College football has changed so much over the past decade. As a college fantasy football analyst, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the transformation to improve the game for players and fans. In my lifetime, college football has never been more fascinating, and it is time to kick off the 2023 campaign with a CFF Mock Draft.
2023 Summa Cum Laude Mock Draft
I grew up during an era where running the football dominated Saturdays: Oklahoma’s Triple-Option, USC’s Student Body Right, and Ohio State’s powerful rushing attack. In the Seventies, running backs captured eight Heisman trophies, including the only two-time winner Archie Griffin. By the mid-Eighties, the passing games blossomed at BYU, Miami, and Houston and nothing provided better football television than those three pass-happy programs.
In my wildest dreams 30 years ago, I never foresaw so many teams embracing the forward pass to win games. In fifteen years of playing college fantasy football, our stupendous hobby is stronger than ever and continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I tapped into the pool of CFF experts in order to assist our readers and assembled an All-American team of experts for a CFF mock draft.
Enjoy my fellow CFF diehards!
The CFF All-American Team:
Below is a little bit about each of the 12 analysts that participated, and then they share the thoughts and strategies they used in our college fantasy football mock draft. If you’re in a hurry you can always cut to the chase and check out the Round by Round Draft Results.
Nicholas Ian Allen, @CFBWinningEdge
In addition to CFB Winning Edge player and coach ratings, depth charts, as well as preseason and single-game projections, I offer CFF player rankings and individual preseason stat projections for all 133 FBS teams at Patreon.com/CFBWinningEdge.
Nino Brown, @NinoBrown_T2T
As a kid, there was always something about college football that drew my interest slightly more than the NFL. Maybe it was because I could relate to them as they were kids playing a game I loved to watch. Watching Deion Sanders change the game not only how it’s played but how to create a persona. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis dominated CFB and brought the U to the front of the college football universe. LaVar Arrington leaping over the offensive line to crush a quarterback or even Charlie Ward dominate only to get drafted by the Knicks.
College Football was a hobby that over the past two seasons has become a passion of mine, and I find myself falling down CFB rabbit holes daily. Started P2P in 2022 with Jarod Gray via ToiletsToTitles, a college football podcast, and joined a full-time 100% college football podcast in mid-2022. I had the pleasure of attending the Senior Bowl and interviewing 30-plus players this past year. I am excited to continue this journey and to polish my craft in the industry.
Mike Bainbridge, @MBainbridgeCFF
I’ve been writing and analyzing College Fantasy Football for about as long as Taysom Hill was in college. Last year, I teamed up with theCFFSite.com where you can find our player rankings, season-long and weekly projections, conference write-ups, and plenty more to help you succeed in your college fantasy leagues. Our CFF Site Discord server is also a must with your subscription to stay up to date with player news, discuss CFB DFS lineups or prop bets, as well as interact daily with other college fantasy players.
College Fantasy Lists, @CFFLists
CFFLists was launched on social media two years ago by a duo of lifelong friends, Jeremy Miller and William Barnett. The goal was to simplify the research process for others, hoping to eliminate the stigma that CFF is “too much work.”
The two diehards began playing fantasy football in 1989 when Jeremy started a four-person NFL league. Now a 16-team owner IDP keeper league, William remains the commissioner. They began their CFF journey when Jeremy started a small “P5-only” league in 2008. This evolved into a full FBS, 24-owner dynasty league that is still going strong.
Jeremy is a “stats” guy by nature, majoring in Quantitative Analysis at NYU. He was groomed in publishing/writing via an 18-year stint from intern-to-CEO at The Source magazine. There, he spent some time as the music editor and had a column in The Source Sports spin-off. He gained a deeper level of insight into the college game via his three sons, who all earned D-1 football scholarships (to Oklahoma, Rutgers, and Marshall) between 2008 and 2022. William adds balance as the“film” guy with a background coaching high school football and working with Pro Football Focus breaking down full-game videos.
Eric Froton, @CFFroton
Eric Froton is the lead college football analyst for NBC Sports and is entering his 23rd season playing College Fantasy Football. His selection of immortal BYU RB Luke Staley with his first career CFF pick back in 2001 unearthed a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the art form of CFF. “Froton” was the first person to champion the lucrative college football player props market and has successfully projected 69% of his props recommendations over the last 4 years. The defending CFB Winning Edge 20-Team Industry Dynasty League and co-commissioner of the 50-Team CFB Championship Ultra-League, Froton is a true CFF OG.
John Laub, @GridironSchol91
A college football fanatic since 1978 when QB Rick Leach led Michigan to the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl, I started playing college fantasy football in 2008. I drafted Michael Crabtree, Tim Tebow, and LeSean McCoy with my top three picks…I have been addicted ever since.
Seven years ago, I joined the Fantrax team as a CFF writer and am the Senior CFF Analyst, providing player profiles and rankings, weekly Waiver Wire Gemstones and sleepers for diehards like myself. For the past two years, I commissioned the CFF King’s Classic league at the Fantasy Football Expo in Canton, OH and am a proud UConn season ticket holder for the past decade. I look forward to another twenty years of college fantasy football success.
Mitch Hardt, @aceholesrule
Hello, from the Aceholes. Surrounded by these great fantasy professionals makes me feel like Bobby Jones in the 1929 U.S. Open at Winged Foot with Gene Sarazen, Tommy Armour, Walter Hagen, and all of the other “pros” getting bested by amateur Jones. Jones didn’t collect a check that day or any day, but that didn’t make him any less of a golfer. So, while I have no fantasy sites to plug, you can always get advice or a spirited debate at @aceholesrule on Twitter.
Joe Goodwin, @JGoody77
A fantasy football fanatic for over 25 years, I have engaged in a variety of fantasy football offerings ranging from DFS to DEVY to beyond. It was in those early years of playing in DEVY leagues that I grew a love of playing fantasy football beyond the NFL ranks.
For the past year, I have written for Dynasty Pro Football covering a variety of topics including DEVY strategy, IDP, and NFL Rookie Impacts. This past year, I expanded my repertoire by writing about CFF for Fantrax. I enjoy all the research involved in writing about fantasy sports, and I am excited to witness the expansion of CFF. My goal is to assist the growth of Campus-2-Canton Leagues as the amateur and professional ranks merge and play and analyze for another 25 years!
