2019 College Fantasy Football: B1G Preview
The Big 10 (B1G) had the misfortune of missing the CFP in 2018. Purdue kept Ohio State out and Ohio State spanked Michigan out. The Big Ten West entertained many with a free-for-all for the top spot in which Northwestern won for the first time.
Teams including Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Purdue appear to be trending up, making the BB1G more competitive from top to bottom. As far as fantasy talent goes, the Big Ten teams have turned over their rosters after years of incredible talents. This year, a slew of transfers and young talent take over and many are worth knowing.
B1G Fantasy Preview
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Additions: WR Marquez Beason, QB Isaiah Williams, TE Luke Ford, WR AD Miller
Retentions: WR Ricky Smalling, RB Reggie Corbin
The Illinois Fighting Illini aren’t the greatest of the B1G but they are certainly trending upward. The addition of Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith worked wonders for the Illini offense as they shot from No. 127 to No. 60 in total offense. Smith developed Khalil Tate at Arizona and turned AJ Bush into a solid performer last year.
I’m excited about Illinois’ acquisition of quarterback Isaiah Williams. Williams is a phenomenal athlete and his upside is very high so long as Rod Smith is assisting in his development. He’s got a bit of an arm but can run for days if he finds a break in a defense. Also, the additions of Marquez Beason and Oklahoma-transfer AD Miller give an instant boost to an okay receiving corps.
I’m hoping that Williams produces earlier rather than later but it’s hard to see that coming from Illinois. Although they have improved offensively, players from Illinois should only be considered in dynasty leagues until we see sure-fire production from their new players. I’m very much a fan of Rod Smith and will likely pick up Williams with a late-round pick.
Additions: RB Sampson James, QB Jack Tuttle
Losses: WR Luke Timian
Indiana greatly missed Simmie Cobbs last season as the passing production faltered. A huge positive for the Hoosiers was Stevie Scott. Scott emerged in Week Two of last season against Virginia when he took off for 204 yards and a score. Scott carries on a long line of Indiana running backs that includes Jordan Howard, Devine Redding, and Tevin Coleman.
Peyton Ramsey threw for 2,875 yards but had problems turning the ball over (19:13, TD:INT). The Hoosiers added Jack Tuttle who was the highest recruit signed by the Utah Utes before entering the transfer portal. Tuttle is immediately eligible and may make a splash sooner rather than later. If so, he has the luxury of throwing to Nick Westbrook who should come at a far less steep price than last season.
Another player worth mentioning for you dynasty players out there is Sampson James. James switched his commitment to Indiana from Ohio State ironically after Indiana was defeated by the Buckeyes. James was a highly touted back and is next up for that coveted Hoosier starting job.
Additions: TE Logan Lee, RB Tyler Goodson, WR Desmond Hutson.
Losses: TE Noah Fant, TE TJ Hockenson, WR Nick Easley
Last season is usually the kind of season that Iowa wins the division with 10 wins. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Despite having the top two tight ends in the NFL Draft, the Hawkeyes missed out on the B1G title game and had to finish off the year with no chance at making the Rose Bowl.
The Hawkeyes return Nate Stanley and their stable of running backs. While Mekhi Sargent went for 294 yards in the final two weeks of the season, he wasn’t that dominant for most of the season while Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin stole touches. Stanley also returns with a chance to finish as a top-three passers in Iowa history. The downfall he faces is that he lost his top three receivers in TJ Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Nick Easley. Stanley has an uphill battle next season without his two incredible tight ends.
Iowa is going to have someone emerge as a fantasy star and my money, for now, is on Mekhi Sargent. Logan Lee wasn’t the most highly touted of tight ends but he’s a name to know for the 2018 season while Kirk Ferentz tries to continue his success as Iowa’s head coach.
Losses: QB Kasim Hill, RB Ty Johnson, WR Taivon Jacobs
Coaching Changes: Head Coach Mike Locksley, Offensive Coordinator Scottie Montgomery
Maryland had some issues coaching last season. They suspended DJ Durkin after a player died and allowed him to return as coach for a few hours. They then corrected the absent-minded mistake they made and fired Durkin. While Matt Canada did an okay job as the interim coach, he didn’t do well enough to stay on under new coach Mike Locksley.
The new coaching arrangement is an interesting one for sure. Both Locksley and Montgomery were offensive minded but both failed as head coaches before. Locksley went 3-31 as head coach at New Mexico and as the Interim at Maryland in 2015. After producing one of the more dynamic offenses in Alabama history, has Locksley proven he’s ready for the next step up?
