A college football season is a fleeting thing. Fantasy managers have twelve weeks to analyze, decipher, and weigh a small sample of games. Each week’s data is valuable but can mislead even the savviest player. And there are just so many games to go through that it can seem overwhelming to sift through, like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. 

That’s where we come in.

Every week, with the help of my friends here at Campus2Canton, I’ll be breaking down the most important takeaways from the college football weekend. Week 0 was a smaller slate, so there are only a few pieces of information that I think you should consider as we enter the full college football season.

Week 0 Target Leaders

This was not a strong slate for overpowered passing attacks, so some of these totals probably aren’t very intriguing unless you’re in the deepest of deep leagues. But there are a few familiar names on the list, and maybe more importantly, several that surprisingly did not make the cut.

Tyrin SmithUTEP1632.65%
Trey PalmerNebraska1330.95%
Josh DownsNorth Carolina1231.58%
Kordell DavidNew Mexico State1132.35%
Kelly AkharaiyiUTEP1122.44%
Malik WashingtonNorthwestern1128.94%
James PhillipsHawaii1131.43%
Data courtesy of PFF

Trey Palmer received a lot of hype this offseason, and he lived up to it from a volume perspective in Week 0. He was credited with one drop, but there was at least one other pass that he probably would like back. Palmer lined up in the slot roughly two-thirds of the time, which mirrors Jordan Addison’s usage in this same system last year. I’m not saying we should expect that type of season, but I’m not NOT saying it either (Note: Trey Palmer will not win the Biletnikoff Award).

Any worry that Josh Downs would cede some of his target share with a new quarterback quickly evaporated Saturday night. Drake Maye looked his way often, although it was clear the chemistry is still not quite there for the duo. No other receiver on this team had more than five targets on a night where the Tarheels passed the ball 38 times. Downs should still be a weekly starter, and it does not appear that his draft stock will take a hit.

The final name I want to draw attention to is Tyrin Smith, who earned the target crown this week. We assumed that Smith would probably lead UTEP in receiving this year, but we may have understated how bad this team is. UTEP lost to a mediocre North Texas squad by three scores this weekend, and they passed early and often to try to close that gap. If the game script continues to unfold like it did this week, Smith may be a name worth keeping an eye on.

Freshman Snap Counts

Our very own PJ puts together an excellent weekly thread on snap shares for relevant freshmen during the season, and he’s already dropped it for this week.

It was a thin week for freshmen that we care about, but the three highly-anticipated Tarheels all saw the field this week against an overmatched FAMU team. More importantly for the RB duo (Omarion Hampton & George Pettaway), they out-snapped the rest of the backfield at UNC. I expect to see a lot more of them as the season progresses.

WR Andre Greene Jr. had just over 20 snaps but no targets. It may be prudent to pump the breaks on expectations for Greene this season. The opportunity for him certainly exists, but he was considered fairly raw out of high school.

Don’t Panic Yet: Hilltopper Edition

We’ve received more questions on the Western Kentucky offense than any other unit this weekend. Yes, WKU scored 38 points total, but seven came on an INT return for a touchdown, and the offense struggled to sustain drives for most of the day.

It’s only one game, so we don’t want to draw any overarching conclusions. It is notable that there’s a new play caller in town, a new QB (a DII transfer nonetheless), and a whole host of new weapons to blood in. Not the most ideal situation in the world. Plus, it poured for much of the second half, which certainly limited the passing attack in some capacity.

With all those caveats, there are some concerning data points from this game. For starters, Western Kentucky ran a balanced offense, rushing the ball 32 times while passing only 34. This starkly contrasts with the 2021 season, where they passed almost 50 times per game and ran it only 24. WKU ran the ball more than 30 times once all of last season. Again, there are a lot of moving parts that need to settle in, but it’s definitely alarming. 

The other intriguing note was their pace of play. Last season’s WKU averaged 75 plays per game. The tempo never hit those levels on Saturday. I would not advocate fading this offense at this stage, but we may need to rethink Austin Reed as an auto-starter each week.

I’ll end this one with some good news: the WKU defense did not look particularly good. Expect a lot of wide-open games where WKU will need to score 35+ to have any chance of winning.

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