Everyone wants to be the guy who can look back on his league’s draft and say, “See, I told you about that guy.” What’s even better than winning your league is flashing your drafting prowess by spending mid-round and late-round picks on breakout performers. Just ask the guy who selected a Rice (Ray or Sidney) last year.
Athlon's editors sat down for an eight team mock draft, using only players from the Big Ten. Which players do they expect to have a big fantasy season?
The mock draft was conducted as an eight team total points league, with a standard conference lineup selected using only players from the Big Ten – 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex – RB/WR, 1 K, 1 DEF and 3 bench spots. Each starting spot was allowed 12 starts during the season, eliminating the need to have a backup for every position for bye weeks.
Draft results based upon standard scoring system – passing touchdowns = 4 pts, rushing touchdowns = 6 pts, 25 passing yards = 1 point, 10 rush/receiving yards = 1 point, receptions = 0.5 points, 2 point conversions = 2 points
1. Rob Doster - Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
2. Braden Gall - John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
3. Patrick Snow - Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
4. Mitch Light - Larry Caper, RB, Michigan State
5. Charlie Miller - Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois
6. Doug Word - Keith Smith, WR, Purdue
7. Steven Lassan - Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
8. Jake Veyhl - Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
There are two positions that might be only one player deep in the Big Ten. Terrelle Pryor is head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacks in the conference. TP2 was the smart pick for Rob Doster at No. 1 overall. While to a lesser extent, Clay is the clear top option at running back and so my first pick was an easy one. Penn State will lean heavily on Royster now that Daryll Clark is gone so he was the clear No. 3. After that, it is a crap shoot. Tight end Lance Kendricks should be the nation's top fantasy tight end this season, so he could go as high as fourth in any Big Ten league. Caper is super talented but will lose some carries to Edwin Baker — as is the case with LeShoure and Jason Ford. Both receivers were solid picks.
9. Jake Veyhl - Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan
10. Steven Lassan - Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
11. Doug Word - Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State
12. Charlie Miller - Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana
13. Mitch Light - Robert Marve, QB, Purdue
14. Patrick Snow - DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State
15. Braden Gall - Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
16. Rob Doster - Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State
Jake Veyhl didn't wait long to take the second quarterback in Tate Forcier. If he can stay healthy and make smarter decisions, he should easily finish as the league's No. 2 fantasy QB. Cousins, and the entire Sparty offense for that matter, is gaining a lot of fantasy steam this summer, so the upside pick by Lassan was strong. Unlike the Big 12 or ACC, the value at quarterback for this league is in the middle (not in the first round) as we saw four signal callers picked in this round. The best value in this round might have been Snow's pick of DeVier Posey. He is very close with Pryor, has all the talent in the world and had a great second half last season. Toon and Martin were sneaky upside picks as well.
17. Rob Doster - Darius Willis, RB, Indiana
18. Braden Gall - Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern
19. Patrick Snow - Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern
20. Mitch Light - Damarlo Belcher, WR, Indiana
21. Charlie Miller - Allen Reisner, TE, Iowa
22. Doug Word - Kevin Newsome, QB, Penn State
23. Steven Lassan - Al-Terek McBurse, RB, Purdue
24. Jake Veyhl - Adam Robinson, RB, Iowa
The two Northwestern Wildcats offer some upside. Tight end Dunsmore should be the clear No. 2 option at his position in this format as his 9 catches for 120 yards and a score against Auburn will attest. Persa also offers plenty of potential. Northwestern's quarterback has been scoring plenty of fantasy points since Pat Fitzgerald took over and Persa is a strong leader with a plucky attitude. Picking at the end (or beginning) of any rounds has its advantage and disadvantages. Veyhl pulled it off beautifully with the Iowa running backs here. The Adam Robinson pick is very intriguing. He had a great freshman year and returns behind a veteran offense with an run-oriented coach calling the plays. The carries distribution is still unknown so it was important he made the right fourth round pick (see below).
25. Jake Veyhl - Jewel Hampton, RB, Iowa
26. Steven Lassan - Michael Shaw, RB, Michigan
27. Doug Word - Daniel Herron, RB, Ohio State
28. Charlie Miller - Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State
29. Mitch Light - Arby Fields, RB, Northwestern
30. Patrick Snow - Ohio State Defense
31. Braden Gall - Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin
32. Rob Doster - Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
My homer-ism knows no bounds. I took my third Badger in four rounds, however, it is important that none were reaches. Tolzien was the league's most efficient passer a year ago and posted much better numbers than most would guess. He returns behind a stellar line with a great skill group around him. Doug Word did a solid job locking up both Ohio State backs. Both Herron and Saine offer value as every week starters in a format this deep. Snow took the first team DEF/ST with Ohio State — which at No. 30 overall seemed like a steal considering some other leagues (UNC went at No. 18 overall in the ACC mock).
