Fifteen Fantastic CFF Sleepers in 2015
Fifteen Fantastic CFF Sleepers in 2015
The Gridiron Scholar
While NFL Fantasy Football is a countrywide cultural obsession, the CFF game lags far behind in popularity. With the rise of Daily Fantasy Sports, college football fanaticism is bound to proliferate, and fans are seeking information in order to navigate the new frontier among 128 FBS teams.
To assist veterans and rookies in the CFF universe, the results of our Mock Draft were analyzed in order to provide value and insight into over-looked and under-valued performers. Only players selected after the seventh round (and several added free agents) were scrutinized and projections provided for each in 2015.
Player, Team (Round, Overall Pick in Mock Draft)
RB Larry Rose III, New Mexico State (Round 8, 95)
In only 10 games last season, the Aggie freshman exploded for 1,102 yards rushing with nine touchdowns. He rambled for over 100 yards in five games, including a 229-yard effort against Louisiana Monroe. Averaging 110.2 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry, Rose became the focal point of a passing-deficient offense. New Mexico State runs an up-tempo, quick-passing scheme with a single runner in the backfield, and the Fairfield, Texas native will garner plenty of carries in 2015.
Passing Yards and TDs: 1,330 and 13
Rushing Yards and TDs: 300 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 247
QB Jacoby Brissett, NC State (Round 9, 100)
The Florida transfer is one of the more dynamic signal callers in the nation. In the Power 5 Conferences, Brissett was one of only three quarterbacks to log over 2,000 yards passing, 300 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns with five or less interceptions. To conclude the campaign, he was named the Bitcoin Bowl MVP with 293 yards of total offense. Brissett led the Wolfpack to an 8-5 mark after a horrific 3-9 crusade in 2013, and NC State might win double-digit games this season. The North Carolina State two-way playmaker is an idyllic third-quarterback on CFF rosters.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,000 and 26
Rushing Yards and TDs: 620 and 4
Total Fantasy Points: 310
QB Zach Terrell, Western Michigan (Round 9, 102)
The redshirt junior directs one of the most electrifying offenses in the nation; the unit returns all of its key skill position playmakers. Terrell, the MAC’s most efficient hurler, passed for nearly 3,500 yards, tossed 26 touchdowns and earned the MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete last year. A fearless long-thrower, the Broncos commander takes his shots down the field to compliment the power running of Jarvion Franklin. Terrell will produce an abundance of points for CFF fans in the right matchups this season.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,850 and 31
Rushing Yards and TDs: 250 and 3
Total Fantasy Points: 321
RB Brian Hill, Wyoming (Round 9, 103)
Employing a throwback philosophy to yesteryear, Wyoming’s offense relies on the ground game to win games. In the Mountain West Conference, the Cowboys have the best one-two punch in the backfield with senior Shaun Wick and sophomore Brian Hill. A true-freshman last year, Hill shined down the stretch as a starter after replacing Wick, who broke his hand, in the backfield. The Belleville, Illinois native set a school-record 281 yards rushing against Fresno State in the first start of his career, and for the season, he galloped for 746 yards rushing, scored seven times and recorded 13 receptions. At 6’1” and 211 pounds, Hill punishes tacklers and may become the alpha dog in Wyoming.
Rushing Yards and TDs: 1,050 and 12
Receiving Yards and TDs: 300 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 212
WR Dom Williams, Washington State (Round 10, 115)
With the departure of quarterback Connor Halliday and wide receivers Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers, the Cougars offense looks entirely different this fall. Dom Williams finished fifth on the club with 43 catches last year and a much bigger role in the aerial assault is expected this season. At 6’2” and 190 pounds, the redshirt senior scored nine touchdowns and averaged 15.3 yards per catch. Among the 128 FBS schools, Washington State finished at the very bottom in rushing, and coach Mike Leach will not change his Air Raid attack. During the annual spring scrimmage, Williams was the best player on the gridiron with eight catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns. There are plenty of fantasy points available among the Cougars’ receiving corps, and Williams likely out produces all of his teammates.