He’s certainly gotten off to a great start by stealing away quarterback Lance LeGendre who was a lock to go to Florida State and brought in Josh Jackson from Virginia Tech who will start right away. He also brought in Sean Savoy, also from Virginia Tech, who played a minor role for the Hokies in his two seasons.
The Terps bring back a handful of talent in returning starter Tyrrell Pigrome, 1,000-yard rusher Anthony McFarland, and a dynamic playmaker in Jeshaun Jones. McFarland I can assure will produce this season with a more competent quarterback and the absence of Ty Johnson. Josh Jackson is my projected starter and rightfully so after his strong performance at Virginia Tech. Can Savoy, Jones, or Isaiah Hazel pick up the majority of the producing in the passing game?
Additions: RB Zach Charbonnet, QB Cade McNamara, TE Erick All, WR Cornelius Johnson, WR Giles Jackson
Coaching Changes: Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis
Michigan’s 2018 looked similar to any other Jim Harbaugh season. They began with promise, lost, built their credibility back, then lost to Ohio State. To make matters worse for the Wolverines, they lost Karan Higdon and Chris Evans to graduation and undisclosed circumstance, leaving them without their top two rushers from a season ago.
What they do return is a strong trio of receivers in Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, and Tarik Black. The addition of Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis has a lot of potential. Gattis developed one of the best receiving units in college football at Alabama a season ago with strong numbers at Penn State and Vanderbilt in the seasons prior. Harbaugh has to let go of the reigns and let Gattis run the offense. If not we are in for another average quarterback performance from Shea Patterson with okay receiving numbers.
My favorite for Michigan’s running back spot is incoming freshman Zach Charbonnet. Charbonnet is a phenomenal talent and an offseason in the weight room will do him good to become Michigan’s every-down back. If Harbaugh limits the offense to primarily the ground game again, Charbonnet has an incredibly high ceiling for fantasy owners.
Additions: WR Tre Mosley, RB Anthony Williams Jr.
Losses: WR Felton Davis III, RB LJ Scott
Coaching Changes: Offensive Coordinator Brad Salem
Michigan State had a down season last year. Nothing we haven’t seen before. The problem we face now is a lack of sure-fire playmakers. Cody White had a productive season but missed the latter half due to injury. White is undoubtedly a suitable replacement for Felton Davis but who is throwing him the ball.
This time last year Brian Lewerke was considered by some to be an NFL prospect. He then struggled and left games injured and left us with uncertainty at quarterback. The man with the most football name in football, Rocky Lombardi had his moments last season but his inexperience combined with a miserable offensive line limited his play.
They also lacked a prominent rushing attack. I’ve never had any sort of belief in LJ Scott as an every down back and that was proven last season. Conner Heyward flashed potential against Maryland, Nebraska, and Rutgers but took five or fewer carries in seven games. Michigan State has no identity on offense and the promotion of Brad Salem from in house gives me no more interest in any of these players.
Additions: QB Jacob Clark, WR Nnamdi Adim-Madumere, WR Randal Grimes
Minnesota had one of the most underrated offenses in college football last season. The change in quarterback from Zach Annexstad to Tanner Morgan opened the door for Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman to make their names known. Johnson finished with 1,100+ yards and 12 touchdowns while also having a low ownership rating and Bateman went from a nobody to a stud with 51 receptions, 704 yards, and six scores.
Rodney Smith was the name to own before the start of the season with Shannon Brooks out of the picture. Smith fell to injury and opened up the way for Mo Ibrahim to go for 1,160 yards as a freshman. They return all three guys this season and although that hurts their fantasy values, they could have multiple guys top 1,000 yards similar to PJ Flecks 2016 season with Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan.
Another name to know from this offense is “tight end” Seth Green. Green started off his career as a quarterback and made the switch to tight end. His usage now is limited to goal-line situations in which he is a wildcat quarterback. Green did not record a single receiving touchdown last year but recorded eight rushing touchdowns. I have Green as one of my top ten tight ends for the 2019 season.
Additions: RB Wandale Robinson, WR Demariyon Houston, RB Dedrick Mills, TE Garrett Snodgrass
Losses: WR Stanley Morgan Jr., RB Devine Ozigbo
Yes! Finally, I get to Nebraska. Scott Frost proved to me in one game that Nebraska was already trending up and this offense is humming under stud quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez ran for 600+ yards and could’ve had more had he not missed a few games after Colorado. His dual-threat abilities combined with this offensive system place Martinez in my top-three quarterbacks this season.