33. Rob Doster - Duane Bennett, RB, Minnesota
34. Braden Gall - Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
35. Patrick Snow - Stephfon Green, RB, Penn State
36. Mitch Light - Charlie Gantt, TE, Michigan State
37. Charlie Miller - Iowa Defense
38. Doug Word - Kyle Adams, TE, Purdue
39. Steven Lassan - Penn State Defense
40. Jake Veyhl - Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State
Patrick and I both locked up the primary back-ups to our first round picks in true hand-cuffing fashion. As a side note, in conference-only formats, hand-cuffing is not advised, it is mandatory. Both team defenses were solid picks here as both Penn State and Iowa always offer up a stingy defensive unit. The tight end picks in this round were mostly upside picks but there was little left to choose from.
41. Jake Veyhl - Wisconsin Defense
42. Steven Lassan - Derek Moye, WR, Penn State
43. Doug Word - Michigan State Defense
44. Charlie Miller - Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR, Iowa
45. Mitch Light - Northwestern Defense
46. Patrick Snow - Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan
47. Braden Gall - Jarred Fayson, WR, Illinois
48. Rob Doster - Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State
The Johnson-Koulianos pick by Charlie Miller was a solid pick considering his running mate (Marvin McNutt) went 12 picks earlier. Yes, McNutt scored more touchdowns last year but DJK is poised to become the school's all-time leading receiver. Fayson could also turn out to be a steal if Nathan Scheelhaase can be effective.
49. Rob Doster - Michigan Defense
50. Braden Gall - Philip Welch, K, Wisconsin
51. Patrick Snow - Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State
52. Mitch Light - B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
53. Charlie Miller - Roy Roundtree, WR, Michigan
54. Doug Word - Devin Barclay, K, Ohio State
55. Steven Lassan - Sidney Stewart, WR, Northwestern
56. Jake Veyhl - Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
57. Jake Veyhl - Troy Stoudermire, WR, Minnesota
58. Steven Lassan - DeLeon Eskridge, RB, Minnesota
59. Doug Word - Jamaal Berry, RB, Ohio State
60. Charlie Miller - Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
61. Mitch Light - Daniel Murray, K, Iowa
62. Patrick Snow - Vincent Smith, RB, Michigan
63. Braden Gall - Purdue Defense
64. Rob Doster - Jason Ford, RB, Illinois
I love the Jason Ford pick. Although, I would have loved it more had Miller made it (he took LeShoure in round one). Ford will get his chance to help carry the load with LeShoure. Berry also has plenty of upside as Word completes the OSU triumverate. What can happen when you wait on a team defense is apparent here as I got stuck with the Purdue defense (I am not sure if I helped or compounded the problem by taking the Illini defense in the ninth round).
65. Rob Doster - Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota
66. Braden Gall - Illinois Defense
67. Patrick Snow - Collin Wagner, K, Penn State
68. Mitch Light - Stephen Simmons, RB, Northwestern
69. Charlie Miller - Stefan Demos, K, Northwestern
70. Doug Word - Paul Jones, QB, Penn State
71. Steven Lassan - Carson Wiggs, K, Purdue
72. Jake Veyhl - Nick Freeland, K, Indiana
73. Jake Veyhl - Brandon Wegher, RB, Iowa
74. Steven Lassan - Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
75. Doug Word - Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State
76. Charlie Miller - Mike Cox, RB, Michigan
77. Mitch Light - MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota
78. Patrick Snow - Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois
79. Braden Gall - Zach Brown, RB, Wisconsin
80. Rob Doster - Kevin Muma, K, Michigan State
As is the case with most final rounds, gambles on upside reign supreme. And rightly so. Wegher was tied in with both Robinson and Hampton while MarQueis Gray will get the ball in his hands somehow for the Gophers — not matter position he actually lines up at.
Athlon's editors sat down for an eight team mock draft, using only players from the ACC. Which players do they expect to have a big fantasy season?
The mock draft was conducted as an eight team total points league, with a standard conference lineup selected using only players from the ACC – 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex – RB/WR, 1 K, 1 DEF and 3 bench spots. Each starting spot was allowed 12 starts during the season, eliminating the need to have a backup for every position for bye weeks.
Draft results based upon standard scoring system – passing touchdowns = 4 pts, rushing touchdowns = 6 pts, 25 passing yards = 1 point, 10 rush/receiving yards = 1 point, receptions = 0.5 points, 2 point conversions = 2 points
1. Charlie Miller - Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech 2. Braden Gall - Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech 3. Steven Lassan - Montel Harris, RB, Boston College 4. Patrick Snow - Joshua Nesbitt, QB, Georgia Tech 5. Rob Doster - Russell Wilson, QB, NC State 6. Mitch Light - Jacory Harris, QB, Miami 7. Jake Veyhl - Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State 8. Doug Word - Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
The ACC is deep at quarterback, but not so much at running back. With a big dropoff at running back after the heavy hitters - Ryan Williams, Anthony Allen and Montel Harris - getting a draft position near the top is crucial to having a quality rusher. If you miss out on one of the top three backs, be prepared to look at a committee approach. Florida State, North Carolina, Miami and Clemson each could use at least two backs prominently this year. If you grab the player you expect to start, be sure to get the other to ensure yourself of a quality option each week.
