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College Fantasy Football Awards (2022)

The storied history of college football fascinates me just was much as the games. I have read numerous books on the great teams, influential coaches, Heisman winners and game-changing players, who made headlines since the dawn of the Twentieth Century.

Eight years ago, it occurred to me that no one was chronicling college fantasy football for future generations. I stepped into the void, named a CFF All-American Team and established four awards for the best players. Three years ago, I added two more accolades for the history books. It is once again time to announce the eighth-annual College Football award winners and CFF All-American team in 2022.

Enjoy my fellow CFF diehards!

There’s no such thing as too much football! 2022 is the perfect time to add the college game to your fantasy football repertoire. Whether you want to create your own league or join an existing league, the Fantrax College Football Commissioner is the place to go!

2022 College Fantasy Football Awards

The Awards Panel

Five of the foremost CFF experts—Nicholas Ian Allen, Mike Bainbridge, Ryan Cobbett, Mitch Hardt and Jared Palmgren—voted with me on their top three players in six categories. The results were tabulated, and the CFF All-American fantasy performers are listed below.

Cam Newton Award: The Preeminent Fantasy Quarterback

  1. Caleb Williams, USC (23 points)
  2. Drake Maye, North Carolina (15 points)
  3. Clayton Tune, Houston (11 points)

The Cam Newton Award would’ve gone to Drake Maye had the season ended in Week 11, but the North Carolina offense folded down the stretch and cost numerous CFF players a shot at a championship. On the flip side, Caleb Williams played like the Heisman front-runner that he is in the last six weeks, averaging 40.6 fantasy points per game and performing at his best when the lights shined brightest.

Particularly in CFF redraft formats, there is something to be said about scoring consistency and that’s what we got with Williams, scoring 20 fantasy points or more in all but one game during the regular season. Set and forget at the quarterback position if you had Caleb Williams on your roster.

In third place, Clayton Tune collected 11 points. After a disappointing first month of the season, Tune remained available in some leagues on the waiver wire. For those who acquired the Cougars’ quarterback, the rewards were astronomical. In his final seven games, Tune surpassed 40 points six times, including a season-best 82 against SMU. His hot streak catapulted him to third place in the voting, beating out Bo Nx and Austin Reed.

-Mike Bainbridge, @MBainbridge

Barry Sanders Award: The Fantastic Fantasy Running Back

  1. Bijan Robinson, Texas (28 points)
  2. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota (9 points)
  3. DeWayne McBride, UAB (9 points)
  4. Chase Brown, Illinois (7 points)

A surefire first-rounder in preseason drafts, Texas running back Bijan Robinson lived up to expectations with the best all-around season of any player at the position in 2022. In full-PPR leagues, Robinson finished as the FBS leader among running backs with 328.4 fantasy points, more than 30 ahead of No. 2 Israel Abanikanda from Pitt. His 326.4 points also led half-point PPR scoring. Robinson finished his junior season with 1,580 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 6.12 YPC. He also caught 19 passes for 314 yards and two scores.

Robinson scored 31.1 points against Oklahoma State on Oct. 22 and 32.3 versus Kansas State on Nov. 5, likely propelling many CFF teams into the playoffs or to first-round byes. Though he was held to a paltry 2.9 points against TCU on Nov. 12, which may have negatively impacted some first-round playoff matchups, he bounced back with an incredible 48.3 points (PPR) against Kansas in the semifinals week and followed with 29.9 against Baylor in the final.

Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim and UAB’s DeWayne McBride shared the runner-up spot in our voting. Ibrahim returned from a significant 2021 injury to run for 1,594 yards and 19 touchdowns in the regular season. He surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in each of the first 10 games he played and twice ran for more than 200, including a career-high 263 yards against Iowa in the Week 12 semifinal.

McBride led the nation with 155.7 RYPG and averaged an eye-popping 7.35 YPC that ranked No. 7 on the FBS leaderboard among players with at least 40 attempts. Like Ibrahim, he missed a game–but unlike the Golden Gophers’ top running back, McBride saved his best for last: 272 rushing yards and one touchdown in the final week of the season (his third 200-yard performance of the year) that surely helped lead many CFF owners to championships. Though McBride was an early-round pick in preseason drafts and bestballs, owners may have found some value in Ibrahim given his injury history.

