You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
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You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Best5Zach's Best 5 Fantasy Running Backs for 2015
One of my favorite tricks/tips/strategies in fantasy football, specifically college football fantasy is the teammate double up. While I would quietly discourage anyone from doing this in the NFL, the deeper player pool and overall greater scoring potential of college football allows you to not only get away with this, but potential massacre your opponents.
In the NFL, it is usually too risky to put your weekly fate in the hands of a single offense, which is essentially what you are doing in most NFL leagues. That is, outside of a few premier teammate double ups, the risk is always there that your QB could struggle in a game....and if he does, obviously your WR will as well. There are a few legitimate teammate double ups out there in NFL land. Manning/Thomas. Luck/Hilton. That's just two off the top of my head.
Contrary to what many people may think, simply pairing up a high volume passer with one of his teammate WRs doesn't constitute a viable double up. I, myself, have fallen into the trap. For example, Eli Manning to Cruz (pre-OBJ) would sound attractive. The Giants played from behind, causing Manning to throw a hundred times a game. Cruz was/is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. But, Manning spread the ball around a lot and wasn't exactly a point scoring constant. But, Luck and the Colts have zero run game and TY Hilton is a guy who will get the ball in his hands in a dozen different ways...from behind the line tunnel screens, to quick 1st down slants, to field stretching bombs. And, behind TY Hilton (in 2014) there wasn't much in the way of a producer WR (though Moncrief came on strong).
And, regardless of which of these two combos you choose, the likelihood of the doubleteam working week in and week out is slim.
Not so in college.
Unlike the NFL, college kids play through injury. Coaches and players are happy to run up stats for awards. The difference in playing styles and talent levels in college football frequently mean lots of scores and yards. And, there is simply more on the line each week for a college team than an NFL team.
There are but a few reasons I have at least 1 set of teammate double up options on my fantasy team.
Let's start from the beginning. How do I draft?
Well, as I am preparing for the draft, I write down and rank all the QBs on my radar based upon their potential to score fantasy points. This takes into account their own level of play (talent), the system they play in, their history inside of that system, and their team's schedule.....just to start. Then, I look at where I am going to be drafting. Obviously the highest scoring potential is with the top-flight dual threat guys. With their combination of running, which has a 2:1 advantage over passing yards, and their ability to throw for yards and TDs, they become the first players off the board. These are the Mariota's, Newtons, and Manziels. Each year there are about 5 of these guys, and if I can get one...I'm going to. In a 20 man league, unless you are at the very top, the chances of you getting one of these guys is slim. It's at this point that a player must decide whether he wants to draft a run-first or pass-happy QB.
The way I asses risk, I usually go for the latter, despite the fact that a run-first guy gets a 2:1 score advantage on yards AND doesn't share points in the event of a TD. However, these run-first guys are prone to injury (Keeton from Utah State/Reynolds from Navy/Hill from BYU). Therefor, I concentrate on pass-happy QBs, specifically from traditional pass-happy systems. I am also looking for a team that is either lacking a run game, typically will play from behind, or both.
It's at this point that the most important filter is applied: Who has a WR1 that is a clear number 1 target? Now, these pass-happy guys are going to spread the ball around, and that's fine. But, who is the player that he has a real connection with?
Last year, I had two different teammate double ups on my Big Board going into draft day. I had Carden/Hardy from ECU and Wallace/Treadwell from Ole Miss. I felt that these were the best low-risk/high upside double ups that I could get. The former pair featured 2 players that were dangerously close to conquering NCAA records. These guys, and their team were the only pair that really checked every box. They were a pass-happy system with no run game. They would beat up on their own level of competition and their coaches would undoubtedly run scores up to promote Carden and Hardy as legitimate NFL-talent. And, though they were over-matched in some games on their schedule, I had sneaking suspicion that they could either hang with...or beat....some of the tougher team...but it would require 50-60 passes a game. As it turned out, I was right. ECU beat some higher-profile teams like Virginia Tech.
Wallace and Treadwell didn't finish the season on a high note. Treadwell broke his leg against Auburn and Wallace wilted down the stretch. However, neither were on my team at that point. Why?