Nate Marchese, @CFFNate
I am a College Fantasy Football writer at Campus2Canton.com. I am also a frequent podcast guest on “Chasing the Natty” hosted by Jared Palmgren. I am often on Twitter discussing CFF and college football in general.
Jared Palmgren, @CFF_Jared
I am one of the founders of the Chasing the Natty CFF Podcast, a weekly, year-round show dedicated mostly to CFF redraft discussion and strategy, with CFF Dynasty and Campus2Canton mixed in. I am the Senior CFF Analyst for Campus2Canton.com, where I lead an incredible team of CFF analysts to provide ample content of your CFF needs, including articles, podcasts, rankings, CFF ADP, tools, and more to come. I am the commissioner of “Redshirt” leagues dedicated to first-time players of CFF redraft, so if you want to dip your toes into CFF and play against other CFF first-timers, reach out to me. This summer we’ll be releasing a CFF Guide which includes breakdowns for all 131 FBS teams, the top players at each position and much more.
Dwight Peebles, @FFPeeblesChamp
My writing and work is at DynastyNerds.com and Campus2Canton.com, and I am the man behind the scenes. I do a lot of editing and consuming information. My podcast “The Daily Draft Report” is an early spring pod and leads up to the draft!
JD Yonkee, @YonkersCFB
JD Yonkee is the head of College Fantasy Football over at Devy Watch. During the season, he also hosts a weekly YouTube show breaking down college football DFS slates. He also creates betting content as a writer for both Covers and SportsGrid.
Summa Cum Laude Mock Draft Rules
2 Running Backs
3 Wide Receivers
1 Tight End
1 Team Defense
6 points for passing, rushing, and receiving touchdowns
½ point per reception
Rushing and receiving yards: .10 points per yard
Passing yards: .04 points per yard
Twitterverse on Fire!
In CFF Drafts, who are you targeting as a No. 3 QB on rosters outside of the top 24 signal callers?
- Mitch Griffis, Wake Forest: 25%
- Davis Brin, Georgia Southern: 30%
- Taylen Green, Boise State: 10%
- Sam Hartman, Notre Dame: 35%
Gridiron Scholar’s Selection: A tough decision for sure. In six CFF drafts, I have acquired Taylen Green on three teams—the most of the four players in the poll. When I build my QB room, I try to acquire a potential high-end fantasy producer with my third player, and the Boise State dual-threat could be a Top 20 QB in 2023.
“Y’all can have all the Sam Hartman’s…I’ll be rolling with any of the other three at cost!” @CFF_Jared
“I went with Sam Hartman but mea culpa—it was name recognition. Now I know who else to keep an eye on.” @JoeJ_Clark
“Sam Hartman is the one that worries me the most on this list. Notre Dame is a run-heavy team. There is no way he is throwing for 38 touchdowns again. Not big on Davis Brin either. No rushing upside. For me, it’s Mitch Griffs, Taylen Green, Hartman, then Brin.” @cusumano_sal
“Everyone likes the shiny new toy in Sam Hartman but pairing Davis Brin with head coach Clay Helton’s high-volume passing attack is fantasy gold…Brin will surprise a lot of people this season!” @NinoBrown_T2T
“It may be Notre Dame blinders on, but all upside at this price for Sam Hartman. Let the passing game come from the running game. They got him to use him.” @Ray_Kuhn_28
“People are seeing Sam Hartman’s name and not accounting for the fact that Notre Dame isn’t going to throw as much as Wake Forest did and has a rough schedule. Also, the Fighting Irish play Week 0 which means he’s playing 1 less game in CFF leagues than the rest of these options. Mitch Griffis has the highest upside…take him.” @sportsdatastuff
2023 Mock Draft Analysis
1. Identify your top sleeper candidate this season
Nicholas Ian Allen
A potential sleeper this season is Mississippi State running back Jo’quavious Marks, who I selected in Round 15. Marks has been productive as a multi-year starter for the Bulldogs, who ran for 582 yards and nine touchdowns last season and added 48 receptions for 288 yards. There are two reasons I believe Marks will improve his rushing numbers dramatically in 2023: the outgoing transfer of former teammate Dillon Johnson, who ran for 488 yards last year, and the change in offensive philosophy under new head coach Zach Arnett and offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay.
Arnett, the defensive coordinator in Starkville under the late Mike Leach from 2020-22, hired Barbay after a one-year stint at Appalachian State. Under his direction, the Mountaineers averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game on nearly 40 attempts per contest. In 2021, when Barbay called plays at Central Michigan, the unit as a whole fared worse, but Lew Nichols, III led the nation with 1,848 rushing yards and 26.2 carries per game and also scored 16 times on the ground.
As a true freshman last year, Cyrus Allen was the Bulldogs’ third-leading receiver, catching 22 passes for 500 yards with three scores. With Tre Harris now at Ole Miss, the WR No. 1 spot for the Bulldogs is open and Allen is my choice to assume those 102 vacated targets. Why Allen and not slot receiver Smoke Harris? The last nine WR No. 1s under head coach Sonny Cumbie have played at boundary receiver, and 91% of Allen’s reps last season came outside.
Clemson’s WR Antonio Williams is my candidate for sleeper of the year. More people are talking about Devontez Walker or Johnny Wilson as the best ACC WR. Nevertheless, Antonio Williams is coming off a 50-plus reception campaign as a freshman and led the team. Williams can create separation quickly and get downhill just as rapidly working out of the slot. With 700-plus all-purpose yards and four touchdowns as a freshman last year, the sky’s the limit for WIlliams with the addition of QB Cade Klubnik. The sleek Tigers’ receiver is the true premier WR in the ACC.
College Fantasy Lists
One of our top sleeper candidates for the season is new Purdue quarterback, Hudson Card. After transferring from Texas, he quickly established himself as the unquestioned starter, and received stellar, public reviews from the coaching staff (which are rare). While his playing time was limited within the chaotic QB room at Texas, we believe the talent has always been there.
