College fantasy football is an entirely different creature than NFL fantasy football. Many of the stats and scores in NCAA football games tend to be off the beyond the pale of what you would see in the pro game. It’s not uncommon to have a running back score 3 or 4 touchdowns or a quarterback score 4 to 6 TDs, so you have to be able to target players most likely to have huge games.
What’s more, college football has over a hundred Division I football programs, so you have a whole lot more teams to scout, roughly 3.5 times as many as you’ll scout in the NFL. The highest-scoring players every week may or may not be on teams headed towards a BCS bowl game, so you have to keep your eye out for scoring talent across the college scoreboard.
College fantasy football can be a lot of work, if you play in a league which allows a free range of conferences and independents. But playing in a fantasy football league also rewards the fantasy football owner who takes the time to really know the game, which is what most hard core ff competitors want, anyway.
Players new to college fantasy sports will find other differences, too. So I’ll compare and contrast the pro and college fantasy games, then offers some advice and suggestions to help you avoid rookie mistakes.
Draft Quarterbacks – College Fantasy Football Tips
NFL fantasy football drafts tend to be about getting running backs first and adding quarterbacks and wide receivers later. You can try that strategy in college fantasy football, but you’re going to find it’s usually a huge mistake.
Remember earlier when I pointed out that quarterbacks have a lot more scoring potential than they do in the National Football League? You have to keep that in mind when it’s time to draft. If you get a dominant quarterback, he can sometimes single-handedly lead you to a victory–especially if your opponent’s QB has an off-week. The same works in reverse, so if you don’t find a good quarterback, you’re going to be taking it in the gut most of the year.
Remember the Big Ten – NCAA Fantasy Football Advice
We all know the SEC is the best college football conference. That doesn’t make it the best fantasy football conference. In fact, the high competition level in the Southeastern Conference is what makes it less desirable to field a team from the Old South. You want teams in mismatches playing mediocre-to-awful defenses. You want teams with passing styles and pro style offenses.
Those elements all come together in the (ten team) Big 12. When you draft the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback, Texas Longhorns passer, or even the OSU QB, most years you’re going to get a high-powered passer going against a lot of defenses. While I wouldn’t rush out to draft Garrett Gilbert in 2011, Landry Jones of OU is one of the early Heisman candidates.
Quarterback-Wide Receiver Combos Rule
I have a friend who got into fantasy football in the last couples. At one of his first live drafts, he ended up setting next to a cantankerous old veteran FF owner, “Greg”, who’s known for offering unsolicited advice. When the newbie owner drafted Drew Brees and paired him with Marques Colston last year, Greg told him, “Quarterback-Wide Receiver combo, huh?…That never works.”
I’ve seldom fielded the elite QB-WR combination in pro fantasy football over the years. It’s not that I avoid it, but when you’re trying to draft the best player available, you have about a 1-in-32 chance of drafting the QB-WR combo any given draft–maybe higher when you consider two starting WRs on every team and the discounting of lousy passing teams like the Browns and Raiders. But in my experience, the teams that try to draft combos high in the draft tend to do pretty lousy, perhaps because that means they don’t draft as many running backs high. While a quarterback and receiver combination means double points when it happens, it also could mean less consistency, due to less diversification of your fantasy football portfolio.
That’s not always the case in college. The quarterback can have bigger games. The receiver is facing softer coverage. If you get a successful combination, you’ll be able to cash in at twice the rate. And since you have a larger selection of running backs to choose from, you won’t have as much of a trade-off at the RB position, if you have a Plan B with lesser known or mid-major running backs. So if you play NFL fantasy football and recoil at the thought of drafting the WR and QB from the same school and having that much riding on whether your star receiver and passer hook up, don’t worry so much about doubling up in college. In fact, if you get the right combo, you can bury your weekly opponent in points this way.
Pay Attention throughout the Week
One of the reasons fantasy football is more mainstream than fantasy baseball or fantasy basketball is the casual nature of the hobby. For the most part, fantasy football owners only have to keep track of games every Sunday. Sure, there’s Monday night football and free agency at some point mid-week, but you don’t have to watch MNF and the free agency takes all of 5 minutes to set–maybe 15 minutes to research. Fantasy football is a low-impact fantasy sport, when you consider that fantasy baseball lasts 2 months longer and requires viewing 7 days a week.
College football, though it only last for the better part of three months, can be a 6 day-a-week hobby. Besides Sunday when the NFL rules, you can have a game pop up on any other day of the week. Thursday and Saturday are the key days, but you’ll occasionally have games any other day of the week besides Sunday. You have to play closer attention to NCAA fantasy football than you would your standard NFL schedule–even if Roger Goodell eventually gets his way and has a Thursday game every week of the season on NFL Network.
Last Edit: March 10, 2014