By Ron Jumper
It is that point in the summer where there is nothing interesting to read in the sports section of the newspaper and there is nothing but baseball highlights on Sportscenter. For football fans, it is that calm before the storm only in this case we welcome that storm with open arms. For the avid fantasy football fan, it is right about that time to start researching who we are going to be targeting on draft day. Long gone are the days of preparing for the draft the week of, to compete in college fantasy football one must have done their homework well in advance. Class is now in session.
**This is not a rankings or preview article, this is a helpful guide to get you started in the right direction.
Lesson 1: He’s Back!
Case Keenum is perhaps the greatest fantasy football player in history, yes I did just say that. While I’m sure that those who drafted him last year will disagree, it was great news for the college fantasy game when he was granted another year of eligibility. In 2009, Keenum racked up 5,790 total yards and 48 total touchdowns in an explosive Houston offense. This was coming off a monster 2008 season that saw him tally 5,234 total yards and 51 touchdowns. If he does as expected and has another phenomenal season, I don’t see any way he isn’t the greatest college fantasy player of all time.
Lesson 2: Name Recognition Doesn’t Score Fantasy Points
When I look at other fantasy rankings, I see a lot of BCS running backs ranked highly. Don’t count on all of them finishing ranked that highly at the end of the season. I’m targeting some studs out of the Sun Belt in North Texas running back Lance Dunbar and Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey. Here are some potential busts:
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
It isn’t that Lattimore doesn’t have talent, he does. However, the Gamecocks quarterback situation is unsettled and the offensive line has some question marks. Oh yeah, and they play in the SEC…
Trent Richardson, Alabama
Again, talent is not the issue. Richardson has not been able to stay healthy for a full season and I just don’t know if he can get you the type of numbers you need from a first round fantasy pick. Also, this just in, the SEC has awesome defenses.
Knile Davis, Arkansas
Davis is another talented running back but Arkansas has some youth on the offensive line and they will be rotating carries between not only Davis but Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson. I doubt he matches last season’s production. Did I mention the SEC has awesome defenses?
Lesson 3: Project New Starters With Caution
In some cases, the system is the reason for the production and in others the talent of the player was what led to success. Make an educated evaluation of each player, here is my take:
QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
QB Mike Glennon, NC State
QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
QB Casey Pachall, TCU
Lesson 4: Understand Value Based Drafting
Even if you like a player enough to take him in the 3rd round, you shouldn’t unless someone else is likely to draft him that high also. Just because you think you are on to a “sleeper” doesn’t mean you should draft them several rounds too high, always draft proven talent in the early rounds then take your sleepers late.
Also, understand the depth at each position and what value each player has. For example, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is far and away the best wide receiver so taking him in the first round is worth it because your receivers will be better than your opponents. Even though the quarterbacks that went in the first round are scoring more points, it is still worth it because there are plenty of quarterbacks later in the draft that will score similar amounts of points where as no receiver in this draft class came close to Blackmon’s production last year.
Lesson 5: Keep An Eye On Those Sleepers
As you get later in the draft, there is no reason to draft guys that are just average. You should swing for the fences and be willing to take risks. Either way, the majority of your later round picks will be guys you let go to waivers as better players emerge. What do you actually have to lose by taking a flyer on a guy with huge upside? Here are some guys I’m targeting:
Sleepers (Ranked Outside Top 50):
QB Zach Collaros, Cincinnati
QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
QB Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
QB Ryan Tannenhill, Texas A&M
QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
RB Jason Ford, Illinois
RB Davin Meggett, Maryland
RB Jonathon Franklin, UCLA
RB Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech
WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State
WR Damario Belcher, Indiana
WR Josh Gordon, Baylor
WR Mark Harrison, Rutgers
TE Ladarius Green, UL Lafeyette
Deep Sleepers (Outside Top 200):
QB Ryan Radcliff, Central Michigan
QB Matt Schilz, Bowling Green
QB Barrett Trotter, Auburn
RB Bryce Brown, Kansas State
RB Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic
RB Ralph Bolden, Purdue
RB Perry Jones, Virginia
RB Ryan Bass, Idaho
RB Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas
WR Travis Benjamin, Miami
WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois
WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
This will hopefully get the wheels turning as you prepare for the draft, it is still a long ways away but there is so much information to cover in 120 leagues. I’ll continue on with my college fantasy football preview issue, as well as handicapping and traditional preview coverage.