His pairing with new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell should be a perfect match. Prior to last season at West Virginia, Harrell’s offenses in his previous five seasons (at USC and North Texas) finished in the Top 21 in passing (with three of those seasons in the Top 12). Additionally, he should be taken care of by an offensive line that brings back an experienced veteran group and did a good job of protecting the quarterback last season.
With the arrival of offensive svengali Joe Moorhead at Akron last season, the Zips went from being a completely irrelevant G5 bottom-feeder to innovative aerial assassins in one year. In 2022, Akron unleashed 41.8 passes per game, which was the sixth-most attempts in FBS. That was in addition to ranking eighteenth out of 131 teams by averaging 283 passing yards per contest, a number that would have been much higher if D.J. Irons hadn’t been limited to just nine full games due to a shoulder injury.
Before the setback, Irons was hitting his stride, throwing for 343 YPG over his last four starts, and rushing for 47 yards per game with four rushing touchdowns over his last five. Both of his star wideouts Alex Adams (Round 5) and Daniel George (Round 16 by me) return, and the run game gets a boost with former five-star RB Lorenzo Lingard transferring.
Teams rise and fall by the year in MAC play. With second-year coach Joe Moorhead rehabilitating his coaching image in a similar fashion to Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain post-Florida, I expect a precipitous rise from Akron’s pedestrian 22 ppg. average last year. The Zips draw just Kentucky and Indiana from their non-conference slate before their MAC schedule commences vs. Buffalo in Week 5 where Irons becomes an immediate starting option for the remainder of the MACtion schedule. With Irons going off the board in the Round 16-21 range in the recent CFF expert drafts, I’ve been a part of, he’s an incredible value. Especially in archaic four-point passing touchdown leagues that reward rushing prowess, where he’s an outside threat to finish as a QB No. 1.
In College Fantasy Football, I believe there are plenty of sleepers for the upcoming season. My favorite is Jaydn Ott, RB, California. Last year in 12 games, Ott had 897 yards on 170 carries with eight touchdowns. In addition, Jaydn caught 46 passes for 321 yards and three scores. As a sleeper candidate, I love a running back that gets involved in both the running and passing games.
Playing in the Pac-12 will not be easy for the Golden Bears. There are high-powered offenses like USC, Oregon, and Washington to contend with on Saturdays. The Bears do not have enough offensive weapons to compete with those listed teams. California is installing a new offense and replacing a lot of players on that side of the ball. I truly believe that Ott is going to have a breakout year and is well worth drafting in CFF. If, for no other reason, Ott is a sleeper because he is the best option for the Bears.
Every passing year the term sleeper seems more like a memory than a reality. So many lists and so many people that give great advice makes the old-school sleeper obsolete, however, value can be found throughout the draft and I picked my early-round sleeper with the third pick in Round 3: RB Audric Estime, Notre Dame.
Estime was very solid last season as the third and then second banana in Notre Dame’s RBBC. This season Diggs and Tyree are no longer vying for touches. So what makes him a sleeper? Audric averaged 21 points in the three games he carried the rock 15 times or more. I think he gets those carries eight or ten times this year and has a chance to be a Top 3 back. That is great value in rounds three or four. Honorable mention to the Old QBs going in Rounds 3 and 4: Joe Milton and KJ Jefferson.
I am an unabashed Trevor Etienne believer after watching him last year at Florida. As a freshman, Etienne blossomed in the second half of the season. He twice smashed the century mark on the ground and concluded the campaign with 188 carries for 719 yards and six scores. He also added nine catches for 66 yards. Coach Billy Napier wants to control the clock with his ground game and Etienne and Montreal Johnson will both garner plenty of touches. At his current CFF ADP, I will surely have the Gators’ ball carrier on the majority of my teams.
People are sleeping on QB Dequan Finn. Maybe he is being overlooked due to injuries causing a decline in production to finish 2022. He was QB No. 19 in this draft, and I considered him in Round 7 before opting to take John Rys Plumlee. Finn is basically “G5 KJ Jefferson.” Yet, KJJ went as QB No. 8 and four rounds earlier than Finn. With minimal staff and roster turnover, it’s reasonable to think Finn replicates his strong 2022 where he averaged 28-plus FPPG.
There are so many great sleeper candidates to choose from. However, I think I’m going to focus on the Bulls of South Florida, specifically the man under center, Byrum Brown, who drafters can currently find in Round 18-plus of their drafts!
South Florida made one of the best fantasy hires of last off-season when they pulled Alex Golesh, the offensive coordinator of Tennessee, to become their new head coach. Golesh has worked directly with Josh Heupal for the last three seasons and is expected to bring that same flavor of offense to the Bulls. Golesh’s offense finished first in the country last year in points per game and even had quarterback Hendon Hooker as high as the CFF QB No. 4 through week 9 and had him in the Heisman conversation.
When Brown was finally given the reigns last season in the Bulls’ final two games, he showed himself to be an effective passer, completing 75.5% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns. In addition, he showed off his legs, with 27 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in his final two games. Now place him in Golesh’s offense and you’re looking at someone who could easily explode in the AAC, whose new lineup of teams averaged 91st in defensive team performance in 2022.
Brown is frankly someone that should be higher on all of CFF rankings. There are two drawbacks currently, one is that he still technically hasn’t won the job, although that is the widely held expectation, and the other is that the Bulls may not have the receiving threats to fully run the Golesh system, as their best two receivers transferred to Colorado. Currently, their best receiving option is a converted running back playing in the slot, Kelley Joiner, so they certainly need guys to step up in a big way in that receiver room. Regardless, add Brown to your list of guys to target at the end of drafts, and I’m sure you won’t regret it!
My favorite sleeper this season is Jawhar Jordan, a running back from Louisville. He was the leading rusher on the team last season, but much of the focus was on Malik Cunningham. The Cardinals’ offense was much different.
Jordan could easily eclipse 1,200 yards with 200 carries, and I expect his pass-catching opportunities to increase immensely from the ten receptions he had in 2022. New coach Jeff Brohm and new QB Jack Plummer will look to Jordan often as a check down. He’s a steal in Round 13 as RB No. 54 in this draft—I am taking that shot on Jordan and cashing in on the immense value.