Receiving Yards and TDs: 1,200 and 12
Total Fantasy Points: 192
RB Marlon Mack, South Florida (Round 11, 126)
Not many CFF owners are going to examine the South Florida roster for perspective players. Nevertheless, those diligent diehards know that sophomore Marlon Mack warrants consideration. He was named AAC Rookie of the Year after dashing for 1,041 yards on the ground, a school record for a freshman, and scoring nine touchdowns. In his first game as a collegian, he established a new South Florida rushing mark with 275 yards against Western Carolina. A thrilling open-field runner, Mack reads his blocks well and bursts through holes. The best player on the Bulls is a rock-solid fourth or fifth ball carrier on CFF clubs.
Rushing Yards and TDs: 1,150 and 11
Receiving Yards and TDs: 190 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 206
WR Hunter Sharp, Utah State (Round 11, 128)
Amazingly, Hunter Sharp secured 66 catches for 939 yards and seven scores despite three triggermen throwing the football last season. A JUCO transfer, Sharp immediately became the Aggies go-to option and posted four 100-yard outings in the first six games played. A big-play competitor, four of his scores came from long distance: 70, 72, 75 and 81 yards. The 6’0”, 190-pound burner is a dangerous open-field threat and attacks the secondary vertically. He has good hands, blocks well and plays bigger than his stature indicates. If senior QB Chuckie Keeton can return healthy, Sharp should easily gain over 1,000 yards receiving and earn Mountain West accolades at the end of the crusade.
Receiving Yards and TDs: 1,120 and 9
Total Fantasy Points: 166
QB Greg Ward, Jr., Houston (Round 12, 135)
The athletic junior made the transition from wideout to quarterback last season and started the final eight games behind center for the Cougars, guiding the club to six victories. While he was inconsistent throwing the pigskin, the former wideout shined down the stretch, totaling 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns over the final three games. In the Armed Forces Bowl, Ward guided Houston to an improbable 25-point, fourth-quarter comeback victory against Pittsburgh. During the spring game, Ward elucidated improvement as a passer, completing 13 of 17 throws for 115 yards and scoring two rushing touchdowns. A dual-threat competitor with tremendous athletic ability always deserves a CFF roster spot.
Passing Yards and TDs: 2,750 and 20
Rushing Yards and TDs: 750 and 8
Total Fantasy Points: 313
RB Jalen Hurd, Tennessee (Round 12, 137)
As a true freshman, Jalen Hurd played in all 13 games and rambled for 899 yards rushing while scoring seven times. He totaled over 100 yards in four contests and caught 35 passes for 221 yards. A 230-pound puncher, the sophomore will share carries with JUCO transfer Alvin Kamara, providing the Volunteers with one of the deepest backfields in the SEC. The diehard Tennessean fans have already labeled the duo “thunder and lightening” for the upcoming crusade. A one-cut, smashing ball carrier, Hurd is first on the depth chart and likely to get the majority of carries. A tremendous value pick for astute CFF fanatics.
Rushing Yards and TDs: 1,070 and 10
Receiving Yards and TDs: 300 and 3
Total Fantasy Points: 215
WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State (Round 12, 143)
Why draft the undervalued Nittany Lion? A very simple answer: The offensive line will be better. The O-line surrendered an appalling 44 sacks and rated among the worst units in the FBS last year. Coach James Franklin addressed the team’s major weakness in the offseason and the line will be improved. Therefore, the aerial attack should launch and DaeSean Hamilton will shine. The Penn State stud led the Big Ten in receptions with 82 last year; however, he only scored twice. QB Christian Hackenberg targets Hamilton more often in the red zone, as the redshirt sophomore becomes a weekly CFF starter.
