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College Fantasy Football: Five ACC tips for your draft

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Boston College running back AJ Dillon (AP)

The college football season is right around the corner which means it’s almost time to play college fantasy football, too. In some ways, that takes a different perspective when drafting teams and considering who to put on your squad. Here are five thoughts on the ACC with weeks to go before the season:

1. SLEEPER ALERT - CHECK OUT AJ DILLON

Former Louisville quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson led the conference in rushing last season. Right behind him was Boston College’s AJ Dillon, who finished with 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns on 295 carries.

Dillon could be the perfect pickup - a non-sexy pick who is almost guaranteed to get a lot of attempts and to score a lot of points. Boston College’s offensive line will be fantastic, the quarterback is still a question mark and there’s no question coach Steve Addazio loves to run the ball. If there’s one small danger, it’s that the Eagles might use Dillon as a decoy sometimes to take shots downfield in the passing game. Still, Dillon is a fantastic back who could lead the league in rushing with no problem.

2. CLEMSON'S DEFENSE ALL DAY

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Dexter Lawrence (90), Austin Bryant (7) and Clelin Ferrell (99) make Clemson formidabile. (AP)

This is a hardly a surprise, but Clemson’s defense might be so unbelievably dominant that the Tigers’ group could be worth picking up early in a fantasy draft.

All four defensive linemen could be first-round draft selections, maybe a first in college football. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant along with tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins could be unstoppable and wreak havoc in backfields all season. The linebackers should be outstanding and be able to cover all over the field. The secondary is very talented although depth could be an issue over a long season.

If there’s one danger, games at Texas A&M and at Georgia Tech in September could be something to watch. But this defense should be so fantastic and so geared up for early tests that drafting the Tigers early might be a wise move.

3. LOOK AT NC STATE'S RYAN FINLEY EARLY

NC State quarterback Ryan Finley threw for the second-most yards in the ACC last season behind only Lamar Jackson and he’s poised for an even bigger senior season. Top target Jaylen Samuels is gone, but the Wolfpack receiving corps is fantastic with Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers, Stephen Louis and many others.

Opening games against James Madison and Georgia State should be scoring-fests as NC State gears up for a huge game against West Virginia on Sept. 15, which could be a shootout. That is all good news for fantasy owners as Finley should put up even bigger numbers this season. Until NC State visits Clemson on Oct. 20, the Wolfpack quarterback should be piling up big stats.

4. GEORGIA TECH QB WILL PILE UP STATS ON GROUND AND IN AIR

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Lamar Jackson and AJ Dillon were the top two rushers in the ACC last season. Next in line was Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who finished with 1,146 yards and 17 touchdowns (one less than Jackson) on 247 carries last season. The Yellow Jackets quarterback also threw for 927 yards and 10 scores.

In a fantasy setting, Marshall will be a stat machine especially if he can even slightly improve his passing ability with some competent receivers coming back. Picking Marshall is not the sexiest pick at quarterback for your fantasy league but it’s virtually guaranteed he’s going to carry the ball a lot, score a lot of fantasy points and be productive in Georgia Tech’s offense.

5. MIAMI'S 'D' WORTH A LOOK

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Shaquille Quarterman (55) and Miami's defense should be fierce in 2018. (AP)

The Hurricanes finished fourth in the ACC last season in scoring defense and held six opponents to 20 points or less. There were some key losses but also a bunch of talented players return, many of whom could be ready for a breakout season.

The front seven should be phenomenal, especially across the linebacking corps and the secondary has a chance to be really special if just a few players step up. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is one of the nation’s best and should have this unit ready for a run at the ACC title.

The opener against LSU could be a low-scoring battle and then the Hurricanes have Savannah State, Toledo, FIU and North Carolina before the showdown against Florida State in early October. Defense is important in fantasy and Miami should have a stellar one.