One of my favorite sleepers this year is Old Dominion wide receiver, Javon Harvey. If you’ve never heard of him, that’s completely normal—we’re wading into the deep a bit here. For reference, I took him in Round 13 of this esteemed Summa Cum Laude mock draft, and that’s the earliest I’ve seen him selected. You can purchase his production for peanuts, but I think he has the upside to feast in 2023.
Harvey should be the WR No. 1 for a team that’s new offensive coordinator is Kevin Decker, who hails from Fordham where his offense averaged a robust 49.5 PPG a year ago. That’s not a typo, they really basically scored 50 points a night!
That team had three different receivers with at least 11 touchdown receptions (to make it five in the last two years) while the WR No. 1 posted a whopping 103 receptions. That’s an offensive approach that I can get behind in CFF. The Monarchs project to be playing from behind a fair amount in what’s likely a down year while looking to chuck the ball around the yard. They won’t average 50 points, but their approach should still yield a few relevant CFF players and Harvey is chief among them. He looks to be the alpha in the room soaking up a sizable number of targets after dominating in the spring.
Twitterverse on Fire!
In CFF Drafts, who are you targeting as a No. 4 RB on rosters outside of the top 36 ball carriers?
- Ollie Gordon, Oklahoma State: 8%
- Kaleb Johnson, Iowa: 42%
- Richard Reese, Baylor: 28%
- Cody Schrader, Missouri: 22%
Gridiron Scholar’s Selection: There is no debating how badly the Iowa offense performed last year—It was historically poor. As a true freshman, Johnson earned 151 carries for 779 yards, averaging 5.2 ypc. The Hawkeyes will continue to run the ball, and Johnson is projected for well over 200 carries in 2023. Can the offense be less productive this year? I expect a modest increase in efficiency, and the 6’0” and 212-pounder will be a nice addition to CFF rosters available very late in drafts.
“Richard Reese took over in Week 3 for Baylor and went off for three 100-yard performances in the first six games. Including two outings in which he had 30-plus attempts…workhorse. Close to 1,000 yards in 2022 as well as 13 receptions…look for another increase in 2023.” @NinoBrown_T2T
“With the latest word on Cody Shrader, it’s hard not to roll with him here. Next, I’m going with Kaleb Johnson.” @VolumePigs
“I chose Richard Reese. His middle of the season was great but the start and end were not good. I’m staying away from Ollie Gordon with Alan Bowman at QB. It will be a long year. Who can trust Iowa to score much and the same with Cody Schrader at Missouri.” @cusumano_sal
“Feel like this one relies totally on what Baylor is doing this year–they seemed to bounce from runner to runner each week last year, making it a real guessing game. If Richard Reese is the guy in 2023, then he is a steal and should be a top RB. Always chase the upside in the late rounds.” @sportsdatastuff
2. After the eighth round, who is the player that will become a weekly starter currently under the radar?
Nicholas Ian Allen
Texas Tech wide receiver Drae McCray, my Round 10 selection, should be a valuable weekly starter. Though the results weren’t as great as we hoped in his first season, we all know what the Red Raiders offense is capable of under former WKU play-caller Zach Kittley. It’s a crowded situation with at least three others in the mix, but McCray is capable of snagging the WR No. 1 spot in the high-volume attack.
A transfer from the FCS level, McCray was an All-American and two-time All-Conference performer at Austin Peay. Last season, he caught 76 passes for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns and surpassed 90 yards seven times. Even if McCray falls behind Jerand Bradley or Myles Price in the pecking order, he should still have value.
Terrell Vaughn comes in as the seventh-highest projected receiver in our CFFSite player projections, as the WR No. 1 spot has been a source of fantasy success under head coach Blake Anderson over the years, averaging 17.9 FPPG in the last nine seasons. We hesitate to rank Vaughn that highly given some of the uncertainties surrounding the QB position at Utah State, but there is a possible scenario that the senior slot receiver winds up as a top-10 fantasy option at the position. Vaughn finished second on the team in 2022 with 55 receptions on 81 targets, and the Aggies have to replace three of their top four wideouts from last season.
Tight end Mason Taylor, LSU will be a household name and a starter for the majority of CFF rosters in 2023. His early connection with QB Jaylen Daniels, dependability, and the simple fact that he has big play capability and coach Brian Kelly is using him that way. We saw that in Weeks 8 and 10 against Mississippi and Alabama respectively. That two-point conversion was Mason’s coming out party. LSU tight ends aren’t here to just block! He recorded 38 receptions for 414 yards and three scores with an eye-popping 10 YPC as a freshman. Taylor is making the family man proud!
College Fantasy Lists
The player drafted after Round 8 that should not be ignored is QB EJ Warner from Temple. He was the fourth from the last QB selected in Round 15. He started 2022 slowly, which is to be expected for a true freshman. He didn’t have one game over 15 points in his first seven outings. But, he finished as strong as ANYONE, putting up 300-plus, 400-plus and 500-plus passing yards and scoring 22, 31, and 41 fantasy points in three of his last four games! While that was enough to finish with 17.1 PPG and be named First Team on our True Frosh CFF All-American Team, he’s still largely unknown. We think the light bulb went off, and he has the potential to finish as a Top 25 QB, which is much better than the QBs in the 40-50 range in which he’s been getting drafted.
Every year a handful or more freshman running backs emerge to become steady CFF contributors mid-way through the season. In 2021 we saw TreVeyon Henderson and Braelon Allen breakouts before Qunshon Judkins and Nicholas Singleton hit the ground running by hitting the 1,000-yard and 12-touchdown threshold in Year 1.
This year, Cedric Baxter is the freshman RB who is in the best position to capitalize on his undeniable talent and dearth of credible challengers following the departures of Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson to the NFL. Jayden Blue was the 2022 class RB du jour, but one glimpse of the fully formed 6’1” and 215-pound road warrior Baxter dispels any notion of Blue and Jonathan Brooks holding off the ascending neophyte from Orlando.
