football Edit

College Fantasy Football: What to expect from first-year coaches

Florida's Dan Mullen
Florida's Dan Mullen

It was a wild ride on the coaching carousel this offseason as plenty of Power Five jobs changed hands. Here is a look at how the new coaches could improve their respective programs, some concerns about each one and where they stand from a fantasy perspective:


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  ARIZONA: Kevin Sumlin  


Quarterback and Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate is a special player who threw for 1,591 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and led the team - by far - in rushing with 1,411 yards and 12 scores. In a fantasy setting, Tate could be an ideal quarterback to have because of his versatility and playmaking ability. It’s unlikely in Sumlin’s offense that Tate will run 153 times like he did last season, especially with limited quarterback depth behind him. But a more balanced attack could help the offense even more. If Tate has improved even marginally on his downfield accuracy, he could be more dangerous. A good group of diverse running backs and talented pass-catchers should allow this offense to keep humming. Offense has never really been much of a problem for Sumlin’s teams, and he has the weapons.

ARIZONA STATE: Herm Edwards  

It is anyone’s guess what the Arizona State offense is going to look like in the Edwards regime, but some things are for sure: Quarterback Manny Wilkins is capable, if not spectacular, the receiving duo of N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams will be targeted a lot and new running back Eno Benjamin will be running behind a talented and experienced offensive line and he could catch plenty of passes out of the backfield. There are a lot of new faces on defense - and ASU was outscored on average last season - so some shootouts could be in store. For fantasy owners looking to pick up not only Wilkins but especially Harry and Williams, that could be good news.

  ARKANSAS: Chad Morris  

An entirely new system is being implemented on offense, and that could be concerning from a fantasy perspective, especially since the Razorbacks won’t name a starting quarterback until fall camp even though Cole Kelley is expected to earn the job. There is returning talent at wide receiver and seemingly Arkansas is going to throw the ball more often in a spread system than in the old pro-style attack, so Jonathan Nance could be of value later in fantasy drafts. But with quarterback uncertainty and the implementation of an entirely new offense, things in Fayetteville could be difficult for a little while, especially on offense.

FLORIDA: Dan Mullen  

The Gators averaged only 22 points last season, and quarterback Feleipe Franks threw only nine touchdowns with eight interceptions. He was sacked 29 times. Florida’s offense was ugly under former coach Jim McElwain, to put it kindly. But Mullen knows how to score points and he understands the expectations in Gainesville. Quarterback (whether Franks or Kyle Trask) remains a question mark, but running back Jordan Scarlett is coming back from suspension and could have a breakout season. The Gators have talent at receiver, too, with Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland, Freddie Swain, Kadarius Toney and others. From a fantasy perspective, the ball might be spread around a lot, but the Gators should be able to score plenty more points. Mullen has a proven track record of getting that done.

FLORIDA STATE: Willie Taggart  

In one season at Oregon, Taggart’s Ducks rushed for 40 touchdowns and only threw for 18, but a confluence of events could have led to that outcome. Star quarterback Justin Herbert was injured, and the combination of Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit made it easy to run the ball. But Taggart definitely likes to run the ball - he has a proven track record of that - and with talented running backs Cam Akers, Jacques Patrick and Khalan Laborn that could be a focus in Tallahassee. But the idea that Florida State is going to mainly focus on the run might be a little overblown. The quarterback position still needs to be figured out between James Blackman and Deondre Francois, but the Seminoles have a good amount of talent at receiver and should throw the ball often. The defensive front should be strong, but there are many questions at linebacker. The secondary lost a lot of talent, but a ton of it returns as well.


Joe Moorhead
Joe Moorhead (AP Images)

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald totaled 29 touchdowns last season, but he could be in for a bigger senior season under Moorhead, who guided Penn State’s offense to new heights in recent years. Fitzgerald is coming off an ugly ankle injury in the Egg Bowl, but he should be healthy and surrounded by a big pool of offensive talent. He can run, but that might be slightly drawn back in favor of handing off to running back Aeris Williams, who might be used to catch passes out of the backfield as well, a la Saquon Barkley. A bevy of receivers should pad Fitzgerald’s passing stats, since he’s been working on his accuracy. What could also help the Bulldogs’ offense is that the defensive line is so talented. It is led by Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, and a lot of three-and-outs are expected, so the offense will have more opportunities to put up points. Mississippi State could be a dark horse in the SEC West.