Maurice Washington was expected to be the guy in the backfield this season and had many owners in dynasty formats. His role is currently up in the air due to some legal issues he’s encountered over this offseason. They’ve even kept him on the sidelines in Spring practices. Luckily, they bring in former-Georgia Tech running back Dedrick Mills and All-Purpose Back Wandale Robinson. Mills showed a lot of promise in his lone season at JUCO and Robinson could play slot receiver if he wanted to, he’s that dynamic.
As far as receivers go, JD Spielman will come at a high price this season given he’s the top dog. Spielman finished not too far behind Stanley Morgan Jr. last year in receptions and yards and takes on his role this year. Be on the lookout for Demariyon Houston and Garrett Snodgrass. Houston is a burner and his speed in the slot is a problem for many defenses. Snodgrass is an athlete but comes in to play tight end. His athleticism as a runner makes him an intriguing fantasy target after the catch.
Additions: WR Genson Hooper-Price, QB Hunter Johnson
Retentions: RB Isaiah Bowser
Northwestern loses plenty but brings in plenty of names to know as well. Clayton Thorson leaves school as a Northwestern great while Jeremy Larkin and Cameron Green exit for reasons outside of football. The Wildcats are not lacking in Fantasy talent, however. Isaiah Bowser took over for the departing Larkin and ran for 864 yards in an eight-game period. On top of Bowser taking up the mantle, there’s a new signal caller in town. Clemson-transfer Hunter Johnson hasn’t won out yet but given his potential and Five-star pedigree it’s hard to see him riding the bench. I’ve watched Johnson closely over the past several seasons and firmly believe he could’ve made an impact at Clemson had Trevor Lawrence not entered the picture.
Retentions: RB JK Dobbins, WR KJ Hill, TE Luke Farrell
Coaching Changes: HC Ryan Day
Ohio State lost plenty this offseason. Dwayne Haskins had an incredible year and their national championship winning coach Urban Meyer leaves after a successful yet controversial season. Things aren’t looking too bleak for the Buckeyes, however. They bring in Justin Fields from Georgia who was poised as a transcendent talent leaving high school and wide receiver Garrett Williams who is already making a splash as a Buckeye. On top of JK Dobbins, I like KJ Hill to make a fantasy splash this year after being featured in new coach Ryan Day’s offense in the first three games of the season.
Fields has essentially won out at Ohio State with the transfers of Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin. Expect a big year from the playmaking Fields as well as Dobbins who no longer has Mike Weber to worry about.
Retentions: WR KJ Hamler, TE Pat Freiermuth
I’m at a loss. Penn State’s fantasy potential for any of their players is up in the air without Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders. I love Ricky Slade but Journey Brown and Noah Cain have been mentioned as guys who could get snaps this season as well. They add former five-star receiver George Campbell from FSU but lost presumed starter Tommy Stevens unexpectedly after the close of Spring practice.
KJ Hamler made strides over the offseason but with Sean Clifford winning out by default and so many players including Juwan Johnson leaving in the offseason I’m not sure who to trust. I wouldn’t take many chances on Penn State players until coach Franklin gives me some assurance as to who is going to play. Also, their O Line is trash.
Additions: WR David Bell, WR Milton Wright, RB King Doerue
Retentions: QB Elijah Sindelar, WR Rondale Moore, TE Brycen Hopkins
Jeff Brohm is back again. Keeping Brohm on staff was Purdue’s biggest win of the offseason and his Top-25 class is even better for the program. Purdue brings back one of the Top-2 receivers in CFF in Rondale Moore and they bring back the man who started last season in Elijah Sindelar. They do lose Isaac Zico who complimented Moore last season but add four-star receivers David Bell and Milton Wright. Not hard to find guys to produce at Purdue. If you can’t find a guy to draft you’re not looking hard enough.
Additions: RB Aaron Young, TE Matt Alalmo
Losses: TE Jerome Washington
I’m not going to waste too much time here. Artur Sitkowski has plenty of upside but he threw 18 interceptions last season and I’m not taking any chances on him. Raheem Blackshear didn’t get a ton of yards on the ground last season but he did catch 44 passes for the Scarlet Knights which at least catches my attention in PPR leagues.
Additions: QB Graham Mertz
Losses: QB Alex Hornibrook
I’m excited for Wisconsin this season. Jonathan Taylor remains as the best running back in college football and could finish his carer in the ranks with Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon before he goes pro. Alex Hornibrook left for FSU and now the Wisconsin quarterback job is down between Jack Coan and Graham Mertz. Mertz is the highest ranked QB Wisconsin has ever signed and I expect him to start within the first four games this season. Jake Ferguson is a name to know at tight end as the Badgers bring in a more capable passer.
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