Similar to his “Anchorman” namesake, Baxter seems to perform miraculous feats with ease and would have no problem standing up to Jack Black on the picturesque Coronado Bridge should the rotund comedian try to assault Cedric Baxter like he did with Ron Burgundy’s furry sidekick. With coach Sarkisian firmly in “Win Now” mode, he doesn’t have the luxury of playing seniority with a biblical tilt against Alabama looming in Week 2.
Accordingly, I selected Baxter in Round 14 and consider him to be a strong option in Rounds 11-to-15 in standard leagues with the potential to skyrocket if he wins the job outright in camp. In Dynasty, he’s a top-7 pick already. However, ReDraft leagues haven’t caught on yet. He’s an excellent RB No. 4 with upside.
The Texas Longhorns have to replace every meaningful yard gained from their backfield last year as Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson were both drafted in the NFL. Between Robinson and Johnson, the Longhorns need to replace 2,134 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns; Robinson was responsible for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns and Johnson had 554 yards and five touchdowns.
After reviewing the notes from the spring game, it is evident that the Longhorns still expect to run the ball; it is not clear who that carrier will be for Texas. It appears that Cedric Baxter (five-star recruit, Freshman) and Jaydon Blue (four-star recruit, sophomore) are the current frontrunners to be RB No. 1. Entering his freshman year, Baxter is the top RB prospect in the nation. That is an honor earned through a successful high school career.
Currently, Blue is listed at 6’0” and 191 pounds, and Baxter is listed at 6’1’’ and 210 pounds. Although both are adequate in size for the position, Baxter does have an edge in size. That extra mass will make tackling him more difficult at full acceleration and will torment opposing defenses when he breaks through the first line of defense.
I expect to see Baxter and Blue sharing backfield duties during early September games, with Baxter taking over as the lead back and Blue being used as a “change-of-pace” runner shortly thereafter. Baxter will have a HUGE amount of CFF upside as the leader of the Texas running game and your CFF roster.
For my late-round starter, I will select the QB for Wake Forest, Mitch Griffis. The Demon Deacons’ signal caller played in a few games last year and he flourished each time while scoring 31 points in his only start. While 31 ppg might be a touch high, I could see Griffis go for 29 FPPG, placing him in the QB No. 2 range. For an investment in Rounds 12-to-14; getting a high-upside, low-floor QB will help win CFF leagues.
I’m old enough to remember watching Ed McCaffrey, Luke’s Dad, catch passes in New York and Denver for my NFL fantasy teams. I also loved observing and scouting Luke’s brother, Christian, who produced a cornucopia of fantasy points for my CFF teams at Stanford. In 2022, I had the pleasure to survey another McCaffrey playmaker after I picked Luke McCaffrey off the waiver wire, helping two of my teams reach CFF championship games.
At the beginning of Round 10, I placed McCaffrey in my queue but J.D. Yankee snipped me when he selected the Owls’ playmaker with pick 116. In 2022, the Rice receiver snatched 58 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns, adding 148 yards rushing and a touchdown on 12 carries. Rice is now a member of the defensively-challenged AAC, and the program acquired QB JT. Daniels from the transfer portal to upgrade the passing game. By the end of the season, McCaffrey will have produced over 1,000 yards receiving and nearly 10 scores.
There are a couple of options here. Eric Froton’s selection of QB Davis Brin has big upside given the volume he is likely to see and the strength of that WR room at Georgia Southern. I also think Mike Bainbridge’s selection of RB RJ Harvey could result in a runner that we start on a weekly basis should he capture that lucrative Gus RB No. 1 spot that we all think he is in line to earn.
I know people are scared to target service academies because of how unpredictable they can be, but John Lee Eldridge, III is certainly one of the better targets you can get in the latter half of your drafts at running back. Brad Roberts has held down the top back position for the last couple of years, finishing with an insane 345 carries, 1,728 yards, and 17 touchdowns last season, good for an RB No. 13 finish in the regular season. Roberts was incredibly consistent, only having three games finished under 15 fantasy points.
Between Roberts and QB Haaziq Daniels moving on, that opens up 483 rushing attempts in this offense. Eldridge is clearly the most veteran of this backfield and what little information that does get out of spring practice for the Falcons indicates that this season will be Eldridge’s to shoulder. Eldridge doesn’t quite have the size that Roberts had, coming in about two inches shorter and two pounds lighter at the last measurement, so he may not get that 340-plus workload. However, he should still easily hit that 200-plus touch threshold we love to see out of our CFF RBs.
I consider him to be one of my “break glass in case of emergency RBs” to grab in the later rounds if I don’t like my start at RB in a draft. As it currently stands, he comes at a massive discount in the Round 16 range as the current RB No. 92 in ADP, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts creeping up boards as we get closer to the season.
After Round 8, Ryan O’Keefe from Boston College is a lock to be an every-week starter for CFF. I was irritated that he slipped through my queue, and Froton got him!
The offense at Boston College is slightly anemic, and the quarterback position could be in better hands. But they will throw, and O’Keefe is by far the most talented option with a skill set that will favor the bleak quarterback, whoever it is for the Eagles.
O’Keefe will be force-fed the ball when Pat Garwo III only gains two yards a carry on first and second down. I project O’Keefe to have 125-plus targets, and while his ADOT won’t be massive, projecting O’Keefe for 90 catches and 1,100 yards with a handful of scores is easy money.
SMU coach Rhett Lashlee has a very clear offensive approach. It involves operating at tempo and throwing the ball a ton, two things that make for a fantasy gold at the quarterback and wide receiver position. If you know nothing else about Lashlee, witness how Tyler Van Dyke turned to dust in Miami last season sans the precious services of his old offensive coordinator. The only time his quarterback has attempted fewer than 440 passes and thrown for less than 3,250 yards in a season was the COVID-shortened 2020 year. Volume, volume, volume.
Anyway, Preston Stone is the next signal caller in line for fantasy stardom after Tanner Mordecai transferred to Wisconsin. He was once a prized recruit and can use his legs, so he should have great passing volume while providing some rushing stats as well—something we haven’t seen often from a Lashlee quarterback, and the prior ones have managed to be valuable fantasy assets regardless. The upside is high and the ceiling could be more elevated than folks realize. Pair him with incoming four-star transfer WR Jordan Hudson for a cheap, and potentially very profitable, stack.