Another value pick, Illinois junior Chase Brown was slowed by injury late in the season but managed to run for 1,643 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in a breakthrough campaign. Brown ran for at least 100 yards in each of his first nine games and gutted out 140 yards and two touchdowns on Nov. 19 against Michigan, likely benefitting CFF owners brave enough to start him in semifinal matchups against the stingy Wolverines’ defense. Brown was also a weapon as a receiver, logging 27 receptions (at least one in each game) for 240 yards and three scores.

– Nicholas Ian Allen, @CFBWinningEdge

Scholar’s 2022 CFF All-American Team

  • QB Caleb Williams, USC
  • QB Drake Maye, North Carolina
  • RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
  • RB Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh
  • WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
  • WR Nathaniel Dell, Houston
  • WR Rashee Rice, SMU
  • TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
  • Flex Chase Brown, Illinois

Desmond Howard Award: The Finest Fantasy Wide Receiver

  1. Nathaniel Dell, Houston (19 points)
  2. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee (14 points)
  3. Rashee Rice, SMU (13 points)

Among my teams this season where I fell well short of my expectations, I consistently found those were the rosters where I could never nail down my WR corp. In CFF, Wide Receiver may be the most difficult position to get right throughout the season. It is seen as the most volatile of the positions outside of tight end, varying wildly from one week to the next. For example, you might’ve thought you found the next Jerreth Sterns in Kris Thornton after he scores five touchdowns in the first two weeks, only for him to not register another touchdown until week 12.

Coming into the season, this WR class for CFF was set to maybe change this narrative, at least in the early rounds. The class was considered very top-heavy with lots of guarantees for the players taken early in drafts and many more questions for those taken later. However, the CFF gods love their jokes as many of these “guaranteed” hits were suddenly struggling throughout the season.

Of the top 10 wide receiver picks in CFF drafts this off-season, only four managed to finish as the WR30 or greater. Injury was a huge part of this, as preseason WR1 Jaxon Smith-Njigba was sidelined for much of the year with nagging injuries, as well as preseason WR4 Cedric Tillman, who was in a similar predicament. Others were just busts all around, including preseason WR9 Kayshon Boutte, who never seemed to click with new OC Mike Denbrock’s system at LSU, despite good production from QB Jayden Daniels and the rest of the offense.

Nevertheless, the season is over and it is time to celebrate the receivers who did perform for CFF managers this year. While the top 3 mirrors the top 3 in fantasy points earned at the position, don’t be fooled into thinking there was a clear consensus among the expert voting panel.

Our winner of the Desmond Howard Award is Nathaniel Dell, a wide receiver out of Houston. Dell finished as the WR1 in 0.5 PPR formats in CFF and despite only earning 19 out of possible 30 points from the expert panel, Dell has a clear case to be the winner of this year’s award. Dell was a returning CFF stud from 2021, where he finished as the WR20 of the year.

In the preseason, drafters knew that the clear number one option for Dana Holgerson’s passing attack would be a valuable asset to roster, selecting him as WR6 in preseason drafts. Dell’s season started off a little slow compared to expectations; however, in the second half of the campaign, the Houston Cougars’ aerial assault skyrocketed Dell into a must-own position for any CFF manager wishing to win their championships.

From Week 8 onward, Dell never had a game with less than 21.8 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) and never had a weekly finish less than the WR18. During this stretch, he broke 30 fantasy points twice, including during the championship week. His top 12 performances during weeks 12 and 13 during most CFF playoffs sealed the deal for many of this year’s top teams.

Lastly, Dell outperformed the next WR on the season by a full 35 fantasy points, which clearly separated him as a tier above all the others. If Dell were to somehow decide to return to Houston again next year, he’d easily be considered for the WR1. However, as of now, many are expecting the superstar to enter this year’s NFL Draft. Which WR at Houston will take over for Dell will be a source of debate all off-season, as both Sam Brown and freshman phenom, Matthew Golden, make interesting cases.

Our runner-up is wide receiver out of Tennessee, Jalin Hyatt. In the preseason, it was Hyatt’s partner in crime, Cedric Tillman, who was being drafted as the WR4. The logic was sound. Coach Josh Heupel’s offensive system makes for constant explosive plays from his outside receivers, and Tillman was coming off a season where he emerged and finished as the WR40 in CFF. However, nagging injuries kept Tillman off the field, allowing for the former four-star Jalin Hyatt to emerge on his own during the season.

Hendon Hooker’s almost-perfect touch on the ball and Hyatt’s speed made for a deadly combination during the stretch of the season. Hyatt finished in the top 12 weekly receivers five times during the season, including a monster 53.7 fantasy points game against none other than the Alabama Crimson Tide. Hyatt had game-breaking ability the entire season and would often end fantasy weeks for managers who were facing him more often than not.

