top 5 projected WR in terms of fantasy football, so the position on my roster is in excellent shape heading into 2017.”
Heisey – “The best draft pick I’ve had was last season when I managed to steal John Ross in the 12th round after he sat out in 2015 with an injury. The best waiver wire pick up I’ve snagged was Keenan Reynolds in 2012 when he first started to show the offensive monster he could become.”
McElfresh – “My CFBDynasty League only allows 3 waiver wire selections so they’re crucial. I picked up a tiny freshman SDST RB named Donnel Pumphrey who basically stayed in my starting lineup for the majority of 3.5 seasons.
I also have to mention Tyler Register, an owner in the CFBDynasty League, selected little known freshman Andrew Luck in the final round(26th) of our original draft in 2008.”
Laub – “In 2012, I picked up freshman running back Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech) off waivers after he scored three touchdowns against Rice in the second game of the season. Dixon scored 28 times, and along with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, I won two league titles.”
Nystrom – “In any league—NFL, college, CFL, lingerie football league, whatever—take your kicker and defense in the last two rounds and stream throughout the season. As for tight end, that’s entirely dependent on the best-available strategy. In some drafts, I won’t take my tight end until the third-to-last round. In others—such as Wes Huber’s CFB industry dynasty league that kicked off last summer—I’ll take a tight end quite early. In that league, I took Jaylen Samuels in Rd. 3. I figured he’d be worth a 3-4 point head start over any team I played over the next two years, and that was certainly the case last year.”
Bainbridge – “Kicker I typically wait until the last round no matter what unless there was far-and-away a top player at the position, but that is incredibly rare in college. If kicker is in the last round, I will probably select a defense right before that. Those are just two positions that I do not prioritize in drafts but everyone has a different strategy.
In terms of tight end, it is typically in the back half of the draft as well. In most years there are typically 50-75 WRs that I project will score more fantasy points than the top tight end. For tight ends, the size of the league is key. 10-14 teams in the league, there is no issue in waiting. Any bigger than that, you may want to think about grabbing early”
Heisey – “It all depends on who the highest rated Tight End at the time is. Jaylen Samuels has been a 3-5 round guy for the past few seasons due to the offensive system at NC State playing him occasionally as a running back. The next tier of Tight Ends I would take in round six through eight but the latest I would wait to draft one is the ninth round but round six is the prime spot for a tight end.
There are usually two schools of thought for defenses. One is taking a defense and riding it out with them and the other is playing week to week. Those who ride or die with one defense, the first defenses which would be Alabama or Clemson this season are third round picks, the second defenses like Ohio State and Wisconsin go from rounds seven to twelve. For those who play week to week (such as myself) I would use every round building a team up then use my second to last pick on a defense playing a weaker offense week one.
The best kickers should be drafted in rounds nine to twelve and after that I would wait until my final pick to take a kicker so I can focus on higher pointed player groups.”
McElfresh – “Like every selection, it’s primarily about the potential statistical advantage gained over your opponents. If your league allows 5’9 180 lb players that also carry the ball yet Fantrax lists them as a “TE”…you have to take him early likely round 4-6 in a 12 team league. If your league disallows the Jaylen Samuels type at TE, and the top TE’s average 10 ppg and a normal TE averages 5 ppg…a 5 ppg advantage isn’t worth an early round selection. I spoke about this some in my top 5 strategies to win college fantasy football.
Kicker is typically the last selection for me…unless he’s the most exciting offensive player on your favorite team. In that case, I may reach for Eddy Pineiro who’ll probably kick a couple 60-yarders this season.
Unless you select Alabama early, you can wait on a defense until late in the year.”
Laub – “In a standard scoring league, my last three picks of a draft would be Tight End, Kicker and Team Defense. I am not spending any draft capital on those positions. It is very easy to acquire valuable contributors off waivers.”
Nystrom – “QB- Purdue’s David Blough (now operating a Jeff Brohm offense).
RB- Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson (physical freak who’ll get a ton of touches in one of college football’s best offenses with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon off to the NFL; the caveat with Anderson is that he must stay healthy… true boom-or-bust pick).
WR- Syracuse’s Steve Ishmael (was on everyone’s sleeper list last year but disappointed with a 48-559-1 line; with Etta-Tawo (94-1,482-14) gone, Ishmael could produce similar numbers in Syracuse’s pass-happy system).”
Bainbridge – “A few come to mind here. (1) Arkansas RB Devwah Whaley should have an excellent chance to become a Top 10 player at the position due to the unfortunate circumstances of Raleigh Williams retiring from the sport. The Razorbacks typically like to rotate between their top two, but depth is lacking. I can see Whaley being the bell cow in 2017.
(2) Louisiana Tech WR Teddy Veal was under-utilized in his time at Tulane, hence the transfer. There will be plenty of receptions to go around as La. Tech lost its top two receivers who combined for over 200 catches a season ago. I expect Veal to have 80+ receptions this year. And speaking of Louisiana Tech, QB J’Mar Smith is my yearly fantasy crush this year. He played in Week 1 last season replacing suspended starter Ryan Higgins and played well on the road against Arkansas with over 200 yards passing and a touchdown. He is a dual-threat option in an explosive offense. That can only mean good things.”