Twitterverse on Fire!
In CFF Drafts, who will make the biggest impact as a transfer wide receiver in 2023?
- Ali Jennings, Virginia Tech: 14%
- Keon Coleman, Florida State: 32%
- Ryan O’Keefe, Boston College: 22%
- Jamari Thrash, Louisville: 32%
Gridiron Scholar’s Selection: Whenever I have a tough CFF decision to choose from, I defer to my rankings. I have ranked Ryan O’Keefe at No. 58, Ali Jennings at No. 55, and Keon Coleman at No. 46. Therefore, I cast my vote for Jamari Thrash, who is my No. 31 ranked WR. With coach Jeff Brohm packing his pass-happy attack and moving to Louisville, the Cardinals will reach new heights in 2023. Thrash will thrive despite moving up in competition from Georgia State to Louisville.
“I love Ryan O’Keefe and Keon Coleman but Jamari Thrash is flying under the radar! Thrash brings his 18 ypc. from Georgia State to Louisville…1,122 yards and 60-plus catches. Hopefully, the big arm of Jake Plummer can get Thrash the ball in space.” @NinoBrown_T2T
“Torn between Jamari Thrash and Keon Coleman with the uncertainty of Thrash replicating his performance with the G5 to P5 move. Ultimately, still went with Thrash, based on the upside of the coach Jeff Brohm offense.” @CFFLists
“I voted for Ryan O’Keefe as I think his role is the most secure amongst the options, and he has the least amount of competition for touches.” @CFF_Jared
“Jamari Thrash has produced at G5, and in the Brohm system, he has Top 3 receiver upside. None of the other options offer that kind of upside, and in CFF, we draft for ceilings.” @devyjake
“I voted for Ryan O’Keefe as it seems to me he will have the most projectable volume. But Keon Coleman should have the biggest impact on his new team.” @CffDfs
Scholar’s CFF All-Undrafted Team
- QB Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
- QB Carter Bradley, South Alabama
- RB Kaytron Allen, Penn State
- RB Kairee Robinson, San Jose
- WR Jeremiah Hunter, California
- WR Ricky White, UNLV
- WR Jaylen Johnson, ECU
- TE Tanner Koziol, Ball State
Gridiron Scholars’ Team Building Strategy
Selecting from the No. 4 position, I wanted to kick off the draft with one of the two top running backs in my rankings, and Quinshon Judkins remained on the board for me. After acquiring my No. 1 runner, I wanted to build a roster around two Top 12 QBs and a strong cadre of WRs.
In the next five selections, I drafted three receivers–Malik Nabers, Troy Franklin, and Antwane Wells–who rank among my Top 12 wideouts. I could not risk waiting too long at the quarterback position, grabbing KJ Jefferson in Round 4 and selecting Jayden Daniels two rounds later. I love the LSU QB-WR duo with Nabers and Daniels, and Jefferson and Daniels both provide elite rushing upside with over 1,500 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns combined last year.
Next, I needed to address the tight end position and uncover value in the middle rounds. I selected WR Antonio Williams, RB Trevor Etienne, and TE/WR Dalvin Smith. I am vigorously targeting Williams and Etienne in CFF drafts and have both on the vast majority of my CFF rosters so far in 2023. I snatched Smith because he currently has TE/WR eligibility and plays in one of the finest aerial assaults in the nation at Western Kentucky. After filling out the starting lineup, I sought depth at running back and the player value presented by my CFF rankings. Check out my entire roster below.
You can move through each round of the draft by using the controls at the bottom of the table.
|1||1||1||QB||Caleb Williams||USC||Joe Goodwin|
|1||2||2||QB||Austin Reed||W Ky||College Fantasy Lists|
|1||3||3||WR||Marvin Harrison||OSU||Mitch Hardt|
|1||5||5||QB||Drake Maye||UNC||J.D. Yonke|
|1||6||6||QB||Bo Nix||Oreg||CFB Winning Edge|
|1||7||7||WR||Malachi Corley||W Ky||Mike Bainbridge|
|1||8||8||RB||Rasheen Ali||Marsh||Jared Palmgren|
|1||9||9||QB||Michael Penix Jr.||Wash||Nino Brown|
|1||10||10||WR||Emeka Egbuka||OSU||Eric Froton|
|1||11||11||WR||Tory Horton||ColSt||Nate Marchese|
|1||12||12||RB||Raheim Sanders||Ark||Dwight Peebles|
|2||1||13||WR||Rome Odunze||Wash||Dwight Peebles|
|2||2||14||TE||Brock Bowers||UGA||Nate Marchese|
|2||3||15||WR||Jalen McMillan||Wash||Eric Froton|
|2||4||16||WR||De'Corian Clark||UTSA||Nino Brown|