Ole Miss had no run game outside of Wallace, which was a HUGE plus. Treadwell was a underneath pass catching machine his freshman year as Derrick Moncrief (now with Colts) was a field stretcher. Treadwell was the #1 WR out of highschool and already looked the part of a future NFL WR in his freshman year. I felt he was a "can't miss guy." But, I had some reservations on this matchup, which is why I drafted them later in the draft, but much earlier than most people would ever consider. Though Ole Miss exhibited many of features I want, and even added a true dual threat QB, I had seen a trend in Hugh Freeze's offenses that screamed "trade rape" at midseason. The Rebel offense has started on fire since Freeze came to Oxford, but by midseason each of the 3 years it has faltered.
By week 4, I was already seeking out trades for these 2 guys and I ended up finding exactly what I needed. Weeks 1-4, I started Wallace/Treadwell before trading them and starting Carden/Hardy for the rest of the season, which ended with me being undefeated and league champ.
Why are we discussing all of this? Consider this: You QB throws for 300/3/1 on average each game, fantasy value of 28 points. Of that, your teammate double up catches 6/75/1 per game, fantasy value of 20.5. That's a total of 50 points for two players....on an AVERAGE day. And, let's be real....top level fantasy QB/WR combos are going to do better. A better picture of the value of this strategy is this: let's say your QB connects with your WR for a 75 yard TD bomb. That's 3.25+6 for your QB and 7.5+6+1 for your WR for a total of nearly 25 points....on a single play. That's the kind of potential you are looking at.
So, with all of that being said, let's look at some QB/WR1/WR2 teammate doubleups that are worth getting earlier than the sum of their parts. I am not listing these in any order.
Johnson/Williams (AUB)-It's no secret that I am a huge Auburn fan. Williams is likely to be one of the first 5 WRs take overall, most likely a 4th round draft pick in most leagues. He is a consensus #1 WR off the board in next year's NFL draft. He is a "can't miss" prospect. Johnson will be an intriguing prospect to many players. Though everyone knows he has an NFL-arm and he has played well as a backup, many may be hesitant to take him early considering he is a first year starter playing for a system that SEEMS pass happy, but isn't. Why should Johnson be taken early? Consider that Auburn has a very crowded backfield right now. There are 3 players vying for carries, which is going to decimate their fantasy value. While Gus wants to develop a starter and power run game, it won't be until game 5. That's the way it has been in his first 3 years. In the meantime, the run game isn't likely to be fluid...but the pass game will be. Johnson will be playing behind a very good offensive line. While Louisville should be a good game, Atlanta is a home-away-from-home for Auburn. Additionally, Louisville lost a lot of key defensive starters and will be breaking in a lot of talented transfers. If anything, this will be a high-scoring affair. Petrino and Malzahn are not two teams you want to tee off the season against. LSU and Mississippi State defense will be down this year. They get UGA and Bama at home, though one might be wary. In short, their limited time together in 2014 was absolutely electric and word is that Williams and Johnson already have a close bond. Top marks, all around.
Kiel/Washington(CINCI)- I do throw some caution on this one, as Cinci uses 4 WRs at a time. Washington was the top catching WR last year with 66 catches, which was 22 more than McKay. However, Washington had half (4) the TDs of McKAy (8). Their point margin was 166 to 164 in favor of Washington. However, Washington is closing in on Cinci's all-time record on receptions. Kiel started out on fire before slipping a little down the stretch. However, he still posted 3200/31/13 which is quite amazing. I firmly believe that the former 5 -Star QB went through a sophomore slump at the end of next year and his Jr year is going to be amazing. He is poised to throw the ball all over the field and will certainly rush for more than 1 TD this year. The only potential roadblock is that they play some take-away based defenses such as Houston and Temple. Their toughest game will be against BYU at Provo, which is one to really watch.
Boykin/Doctson (TCU)- A Heisman candidate and team spurned in 2014 will be out to crush any and all competition. The 5th best offense is completely loaded and plays a very manageable schedule. Patterson will be out for blood, willing to run the score up to promote his team and his Heisman candidate. The issue is that Boykin is likely to be a top 5 pick....if not THE top pick in your draft. 4,000/33/10 in the air and 700/8 on the ground make him a can't miss must have. I shouldn't have to sell him anymore than that. Doctson had 65/1000/11. Wow. Here is what I would suggest: If you get Boykin, draft Doctson in the 3rd round. Make him be the top WR off the board. In this case, having him is better than a RB2.
