College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 8 Gemstones
All week I planned for a special Saturday night. I purchased a nice 4-pack of a new IPA and ordered Chilis takeout for dinner with the family. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. While I prepared to watch the evening slate of contests, the washer caught on fire. So much for a nice meal and football. Luckily, the fire department came and only the machine was damaged. Now, I have to search for a new washer just as thoroughly as I search for the top adds each week on the college fantasy football waiver wire.
Eric Froton and I identify the top players to acquire in leagues before the Big Ten and Mountain West conferences begin the 2020 campaign.
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Week 8 College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech (Froton)
Fantrax Ownership: 41%
The quarterback position can get a little stale on the waiver around this time of year, so when I realized Hooker was un-owned at a 58% rate, I was taken aback. However, in the larger context of this crazy year we’re trying to cobble together, the puzzle pieces start to fit together.
Entering last season incumbent starting QB Ryan Willis had started 12 games and threw for 2,716 yards with a 24:9 TD:INT Ratio and another four rushing touchdowns in 2018. Hooker had actually entered the transfer portal in spring, but opted to return and stick things out. Willis started the first three games, losing 28-35 to BC in their opener before stumbling to two uninspiring wins over Furman and Old Dominion. Then in Week 4 the wheels fell off as Willis went 8 for 20 for 120 yards in a 45-10 thrashing at the hands of a mediocre Duke team.
Justin Fuente had seen enough and inserted Hooker into the starting QB role. Virginia Tech responded, winning six of their next seven games with the only loss being a 21-20 squeaker to 16th ranked Notre Dame. Hooker finished the year starting eight games, completing 99 of 162 passes for 1,555 yards, a 61.1% completion percentage and a 13:2 TD:INT ratio while also rushing for 355 yards and three touchdowns. Understandably, Hooker was the favorite entering fall camp but he ended up being challenged by four-star Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister before drawing the starting nod.
Due to an undisclosed injury to Hooker, it was Burmeister taking the first reps when Virginia Tech opened up at NC State and ended up splitting time with third-string QB Quincy Patterson after sustaining a hand injury. VT handled NC State 45-21 and despite Hooker warming up pre-game against Duke the following week, Burmeister got the start once again. He put forth another unimpressive passing performance completing 9 of 25 passes for 163 yards and a 1:1 TD INT ratio while rushing for 46 yards, two scores and a fumble in a 38-31 victory.
It was expected that Hooker would start the following week at UNC, but Burmeister’s 36% completion percentage was simply too enticing for coach Justin Fuente to pass up. Burmeister started and finally played poorly enough for Fuente to pull him and give Hooker a shot. The returning starter excelled, completing 7 of 13 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns with 29 rushing yards and another TD as he brought the Hookies back to within one score late in the game against NC.
Finally, last week Hooker got to start a 2020 game against 3-1 Boston College. He promptly reminded the CFF world why he was ranked as a top-30 QB heading into the season, completing 11 of 15 passes for 111 yards and 1 touchdown while also rushing 18 times for 164 yards and three TDs on the ground in a 40-14 evisceration of BC.
Virginia Tech has scored at least 38 points in every game this season thanks to its punishing ground game. Hooker should be universally owned as VT has their best stretch of the season approaching against at Wake Forest, at Louisville and Liberty.
Michael Penix, Indiana (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 39%
The Hoosiers employ one of the under-the-radar triplets in the Big Ten: Michael Penix, Stevie Scott and Whop Philyor. The Indiana faithful are optimistic that the offense will jettison among the elite in the Conference, and Penix is also excited about 2020.
“I feel like we’re going to shock the world. I know we are,” Penix proclaimed in the Bloomington Herald Times three weeks ago (saturdaytradition.com).
A redshirt sophomore, Penix started six games last year before suffering a season-ending injury on November 2. Before the setback, the lefty completed a school-record 68.8% (110 of 160) of his throws. He passed for 1,394 yards and registered a 10:4 TD:INT Ratio. The 6’3” and 218-pounder also rushed for 188 yards, scoring twice on the ground.
In 2020, Penix was named to the Maxwell Award Watch list and college fantasy footballers must take notice. The Hoosiers’ dual-threat signal caller is a future star, who is the key triplet on campus. He should be rostered in all CFF leagues.
Twitter on Fire!
Who are you targeting in the free agent pool at quarterback this week?
- Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech: 44.4%
- Cornelious Brown, IV, Georgia State: 27.8%
- Clayton Tune, Houston: 27.8%
“I’ll be singing the Tune in this poll. Clayton has a higher floor, but I do love Hooker.” @aceholesrule
Rahjai Harris, East Carolina (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 5%
East Carolina won one of its first three contests and desperately needed to jump-start the ground game. The Pirates decided to make a switch in the backfield and inserted freshman Rahjai Harris into the starting lineup against Navy…Bingo!
In the first two games, the freshman had garnered only 16 carries for 42 yards, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. Harris, an early enrollee last January, rambled for 172 yards on 22 carries and scored his first career touchdown against the Midshipmen.
After the game, offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick spoke glowingly of Harris. “Rahjai is like, ‘The Bus.’ He’s the next Jerome Bettis. He’s got unbelievable feet. And the thing is, wow, is he fun to be around. A lot of people don’t like to practice that are great players. But he acts like he likes practice. That makes the coaches job so much easier,” offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick detailed (247Sports.com). It might be hyperbole, but it is music to astute CFF managers.
As a senior in high school, he rambled for 1,445 yards and crossed the finish line 21 times in 2019. He produced six 100-yard games and nine multi-touchdown efforts. Rivals.com selected Harris as the 17th-best prospect in South Carolina. He was a three-star recruit by the three major scouting services, and Clemson, UCF, Memphis and Tennessee were among the schools interested in bringing Harris onto campus.
Playing in the American Athletic Conference, East Carolina (and Harris) likely participates in many high-scoring games the remainder of the season. I always gamble on high-upside free agents, and Harris warrants a roster spot based on ceiling in the Pirates’ offense.
Stephon Huderson, Tulane (Froton)
Fantrax Ownership: 1%
Last year coach Willie Fritz’ offense averaged 243 ypg. last season with his run-based, four yards and a cloud of dust system. With Darius Bradwell and Justin McMillan departing, the explosive Corey Dauphine, who averaged 8.0 ypc in 2019, was supposed to pick up the feature role with Amare Jones serving as his understudy. Senior RB Stephon Huderson was an afterthought in the team’s plans, finishing fifth on the team in rushing the year prior.
Then Dauphine tore his ACL and will miss the season. Amare Jones then became the trendy replacement, but in four games his highest usage was a pedestrian eight carries for 36 yards. Enter Cameron Carroll who proceeded to rush for seven touchdowns in his first three games and appeared to wrest control of the job, averaging 12 carries per game but receiving the goal line work. October 8 against Houston, Carroll rushed 18 times for 34 yards, a 1.9 ypc. and a fumble, losing the confidence of offensive coordinator WIll Hall and opening the door for a challenge to his top spot.
Finally, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior from Petal, MS got his chance to carry the load, and he delivered. Huderson rushed 19 times for 132 yards, a 6.9 ypc. and a 22-yard touchdown run against SMU. He showed a spark that simply hadn’t been present for Tulane this season with their home-run hitter Dauphine out.
The Green Wave are averaging 43 ppg. over their last three games and play at UCF, Temple and @ECU over the next three weeks in what should be a series of high scoring affairs. He’s available almost everywhere and should be picked up in leagues with 12-plus teams with deep benches.
CFF All-Americans: Week 7
QB Dillion Gabriel, UCF
RB Leddie Brown, West Virginia
RB Rahjai Harris, East Carolina
WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas
WR Marlon Williams, UCF
WR Dax Milne, BYU
TE Joshua Simon, WKU
Flex Brady White, Memphis
Twitter on Fire!
Who is the top running back to acquire on the waiver wire this week?
- Rahjai Harris, East Carolina: 40.7%
- Carlos Davis, South Alabama: 33.3%
- Ricky Person, Jr., North Carolina State: 25.9%
Zakhari Franklin, UTSA (Laub)
Fantrax Ownership: 15%
Average per game: 11.3
Team market share: 23%
Against Army, Zakhari Franklin was en fuego. The sophomore established a school record for receptions with 12. He also set a career-best with 138 receiving yards and scored twice.
Even more impressively, he had 20 targets in the game…that’s right, 20 targets. In the Roadrunners’ first three games, Franklin had 10, 7 and 8 targets. After a major uptick in usage and production, college fantasy footballs must take notice. He ranks among the team’s leaders in every major receiving category: receptions (27), yards (346), yards per catch (12.8), and touchdowns (4).