Although Joshua Nesbitt was the first quarterback off the board, owners in ACC-only leagues shouldn't be surprised if Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson or Jacory Harris is selected as the top passer. If you wait on a quarterback in Round 1, steady options like Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor, Clemson's Kyle Parker, Maryland's Jamarr Robinson or Duke's Sean Renfree will be around in the later rounds.
9. Doug Word - Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson 10. Jake Veyhl - Da'Rel Scott, RB, Maryland 11. Mitch Light - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland 12. Rob Doster - Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State 13. Patrick Snow - Damien Berry, RB, Miami 14. Steven Lassan - Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech 15. Braden Gall - Jarmon Fortson, WR, Florida State 16. Charlie Miller - Kyle Parker, QB, Clemson
Round 2 was a mixed bag of selections. Doug Word's selection of Jamie Harper was a good move, especially since he selected backfield mate Andre Ellington at the end of Round 1. Two solid starting quarterbacks were selected, along with the first two receivers of the draft. The ACC is limited in elite fantasy options at receiver this year, but Smith and Fortson should be among the top 70 overall in 120 formats this season.
17. Charlie Miller - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami 18. Braden Gall - North Carolina Defense 19. Steven Lassan - Greg Little, WR, North Carolina 20. Patrick Snow - Donovan Varner, WR, Duke 21. Rob Doster - Jarvis Williams, WR, NC State 22. Mitch Light - Josh Adams, RB, Wake Forest 23. Jake Veyhl - George Bryan, TE, NC State 24. Doug Word - Sean Renfree, QB, Duke
In an eight team league, an elite defense will go off the board early and that's exactly the case with North Carolina. The Tar Heels are one of the top fantasy defenses in college football this season, but wait too long to make them your selection and you could be stuck at the end of the team defense run. Patrick Snow's pick of Donovan Varner could be the best in this round. Even with a new quarterback, Varner should still catch 55-65 passes this season.
25. Doug Word - Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech 26. Jake Veyhl - Marshall Williams, WR, Wake Forest 27. Mitch Light - Clemson Defense 28. Rob Doster - Jermaine Thomas, RB, Florida State 29. Patrick Snow - Bert Reed, WR, Florida State 30. Steven Lassan - Virginia Tech Defense 31. Braden Gall - Roddy Jones, RB, Georgia Tech 32. Charlie Miller - Zack Pianalto, TE, North Carolina
Getting the other portion of a backfield to ensure a quality handcuff or flex option is a good strategy executed by Rob Doster and Braden Gall in this round. Doster selected Chris Thompson in Round 2, while Gall drafted Anthony Allen in Round 1. If Thompson or Allen is lost to injury, both teams should be in good shape thanks to handcuffing with the backup.
33. Charlie Miller - Miami Defense 34. Braden Gall - Jamarr Robinson, QB, Maryland 35. Steven Lassan - Curtis Underwood, RB, NC State 36. Patrick Snow - Boston College Defense 37. Rob Doster - Florida State Defense 38. Mitch Light - Aldarius Johnson, WR, Miami 39. Jake Veyhl - Shaun Draughn, RB, North Carolina 40. Doug Word - Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
41. Doug Word - Georgia Tech Defense 42. Jake Veyhl - Ryan Houston, RB, North Carolina 43. Mitch Light - Richard Gordon, TE, Miami 44. Rob Doster - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech 45. Patrick Snow - Lamar Miller, RB, Miami 46. Steven Lassan - Colin Larmond, WR, Boston College 47. Braden Gall - Dave Shinskie, QB, Boston College 48. Charlie Miller - Owen Spencer, WR, NC State
With a lack of elite fantasy options at receiver, there's no need to reach in the early rounds of the draft. Need evidence? The selections of Hill, Larmond and Spencer are good value picks and each should be set for at least five scores and 30 receptions this year. Gall's selection of Shinskie was a good insurance policy for Maryland starter Jamarr Robinson.
49. Charlie Miller - T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina 50. Braden Gall - Desmond Scott, RB, Duke 51. Steven Lassan - Torrey Mack, RB, Virginia 52. Patrick Snow - Matt Bosher, K, Miami 53. Rob Doster - Chris Pantale, TE, Boston College 54. Mitch Light - Casey Barth, K, North Carolina 55. Jake Veyhl - Devon Brown, WR, Wake Forest 56. Doug Word - Maryland Defense
57. Doug Word - Skylar Jones, QB, Wake Forest 58. Jake Veyhl - Wake Forest Defense 59. Mitch Light - Brandon Pendergrass, RB, Wake Forest 60. Rob Doster - Mike Glennon, QB, NC State 61. Patrick Snow - Bo Reliford, TE, Florida State 62. Steven Lassan - Joe Torchia, TE, Virginia 63. Braden Gall - Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State 64. Charlie Miller - Scott Blair, K, Georgia Tech
65. Charlie Miller - Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech 66. Braden Gall - Jheranie Boyd, WR, North Carolina 67. Steven Lassan - Conner Vernon, WR, Duke 68. Patrick Snow - Marc Verica, QB, Virginia 69. Rob Doster - Embry Peeples, RB, Georgia Tech 70. Mitch Light - Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina 71. Jake Veyhl - EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State 72. Doug Word - Will Snyderwine, K, Duke
73. Doug Word - Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami 74. Jake Veyhl - Josh Czajkowski, K, NC State 75. Mitch Light - NC State Defense 76. Rob Doster - Chris Hazley, K, Virginia Tech 77. Patrick Snow - Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina 78. Steven Lassan - Robert Randolph, K, Virginia 79. Braden Gall - Andre Smith, TE, Virginia Tech 80. Charlie Miller - Davin Meggett, RB, Maryland
Expect to see a couple of gambles late in drafts and that's exactly what Patrick Snow did with his pick of Giovanni Bernard. Although the Tar Heels have Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston returning, Bernard could work his way into carries this season.