Russell/Coleman (BAYLOR)- Lindy's has Cannon as their top WR from the top offense in the nation. You won't go wrong with either Cannon or Coleman, but Coleman led the team with 63/1100/11 despite missing the first 3 games. Coleman caught a TD in all but 1 game he played in 2014 AND he gets rushing attempts. Russell had a better QBR than Petty, had a higher YPA and even tied him in rushing TDs despite playing less time. These are two more guys that will go early, though caution will be given in both cases as Coleman will share attempts with at least 4-5 other WRs and Russell is a first year starter. Believe in the Briles system, though.
Doughty/Dangerfield (WKU)-Doughty was 2nd in passing in the nation with over 4,000/49/10. Wow. Of that, Dangerfield led in most categories including the two that mattered: receptions (69) and TDs (11). With the worst defense in college football, expect Doughty to throw 40 times a game. This seems like a can't miss. Doughty WILL be a top 5 QB selected, so, again, be ready to burn an early pick with Dangerfield. It seems hard to go wrong here, though you do have to wonder about Doughty spreading the ball around too much.
Evans/Lucas (TULSA)- The overall offensive ranks might be deceiving. Tulsa ranked as the 36th best passing and 56th overall offense. But, Coach Montgomery is an Art Briles disciple and his first year may be a thing of offensive beauty. Evans threw for 3,100/23/17 which isn't great, but did so as a sophomore....and I believe in the slump. Lucas snagged 101 passes for 1,200 yards and 11 TDs. Though Evans will probably be a mid-level QB, Lucas will make this work. The Tulsa defense is terrible, ranking sub-100 in every category. So, expect a high volume of passing. Between the new coach, a returning line, and high-volume passing....this could be a later round STEAL.
Driskel/Taylor (LATECH)- Though he may be one of the biggest recruiting busts in the modern era, Driskel IS talented. Landing at La Tech is probably the best thing that ever happened to him....and it could pay MASSIVE dividends to fantasy owners.He is under the right coach. He has a fantastic cast around him. Driskel has big-play ability all over him with his big arm and physical long-stride running style. Behind him is a real weapon at tailback, Dixon. With defenses keying on Dixon, Driskel can run....or pass to the Bulldogs leading WR, Taylor. Taylor had 64/800/9 with Sokol last year. Believe me, Driskel is every bit the QB Sokol was, and Sokol was a good backup fantasy QB. The Bulldogs do get Kansas State and Mississippi State, so be wary of those starts. I'd still consider starting them in both these games. Driskel's ability to run is what is going to make this work. Expect the zone read to show up for the Bulldogs, but be punctuated with play action passes to Taylor.
Frohnapfel/Sharpe(UMASS)- A top throwing team in all of football, despite Frohnapfel missing several games. HE still managed to throw for 3,300/23/10. Of that, an amazing 85/1200/7 went to Sharpe. The UMASS defense is terrible, which will be great for fantasy owners. The issue? They play some SOLID teams. But, then again, they did so last year too. There is a certain amount of week-to-week risk with playing tougher teams, but playing from behind is great. There is little chance of Sharpe losing too many attempts.
Hackenburg/Hamilton (PENNST)- What's not to like here? A James Franklin coached NFL-talent arm with an NFL-talent WR. Hamilton led the conference with 82 catches. The truth is, however, that the Penn State offense was among the worst in the country in 2014, though their defense was one of the very best. Hackenburg was sacked 44 times and he threw 15 INTs in his sophomore year. Again, those slumps....they are real. I have to believe that Franklin will turn this ship around and the only way to do that is to keep Hackenburg clean in the pocket. Both of these guys are going to go high in the draft and the likelihood of getting them both is slim. However, this is probably the biggest boom-or-bust combo out there and I strongly caution you. I would be extremely cautious of a week 1 start against Temple.