CFB DFS: SEC Spring Report
The SEC has ruled football since the BCS era and not surprisingly it’s because of the surplus of talent that keeps coming into each of the programs. Each season there are many draft picks headed to the NFL, yet these teams consistently replace them with quality talent. There are a few teams that are hurting in this conference, but for the most part this conference has its act together. Let’s take a look at who is replacing who in 2015 in the SEC.
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The quarterback battle was a known one coming into the offseason, but what came next we didn’t expect. Redshirt freshman, Will Grier, won the job, but sophomore, Treon Harris, fought back and put himself within reach of the starting job come fall. This is a good thing for Florida fans, as I think it’s fair to say their quarterback play will be better in 2015 than it’s been the last few seasons. The offensive line is banged up with injuries, so things aren’t looking great in the trenches. This could make the best fits at quarterback for this offense either one who is good at making quick decisions and getting the football out of his hand (Grier) or one that can be elusive and scramble (Harris). With the lack of receiver depth out wide, we should be rooting for Harris to win back the job and give us the ability to use a dual-threat quarterback – as long as his accuracy has improved.
The Bulldogs have a quarterback battle as well, but their offense is built around one thing: the run game. Nick Chubb didn’t get beat up too much in the spring with limited snaps in the spring game, but there was a new running back we haven’t heard of that played well in his and Sony Michel’s absence: A.J. Turman. He ran 26 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns mainly against the first team defense.
Despite being run oriented, Georgia is going to be a good team for punt play receivers with a few new guys jumping into bigger roles. Malcolm Mitchell is the guy with the most experience of the group, but he’s always injured and left the spring game early due to a shoulder injury. Reggie McKenzie looked as fast as ever, but he too left the game early (hamstring). Those two should be fine for the opener, but I’m going to keep my eyes on Reggie Davis, a 6’1 receiver with almost as much speed as McKenzie. And of course, you can’t forget about the tight ends at Georgia. Jeb Blazevich is a big guy (6’5) who can catch the ball very well.
Kentucky football fans are excited about the return of two receivers who couldn’t come back from injury at a better time: Jeff Badet and Alex Montgomery. They are two different style of receivers who both will make an impact on the field in 2015. Badet is the speedster while Montgomery is the 6’2 former basketball player. The “air raid” offense is going to be in full effect for Patrick Towles this season and those two should play a big part of it. With deep shots down the field, Badet should be a huge help to this offense immediately, while Montgomery is going to have to beat a guy or two out to get consistent targets. Ryan Timmons is the other big playmaker for this offense out wide. If we see progress out of Towles, then Badet or Timmons could become CFB DFS relevant in 2015.
Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp are the two best weapons but are both running backs. The offense will give enough carries to the position to be relevant, but I’m afraid these two will split touches. They are great in space and do a decent enough job of running inside the tackles, so it’ll be interesting to see if the coaches favor one over the other come fall.
The Tigers lose pretty much every recognizable receiver that made any sort of impact in 2014, so this group is going to look very new to us in 2015. This is a great thing for those that do the research. The projected starters out wide for the Tigers are J’Mon Moore, Wesley Leftwich, and Nate Brown. Brown is the one question mark due to him missing pretty much the entire spring, but he has the talent to be a top three guy for them. The targets from the first team offense correlate with those top two guys, as Moore put up a line of 10/112/2 on 16 targets and Leftwich recorded six catches for 57 yards and one touchdown on 16 targets as well. Missouri is going to run the football with Russell Hansbrough, but at the end of the day Maty Mauk is going to have to pass to put up points.
The quarterback situation seems sticky over in Columbia, South Carolina, but it does appear that Connor Mitch is the quarterback for now. He was listed as the QB1 to enter the spring and hasn’t done anything to lose it, but really hasn’t done anything to pull away with the job either. He is supposed to be an upgrade compared to Dylan Thompson, but whoever does pull away with the job will be an instant CFB DFS consideration week one against a shabby North Carolina defense.
Pharoah Cooper in week one might be the first must start of the season with how versatile and explosive he is going against one of the worst power five defenses last season. There are other spots open at receiver, so there are some freshman who might see some time for the Gamecocks this season. Deebo Samuel is super talented and athletic, but “plays like a freshman” and needs to learn how to “play fast.” With a whole summer ahead of him, I don’t mind those kinds of quotes from Spurrier at all. Adding another receiver with speed and athleticism will be very good for whoever wins the quarterback job in Columbia.
The Vols have two star running backs in the making with Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara leading the way in 2015. With the ability Hurd has to catch the football (35 receptions in 2014), you would think he’s a smaller running back, but that’s not the case. Hurd is between 230 and 240 pounds and moves well for that size. He only ran 20+ times in four games, but in those games he ran for 100+ yards in three of them. His season long numbers weren’t that great, but part of that might be because of limited carries and some tough defenses he had to face. Hurd and Kamara will be the top backs and in that order, but I’m still unsure of whether or not Hurd sees 15+ carries consistently. His ability to catch the football gives you a little bit of a safety blanket when you do use him.
It’s never a good sign for your program when your future starting quarterback elects school over football, but that’s exactly what Patton Robinette did this offseason. Fortunately for Vandy, he did it early enough to give them a chance at finding their guy before the season. The problem is that the cupboard is bare at Vandy and the two other quarterbacks with a real shot at starting combined for five picks in their spring game. There isn’t a whole lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball and this team won’t have many players, if any, that will be worthy of rostering this upcoming CFB DFS season.