|2||5||17||WR||Oronde Gadsden||Syr||Jared Palmgren|
|2||6||18||RB||Blake Corum||Mich||Mike Bainbridge|
|2||7||19||RB||Braelon Allen||Wisc||CFB Winning Edge|
|2||8||20||WR||Jacob Cowing||Ariz||J.D. Yonke|
|2||10||22||WR||Xavier Worthy||Tex||Mitch Hardt|
|2||11||23||WR||Devontez Walker||UNC||College Fantasy Lists|
|2||12||24||WR||Dorian Singer||USC||Joe Goodwin|
|3||1||25||QB||Frank Harris||UTSA||Joe Goodwin|
|3||2||26||RB||Frank Gore Jr.||SMiss||College Fantasy Lists|
|3||3||27||RB||Audric Estime||ND||Mitch Hardt|
|3||5||29||RB||Sieh Bangura||Ohio||J.D. Yonke|
|3||6||30||WR||Marquarius White||Tenn||CFB Winning Edge|
|3||7||31||RB||Ja'Quinden Jackson||Utah||Mike Bainbridge|
|3||8||32||RB||Kevorian Barnes||UTSA||Jared Palmgren|
|3||9||33||RB||Damien Martinez||OreSt||Nino Brown|
|3||10||34||RB||Trey Benson||FlaSt||Eric Froton|
|3||11||35||WR||Luther Burden||MIZ||Nate Marchese|
|3||12||36||RB||La'Damian Webb||SoAl||Dwight Peebles|
|4||1||37||WR||Sam Wiglusz||Ohio||Dwight Peebles|
|4||2||38||WR||Joshua Cephus||UTSA||Nate Marchese|
|4||3||39||RB||TreVeyon Henderson||OSU||Eric Froton|
|4||4||40||WR||Tetairoa McMillan||Ariz||Nino Brown|
|4||5||41||RB||Will Shipley||Clem||Jared Palmgren|
|4||6||42||WR||Matthew Golden||Hou||Mike Bainbridge|
|4||7||43||QB||Joe Milton||Tenn||CFB Winning Edge|
|4||8||44||RB||Nick Singleton||PSU||J.D. Yonke|
|4||10||46||WR||Derwin Burgess||GaSo||Mitch Hardt|
|4||11||47||RB||Marquez Cooper||Ball||College Fantasy Lists|
|4||12||48||WR||Johnny Wilson||FlaSt||Joe Goodwin|
|5||1||49||RB||Carson Steele||UCLA||Joe Goodwin|
|5||2||50||RB||Roman Hemby||MD||College Fantasy Lists|
|5||3||51||RB||CJ Donaldson||WVU||Mitch Hardt|
|5||4||52||WR||Antwane Wells Jr.||SCar||GridironScholar|
|5||5||53||WR||Alex Adams||Akr||J.D. Yonke|
|5||6||54||QB||Tyler Shough||TxTch||CFB Winning Edge|
|5||7||55||TE||Brant Kuithe||Utah||Mike Bainbridge|
|5||8||56||RB||Jase McClellan||Ala||Jared Palmgren|
|5||9||57||RB||LeQuint Allen||Syr||Nino Brown|
|5||10||58||WR||Jahmal Banks||Wake||Eric Froton|
|5||11||59||QB||Kurtis Rourke||Ohio||Nate Marchese|
|5||12||60||QB||Kyle McCord||OSU||Dwight Peebles|
|6||1||61||WR||LaJohntay Wester||FlAtl||Dwight Peebles|
|6||2||62||RB||Samson Evans||E Mi||Nate Marchese|
|6||3||63||QB||Jordan Travis||FlaSt||Eric Froton|
|6||4||64||QB||Riley Leonard||Duke||Nino Brown|
|6||5||65||WR||Khaleb Hood||GaSo||Jared Palmgren|
|6||6||66||QB||Cameron Ward||WaSt||Mike Bainbridge|
|6||7||67||WR||Zakhari Franklin||Miss||CFB Winning Edge|
|6||8||68||QB||Jalon Daniels||Kans||J.D. Yonke|
|6||10||70||TE||Ja'Tavion Sanders||Tex||Mitch Hardt|
|6||11||71||WR||Jamari Thrash||Lou||College Fantasy Lists|
|6||12||72||TE||Jaheim Bell||FlaSt||Joe Goodwin|
|7||1||73||RB||Devin Neal||Kans||Joe Goodwin|
|7||2||74||WR||Elijhah Badger||AzSt||College Fantasy Lists|
|7||3||75||RB||Rodney Hammond||Pitt||Mitch Hardt|
|7||5||77||RB||MarShawn Lloyd||USC||J.D. Yonke|
|7||6||78||WR||DT Sheffield||WaSt||CFB Winning Edge|
|7||7||79||WR||Jordan Kerley||SMU||Mike Bainbridge|
|7||8||80||QB||Michael Pratt||Tul||Jared Palmgren|
|7||9||81||WR||Tyrin Smith||TxAM||Nino Brown|
|7||10||82||RB||Michael Wiley||Ariz||Eric Froton|
|7||11||83||QB||John Rhys Plumlee||UCF||Nate Marchese|
|7||12||84||RB||Re'Mahn Davis||KY||Dwight Peebles|
|8||1||85||WR||Barion Brown||KY||Dwight Peebles|
|8||2||86||RB||Richard Reese||Bayl||Nate Marchese|
|8||3||87||WR||Evan Stewart||TxAM||Eric Froton|
|8||4||88||RB||Mar'Keise Irving||Oreg||Nino Brown|
|8||5||89||QB||Dequan Finn||Toled||Jared Palmgren|
|8||6||90||RB||Donovan Edwards||Mich||Mike Bainbridge|
|8||7||91||TE||Bryson Nesbit||UNC||CFB Winning Edge|
|8||8||92||WR||Ashtyn Hawkins||TxSt||J.D. Yonke|
|8||10||94||QB||Sam Hartman||ND||Mitch Hardt|
|8||11||95||QB||Brennan Armstrong||NCSt||College Fantasy Lists|
|8||12||96||WR||Ainias Smith||TxAM||Joe Goodwin|
|9||1||97||WR||Ali Jennings||VaTec||Joe Goodwin|
|9||2||98||WR||J.Michael Sturdivant||Cal||College Fantasy Lists|
|9||3||99||RB||Jermaine Brown Jr.||UAB||Mitch Hardt|
|9||4||100||WR||Dalvin Smith||W Ky||GridironScholar|
|9||5||101||RB||E.J. Smith||Stan||J.D. Yonke|
|9||6||102||RB||Antario Brown||NIU||CFB Winning Edge|
|9||7||103||QB||Preston Stone||SMU||Mike Bainbridge|
|9||8||104||WR||Justin Lockhart||SJSU||Jared Palmgren|