Seasonal fantasy owners are likely targeting guys such as Patriots WR Torry Holt, Bengals WR Antonio Bryant and even free agent Terrell Owens as late-round sleepers. Even Antwaan Randle El, who returned to Pittsburgh, and Donte’ Stallworth, who joins Anquan Boldin in Baltimore, might look intriguing. All are veterans who have switched teams this offseason.
Athlon continues its release of the 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at the top 20 team defenses and special teams.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes, Bye: 10
Despite the loss of linemen Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington, the Buckeyes still boast one of the nation's elite defensive lines. And with the returning talent in the linebacking corps — the Big Ten's top unit — to back them up, few teams should be successful at running the football. End Cameron Heyward was a monster against the vaunted Oregon attack in the Rose Bowl and will put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. At the back end, three starters return to the secondary including one of the nation's top covermen in Chimdi Chekwa.
Schedule: There isn't an obvious bench situation for this fantasy defense. The non-conference schedule is a breeze other than Miami — who had a quarterback finish second in the nation in INTs a year ago. Two road games at Iowa and Wisconsin might be the two least productive outings of the year for this unit. However, the Buckeyes posted a huge fantasy number against UW in '09 and should easily harass Ricky Stanzi as well.
2. Texas Longhorns, Bye: 6
A large chunk of the fantasy production from this unit has moved on with the departure of return guru Jordan Shipley and sack master Sergio Kindle. But the Horns are not hurting for talent, so the special teams unit should still be strong even if they do not score seven times in '10. Ends Alex Okafor and Sam Acho will replace Kindle and should be almost as effective coming off the edge. The linebackers will be fast and physical as usual and the secondary is nasty. Aaron Williams is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the nation while Curtis Brown locks down the other side. Look for plenty of talented freshmen — Jordan Hicks, Jackson Jeffcoat, Eryon Bennett for example — to make an impact on the field this season as well.
Schedule: The Horns will face some potent offenses this season but should be in the lineup nearly every time. Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech can all score points but only one of those games is on the road and the Red Raiders have replaced their scoring-centric head coach. The first two weeks of the season, against Rice and Wyoming, should offer decent, if somewhat underwhelming, tests for a unit that will see a lot of young contributors this fall. After a mediocre performance on defense against the Aggies last season, the A&M rivalry game might be the only fantasy speed bump on this schedule.
3. Iowa Hawkeyes, Bye: 6
This unit features the Big Ten's best defensive line and secondary. Toss in senior stud Jeremiha Hunter at linebacker and fantasy owners should be very happy to land the Hawks D. The defensive line completely stuffed the powerful Georgia Tech rushing offense in the Orange Bowl a year ago and should be just as stout this fall. All eight returning starters are upperclassmen and all can make big plays. Adrian Clayborn is a future NFL star and should post big sack totals while tip-drill master Tyler Sash will patrol the back end of the defense. This is a well-rounded unit that will stymie most rushing attacks they face.
Schedule: This group of games is no cake walk, but there is some good news. Other than a trip to the desert to take on Arizona, the non-conference slate is juicy. And the top Big Ten offenses, namely Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State, all have to travel to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes. There might be one or two times this season where a better match-up might be found, but few teams will be a strong up front as this Iowa team.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers, Bye: 5
Yes, losing the nation's most dominant defensive player will hurt. But Bo and Carl Pelini have these guys ready to roll again in 2010. Jared Crick will anchor the defensive line with some help from end Pierre Allen while a name Husker fans know well, Baker Steinkuhler, should help clog up the middle. This unit will feature a lot of nickel back sets (with only two LBs) as "rover" hybrid Eric Hagg will play a lot in the box. He can be a playmaker. A pair of strong corners help slow the passing game and will offer time for those stellar lineman to get pressure on the quarterback.
Schedule: The path to a Big 12 title game will be interesting for the Big Red. A trip to Washington could test a revamped unit early on (Week Three) but two of the three other tough match-ups — Missouri and Texas — both come in Lincoln. The lone benching may come in what will be most fantasy league's semi-finals when Nebraska travels to College Station to take on the high-powered Aggie attack on November 20th.