A few challenges might’ve kept Hyatt out of the top spot for the voting panel including his boom-or-bust potential and playoff performances. While Hyatt had five top 12 performances, he also had six outings where he landed outside of the top 100 receivers. This included the playoffs in week 12 and 13, where he posted 9.5 and 10.6 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) combined. However, this could be blamed on him losing starting quarterback Hendon Hooker to an ACL tear. Hyatt, as well as Tillman, are expected to declare for the NFL Draft this year, leaving the door open for a next crop of wide receivers for Heupel’s offense. USC transfer Bru McCoy seems like a clear choice to inherit the mantle. Watch out for speedy freshman Marquarius “Squirrel” White, who makes an excellent pairing with future QB Joe Milton’s rocket of an arm.

Last but not least, we have our third-place winner, Rashee Rice, wide receiver out of SMU. Coach Rhett Lashlee’s offense has given the CFF world wonders such as James Proche and most recently, Charleston Rambo of Miami down the stretch in 2021. Coming back home to coach the Mustangs, CFF managers knew that SMU would once again be looking for a top target and the experienced option in Rice made all the sense in the world. During the offseason, Rice was drafted as the WR14, although he had risen from his starting draft position as the WR20.

SMU brought in a load of transfer wide receivers and many questioned how much they would eat into Rice’s production. The answer was plainly “not much”. Rice managed to stay healthy throughout the year despite SMU dealing with other injuries at the position, making him easily the most reliable option on the field for both Mustangs’ quarterbacks, Mordecai and Stone.

Rice started off the season strong, dipped a bit during weeks 4-8 when the SMU offense was dealing with issues, and then back on strong down the stretch. Rice had six top 20 performances on the season, including one during the championship week. Had SMU’s offense not struggled during the middle portion of the crusade, Rice could’ve been well on his way to being the top CFF WR asset.

The Cougars’ star is also expected to declare for the Draft, leaving open a hole for SMU to fix. SMU has plenty of talented options, including Jordan Kerley, Dylan Goffney and Rice transfer, Jake Bailey. During the few weeks, he was healthy, Bailey looked like the clear #2 option for SMU; however, this WR room will be another hot source of debate moving forward.

Our top three receivers all carried their CFF teams to their championships in one way or another. However, now that the season is over, a quick look ahead at who could be earning the Desmond Howard Award in 2023 is warranted.

Clear candidate #1 is Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who as of this writing is considered to be a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Without Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Harrison should be in line for another monster season, so long as the quarterback play at Ohio State maintains its standard. There are two others that could make the jump to the very top of CFF WRs.

One is Tory Horton of Colorado State, whose receiving market share of 51.4% among Rams’ receivers and 35% among all players in that pass-heavy Jay Norvell offense should make a CFF player salivate, especially if they can get improved QB efficiency in year 2.

The other is Devontez Walker, the uber-athletic receiving option at Kent St. Walker already finished as the WR14 on the year and next season looks to have a much more manageable schedule for the Golden Flashes, whose non-conference only includes UCF, Arkansas, and Fresno St, as opposed to Washington, Georgia and Oklahoma. He’ll also likely get a healthy Collin Schlee back, who sends Walker’s ceiling on a weekly basis sky high.

– Jared Palmgren, @CFF_Jared

Dennis Pitta Award: The Top Fantasy Tight End

  1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame (26 points)
  2. Dalton Kincaid, Utah (18 points)
  3. Brock Bowers, Georgia (5 points)

The fickle position of tight end entered the 2022 college fantasy football season even more capricious than normal. The offseason brimmed with debate and discourse about what a fantasy football tight end even was! Tales of Arik Gilbert’s practice domination echoed through message boards and caused consternation about league rules and settings. It would be an unfair advantage to be able to start him at TE, right? Well, CJ Donaldson said, “Gilbert’s not a TE, I AM A TIGHT END!” More about CJ in a moment.

As the season drew closer, Gilbert’s eligibility changed to WR, and the draft tiers solidified. Michael Mayer, Baby Gronk, of the Fighting Irish and Brock Bowers of the National Champion Bulldogs with the “Talented” Michael Trigg not far behind. Draft strategy was set. Invest early-round picks on Mayer or Bowers. Wait just a bit for Trigg, or punt the position.

