The 2018 College Football season is just over five weeks away and everyone is in draft mode. This week, College Fantasy Football Expert Justin Heisey will look into potential college football breakouts who could reach the next level in the 2018 season.
As a disclosure, this article will focus on less publicised college football breakouts for the upcoming season. I would first like to acknowledge that Tua Tagovailoa, Jawon Pass, D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers, Miles Sanders, Tee Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Grant Calcaterra are all poised for monster seasons.
College Football Breakouts: Quarterbacks
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Ohio State’s offense is about as plug-and-play as they come when it comes to the quarterback position and Joe Burrow’s transfer essentially hands the job over to Dwayne Haskins. Haskins popped up on the fantasy radar last season after an admirable performance against Michigan in relief of an injured JT Barrett. The talent around him is just as good as any other big program with K.J. Hill and Parris Campbell returning at receiver and J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber in the backfield. Urban Meyer hardly ever pulls his starters in blowout games and the Quarterbacks over the years finished as Tier 1 options in fantasy football.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
I’m riding with the Austin, Texas product Sam Ehlinger in the 2018 season over Shane Buechele. For starters, Ehlinger fits Tom Herman’s system better being a more mobile quarterback than Buechele which gives him the edge going into year two. Ehlinger is also the more durable option with Buechele missing many games last season between knee, shoulder, and groin injuries while Ehlinger win toe-to-toe with USC, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. I fully expect Ehlinger to take a step forward with former-Golden Bear Tre Watson coming in to save the running game and another full offseason to master the offense.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
The addition of Ricky Town might scare some away from taking a chance on Kenny Pickett, but given that Pittsburgh is his fourth college I wouldn’t worry too much. Max Browne and Ben DiNucci left much to be desired last season for the Pitt Panthers and the change to Pickett showed that Narduzzi was looking toward the future. Pickett played admirably in his lone two games against Virginia Tech and Miami with a combined stat line of 33-52-435-1-1 and two rushing touchdowns with a win over the No. 2 Ranked Miami Hurricanes. Pickett is a mobile quarterback and has proven that he can play against tougher competition which bodes well for the Sophomore against a tough 2018 schedule. I’d keep Pickett on my watch list of college football breakouts or take a chance late on a guy with solid upside this season.
Ready to add College Fantasy Football to your game? Head on over to Fantrax and start or join a league today.
Breakout Running Backs
Ty Chandler, Tennessee
Almost any Tennessee player seems like an unsafe bet for the 2018 season especially with the best quarterback on their roster right now being Keller Chryst. However, if Jeremy Pruitt runs the typical SEC Ground and Pound system, like most believe he will, then Ty Chandler is going to receive a lot of touches this upcoming season which is encouraging for fantasy owners everywhere. Chandler only saw 71 carries last season but accounted for over 300 yards and two touchdowns and had 120 yards on 22 carries against Kentucky late last season. He’s a late round pickup with high upside with an easy schedule in the final four weeks.
Stephen Carr, USC
Stephen Carr showed flashes of potential last season behind a second-round draft selection in Ronald Jones II with 363 yards on 65 carries. Given that Jones and Sam Darnold are off to the NFL and there remains uncertainty at the quarterback position, Carr is poised to be the centerpiece of an offense that has produced a 900-plus yard rusher in each of the last four seasons. Carr is shifty, elusive, and has obnoxious acceleration when he sees an opening. Southern Cal boasts the 84th most difficult schedule in football and Carr is the main beneficiary of it this season.
Wesley Fields, Georgia Southern
A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at most Georgia Southern players but an announcement from new Eagles Coach Chad Lunsford got me excited for Wesley Fields. Lunsford mentioned that Georgia Southern was reverting to a power option similar to that of the Eagles 2014-2015 era under Willie Fritz that produced 49ers running back Matt Breida. Fields may not have the greatest of ceilings but he has the potential to have a really high floor even with Shai Werts playing quarterback. Keep Fields on you watch lists going into the season because he’s a huge steal if you snatch him up after week one or late in a draft.
Honorable Mentions: JJ Taylor, Arizona; Dexter Williams, Notre Dame
Breakout Wide Receivers
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
I already Hakeem Butler as one of the top college football breakouts after he caught seven touchdown passes as the second option to Allen Lazard in 2017. I was under the impression that he was going to remain the Z-Receiver in the slot but he was moved over to the X-Receiver spot once held by Lazard. This gives Butler far greater value than he initially had at the start of the offseason. Lazard caught 71 passes last season with three different quarterbacks playing and Butler will top that with Kyle Kempt likely holding the job all season.
Iowa State pre-fall camp depth chart. #WinInTheDark
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) July 16, 2018
Devin Butler, Syracuse
Syracuse had two wide receivers finish inside the top eight players in total receptions last season and were apart of the fastest offense in college football. Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips both graduated and Devin Butler is next in line for one of those spots. In his last three seasons as a head coach, Dino Babers’ top two receivers have recorded 85 receptions or more and given that Eric Dungey returns for one last ride, it’s safe to assume that Butler will improve from 33 receptions to at least 75.
Da’Monte Coxie, Memphis
Memphis’ passing game will look completely different in 2018 with Anthony Miller and Riley Ferguson gone and Damonte Coxie will look to be the focal point. Coxie is the leading returning receiver with 21 receptions and 323 yards as a freshman last season. Coxie initially held scholarships to Alabama and LSU and made Nick Saban ask his evaluators at an Alabama Camp “Who the Hell is that?.” His grades were a concern and Memphis stuck it out with Coxie and will surely reap the benefits of a guy who should’ve played a role alongside Jonathan Giles this season.
Curious about what the experts think about your favorite players? Chech out the FootballDiehards.com 5th Annual Suma Cum Laude Mock Draft for the 2018 season.
Be sure to check out previous articles by Justin Heisey