I’m pretty sure on who is going to replace Amari Cooper for Bama this season (Robert Foster), but I’m even more sure that that player is going to be very good in CFB DFS. Lane Kiffin force feeds his top receiver and always has whether it be at USC or Alabama. The other possible top receiver will be ArDarius Stewart. Both had monster spring games (Stewart 8/118/2, Foster 6/125/0) and should be considered week-to-week until we see who the quarterback has better chemistry with.
When it comes to the quarterback situation, it looks like Jacob Coker is going to be the guy but that doesn’t do much for us in CFB DFS. Blake Sims was relevant every now and then, but that was more due to the fact that he could run and add value on the ground. Coker won’t turn anyone’s heads with his rushing potential and therefore will rarely be useful to us.
The running back situation thinned out a bunch this offseason and has pretty much left Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake to themselves at the top. Drake is coming off an injury and that should mean Henry sees 20 touches a game, giving him great Fantasy potential. Drake is supposedly full strength, but we’ll have to see how Kiffin uses him before feeling comfortable with him in our lineups.
We already know what to expect from Arkansas this season due to their main starters returning, so there’s no reason to beat a dead horse. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams are top-notch running backs who did much better outside of the SEC than against their conference foes last season. I expect that to be the same due to weaker games and more carries, but I do think their performances will improve against the SEC. Brandon Allen really seems to be improving in the passing game and was very good in the spring. I don’t expect him to be an option at all during the season, but if he can make a few plays a game then it’ll help Williams and Collins a ton during the SEC season.
There are a lot of carries to go around in Auburn’s offense typically, but I think it’ll be a little less this season. I really like the combination of Jeremy Johnson and Duke Williams in the passing game and there are questions in the running game. Granted the questions are about which great running back to start. Typically Auburn has one great big back and one speedster who gets 6-8 carries a game. This year, I could see them go with more of a split-carry type situation between Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson. Both have different characteristics about them that make them great, but are still relatively complete backs. Even though Robinson weighs 230 pounds, coaches have been very impressed with his hands. We’ll have to see how the offense is used exactly, but each and every one of those four will have CFB DFS value in 2015.
The LSU quarterback battle is irrelevant to me due to the fact that both won’t be used enough to provide a whole lot of value, but if they can show some relevance in the passing game and enough athleticism on the ground then they might prove me wrong. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris each played well in the spring game and throughout all of spring, so maybe they’re on to something. The running backs weren’t used heavily in the game, but the receivers did put up some great numbers. The two receivers who should be the best on the team played like it in the spring game. Travin Dural scored two touchdowns on four catches and 127 yards while Malachi Dupre caught four passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns. We should see the quarterbacks and receivers at cheap prices to start the season. We won’t know for a while who the starter will be under center, but just hope they both continue to play well.
The Ole Miss spring quarterback battle was a sloppy one and it didn’t end like I thought it would. Coach Freeze hasn’t announced a starter, but said that redshirt sophomore Ryan Buchanon has the lead as of the end of the spring game. He’s a mobile quarterback that somehow stepped into the leading position even after a game where he threw 16 times and completed only five passes. If Buchanon doesn’t win the gig then it’ll likely go to Chad Kelly, the Clemson transfer. I think Freeze will have to make the decision to go with the runner (Buchanon) or the passer (Kelly) depending on what he thinks works best for this offense. They have weapons out wide in Evan Engram and Laquon Treadwell.
The Bulldogs are going to continue to have a great offense in 2015 even though they lost their starting running back. Dak Prescott and De’Runnya Wilson are that good. They both continued their dominance in the spring game, as Wilson caught five passes for just under 100 yards and a touchdown. Prescott completed 20 of 29 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott recorded 3,400+ passing yards and just fewer than 1,000 rushing yards. Combine that with 41 total touchdowns and you have a dynamic quarterback for CFB DFS.
At the running back position, Josh Robinson is likely going to be replaced by either Dontavian Lee or Ashton Shumpert. They are both big running backs like Robinson was, so it only makes sense for these two to be at the top of the depth chart. Shumpert has almost 100 carries in his career and actually had 28 carries in the final three games with good success. Lee is just a redshirt freshman, but has wowed coaches with his ability to break tackles and run the football.
Kyler Murray was one of the best high school quarterbacks ever, but has to compete against a sophomore who showed nicely in his 2014 season, Kyle Allen. Murray is creating a lot of buzz this offseason, but Allen isn’t going to just give the job to him. TAMU didn’t play a spring game, but Allen looked good during practices. He led them to a bowl win against West Virginia last season, so I think he has the edge against Murray.
The running back situation is a little bit of a mess, but Brandon Williams has continued to impress since the bowl game. The one issue with using Williams will be the lack of a run game they force on the defense. The Aggies routinely get into the groove of passing and forget about the run game. I have a feeling they’re going to really push the run game harder and make a conscious effort at running the football more in 2015. If Brandon Williams can force the coaches to use just him instead of the typical running back by committee style then he’ll be in a good spot to score points.
Check out Chris’ Spring Reports for the other power conferences:
What players or teams do you have your eye on for the upcoming CFB DFS season?