|9||9||105||TE||Mason Taylor||LSU||Nino Brown|
|9||10||106||TE||Luke Lachey||Iowa||Eric Froton|
|9||11||107||WR||Jalil Farooq||Okla||Nate Marchese|
|9||12||108||WR||Keon Coleman||FlaSt||Dwight Peebles|
|10||1||109||TE||Michael Trigg||Miss||Dwight Peebles|
|10||2||110||QB||Dillon Gabriel||Okla||Nate Marchese|
|10||3||111||QB||Davis Brin||GaSo||Eric Froton|
|10||4||112||WR||Tez Johnson||Oreg||Nino Brown|
|10||5||113||QB||Chevan Cordeiro||SJSU||Jared Palmgren|
|10||6||114||RB||Jalen White||GaSo||Mike Bainbridge|
|10||7||115||WR||Drae McCray||TxTch||CFB Winning Edge|
|10||8||116||WR||Luke McCaffrey||Rice||J.D. Yonke|
|10||10||118||RB||Alton McCaskill||Colo||Mitch Hardt|
|10||11||119||RB||Nakia Watson||WaSt||College Fantasy Lists|
|10||12||120||RB||Jaydn Ott||Cal||Joe Goodwin|
|11||1||121||WR||Dante Cephas||PSU||Joe Goodwin|
|11||2||122||TE||Jalin Conyers||AzSt||College Fantasy Lists|
|11||3||123||QB||Jayden de Laura||Ariz||Mitch Hardt|
|11||5||125||QB||Cade Klubnik||Clem||J.D. Yonke|
|11||6||126||WR||Dont'e Thornton||Tenn||CFB Winning Edge|
|11||7||127||QB||Donovan Smith||Hou||Mike Bainbridge|
|11||8||128||WR||Terrell Vaughn||UtSt||Jared Palmgren|
|11||9||129||WR||Will Sheppard||Vand||Nino Brown|
|11||10||130||WR||Jerand Bradley||TxTch||Eric Froton|
|11||11||131||RB||Ashton Jeanty||Boise||Nate Marchese|
|11||12||132||WR||Devin Voisin||SoAl||Dwight Peebles|
|12||1||133||RB||Sean Tyler||MIN||Dwight Peebles|
|12||2||134||RB||George Holani||Boise||Nate Marchese|
|12||3||135||RB||Treshaun Ward||K St||Eric Froton|
|12||4||136||RB||Larry McCammon III||FlAtl||Nino Brown|
|12||5||137||TE||RJ Maryland||SMU||Jared Palmgren|
|12||6||138||RB||RJ Harvey||UCF||Mike Bainbridge|
|12||7||139||RB||Josh McCray||Ill||CFB Winning Edge|
|12||8||140||TE||Benjamin Yurosek||Stan||J.D. Yonke|
|12||10||142||QB||Mitch Griffis||Wake||Mitch Hardt|
|12||11||143||QB||Grayson McCall||CoCar||College Fantasy Lists|
|12||12||144||TE||Caden Prieskorn||Miss||Joe Goodwin|
|13||1||145||RB||Miyan Williams||OSU||Joe Goodwin|
|13||2||146||WR||Bru McCoy||Tenn||College Fantasy Lists|
|13||3||147||RB||Tylan Hines||Hawaii||Mitch Hardt|
|13||5||149||WR||Javon Harvey||OD||J.D. Yonke|
|13||6||150||RB||Harrison Waylee||Wyo||CFB Winning Edge|
|13||7||151||TE||Jake Briningstool||Clem||Mike Bainbridge|
|13||8||152||WR||Michael Mathison||W Ky||Jared Palmgren|
|13||9||153||WR||Xavier Weaver||Colo||Nino Brown|
|13||10||154||QB||DJ Irons||Akr||Eric Froton|
|13||11||155||RB||Kimani Vidal||Troy||Nate Marchese|
|13||12||156||RB||Jawhar Jordan||Lou||Dwight Peebles|
|14||1||157||WR||Sam Pinckney||CoCar||Dwight Peebles|
|14||2||158||QB||Shedeur Sanders||Colo||Nate Marchese|
|14||3||159||RB||Cedric Baxter||Tex||Eric Froton|
|14||4||160||WR||Brenden Rice||USC||Nino Brown|
|14||5||161||WR||Chase Roberts||BYU||Jared Palmgren|
|14||6||162||WR||Ryan O'Keefe||BC||Mike Bainbridge|
|14||7||163||TE||Brady Hunt||Ball||CFB Winning Edge|
|14||8||164||WR||Malik Benson||Ala||J.D. Yonke|
|14||10||166||QB||Quinn Ewers||Tex||Mitch Hardt|
|14||11||167||RB||Nate Noel||App||College Fantasy Lists|
|14||12||168||QB||Will Rogers||MisSt||Joe Goodwin|
|15||1||169||RB||Devin Mockobee||Purd||Joe Goodwin|
|15||2||170||WR||Smoke Harris||LT||College Fantasy Lists|
|15||3||171||WR||Jaylin Noel||IASt||Mitch Hardt|
|15||5||173||RB||Ollie Gordon||OkSt||J.D. Yonke|
|15||6||174||RB||Jo'quavious Marks||MisSt||CFB Winning Edge|
|15||7||175||QB||Garrett Shrader||Syr||Mike Bainbridge|
|15||8||176||RB||Cody Schrader||MIZ||Jared Palmgren|
|15||9||177||QB||E.J. Warner||Temp||Nino Brown|
|15||10||178||RB||Tomarion Harden||UCLA||Eric Froton|
|15||11||179||WR||Colbie Young||MiaFL||Nate Marchese|
|15||12||180||QB||Cameron Rising||Utah||Dwight Peebles|
|16||1||181||QB||J.J. McCarthy||Mich||Dwight Peebles|
|16||2||182||RB||Ky Thomas||Kent||Nate Marchese|
|16||3||183||WR||Daniel George||Akr||Eric Froton|
|16||4||184||RB||Brian Battie||Aub||Nino Brown|
|16||5||185||RB||John Lee Eldridge||AF||Jared Palmgren|
|16||6||186||WR||Cyrus Allen||LT||Mike Bainbridge|
|16||7||187||QB||Tanner Mordecai||Wisc||CFB Winning Edge|
|16||8||188||RB||Jovantae Barnes||Okla||J.D. Yonke|
|16||10||190||RB||Jaylan Knighton||SMU||Mitch Hardt|
|16||11||191||TE||Cade Stover||OSU||College Fantasy Lists|
|16||12||192||WR||Ladd McConkey||UGA||Joe Goodwin|