The first month of the season saw Bowers getting the ball in a number of creative ways but the true star of the first four games was the aforementioned CJ Donaldson of West Virginia, rushing for 100-plus yards in three of four games for the Mountaineers. Also, dual-positioned Griffin Hebert of Louisiana Tech finished as a top 3 CFF TE in the first month of the season. Mayer came in at CFF TE6 and two tight ends for Utah finished among the top 7. Both Dalton Kincaid and Brant Kuithe started strong.

As summer turned to fall, the outrage of Donaldson being categorized as a TE, while really being a running back, came and went as injuries sadly stopped the big man. October would be owned by two players. Kincaid outscored Mayer 82.7 to 77.7. Kincaid took advantage of Kuithe going down and those 82.7 points were spearheaded by a 16-catch, 234-yards and a score performance versus USC.

Down the stretch they came, Bowers faded in November, tallying a mere 98 yards and two scores for the month. Kincaid bolstered his chances at the Dennis Pitta Fantasy Tight End of the Year award by going for 16 receptions for 200 yards and a score in the final two games, but it was Michael Mayer and his 60.9 points in November that captured the crown.

Michael Mayer finished with 67 grabs for 809 yards and nine scores. Each month Mayer finished in the top six and that consistency helped his owners throughout the year. Dalton Kincaid nearly mirrored the stats of Baby Gronk. Kincaid and his 65 catches for 833 yards and 8 touchdowns led to his second-place finish in our season awards. Finally, Brock Bowers ended his campaign with 46 catches for 645 yards and 5 scores as the Dawgs just did not target him as much as our top two finishers.

Honorable mentions go to David Martin-Robinson of Temple and Jalin Conyers of Arizona State. Martin-Robinson finished the final month of the season as the CFF TE1, finishing three points ahead of Mayer in November. From October 29 to the season’s end, Conyers was the top-scoring tight end averaging nearly 19 points a game.

What will 2023 hold for our tight ends? Will we see another eligibility scandal? Will we see a player with 100 grabs, 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns a la James Casey of Rice in 2008? More likely, you will need to read spring notes on those big-talented young men who play a position that remains in constant flux in order to get an ever more important edge on your competition.

Congrats to Michael Mayer for earning the 2022 Dennis Pitta College Fantasy Football award for being the best fantasy tight end, and thanks for leading the Aceholes to their lone league championship.

– Mitch Hardt, @aceholesrule

Scholar’s 2022 All-Waiver Wire Team

  • QB Bo Nix, Oregon
  • QB Michael Penix, Jr., Washington
  • RB Khalan Laborn, Marshall
  • RB Quinshon Judkins, Mississippi
  • WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
  • WR Demario Douglas, Liberty
  • WR Charlie Jones, Purdue
  • TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
  • Flex Kendre Miller, TCU

I have stated many times that the waiver wire is indispensable to capturing CFF championships. After the season starts, so many players, who were not drafted, become weekly CFF starters. Scanning the weekly Waiver Wire Gemstones column, I identified the CFF All-Waiver Wire Team. A CFF manager with all of the above players on their team could easily have won a championship in 2022.

John Laub, @GridironSchol91

Adrian Peterson Award: Freshman of the Year

  1. Quinshon Judkins, Mississippi (30 points)
  2. Jayden Ott, California (18 points)
  3. Nate Singleton, Penn State (4 points)

Quinshon Judkins was the unanimous decision for this year’s Adrian Peterson Award after an incredible breakout performance for Mississippi. CFF previewers shadowed Judkins in the offseason as the Rebels’ brought in star running backs Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley, IV via the transfer portal.

However, Judkins ended up leading the team in carries (251, 115 more than Evans), yards (1,476, 577 more than Evans), and rushing touchdowns (16, 8 more than Evans). Judkins also averaged 5.9 YPC. His 1,476 yards ranked seventh in the nation and his 16 rushing scores ranks sixteenth. Judkins also flashed excellence as a receiver out of the backfield, finishing with over 100 yards receiving and one touchdown.

Jadyn Ott left his mark on the Golden Bears’ season despite a 4-8 finish. Ott had only two games over 100 yards but was consistent all year. His most notable performance was against Arizona when Ott rushed for 274 yards on 19 carries and had three scores. He finished the season with 897 yards on the ground with eight rushing touchdowns. He was also very steady as a receiver coming out of the backfield as he totaled 321 yards and three touchdowns.

