College Football Fantasy Option – 3/16/16

Welcome back to another College Football Fantasy Option. Each month, we will take a look at anything going on in every conference that could have an impact on fantasy production. Since the college football season is so far away, it will likely be limited to start, but will certainly pick up in time.

AAC – Gunner Kiel has returned to the Cincinnati Bearcats. It was an awful year for Kiel in terms of injuries and personal issues. For his safety, he should just hang them up, but he won’t. Hayden Moore performed well when Kiel couldn’t play, and could be in line to start of Kiel is unable to return. Greg Ward should be in line for another career year, despite the loss of both Demarcus Ayers and Kenneth Farrow. Navy stands to be the biggest decline in 2016 with the loss of Keenan Reynolds, who was just a joy for fantasy owners. Tulane loses potentially their best receiver in Teddy Veal, who will be joining the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

ACC – Florida appears to be an ailing program, as they have been consistently losing players to transfer in this offseason. We’ve talked previously about Thomas Sirk’s season ending injury, but it is still a situation to monitor, as it isn’t guaranteed that Parker Boehme will start. I am looking for a big year from Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina finally getting his shot this year. Marquise Williams left big shoes to fill, but I have confidence Trubisky will reward owners this year.

BIG 12 – I really want to see how the Baylor quarterback situation plays out into the summer and fall. I think there is a legitimate shot that Jarrett Stidham can unseat Seth Russell as the starting QB. Iowa State continues to be a team I am looking to make a big jump this year with a more potent and established offense, despite losing several of their top receivers. I expect a bigger jump from Texas this year as well. If they can improve their defense, Texas Tech can certainly be an interesting option. Ultimately though, this conference will offer great options to use in DFS, and all of these teams have questionable defenses to target against.

BIG 10 – Lovie Smith has been acquired by the University of Illinois as their head coach. I think it will certainly make the program a little more interesting moving into the year. I look for KeShawn Vaughn to have a big year for them at the running back position. Ohio State is also another program that is interesting having lost so many players, but with Urban Meyer as a coach and JT Barrett under center, they will do just fine, and probably exceed some people’s expectations. Indiana is losing leading rusher Jordan Howard, but Devine Redding should have ample opportunities to continue his pace from the end of the 2016 season.

CONFERENCE USA – This is an interesting conference to me this year. Southern Miss has an interesting set of options in Nick Mullens and Ito Smith, but it is tough to see what Mullens’ value will be with Mike Thomas and Casey Martin being finished. Western Kentucky has the inverse problem, as Leon Allen, Anthony Wales and DeAndre Ferby coming back to the running back corps, while Tawan Taylor and Nicholas Norris are the lone returning receivers. Perhaps the biggest loss for this team will be QB Brandon Daughty who will be replaced by Nelson Fishback, or potentially transfers Mike White and Tyler Ferguson. Louisiana Tech is another program which faces some challenges, with Jeff Driskel, Kenneth Dixon and Paul Turner departing. Whoever steps in though will have a nice trio of receivers in Trent Taylor, Carlos Henderson and Tulane transfer Teddy Veal.

INDEPENDENTS – BYU is going to be in an interesting position, as often injured QB Taysom Hill has announced he will return for the 2016 season. He has lost each of the past two years to season ending injuries, but is a Heisman contender when he does play. Notre Dame again has a bit of a quarterback controversy as both Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer will challenge for the starting job. They will be without both their starting position players in Will Fuller and CJ Prosise, but Josh Adams and Tarean Folston should be able to handle the backfield, with Corey Robinson hopeful to step up this year as well.

MAC – One of my favorites as it is near and dear to my heart, the MAC offers a lot to like in 2016. Bowling Green will be making a big transition, losing Matt Johnson, Travis Greene and Roger Lewis. James Knapke filled in for Johnson admirably in 2014, and should help for a smooth transition in 2016. UMass is in an interesting position as well, losing Blake Frohnhapfel, but have a high end JUCO transfer and former Virginia Tech QB Andrew Ford coming in. The receiving corp will be depleted, but he should still be OK. Finally, former Utah State receiver JoJo Natson is transferring to Akron. While they don’t have a prolific offense, he definitely gives them a spark and could help the program become more dynamic.

MOUNTAIN WEST – How will Timothy McVeigh perform this year? He had some monster outings in 2015, and this offense is set up to have huge games. Boise State is constantly one of my favorite teams, and this year is no different. Presuming that Brett Rypien remains QB, I love the outlook for Thomas Sperbeck who is one of the best receivers at the college level. Additionally, running back Jeremy McNichols should be in line for another huge season in this offense. Colorado State will be losing quite a bit on offense, but I think there is some potential in the running game.

PAC 12 – Right now several teams are in the “who is going to be our quarterback” conundrum. Those school include CAL, USC and Oregon to name a few. Christian McCaffrey is the top running back in the country coming in, but it is hard to imagine him out performing his 2015 season. Dakota Prukop is the big name coming in for Oregon, but unlike Vernon Adams, he is going to have a full offseason to get acclimated to the offense. Royce Freeman will still carry the load, but they will lose some wideouts including Bralon Addison. USC has Max Browne, who was the top quarterback in his recruiting class, and does have talented options in JuJu Schuster to pass to. This should be one of the most fun conferences again this year, and should provide a lot of value early in the year as many of these players are young and haven’t developed.

SEC – It will be interesting to see where Alabama goes, losing Derrick Henry and Jake Coker. I expect them to still be Alabama, but I am particularly interested to see how Bo Scarbrough develops. There are a few others on the team including Damien Harris that can challenge him for carries, but man, Alabama running backs and fantasy just work. Texas A&M became a dumpster fire down the stretch, and it got worse in the offseason with both Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen transferring. What has gone somewhat unnoticed is that A&M also has a good transfer quarterback in Trevor Knight. Remember him, from Oklahoma, who got sidestepped by Baker Mayfield? He’s coming in and he’s got a hell of a weapon in Christian Kirk, as well as fellow Oklahoma transfer Keith Ford.

SUNBELT – Ahhhh, Sunbelt football. I don’t know why I love it so, but I do. The conference is dominated by three teams which we will look at today. The first is FCS transfer Appalachian State, who has been dominant since moving up to the FBS. The team is returning Taylor Lamb and Marcus Cox, but there is some concern, as both Simms McElfresh and Malachi Jones will are gone. I like the running backs to really have big years, but Lamb will still get his. My personal favorite, Georgia Southern, is returning Kevin Ellison, Favian Upshaw, Matt Breida, LA Ramsby and Wesley Fields to the triple option. There is no point in drafting or playing any receivers from this team, as they will not yield positive results. Breida is the pick of the litter here, as he is a dominant runner at almost 8 yards per carry. Arkansas State rounds out the conference bigs, but are in a tough position, losing QB Fredi Knighten, RB Michael Gordon and WR’s JD MCKissic and Tres Houston. Still, I like this team to rebuild, and RB’s Warren Wand and Johnston White, as well as WR Dijon Paschal should all be in for big years.

That wraps it up for today! I will probably hit a few conferences each week just to keep college football alive during the downtime.