Heisey – “The obvious candidate for Breakout Player of the Year is Jarrett Stidham at Auburn. Stidham was showing signs of greatness at Baylor before an injury derailed his freshman season but if his performance in Auburn’s spring game that included a 50-yard bomb to Nate Craig-Myers. A less obvious choice would be Shea Patterson. Patterson threw for 880 yards in three games last season and racked up 341 yards in Ole Misses Spring Game. Patterson has been described as a second Manziel on the field and if that is the case then I’m excited to watch Rebel football this season. “
McElfresh – “Devwah Whaley is the painful answer for me as I had Rawleigh Williams in my CFBDynasty League. A second painful answer (being a Gators fan) is Will Grier who should absolutely tear it up in the defensive pillow-fighting Big 12 for a Dana Holgorson offense. By season’s end, everyone will know N’Keal Harry who should emerge as a top WR in the country. The 600 yards and 5 TD’s as a freshman should be easily doubled this season.”
Laub – “In 2017, my two favorite breakout players are QB Daniel Jones (Duke) and RB Kamryn Pettway (Auburn). Both competitors will become weekly CFB starters on rosters this fall.”
Nystrom – “QB- Tulsa’s Chad President (he’s no a shoe-in to win the job, but if he does, President could be a fantasy stud; Tulsa’s wide-open system, similar to Baylor’s old offense, is a perfect fit for the dual-threat President. Tulsa returns one of the Group of 5’s best OLs, a stud RB and several good receivers).
Nevada’s David Cornwell is running a brand-new Air Raid system at his new school. He’s also worth a long, long look.
RB – Wyoming’s Milo Hall (stepping into the Brian Hill role; defenses will be far more concerned with slowing down QB Josh Allen than flooding his running lanes).
I’m also highly intrigued by UCLA’s Soso Jamabo, who will be ignored on draft day because the Bruins’ run game was so horrendous last fall. But QB Josh Rosen is now healthy, the offensive line should be better and the offense will be far more run-friendly now that Jim Mora imported former Michigan offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to run the show.
WR – Wyoming’s C.J. Johnson (should be Josh Allen’s No. 1 target this fall with most of the Cowboys’ receptions leaving over the offseason).
Bainbridge – “Wyoming WR C.J. Johnson I think has a chance to top 1,000 yards this year. Wyoming lost their top 3 pass catchers from last season, and Johnson was the top wideout during the spring. Lots of opportunities there for playing time. Also like UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers who entered the spring as the No. 3 QB and came out of it the starter. He has all the weapons he could ask for at receiver and is a dual-threat which is college fantasy gold as we know.”
Heisey – “If he takes the starting job over Manny Wilkins like I believe he should, Blake Barnett is going to be huge. There isn’t a lot of college tape on him but Billy Napier’s offensive system at Clemson focused on getting the best player the ball and Barnett will be their best player this season. Whoever wins the starting running back job at Pittsburgh whether it be Moss or Ollison will put up big numbers just as their predecessor James Conner did. Brandon Harris may have been a tease the past two seasons at LSU but the talent is there and Larry Fedora has shown how successful a guy like Harris can be in his system so a late round pick on Harris is a medium risk high reward pick.”
McElfresh – “I have a long list of sleepers but some aren’t sure-fire starters yet. I like the UCF offense in year 2 of Scott Frost. This up-tempo offense returns 9 starters. I really have my eye on QB McKenzie Milton who played some last year, Freshman 4-star RB Cordarrian Richardson, and SO 4-star WR Dredrick Snelson.”
Laub – “There are two wide receivers, who I am drafting as often as possible: Missouri’s J’Mon Moore and Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry.
QB – Georgia’s Jake Fromm
RB – Alabama’s Najee Harris
WR – Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones
QB- Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson
RB- Arkansas’ Devwah Whaley
WR- Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry”
Bainbridge – “In terms of players with NFL potential, here are players I like at each position: (QB) Jarrett Stidham for Auburn is the most talented quarterback the Tigers have had since Cam Newton. Just a sophomore, he has the arm talent that not many QBs in college football can rival, plus some mobility to add as well. (RB) Benny Snell from Kentucky really came on strong during the middle portion of his freshman season, rushing for over 100 yards in four games during a five-game span. He should be even better as a sophomore. At (WR), look no further than D.K. Metcalf for Ole Miss. He is certainly well-known amongst Devy analysts. While his number this year may not show it, expect Metcalf to be a first round draft pick in a few years.”