5. TCU Horned Frogs, Bye: 12
One would think losing Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington would knock a defense down a peg or too. But not the Horned Frogs. TCU still sports the best defensive line, linebackers and secondary in their conference. The line returns everyone but Hughes, while free safety Tejay Johnson will help an inexperienced five-man secondary develop quickly. Gary Patterson will have the unit in the national rankings once again.
Schedule: The schedule might be the best of all the elite fantasy defenses this season. The top test probably comes in Week One against Oregon State — but even that one comes in Arlington, Texas. Owners should play the rebuilding unit at their own perfil at Jerry's World, but after that it is clear sailing. BYU is breaking in a new group of offensive players while road trips to Utah and SMU look like the toughest fantasy tests. There are at least eight must-starts on this schedule with a few more that are all but sure things.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide, Bye: 9
Not many defenses could lose essentially every starter and return as a top-10 fantasy option. But Nick Saban has recruited like a maniac and has loads of talent stepping into starting roles this fall. Names like tackle Marcell Dareus and linebacker Dont'a Hightower are technically not returning starters but might as well be. The linebacking corps is completely new and is still the SEC's best. The lone starter from '09 is safety Mark Barron, and along with a host of elite recruits, he leads a secondary that will always be great under former defensive back Saban.
Schedule: An early test against Penn State in Week 2 is made much easier by the departure of three-year starter Daryll Clark. A trip to Arkansas and a visit by Florida in two consecutive weeks, however, will be the early test for the reworked defense. Ryan Mallett and John Brantley may force owners to bench the Tide in those two, but after that, its must-starts the rest of the way. Auburn is the only offense that should put a scare into anyone after Week Five.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels, Bye: 2
This team is a tricky one to pin down at the moment. This could be the best defense in the entire nation — arguably the best at all three levels nationally. However, recent rumors and off the field transgressions have placed some huge names — Marvin Austin, Quan Sturdivant, Deunta Williams and Bruce Carter — at risk of missing serious time in '10. Sturdivant looks like he won't miss too much time but suspensions could be handed down for the other three at any moment. And not just for one or two games either — Austin could miss the entire year. If any of these four miss for an extended period of time, this unit takes a small step back in the fantasy ranks. If they all play, this goes back to being one of the nation's best units.
Schedule: LSU (Atlanta), Georgia Tech and at Rutgers to start the season is brutal. Toss in Clemson and Virginia Tech at home with road trips to Miami and Florida State, and the Tar Heels are facing a tough road to hoe. With a full compliment of players, these are mostly manageable, with potential benchings coming in Tallahassee and Coral Gables. Without their stars, however, UNC might fall back into fantasy mediocrity.
8. Boise State Broncos, Bye: 2, 8
The Broncos lose very little on the field. Kyle Wilson is really the only missing piece from a unit that was outstanding a year ago. The biggest loss was on the sidelines, as the bright lights of the SEC lured defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to Knoxville. The good news is there are a lot of bodies. The front four returns entirely intact — a unit that shut down two of the top six rushing teams (Oregon #6, TCU #5) in the nation last season. The continuity and experience will make this unit one of the nation's best again this fall.
Schedule: A virtual road trip to Virginia Tech (FedEx Field) and a home test against Oregon State in the first three weeks will be tough. The Broncos could struggle against the power rushing attacks those two offer. However, only a road trip to Reno to take on Nevada even gives pause the rest of the way. Boise State should roll through its WAC conference slate once again and post big fantasy numbers along the way.
9. Clemson Tigers, Bye: 4
Arguably the nation's top safety tandem, led by future NFL star DeAndre McDaniel, returns to lead the Tiger defense. It helps, of course, to have a loaded defensive line to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Will this be the monster, breakout campaign we have all been looking for from end Da'Quan Bowers? Tiger fans are hoping the answer is yes. The linebackers are the clear issue but coordinator Kevin Steele proved in one year that he will find productive pieces and Clemson is not hurting for talent. Losing special teams dynamo C.J. Spiller does hurt their value a bit.
Schedule: The first two should be gimmies but a trip to Auburn in Week Three provides an interesting test. The home slate is dotted by Miami and Georgia Tech while the road schedule features trips to Chapel Hill, Tallahassee and Chestnut Hill. Only one of which makes fantasy owners nervous. Keep an eye on the linebackers early in the season. If they gel quickly, this could be a devastating fantasy defense. If not, those rushing attacks start to look more daunting.
10. Oklahoma Sooners, Bye: 6
Losing Gerald McCoy will certainly hurt, but end Jeremy Beal and linebacker Travis Lewis return as potential Big 12 Defensive P.O.Y. candidates. Look for second year players and new starters Tom Wort, Ronnell Lewis and Jamarkus McFarland to blossom into big-time stars. The return of safety tandem Sam Proctor and Quinton Carter provides stability at the back end. Finding some corner help will be key early on.