  NEBRASKA: Scott Frost  

Frost is the perfect fit at Nebraska for so many reasons, and there is talent, especially at wide receiver. First, the quarterback situation needs to be figured out. Freshman Adrian Martinez is battling redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia for the starting job, and that will continue through fall camp. Receiver Stanley Morgan led the team with 61 catches for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and he could thrive in a more uptempo offense. JD Spielman should have another big year at receiver, and former heralded recruit Tyjon Lindsey could have a breakout year. The defense needs marked improvement from last season, but that could be good for fantasy owners to pick up some of Nebraska’s receivers, since the Huskers might have to score a lot of points to stay in games. Quarterback will be figured out, so the offense should be impressive.

  OREGON: Mario Cristobal  

It’s going to be interesting to see what Oregon’s offense looks like under Cristobal, who might have quarterback Justin Herbert under center a little more, and the Ducks could have a more traditional bent to their system. Herbert is a potential Heisman Trophy candidate who can quickly put up big numbers. For fantasy owners, he’s definitely worth a serious look. But receivers do remain a question and running the ball behind a big offensive line could be more of a focus even more than seasons past. Still, Herbert can put up stats quickly, and Oregon’s offense should not completely change this season.

  OREGON STATE: Jonathan Smith  

Smith had tremendous success as Washington’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in recent years, but this situation is completely different. Rebuilding could take a while and it could be challenging. Quarterback Jake Luton is back from injury and he has some relatively impressive receiving targets in Isaiah Hodgins and tight end Noah Togiai, but neither of them had great stats last season. Until there is some significant turnaround in Corvallis, steering clear of Oregon State’s players might be most prudent.

  TENNESSEE: Jeremy Pruitt

It’s hard to believe, but Tennessee did not even average 20 points per game last season. The Vols didn’t score against Georgia, had nine against South Carolina, seven against Alabama and 10 against LSU. Tennessee finished a miserable 4-8. Pruitt will look to grind it out and run the ball, and the news that Trey Smith will return for fall camp is a plus. Still, the offensive line needs some work, so moving the ball on the ground isn’t a guarantee. Quarterback is still undecided and probably will be heading into fall camp. There is a good amount of talent at receiver, but from a fantasy perspective there are probably much better options even throughout the SEC.

  TEXAS A&M: Jimbo Fisher

Fisher will implement a more pro-style attack and that could bode really well for running back Trayveon Williams, who led the team with 798 yards last season. He also had eight rushing scores, but Keith Ford led the Aggies with 12. With Ford gone to the NFL, Williams could pick up even more of that slack and have a breakout season. Quarterback remains a question mark with Nick Starkel or Kellen Mond, but there is talent at receiver if the ball can be consistently put in their hands. There are some question marks on the offensive line as well, so as a fantasy owner should weigh that issue when looking at Williams at running back. Plus, A&M has Clemson and Alabama on its schedule before the end of September.

  UCLA: Chip Kelly  

Kelly has a reputation as an offensive genius, and he proved it at Oregon, if not during his time in the NFL. But there are some built-in issues at UCLA that Kelly will have to address immediately. First: Who plays quarterback? Michigan transfer Wilton Speight is an option, but does he fit Kelly’s uptempo style? Devon Modster and freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson are other possibilities. The running back duo of Bolu Olurunfunmi and Soso Jamabo could be utilized often, but the offensive line remains a weak part of the offense. Theo Howard is a skilled receiver who has underperformed so far for the Bruins, and then young WRs Chase Cota and Kyle Philips could see the field right away. It will take some time for UCLA to get used to Kelly’s style, but there is talent that could score points if the quarterback and the offensive line can be figured out.