CFB DFS: Your Way Too Early 2016 Predictions
The 2015-2016 college football season is officially over and it would only make sense for someone as excited and crazy about the sport to post predictions for the 2016-2017 today. The season won’t heat up again until August, but for those that love this sport like I do, I’m going to do my best to help ease your pain. Today we start with some “way too early predictions” and give you an idea of what college football stars we’re going to be paying up big for in DFS this upcoming season.
Top Overall Quarterback
This pick might surprise you, but I’m not going with Baker Mayfield or Deshaun Watson, but a different dual-threat quarterback – Patrick Mahomes II. The Texas Tech quarterback led the country this past season in total yards per game (393), rushing for 456 yards and throwing for another 4,653. While his yards-per-play average, wasn’t that high (7.26, ranking him 29th overall), efficiency isn’t necessarily the name of the game in DFS. For a player like Mahomes, his 706 plays (54.3 touches per game) last season ranks him behind only Luke Falk (726). With the Red Raiders facing a very weak schedule (only one FBS opponent in the top 60 of scoring defense in 2015), Patrick Mahomes II is going to be a mainstay in your DFS lineups this upcoming season.
Top Overall Running Back
Dalvin Cook is my top overall running back for the 2016, but I certainly understand why you might disagree with me. There are plenty of great choices, but I’m talking Cook over Fournette, Pumphrey, McCaffrey, and Freeman. Cook is everything you are looking for in a running back, averaging 21.1 touches per game and recording 40.1% market share of touchdowns (20 total) all while being banged up with lower body injuries. His 7.6 yards per play was better than every running back in the top 100 for rushing yards besides Matt Breida from Georgia Southern.
Top Overall Wide Receiver
Corey Davis is an obvious choice for those who watch MAC football or are avid DFS players, but if you’re neither then let me educate you. Davis is a high-level NFL prospect who is returning for his senior season after recording the fourth most receiving yards per game and the 11th most touchdowns and receptions for a receiver in 2015. What’s even more impressive is that Davis caught 65 of his 90 passes in his final seven games. He also only went for 100-plus yards twice in his first six games. In those final seven games, we saw Daniel Braverman, Robin to Davis’ Batman, see less production because of Davis’ dominance. Well, Braverman is headed to the NFL and it’s quite possible we see Batman average 9.3 receptions, 140.1 yards, and one touchdown per game in 2016 like he did over his final seven games of the 2015 season.
Most Surprising Offense
Going into this 2016 season, I’m a huge fan of the UCLA offense and what Josh Rosen is going to do to the Pac 12 defenses, but that thought isn’t a huge surprise. Rosen was a five-star recruit who did quite well his freshman year. The Louisville offense was led, at times, by another big-time freshman, Lamar Jackson. He’s the biggest reason why I love the potential of this Cardinals’ offense in 2016. They averaged 28.7 points per game last season, ranking them just 65th in points scored in 2015. With Lamar Jackson leading the way this season, I could easily see them jump into the top 25 in scoring (35+ points per game). Jackson is a dual-threat quarterback, who was 40 rushing yards away from breaking the 1,000-yard mark. He’s not too efficient (54.7% completion, 12 TDs, 8 INTs), but he’ll have plenty of time to work on that this offseason. Alongside Jackson will be an entire offense returning. The Cardinals return every running back with over 35 carries (Radcliff, Smith, and Scott), as well as their top eight receivers in terms of yardage. Three of Jackson’s top four receivers averaged 16-yards per catch or better in 2015, giving him plenty of talent on the outside.
Most Disappointing Offense
If you’re a fan of Mississippi State then you might want to stop reading. I project them to see a massive decline in terms of scoring production and it’s all because of one big reason: Dak. Dak Prescott was the man in Starkville who brought the Bulldogs back to life in the SEC, but unfortunately he is not eligible to play in the NCAA anymore. Just how important was he to the offense? Prescott generated a 72.2% market share of offensive touchdowns (39 of 53) in 2015, throwing for 3,793 yards and adding 588 yards on the ground (team best in both categories). What’s even more disheartening is his replacement, Nick Fitzgerald, is a sophomore with just 14 passing attempts in his career. Mississippi State does return their top two running backs (Holloway and Shumpert), and two of their top three receivers (Ross and Brown), but it’s going to be too hard for these Bulldogs to compete in the SEC West without elite quarterback play.
Player Most Likely to Make You Tilt
L.J. Scott (and basically every running back in the Michigan State offense) are likely to tilt you each and every week in 2016. Whether it’s a “Why isn’t he playing?” tilt or a “Oh what is Dantonio doing?” tilt, it’s bound to happen frequently this upcoming season. Scott was just a freshman in 2015, but he was the best running back of the three rushers with 100-plus carries for the Spartans. Even then, he received just 146 carries, six of them coming in the biggest game of the season (Alabama game). Who would have guessed that the running back that sealed the B1G championship with many big runs during the final drive of that Iowa game would end with six carries the very next game? This wasn’t just a one-time thing for Dantonio to play switcheroo at the running back position. When Michigan State took the field against Purdue early on, Scott put the team on his back to a tune of 146 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the 24-21 win. The next he was rewarded with just nine carries. And the week after that, he was given just eight carries. While L.J. Scott is a big-time talent at the running back position, I fully expect Twitter to blow up during Michigan State games in 2016.
2016 Heisman Winner
When Derrick Henry was given the 2015 Heisman trophy, nobody in the room was shocked. Henry was the star running back for the best team in the country, Alabama. What people didn’t realize (until the Rose Bowl) was that Christian McCaffrey was more deserving of the prestigious award. For those that have seen McCaffrey since his freshman year, his 2015 season was no surprise. He is an electric, all-purpose player that has a huge future ahead of him. In 2016, I fully expect him to see a healthy amount of touches per game (27.3 in 2015), and more importantly, more time on SportsCenter. There’s one thing you can bet on when it comes to the 2016 Heisman Presentation and that is if McCaffrey is in attendance, he will win the award. Voters will be staying up later this season to see this Stanford Cardinal standout play.