Schedule: Utah State, Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati is a powerful offensive foursome in non-conference play. However, all but Cincy is at home and OU should be able to handle them without mad genius Brian Kelly calling plays anymore. Road trips to Dallas (Texas), Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State might force owners to consider better options, but by then, the Sooner youngsters might be grizzled, talented, dominant veterans. This is not an ideal slate of action, but it affords plenty of solid match-ups.
Athlon continues its release of the 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at the top 50 tight ends. NCAA Fantasy Tight End Rankings and Profiles
Fantasy points based upon standard scoring system – passing touchdowns = 4 pts, rushing touchdowns = 6 pts, 25 passing yards = 1 point, 10 rush/receiving yards = 1 point, receptions = 0.5 points, 2 point conversions = 2 points
1. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin (SR) – Bye Week – 9
Kendricks is the next star in a line of solid tight ends at Wisconsin. As a backup to Garrett Graham last season, Kendricks caught 29 passes and three scores. One of his best performances came in the bowl win against Miami, collecting 128 yards and a career-high seven receptions. The senior also showed off his versatility against Purdue, rushing four times for 91 yards.
Athlon’s Take: The Badgers have one of the top offensive lines in the nation returning and steady Scott Tolzien returning under center. With Garrett Graham out of eligibility, a solid supporting offense around him and the tradition of Wisconsin tight ends, Kendricks is one of this season’s safest picks at tight end.
2. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame (JR) – Bye Week – 10
Replacing Jimmy Clausen won’t be easy, but finding quarterbacks never seems to be an issue for new coach Brian Kelly. Dayne Crist is expected to be the new starting quarterback in South Bend and while he is largely unproven, there are few concerns about his talent. Rudolph posted career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns last season, despite missing two games due to injury.
Athlon’s Take: Although Kelly’s offenses at Central Michigan and Cincinnati were explosive, neither team featured a tight end prominently in the attack. Ben Guidugli caught 27 passes for 364 yards and three scores at Cincinnati last season, while Connor Barwin caught 31 passes in 2007. The track record for successful fantasy tight ends isn’t there under Kelly, but Rudolph is simply too talented of a weapon to ignore. Look for Rudolph to approach 50 yards and five scores this season.
3. Ladarius Green, UL Lafayette (JR) – Bye Week – 3
It’s a little unusual for a tight end to lead the team in receiving yards, but that’s exactly what Green accomplished last season. Green averaged 16.6 yards per catch, snagging 32 receptions for 533 yards and two scores. The junior missed three games due to a neck injury last year, but finished 2009 on a high note, catching 12 passes for 250 yards and two scores in the final two contests.
Athlon’s Take: Fantasy owners would like to see Green reach paydirt a few more times in 2010, but catching at least 50 passes for 600 yards is within reach. The Ragin’ Cajuns won’t have a prolific passing attack, but there’s enough returning talent to ensure this offense won’t fall much from the production last year. Green is a solid option at tight end and should be one of the first five off the board.
4. D.J. Williams, Arkansas (SR) – Bye Week – 5
The Razorbacks boasted one of the nation’s best passing attacks last year, but Williams watched his numbers drop from 2008 - despite having a better quarterback (Ryan Mallett). The drop in statistics was largely due to a crowded group of receivers and Williams spending more time as a blocker last season. Williams went without a catch in four games and posted only one 100-yard effort.
Athlon’s Take: There are few sure options at tight ends this year, but Williams should certainly be one of the first five off the board. Williams caught 61 passes in 2008, which seems like a longshot this year. There are too many options in the Arkansas’ receiving corps to expect a huge jump in numbers, but reaching 40-50 catches seems reasonable.
5. Orson Charles, Georgia (SO) – Bye Week – 12
The Georgia passing attack was mediocre last season, but received a boost from Charles in his freshman year. Charles managed to finish third on the team in receptions and caught a pass in every game but one. Charles’ best game came against Kentucky, catching four passes for 73 yards and one score.
Athlon’s Take: Familiarity should help Charles in 2010. Not only will is he a sophomore, Charles will also catch passes from his high school quarterback – Aaron Murray. A young quarterback’s best friend is certainly a good tight end that can be the safety valve. Charles should surpass his numbers from last year, but Murray will need some time to develop.
6. George Bryan, NC State (JR) – Bye Week – 8
Bryan entered the 2009 season with 18 receptions to his credit, but emerged as a steady fantasy option throughout the year. Bryan’s breakout game came against Murray State, catching six passes for 89 yards and two scores. He followed that up with back-to-back games with scores against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. With the exception of the season finale against North Carolina, Bryan caught at least one pass in every game.
Athlon’s Take: This is not one of the most memorable seasons for fantasy options at tight end, so there will be a lot of inconsistent options on the board. Bryan has a great quarterback in Russell Wilson returning, but the Wolfpack has a deep group of receivers. Expect another similar statistical season from Bryan, but there could be a few weeks where the junior is relatively quiet on the stat sheet.
7. Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern (JR) – Bye Week – 7
After missing all of 2008 with an ankle injury, Dunsmore quickly asserted himself as one of the top tight ends in the Big Ten last season. Dunsmore caught a pass in every game last year, including a nine catch effort for 81 yards against Syracuse. The junior came up big in Northwestern’s narrow bowl loss to Auburn, grabbing nine receptions for 120 yards and a score. The only downside to Dunsmore’s 2009 season was only three scores – a number that he needs to increase if he wants to reach elite status among fantasy tight ends.
Athlon’s Take: With the top two receivers from last season gone, Dunsmore should be featured more in the passing attack. The Wildcats will have a new quarterback taking over, but Dan Persa has shown ability in limited work. Expect Dunsmore to be a steady option throughout the season.
8. Zack Pianalto, North Carolina (SR) – Bye Week – 2
Injuries have plagued Pianalto throughout his collegiate career, but if he can stay healthy, he could finish among the top five for fantasy tight ends in 2010. Pianalto was injured while celebrating a touchdown in North Carolina’s 12-10 win over Connecticut – a game he caught seven passes for 87 yards and a score. After missing five games, Pianalto returned to the lineup and caught 25 passes over the final six contests.
Athlon’s Take:The big question for Pianalto is staying healthy. If he avoids the injury bug, catching 50 passes is a reasonable expectation. The senior needs to find paydirt more in 2010 to make a step towards elite fantasy status, but remains a solid top-10 option this year.
9. Weslye Saunders, South Carolina (SR) – Bye Week – 5
Saunders began last season as one of the top additions off the waiver wire for fantasy owners. The North Carolina native caught 12 passes for 146 yards in the first two weeks of 2009, but caught only two passes and missed one game due to injury over the next three contests.
Athlon’s Take: Saunders has the talent to be a solid week-to-week fantasy option, but needs a little help from quarterback Stephen Garcia. If Garcia plays with more consistency, Saunders should see a jump in catches and receiving touchdowns. The senior is a starting option in 120 leagues, but be sure to grab a good backup to ride out the low points of his season.
10. Joe Halahuni, Oregon State (JR) – Bye Weeks – 2, 8
Halahuni got off to a slow start last year, but emerged as a solid option for fantasy owners down the stretch. Halahuni caught nine passes for 127 yards against USC and posted 128 yards on six catches against California two weeks later. The junior also nabbed three scores over the final four contests.
Athlon’s Take: Halahuni is more of a H-back than tight end, but should be a valuable weapon for new quarterback Ryan Katz. The junior’s fantasy value likely hinges on how quickly Katz gets comfortable in the starting role, but a line similar to last season is certainly a reasonable expectation.
Were you waiting for Brandon Marshall and Wes Welker to have breakout seasons in 2007? How about Vincent Jackson and Aaron Rodgers in 2008, or Ray Rice, Sidney Rice, Miles Austin and Austin Collie last year? Had you been playing dynasty, you would have not only had them on your radar, but also would have known when to acquire them in seasonal formats.
And with that knowledge, there’s a good chance you would now be reveling in the glory of one or more seasonal league championships.
Athlon continues its release of the 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at wide receiver sleepers.
It’s never easy defining sleepers. Is a sleeper a player who is ranked after No. 25 or is it someone who isn’t ranked? An owner playing college fantasy football for the first time may consider someone like SMU's Aldrick Robinson or Oklahoma State's Hubert Anyiam a sleeper. However, a veteran of many college fantasy leagues and probably wouldn’t consider either much of a sleeper. Jerrell Jackson will emerge as a key weapon for the first time in his career at Missouri and is currently ranked No. 20 in our rankings. Is it fair to call him a sleeper? Probably not, but you get the picture. Defining sleepers isn't easy.
With that in mind, this list takes into account each fantasy owner has a different knowledge set when it comes to college football. Don’t take a sleeper as your first wide receiver in 120 leagues, but consider taking these as a WR3 or WR4, in hopes they can be a starting option this year.
Luther Ambrose, UL Monroe – Ambrose may not have elite size for a receiver (5-foot-9, 173 pounds), but should be one of the top playmakers in Sun Belt play this year. Ambrose posted 766 total offensive yards last season and the Warhawks should involve him even more in the offensive gameplan this year.
Cole Beasley/Darius Johnson, SMU – With Emmanuel Sanders playing on Sundays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Mustangs need a No. 2 receiver to emerge. Although Aldrick Robinson will end up as the best fantasy pick from the receiving corps, don’t count out Beasley or Johnson from emerging as a WR3 in 120 leagues.
Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech – Change of roles in Blacksburg this season? The Hokies have a rebuilding defense, while the offense should be among the best in the ACC. Boykin averaged nearly 21 yards per reception last season and should be Tyrod Taylor’s No. 1 option this year.
Jeremy Ebert/Sidney Stewart, Northwestern – Finding pass catchers never seems to be an issue in Evanston. Whether its Ebert or Stewart, a receiver is going to emerge as a fantasy option in BCS-only leagues and one to watch in 120 leagues.