Receiving Yards and TDs: 1,150 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 175
QB Dane Evans, Tulsa (Round 13, 153)
Tulsa played in three consecutive Bowl games from 2010-12, and new coach Philip Montgomery looks forward to returning the Golden Hurricanes back to prominence. The Tulsa headman interned under Baylor coach Art Briles and expects redshirt junior Dane Evans to excel in his up-tempo air attack. During the spring game, the junior hurler tossed three touchdowns and completed 18 of 23 passes for 271 yards. An up-and-down performer during his tenure on campus, Evans looks like a much-improved player entering training camp. Without question, drafting the Tulsa field general as a starter is a worthwhile gamble. CFF owners will be rewarded with many monster games in the defensively challenged AAC.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,650 and 32
Rushing Yards and TDs: 50 and 2
Total Fantasy Points: 291
RB Shadrach Thornton, N.C. State (Not Drafted)
For three consecutive seasons, Shadrach Thornton has increased his rushing totals from the previous campaign: 694, 768 and 907. The senior bulldozer ranks 10th in Wolfpack history in rushing yards (2,873) and has scored 18 times, including 16 rushing. While big-play runner Matt Dayes garners the majority of attention in Raleigh and across the nation, Thornton is the hammer in the NC State ground game. He has overcome off-the-field adversity while enrolled in school and appears to have buried his troubles in the past. A Wolfpack ball carrier hasn’t topped 1,000 yards in a season since 2002, and Thornton is poised to end the draught in 2015.
Passing Yards and TDs: 1,100 and 10
Rushing Yards and TDs: 170 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 193
RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia (Not Drafted)
A former five-star recruit, Rushel Shell had a tough time staying on the gridiron with a severely sprained ankle last season, missing one game and leaving early in others. He led the club in rushing with 788 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 140 yards. A transfer from Pittsburgh, Shell will likely be called upon to assist a depleted passing attack without WRs Kevin White and Mario Alford as well as QB Clint Trickett. The Mountaineers have been a pass-happy team under coach Dana Holgorsen, but will likely rely on the 5’10”, 221-pound redshirt junior and teammate Wendell Smallwood to keep the chains moving. Keep a close eye on Shell’s roll in the offense: His upside could earn an All-Big 12 selection.
Passing Yards and TDs: 1,020 and 10
Rushing Yards and TDs: 300 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 198
RB Storm Barrs-Woods, Oregon State (Not Drafted)
In Corvallis, the Beavers are implementing a spread offense under new coach Gary Andersen, who transferred from Wisconsin. Andersen seeks a dual-threat field general to orchestrate the game plan; unfortunately, there is no clear-cut frontrunner for the job. The offense will likely lean on RB Storm Barrs-Woods, an experienced senior, to gain real estate. With good size at 6’0” and 212 pounds, the upperclassman has shared duties on campus and now gets the opportunity to sparkle. Starting eight of the 10 games he played last year, Woods paced the club in rushing yards with 766 and scored five times. He also corralled 26 passes for 179 yards and a score. Woods aspires to top 1,000 yards rushing, and clever CFF fans do not disagree.
Passing Yards and TDs: 1,200 and 9
Rushing Yards and TDs: 220 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 202
WR James Washington, Oklahoma State (Not Drafted)
As a true freshman last season, James Washington flashed big-play potential for the Cowboys. He nabbed 27 passes for 452 yards and led the team in touchdown catches with six. Only a three-star recruit coming out of high school, Washington turned heads almost immediately with “wow” moments during training camp and earned playing time among a crowded corps of receivers. Against Baylor’s 14th ranked defense late in the campaign, Washington scored on a spectacular 68-yard pitch-and-catch, and finished the game with four receptions for 114 yards. Coach Mike Gundy prefers a high-flying passing game, and the Cowboy sophomore should be stashed on CFF rosters in 2015.
Receiving Yards and TDs: 950 and 9
Total Fantasy Points: 154
With his Masters in history and professional experience as an educator, John Laub is uniquely qualified to research, analyze and discover new insights and trends in college and professional fantasy football. He truly is The Gridiron Scholar.
Twitter: @GridironSchol91 or e-mail: Audibles@aol.com