At 6’1” and 185-pounds, Franklin emerged as one of UTSA’s primary wide outs during his true freshman season last year. He secured 38 passes for 491 yards and three touchdowns. Over the final five games, he started four games and recorded 435 yards in the air. He also set a program freshman record with 134 yards on six catches versus Old Dominion.
I placed Franklin in the Week 5 Gemstones article as an honorable mention candidate but did not write a feature. He has clearly exceeded my expectations and must be attained by CFF managers in 2020.
Jaquarii Roberson, Wake Forest (Froton)
Fantrax Ownership: 12%
Average per game: 7.7
Team market share: 23%
Wake Forest scored 32 ppg. and unleashed an average of 288 passing yards last season with Jamie Newman under center. The Demon Deacons played ultra-fast, averaging an FBS-most 82 offensive plays per game. Despite the departure of Jamie Newman for Georgia, there was plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2020. QB Sam Hartman had prior starting experience and should provide a soft transition from Newman, superstar WR No. 1 Sage Surratt had a lot to prove coming off of a season-ending injury and highly-touted redshirt freshman sensation Donavon Greene was earmarked for WR No. 2 duties.
Then the pandemic happened. Surratt opted out, Greene injured his back in the season opener and Wake Forest got crushed in their season opener, losing 37-13 to Clemson. With Greene out, Jaquarii Roberson assumed the mantle of high-volume WR No. 1 in this fast-paced offensive attack. He has excelled in the role, catching 20 of 26 passes for a 77% catch rate, 314 yards, 15.7 ypc. and two touchdowns in essentially three games since he wasn’t called upon to do much in the 66-14 blowout of FCS school Campbell.
Beyond the numbers, PFF College has awarded Roberson a 92.6 receiving grade which is incredibly the top grade for all receivers in FBS this year. His hands are exceptional, as he hasn’t dropped a single one of his 26 targets and sports a rock solid 129.3 passer rating when targeted. On a team level, Wake Forest has scored 42, 66 and 40 points in the three games after their opening week Clemson loss. They’re about to embark on a four-game run against Virginia Tech, Syracuse, North Carolina and Duke that they should post huge numbers on. Grab Roberson Everywhere.
Twitter on Fire!
Who is the No. 1 free agent wide receiver this week?
- Sam Pinckney, Georgia State: 23.3%
- Dahu Green, Arkansas State: 13.3%
- Calvin Austin, III, Memphis: 63.3%
“Calvin Austin is the add of the week. Thankfully, I added him last week before game time when Damonte Coxie wasn’t on the field.” @aceholesrule
QB Jordan Travis, Florida State
Fantrax Ownership: 5%
QB Cornelious Brown, IV, Georgia State
Fantrax Ownership: 11%
RB Kevin Harris, South Carolina
Fantrax Ownership: 43%
RB La’Damian Webb, Florida State
Fantrax Ownership: 4%
WR Calvin Austin, III, Memphis
Fantrax Ownership: 9%
Average per game: 10.3
Team market share: 25%
WR Dax Milne, BYU
Fantrax Ownership: 22%
Average per game: 8.0
Team market share: 27%
Twitter on Fire!
The Big Ten and the Mountain West Conferences kickoff this week. Let’s take the temperature of the fantasy universe in 2020.
Identify the most underrated signal-caller:
- Hank Bachmeier, Boise State: 15.7%
- Sean Clifford, Penn State: 35.3%
- Tanner Morgan, Minnesota: 41.2%
- Other, post below: 7.8%
“I think the Boise State connection of Hank Bachmeier to Khalil Shakir will be supremely impactful this season.” @aceholesrule
“Graham Mertz, Wisconsin.” @miggs721
Pinpoint the most undervalued running back:
- Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota: 51.5%
- Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State: 24.2%
- Stevie Scott III, Indiana: 21.2%
- Other, post below: 3%
“I think Ronnie Rivers is often overlooked and has been for years.” @aceholesrule
Who is the more unappreciated wide receiver:
- Whop Philyor, Indiana: 31.3%
- Tre Walker, San Jose: 37.5%
- Khalil Shakir, Boise State: 21.9%
- Other, post below: 9.4%
You can also check the Week 7 College Fantasy Football Waiver Wire to see if any of those players are still available.
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