Jarred Fayson, Illinois – The Illini ranked 87th nationally in passing offense last season and with a new coordinator and quarterback taking over, improvement could be difficult to come by. However, if Fayson is a clear No. 1 option for quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, look for 50 catches and value in select matchups.
Jarmon Fortson, Florida State – Bert Reed may lead the team in receptions, but Fortson is the one for fantasy owners to target. After leading the team with four touchdown catches last year, Fortson should be in for an even bigger 2010.
Jamel Hamler, Fresno State – With Ryan Mathews off to the NFL, expect the Bulldogs to throw more in 2010 and Hamler should emerge as the team’s leading receiver.
Chris Harper, Kansas State – Former Oregon quarterback should be one of Kansas State’s top playmakers this season. Harper is an athletic 6-foot-1 target, but also has solid speed. Can the Wildcats get enough consistent play from the quarterbacks to make Harper a factor every week in the passing game?
Adrian Hodges, Bowling Green – Hodges will have a new quarterback throwing to him (likely Matt Schliz), but with Freddie Barnes out of eligibility, there’s plenty of room to improve upon his 46 catches from last season.
Marvin Jones, California – The Golden Bears lack depth in the receiving corps, leaving Jones as one of the few proven pass catchers. Jones became Kevin Riley’s favorite weapon last year, catching 43 passes for 651 yards and six scores and should easily push those totals higher in 2010.
Wes Kemp, Missouri – Someone is going to emerge as a top-30 fantasy option at receiver from Missouri. Jerrell Jackson could lead the team in receptions, but don’t count out Kemp from becoming a factor for owners in 120 leagues this season.
Lindsey Lamar, South Florida – Finding weapons for quarterback B.J. Daniels is a concern for new coach Skip Holtz, which prompted the move of Lamar from running back to receiver. Lamar isn’t huge (5-foot-9, 160 pounds), but is a dangerous playmaker for South Florida to get the ball to.
Keshawn Martin, Michigan State – With quarterback Kirk Cousins and a deep set of receivers returning, the Spartans could have the Big Ten’s best passing game this year. Martin never topped more than 18 receptions in a season, but with Blair White finished with his eligibility, expect Martin to see an increased role in the offense.
Dejuan Miller, Oklahoma – The Sooners desperately need someone other than Ryan Broyles catching passes this season. Miller showed signs of emerging as a legitimate No. 2 threat, catching 25 passes over the final six games.
Josh Moore, Oklahoma State – New coordinator Dana Holgorsen won’t throw as much as he did at Houston, but the Cowboys will pass more than they did last year. Hubert Anyiam is the top fantasy option in the receiving corps, but Moore could catch plenty of passes has an inside receiver.
Kashif Moore, Connecticut – Marcus Easley led Connecticut with 48 receptions for 893 yards and eight scores last season, but has expired his eligibility. With Easley gone, Moore should become Zach Frazer’s favorite weapon.
Jameel Owens, Tulsa – Owens received a waiver to play immediately following a transfer from Oklahoma. Damaris Johnson is still Tulsa’s No. 1 receiver, but Owens is too much of a talent to keep off the field as a No. 2 target.
Ahmad Paige/Phillip Livas, Louisiana Tech – New wide-open offense should provide a couple of options for fantasy owners. Take a gamble on either receiver late in the draft as a low-risk, high-reward option.
Kito Poblah, Central Michigan – There’s a lot of change on offense at Central Michigan this year, but with Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson departing the receiving corps, someone has to pickup the slack. Poblah could catch over 60 balls this year.
Gerell Robinson, Arizona State – Arizona State has a new coordinator and changed its offensive attack, looking to throw more in 2010. Although the approach is intriguing for fantasy owners, the Sun Devils have concerns at quarterback and along the offensive line. If the Sun Devils find the right pieces on offense, Robinson could end up among the top 50 fantasy receivers for 2010.
Casey Robottom, Tulane – Tulane is shifting from a run-first attack to leaning more on the pass in 2010. With the Green Wave expected to struggle in the wins department and Jeremy Williams finishing his eligibility, Robottom figures to be in line for a bump in touchdown catches.
Tyler Stradford, North Texas – There’s a new quarterback taking over in Denton, but the Mean Green should have one of the Sun Belt’s top offenses. Stradford is an Oklahoma transfer who has been impressive in practice, but is finally eligible and ready to make an impact.
Deonte Thompson, Florida – Thompson has the talent and there’s a need for receivers to step up in Gainesville. With John Brantley taking over and Florida passing more in 2010, Thompson should provide plenty of big plays in the passing game.
Antavious Wilson, Marshall – Wilson finished last season on a high note, catching 29 receptions over the final four contests. With a new spread offense implemented, Wilson should easily surpass last season’s totals – 60 catches for 724 yards and three scores.
Johnathan Wilson, Kansas – Todd Reesing is out of eligibility at quarterback and the Jayhawks also must replace their top two receivers from last season in Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. Wilson caught 35 passes for 449 yards last season, but figures to push his totals closer to the 50-60 catch mark – despite having a new quarterback in Kale Pick.