Heisey – “One player I’m looking forward to is Mike Weber from Ohio State. Weber managed to rush for over a thousand yards as a freshman while also sharing time with Curtis Samuels. He has great rushing ability and can serve as a reliable receiving option. His four fumbles last season is a bit concerning but he still has time. As far as a Quarterback, Jacob Eason has the skill set to run an NFL offense but needs to develop as a leader before he gets to that stage. Tee Higgins is the receiver I’m most looking forward to. Higgins is 6’4” giving him the size advantage over smaller corners and he also has football speed that gives him the ability the stretch the field. Clemson has put out elite receiving talent in the past couple drafts with Watkins, Hopkins, Bryant, and Williams and Higgins will be on this list come junior year. The one issue I have is that he’s a little thin and needs to bulk up a bit.”
“QB – Jacob Eason and Shea Patterson have incredible arm talent that jumps off the screen. I also love what I saw from Tua Tagovailoa in the Alabama spring game. Have to see more in a real game but he’s certainly a player to watch.
RB – Cam Akers and Najee Harris are likely pro players who haven’t played a down yet. Don’t sleep on the forgotten nationss #1 RB from 2015 who redshirted at Michigan last year, Kareem Walker will have to fight to earn playing time. I love a 5-star talent who also has to work hard to earn a position.
WR – Ole Miss has two in Van Jefferson and Metcalf. USC’s FR Joseph Lewis is a potential starter this season. But I absolutely love Jerry Jeudy from Alabama and Donovan Peoples-Jones from Michigan.”
“Quarterback: USC Sam Darnold
Running Back: Arkansas Devwah Whaley
Wide Receiver: Alabama Jerry Jeudy”
Nystrom – “I really like UNLV redshirt freshman QB Armani Rogers. One of the best recruits UNLV has ever signed, Rogers was named the starter in the spring over Johnny Stanton and Kurt Palandech, who both started games last year. UNLV’s offense is loaded with skill position talent for a G5 team with WRs Devonte Boyd and Kendal Keys and RBs Lexington Thomas and Charles Williams. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Rodgers turns in a top-30 fantasy season among quarterbacks, and he’ll go for far cheaper than that on draft day.
Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond is also worth a mention, but he’ll have to win the job next month to qualify.”
Bainbridge – “The two freshman that will make the most immediate impact outside of Akers are TE Matt Bushman from BYU and WR Jhamon Ausbon from Texas A&M. Bushman looks to have secured a starting spot already after just his first spring practice with the team, and BYU is expected to feature the position more in 2017. Ausbon is expected to start opposite Christian Kirk for the Aggies and at the very least will be a red-zone threat. I expect 50+ receptions for Ausbon in his first year. “
Heisey – “On the offensive side of the ball I would have to say either Hunter Johnson or Kellen Mond. I don’t see Dabo Swinney or Kevin Sumlin passing on both of these guys for the whole season. Mond could start coming into the season but I see Johnson having to wait for after the Louisville game to take the job like Watson did in 2014. Jaelan Phillips for UCLA will make the biggest impact on defense. He will come in and take the defensive end job and make an already good defense better. His natural pass rush ability along with his size and great athleticism will make him a force to be reckoned with, and he’s only getting started.”
McElfresh – “I already mentioned Cordarrian Richardson, the 4-star RB at UCF. Keep close tabs on whoever wins the Virginia Tech QB job. Coach Fuente is well-known for QB production and dual threat FR Josh Jackson is likely to win that job. He’s competing with another FR Hooker who’s also intriguing if he wins the job.”
Laub – “I really am interested in Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. The Wolverines lost Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt, who combined for 138 catches and 13 touchdowns. The dynamic freshman will get garner plenty of targets in Ann Arbor, MI this season.”
Thor Nystrom is a former MLB.com associate reporter who is now a college football and NFL Draft staff writer for NBC Sports’ Rotoworld. A graduate of the University of Kansas’ journalism school and the University of Iowa’s graduate creative writing school, his nonfiction writing has been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. His biggest professional accomplishment, however, was picking Clemson to upset Alabama in last season’s title game.
Mike Bainbridge has been writing about and studying college fantasy football for the better part of the last eight years. Originally writing for College Football Geek in the early years, Bainbridge now contributes to Athlon Sports as well as his College Fantasy Blog on Patreon which can be found here.
Justin Heisey has studied fantasy college football for almost seven years and is the Fantasy College Football Expert for Fantrax.com. Heisey has also written for North Greenville University for most of their Athletic teams.
Brian McElfresh is the founder of CFBDynasty and top contributor. Born in Gainesville, FL, he’s a Florida Gators fan but enjoys watching too many hours of any game of college football. Currently he is the Director of Customer Acquisition for RealTruck.com focusing on SEO, Digital Advertising, and Retention. During the nights, early mornings, and weekends he’s focused on CFBDynasty with a healthy dose of golf.
John Laub played fantasy football for nearly three decades and provided FootballDiehards.com with weekly player rankings—including sleepers and long shots—for twenty years. Currently co-host of the DFSDudes Podcast, he supplements the free-program with a weekly DFS column: The Scholar’s DraftKings Sheet of Knowledge on FootballDiehards.com.