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College Fantasy Football: Draft Season

If you aren’t playing college fantasy football yet, why not? It is a great way to better your understanding of college football. Right now, there is only one provider offering the platform. It is far from ideal – players like Shane Buechele and Trevon Grimes are still in the player pool. However, any college fantasy football is better than no college fantasy football.

As you may know, we hold our annual 5 Yard Showdown competition against Team Rush (@5yardrush). This league is not every man for themselves, but a collective effort. Team College takes on Team Rush for the bragging rights to last a whole year. Last time out, Stocks brought it home for Team Rush. This year, Team College is back for the crown.

The set-up

Last year, we limited the player pool to Power 5 programs. However, after taking advice from college fantasy football expert John Laub, the pool has been extended to all 130 FBS teams. This means that more research is needed (fortunately, John’s fantastic work on Twitter @GridironSchol91 is invaluable here). It also means that there are some lesser known athletes that can help clinch your league title.

Your league has to be a Superflex setup. What would be the point of starting just one QB with so many to choose from? In a 1QB league, you may as well stream the position for the entire season. With two starters at the position, elite quarterback talents are at a premium.

Another piece of advice would be to load up your starters with a few flex spots. In this league, each team will start: 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and 2 FLEX players. You can push the boat out with D/ST and K spots, but we decided against it. It’s all offence in this college fantasy football league!

Who should you draft?

Let’s take a look at each position. We will identify one guy at the top of the draft board, alongside a “value pick” and “late round steal”. This should help you master your college fantasy football draft and get ahead on your rivals in the season ahead.

Quarterback

Top pick: Malik Willis, Liberty (1.01)

It is no surprise that Liberty’s Malik Willis went with the first overall pick in the draft. Willis had an incredible year at The Flames after transferring from Auburn. He threw 170 passes for 2,260 yards in 10 regular season games in 2020. As a dual threat QB, he also supplants his numbers with yards on the ground. Last year, he managed 944 yards with his feet. 14 of his 34 touchdowns came from rushing. Others like Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell may be household names, but Willis’ value in college fantasy football is undeniable.

Value pick: Myles Brennan, LSU (6.09)

LSU’s Myles Brennan started just three games in 2020. Despite limited game time, he threw for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has fully recovered from an abdominal injury that curtailed his 2020 season. The LSU offence is set to take a step forward next season after changes to the coaching staff. It can only mean good things are ahead for Brennan and his offensive weapons in 2021.

Steal: Max Duggan, TCU (16.08)

Max Duggan of TCU is a steal in the later rounds. Here, he was taken in the very last round of the draft, ahead of Auburn’s Bo Nix. Duggan offers a threat in the air and on the ground. In college fantasy football leagues, dual threat QBs have additional value. Duggan only threw for 1,795 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. However, he has enjoyed back to back 500+ rushing yards seasons. Duggan is a great option as a bench QB that can be utilised in favourable matchups.

Running Back

Top pick: Breece Hall, Iowa State (1.06)

I expected Bijan Robinson of Texas to be the pick here. However, it was Breece Hall who was the first RB selected in the draft. It should come as no surprise – Hall led all FBS RBs in rushing yards in 2020. He was the bell cow for the Iowa State Cyclones, taking 61% of touches in the backfield. Hall ended the year with 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns. 

Value pick: Tank Bigsby, Auburn (3.04)

Tank Bigsby of Auburn is great value if you can get him here in the third round of your college fantasy football draft. Bigsby had an outstanding first year for The Tigers. He enjoyed 834 yards in 10 games as a Freshman. He led the team in rushing yards, accounting for 47% of the team’s total on the ground. His role is set to expand in 2021, further boosting his value. Don’t be surprised if Bigsby is selected in the first round of your college fantasy football draft. This kid is going to be special.

Steal: Ty Chandler, UNC (9.11)

Ty Chandler is an intriguing pick at RB. He was part of the exodus out of Knoxville, and lands in an emptied RB room in Chapel Hill. Coach Mack Brown led a fearsome running game with Michael Carter and Javonte Williams at the helm. The two combined for 84% of the team’s rushing yards. It is still unclear who will lead The Tar Heels running game with 64% of touches vacated going into 2021. For that reason, Ty Chandler is a high-upside pick in the later rounds of your college fantasy football draft. His main competitor for touches in North Carolina is British Brooks. Brooks had just 99 yards from 24 touches in 2020, ending the year without a touchdown. It appears that Ty Chandler has landed in the ideal situation if he wants to enjoy a career year in 2021.

Wide Receiver

Top pick: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (2.12)

It was another surprise pick at the top of the board with the selection of Jalen Tolbert at the back end of the second round. Tolbert was selected ahead of well known wideouts like David Bell (Purdue), Treylon Burks (Arkansas) and Kayshon Boutte (LSU). Tolbert had a 1000+ yard year with South Alabama in 2020. He was a consistent producer, averaging 98 receiving yards per game. However, this number was boosted significantly by two monster performances against Arkansas State (252 yards, 3 scores) and Southern Mississippi (169 yards, 2 scores).

Value pick: Romeo Doubs, Nevada (5.02)

Romeo Doubs is a popular name within the college fantasy football community. Like Tolbert, Doubs had 1000+ yards last year. He averaged between 6 and 7 receptions for 120 yards in regular season games in 2020. That sort of production in the fifth round of your draft is bordering on ludicrous value.

Steal: Justyn Ross, Clemson (7.07)

It was a surprise to see Justyn Ross fall to the seventh round despite his worrying injury history. By all accounts, Ross is on the road to a full recovery in time for the start of the season. He is also expected to take on the role of slot receiver in Dabo Swinney’s offence in 2021. A fully fit Justyn Ross will be of huge benefit to DJ Uiagalelei. His ADP is currently misleading, again a consequence of his time missed through injury. Expect this to change as Justyn Ross is selected in the mid-rounds of college fantasy football drafts.

Tight End

Top pick: Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (7.01)

Tight End is a position that either requires great thought and consideration, or little at all. You either reach for an elite guy, or wait until the back end of the draft. 

It was unsurprising that Jalen Wydermyer was the first TE selected. He has many admirers and is expected to have another fruitful year for Texas A&M in 2021. He had 506 yards and six touchdowns on just 46 receptions in 2020. That would equate to 86.6 points in this league’s scoring settings. 

Value pick: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame (11.08)

Michael Mayer of Notre Dame was a nice pick up in the 11th round. In 2020, he accumulated 57 total points across the season. It remains to be seen how his role will change after the departure of QB Ian Book. It seems wise to give later draft capital at the position. Without the premium at the position, it seems wise to let the board fall to you.

Steal: Jahleel Billingsley, Albama (16.02)

One player that did fall to the final round was Alabama’s Jahleel Billingsley. Usually, Crimson Tide Tight Ends make few headlines. Billingsley had just 18 receptions in 2020, accounting for 287 yards and three touchdowns. That would result in 46.7 points if replicated in the 2021 season. His role could increase in the absence of Jalen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, but his role is far from secure.

Ultimately, a TE will not win or lose you a title in your college fantasy football league. If there was ever a position to stream, this is it.

Where to find help 

Keep up with the 5 Yard Showdown league over on Twitter @5yardcollege, and don’t forget to ask about our Discord channel. Follow John Laub (@gridironschol91) for expert college fantasy football advice and analysis.

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