Nicholas Singleton will likely rank higher on draft boards than Ott ahead of next season, and the only reason Ott finished ahead of Singleton was because he was ‘the guy’ out of the backfield. Sharing the spotlight with Kaytron Allen, Singleton led Penn State in yards (941, 111 more than Allen), YPC (6.3, 1.0 more than Allen), and rushing touchdowns (10, 1 more than Allen). Putting it in perspective, Allen led the Lions in carries with seven more than Singleton on the year. The top three vote-getters are all ball carriers, and the CFF community looks forward to watching the freshmen advance their collegiate tenures.

– Ryan Cobbett, @ryancobbs22

Scholar’s ‘My Guys’ Team in 2022

  • QB Frank Harris, UTSA
  • QB Kurtis Rourke, Ohio
  • RB Tyjae Spears, Tulane
  • RB Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina
  • WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
  • WR Demario Douglas, Liberty
  • WR Zakhari Franklin, UTSA
  • TE Caden Prieskorn, Memphis

Over the course of a season, there are many players who I watched and impressed me. Regrettably, the national media and casual fans overlook these playmakers. I wanted to feature those competitors who go underappreciated. Each player was on at least one of my CFF teams and helped me win games and championships…all deserving a spot on the Scholar’s ‘My Guys’ Team.

John Laub, @GridironSchol91

Red Grange Award: The CFF MVP

  1. Bijan Robinson, Texas (17 points)
  2. Caleb Williams, USC (15 points)
  3. Nathaniel Dell, Houston (8 points)

Ever since I was in the seventh grade at Rochambeau Middle School in Southbury, CT, I have argued with friends about MVP candidates. My love affair began by debating MLB baseball MVPs in the late Seventies. There was no bigger dispute among my friends during the hot stove season. It sharpened my skills and opened my eyes to different perspectives.

For the Red Grange Award, I voted for Caleb Williams but the panel did not agree. Bijan Robinson came out on top, and it is tremendous that the panel disagreed with me. Looking behind the curtain, Williams received two first-place votes but one panelist left the USC signal caller out of the top candidates. Williams did not lead all quarterbacks in scoring. He concluded the campaign as the third-highest scoring quarterback behind Drake Maye and Austin Reed.

Why did I vote for the Trojans’ field general? From a personal perspective, I loved having Williams as a late-night hammer on my CFF team. I would be trailing in a matchup, and WIlliams would be the last man to play on my roster. On three occasions (Arizona State, California and Colorado), I was losing a game and the USC quarterback would score enough fantasy points to lead me to victory.

From a statistical profile, he produced more than 40 FPs six times, including a season-best 50.9 against Utah. He scored less than 25 points only twice. Among quarterbacks, he finished sixth in passing yards (3,712), seventh in passing touchdowns (34), and third in FPPG (37.3). With is legs, he added 351 yards and 10 touchdowns to propel him to an elite level.

While Williams earned my vote, I completely see the argument in favor of Robinson. In CFF, Robinson scored the most points among all the ball carriers in the nation with 327.4 FP in PPR formats. He surpassed 20 FPs in 11 games and exceeded 30 four times, including a season-high 48.3 against Kansas in CFF semifinals. The vote was the closest for CFF MVP in eight years. Robinson deserves being named the Red Grange winner in 2022.

John Laub, @GridironSchol91

 

Award Scoring:

First Place = 5 points
Second Place = 3 points

Third Place = 1 point

All-Time CFF Award Winners

Cam Newton Award

YearPlayer
2015Patrick Mahomes, II
2016Lamar Jackson
2017Lamar Jackson
2018Kyler Murray
2019Jalen Hurts
2020Kyle Trask
2021Bailey Zappe
2022Caleb Williams

Desmond Howard Award

YearPlayer
2015Corey Coleman
2016Zay Jones
2017T. Quinn & A. Johnson
2018Andy Isabella
2019J. Chase & O. Bayless
2020DeVonta Smith
2021Jerreth Sterns
2022Nathaniel Dell

Barry Sanders Award

YearPlayer
2015Derrick Henry
2016Jeremy McNichols
2017Rashaad Penny
2018Darrell Henderson
2019Chuba Hubbard
2020Najee Harris
2021Breece Hall
2022Bijan Robinson

Red Grange Award

YearPlayer
2015P. Mahomes & C. Coleman
2016Lamar Jackson
2017Lamar Jackson
2018Kyler Murray
2019Jalen Hurts
2020DeVonta Smith
2021Bailey Zappe
2022Bijan Robinson

Adrian Peterson Award

YearPlayer
2020Duece Vaughn
2021TreVeyon Henderson
2022Quinshon Judkins

Dennis Pitta Award

YearPlayer
2015Kyle Pitts
2016Tre McBride
2017Michael Mayer
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