College Fantasy Football: Top 20 sleepers
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Some of these players are starters, some will have backup roles and some have transferred to new schools. All of them could be considered fantasy football “sleepers” heading into the season as we look at 20 players who fit the bill.
Charlie Brewer, QB, Baylor
Baylor was awful last season, winning only one game and averaging only about 24 points per outing so why does Brewer make sense? He performed well a season ago, the offensive line should be improved and the Bears’ receiving corps is absolutely loaded. There are at least six legitimate game-breakers for Brewer to target including Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd, who’s now at receiver.
Tony Brooks-James, RB, Oregon
Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit are gone and they combined for 26 rushing touchdowns last season. In steps Brooks-James, a track standout who could be poised for a breakout season because he’s definitely the first option behind a big offensive line. QB Justin Herbert is fantastic and the Ducks score a lot when he’s on the field. There are questions about the receivers, though, so first-year coach Mario Cristobal could be happy to feed the ball to Brooks-James over and over again.
Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
Top receivers Allen Lazard and Marchie Murdock are off to the NFL but quarterback Kyle Kempt is back which means Butler could be in for a huge season as the No. 1 target in the Cyclones’ offense. Running back David Montgomery is going to get his touches but Butler is by far the biggest target in Iowa State’s passing attack and his numbers should get even better from last season.
Stephen Carr, RB, USC
Ronald Jones chewed up 1,550 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns last season for the Trojans but he’s now off to the NFL. That means Carr, an uber-talented and versatile running back, should step in and be highly productive. With a new quarterback and talented but inexperienced receivers, the Trojans could lean on Carr in a big way and he should have the ball in his hands often.
Damarea Crockett, RB, Missouri
Back from numerous injuries with last season’s leading rusher, Ish Witter, gone, Crockett has a chance to put up huge numbers again in Missouri’s backfield. The offense is going to move the ball and let’s not forget Crockett set all kinds of freshman rushing records during the 2016 season. Larry Rountree III will also figure prominently in the Tigers’ ground attack but Crockett could be a steal.
Greg Dortch, WR, Wake Forest
As a redshirt freshman last season, Dortch tied for the team lead with 53 catches and led the Demon Deacons with 722 yards and nine touchdowns. Second on that list was Tabari Hines and he’s now gone so it’s believed Dortch will be an even more focal point for Wake Forest, which surprisingly averaged more than 35 points per game a year ago. The quarterback situation is not superb so that could be an issue but Dortch has the potential to put up big numbers.
Tavien Feaster, RB, Clemson
The Clemson defense is going to be so special especially up front that the Tigers’ offense should be on the field a ton. With some inexperienced wide receivers in the fold, Clemson could use running backs Travis Etienne and Feaster a whole lot more. Feaster had 669 rushing yards and seven scores last season. Etienne might still be option No. 1 in the backfield but Feaster, right on the cusp of the Rivals100 a few years ago, should be involved much more.
Jonathan Giles, WR, LSU
If LSU can figure out its quarterback situation and stop being so dead-set on running the ball, Giles could be a tremendous steal. The Texas Tech transfer caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns two seasons ago in Lubbock. After D.J. Chark last season, the receiving numbers at LSU last season were anemic so Giles could be a huge target early on.
Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
J’Mon Moore, who had 65 catches for 1,082 yards and 10 TDs last season, is gone but Missouri’s passing attack should still be stellar this season. WR Johnathon Johnson and TE Albert Okwuegbunam will be top targets but Hall could be a beneficiary of Moore’s departure more than anyone else. With QB Drew Lock looking to inflate his stats, Hall is in the perfect spot especially after catching eight touchdown passes last year and averaging nearly 25 yards per reception.
Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
Knox caught only 24 passes for 321 yards last season. He did not score a touchdown. But the Ole Miss tight end is expected to be a much bigger force in the Rebels’ offense this season and with a bevy of receivers drawing serious attention, Knox could be a open target downfield. It’s a risky pick but Knox could be in store for a breakout season.
