Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Systems You Can Trust: Drafting First-Time Starters Based on Systems

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Best5Zach's Best 5 Fantasy Quarterbacks for 2015

Best5Zach's Best 5 Fantasy Running Backs for 2015

Best5Zach's Best 5 DSTs for Fantasy College Football

Best5Zach's Best 5 Tight Ends for 2015

Face the facts: You can't always draft based upon last year's stats. Not only does past performance fail to dictate future worth, but the nature of college football means that there is a lot of turnover year to year, unlike the NFL. I saw it just the other day in my first fantasy draft of 2015. There were some very.....questionable...draft picks that were made based upon last year's fantasy value. But, what amazed me most were the picks that were NOT made. 

In the later rounds, especially, when there are the most value-oriented gains to be made, I was able to draft players that shouldn't have been on the board. Take a read and see if you can spot the players. 

Best5Zach's First Draft of College Fantasy Football 

That made me think: maybe people don't understand the value of drafting a player based upon the system he plays in. My first example is Auburn's Jeremy Johnson. I don't think there is any doubt that Johnson is going to be one of the SEC's, and maybe the NCAA's, very best QBs. And yet, he will available in the 12th round? Sure, as an Auburn fan, I knew who he was and had seem him play. I know the system under which he plays. But, he isn't the only guy I drafted based upon that. So, let's take a look at some systems you can trust to draft a first year starter or potential break-out player. 

Quarterback: Auburn's Gus Malzhan hasn't struggled to put out fantasy monsters. It didn't matter if it was a major or minor program, either.  Tulsa and Arkansas State enjoyed high-power offenses that set the bar. Only in 2011 at Auburn did he have a legitimate issue in producing a QB that could light it up. But, there were some significant issues that most any fantasy guy could see, namely the lack of talent at the position and near zero career starts for the offensive line. 

Dana Holgerson's Mountainers are one of the very best first half of the season's offense.  In my 5 years of playing fantasy college football, he has turned each and every QB into a legitimate fantasy starter, despite the QBs different abilities. But, just as he is trust-worthy in the first half to produce big numbers, he also is good for a late season meltdown. 

Obviously any Urban Meyer QB makes the list, as it was evident in last years season when three different guys put up video game numbers.

Art Briles has translated the high-tempo high school offense to the big stage. Although some high volume, big stat teams from smaller conferences (AAC, Sunbelt) may struggled against premier competition, the Briles system succeeds even on the big stage. His last two QBs have been among the very best fantasy options. Whoever takes over as a first time starter will surely be in the top 20 as well. 

Honorable mentions to Washington State and Texas Tech. My issue with them is that the air raid attack means big yardage, but the point swings week to week are wild. 60 attempts mean lots of yardage, but against better competition it rarely means more TDs and it certainly means more INTs. Use these systems at your own risk. 

What about a fantasy scoring system that handicaps throwing TDs? No problem. Look no further than Georgia Tech and Navy. It doesn't matter who is at QB, these two teams are going to run the ball. Georgia Tech was the No. 1 rushing team in America. While Navy's Reynolds had more rushing TDs than any QB, Tech's Thomas added a throwing dimension that Reynolds lacked. 

Running Back: No other coach in America can openly admit that he is going to pound the rock each and every week and actually go through with it more than Brett Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks. As long as he is coaching, you can safely pick up his lead back or backs. There isn't a team in America aside from his time in Wisconsin where you could draft two different backs from the same team and safely assume that you are going to get fantasy-worthy stats. Are you going to get 30 or more points? No. But the chances of you getting less than 20 are virtually non-existent. Winning a league is about consistency. 

Additionally, Alabama is a team with a ton of consistency at running back. You can trust Saban to pound the rock.  Though total yardage may not always be favorable, you can expect great field position and running inside the ten yard line. What's not to like? 

Bob Davie has been at New Mexico for three years. Each year, he has had a running back go for over 1,000 and a secondary back with over 700. In each of those years, the newcomer usually had a 500 yard performance the year before. This team averages over 3,000 yards rushing each year and over six yards per carry. It doesn't matter who they play and if they lose, they are as stead as you will find. 

Michigan State is going to have a potent pro-style system that will be fairly balanced. But Dantonio, like Saban, really likes to run the ball when it comes down to it. The run sets up the pass in his system and the system hasn't been player dependent. Whoever the No. 1 guy is, he is going to rush for 1,500 yards. It's awfully hard on passing up an MSU back. 

Receiver: No program in America produces top fantasy WRs, regardless of coaching, than USC. Even at the end of the Kiffin era, when the offense seemed to sputter, USC still had at least one WR that was a top producer. The nature of the talent pool in southern California means that USC will always have an NFL prospect playing. Even when the QBs struggle, the coaching staff will still get the ball in whomever that lead WR is. 

Big Game Bob Stoops always has a lead WR that is going to get a plethora of catches. Whether it is a pesky slot slot receiver or a down-field bully, the nature of his high-powered offense means there will be one major beneficiary at WR. What I REALLY like about his offense is that there is always one WR that stands above the rest in terms of over-all touches. While his offense will spread the ball to as many as seven different players per game, one guy will have double the touches of anyone else.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can draft two receivers from Baylor with little to no worry about competition for touches. The Baylor offense is already one of the very best annually. While five different receivers having 30 or more catches concerns some potential fantasy owners, understand that even the 4th best receiver had over 600 yards and 6 TDs. To put that in perspective, Auburn's Duke Williams is projected to be one of the very best WRs in fantasy land, yet he had 700 yards and 5 TDs. 

Mike Leech's air raid offense is going to translate to 60 attempts and around 35-40 completions per game. Most notably, it will involved seven or eight different guys. You can reasonably expect three different receivers to have 7 or more TDs a year. In a PPR league, up to five different guys are worth owning, especially against inferior competition. You will have a minimum of 40 catches. The only issue is, against Pac-12 opponents, who do you start? The WRs are very streaky. But, guessing right each week means big payouts. 

DST: Despite playing in the wide-open Mountain West, Utah State consistently has one of the very best overall DSTs in fantasy land.Yet, the average draft position is past 100. This is a unit that has finished in the top 12 over the last 3 years (And as high as 5th). With a consistent crop of talent and stable coaching, this unit will perennially be among the best. Not only are they a fantastic defensive unit, but the special teams can explode on anyone and at any time. It is hard to believe that they are such a high value sleeper each year. 

It's hard to overlook Michigan State. They have been at the top for a very long time. Though they aren't as likely to score defensive TDs as Utah State, they are hard-nosed, sack heavy, and don't give up points. 

Alabama is very similar to the Michigan State. If you play in a league the scores heavily on points allowed, this is your team. But, the Tide was one of the very worst in terms of turnovers and touchdowns. Again, it's hard to argue against this unit as it is as stable as there is.