Khalan Laborn, RB, Florida State
Cam Akers will be the featured back and senior Jacques Patrick will get his touches but Laborn, a former five-star like the other two, is far too talented to keep off the field. Florida State is going to run the ball under first-year coach Willie Taggart. After an outstanding spring game where Laborn rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, he’s too talented to keep on the field and too explosive not to have on a fantasy roster.
Damarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
A.J. Brown is one of the best receivers in college football so he’ll put up big numbers. But with Van Jefferson gone to Florida and an average running attack, the Rebels could take to the air more and Lodge could be a huge benefactor. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu can sling it and while Ole Miss has Alabama and LSU in September, there are spots where the Rebels should score big as well. Lodge and D.K. Metcalf should pick up the slack especially since Brown is going to get so much attention from defenses.
TaQuon Marshall, QB, Georgia Tech
Marshall is not one of the best quarterbacks in college football. When it comes to passing, he only completed 37 percent last season. But this is fantasy football and his rushing stats were amazing last season and could be better behind an outstanding offensive line in Georgia Tech’s attack. He had 1,146 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs last season to go with 10 passing scores. Marshall could be a solid pickup since fantasy points could come quickly.
Tavares Martin, WR, Washington State
The Cougars are still figuring out their quarterback situation but one thing is for sure - coach Mike Leach wants to throw the ball a lot. Washington State scored 45 offensive touchdowns last season and 37 of them came through the air. Martin didn’t lead the team in receptions but he did in receiving yards (831) and touchdowns (nine). Be a little careful because a solid defense might mean more ball control but Martin should get his opportunities.
Jakobi Meyers, WR, NC State
Kelvin Harmon should be quarterback Ryan Finley’s favorite target but Meyers has the opportunity to pick up where he left off last season and emerge as the top weapon in NC State’s impressive passing attack. Jaylen Samuels, who had a team-high 76 catches for 597 yards and four scores last season, is gone and Meyers can pick up a lot of that slack. Meyers was third on the team last year in catches but led the Wolf Pack with five receiving TDs.
Zack Moss, RB, Utah
There are a lot of reasons to think Moss is poised for an even bigger season after going for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The offensive line should be solid, when Moss had his opportunities the Utes’ offense looked really good and whether Tyler Huntley or Jack Tuttle is quarterback, staying in the pocket will be more of a focus. Plus, there are definitely some questions at receiver. That means Moss should be called on a lot and could be a workhorse who scores big in a fantasy setting.
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
Stanley is a well-known commodity but he could be poised for a huge season after an impressive campaign in which he threw for 26 touchdowns and only six picks a year ago. Running back Akrum Wadley is gone and the offensive line is being reworked so the downfield passing threat could be in more focus even if this is Iowa, which will run the ball regardless. Tight end Noah Fant will be a red-zone target and top receiver Nick Easley is back as well. Surprisingly, Stanley threw only two fewer touchdowns than Penn State's Trace McSorley last year.
Nick Westbrook, WR, Indiana
Westbrook went down on the first play of the season a year ago against Ohio State but he’s back after leading the team in all kinds of receiving categories in 2016. He could be somewhat forgotten in the preseason but Westbrook is key for the Hoosiers’ offense to get moving. There are decent pieces around him so defenses will have to stay honest. If Indiana can settle the quarterback position and be more explosive, then Westbrook could have a big year.
Dae Williams, RB Louisville
Lamar Jackson is gone and with the stellar Heisman Trophy winner took 1,601 rushing yards and 18 rushing scores from a year ago. That means a huge opportunity for Williams, who only played in six games last season coming back from a knee injury. New QB Jawon Pass is more of a pocket passer which means Williams should see a ton of opportunities to get the ball in his hands without Jackson or any other QB chewing up yards on the ground.
Kyle Williams, WR Arizona State
There has been a lot of offensive coordinator turnover in Tempe and who knows what Arizona State is going to look like under first-year coach Herm Edwards but Williams is a big-time talent who maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Former five-star N’Keal Harry is the star receiver but Williams had terrific stats last year (66 catches for 763 yards and seven touchdowns) that weren’t far off from Harry’s numbers. ASU shouldn’t have a problem slinging the ball around and Williams will be one benefactor.
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