At this point in the College Football season, many fantasy managers find themselves in precarious positions. Some managers are sailing along, gearing up for the playoffs. Others have realized their rosters have holes that replacement players on waivers must fill. As fantasy managers are deciding how to manage their rosters best, they begin the search for the “Next Man Up.”
College Fantasy Football’s “Next” Men Up
Whether you play CFF best-ball, Season-Long, Devy, or Campus-2-Canton (C2C), managers have the task of figuring out which players currently on their roster are building blocks for their NFL roster or just filling in as a CFF contributor.
What is Campus-2-Canton?
For fantasy managers unfamiliar with Campus-2-Canton (C2C) leagues, the premise is having a feeder system of college players to use on your NFL fantasy rosters. Managers draft college players to use for a college fantasy football league, and when those players graduate to the NFL, those players are automatically rostered to the manager’s NFL team.
Those managers that are in C2C leagues and no longer consider themselves in a position to make the playoffs with their CFF roster should look toward the future and add young talent now that may not start currently but could be huge NFL assets in the future or help fill holes in your CFF lineup for upcoming years.
For this article, I will not list highly-recruited, highly-touted players already on fantasy managers’ rosters or radars. Instead, I will target underclassmen who may have yet to be selected at the beginning of the year or drafted during startups but are worth a roster spot now.
Let’s take a look at players that C2C managers should consider rostering for the future of their CFF lineup as well as their NFL roster. These are the Next Men Up!
Kaidon Salter, Liberty Flames, Sophomore
In eight games played, Kaidon Salter has completed 98 passes for 1,662 yards with 19 touchdowns. In addition to his passing abilities, Salter has also rushed 98 times for 614 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the season, Salter is the eighth-ranked CFF player for points per game, the fourth-ranked quarterback in total fantasy points, and the 2nd ranked quarterback in rushing yards. Salter has been nothing short of a revelation this season. Analysts hope that Salter develops his passing game to match his running prowess.
Byrum Brown, South Florida Bulls, Freshman
Byrum Brown has been a breakout freshman this year. Brown has averaged 29.1 fantasy points per game in his first year. Brown’s breakout game came against Rice when Byrum completed 22 passes for 435 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 more yards and a rushing touchdown.
At 6’3″ and 209 pounds, Byrum Brown should also be on NFL radars as he has shown he can win games with his arm and legs. At 4-4, the Bulls are working toward qualifying for a bowl game and will need the best version of Brown heading into their last four games. Fantasy managers should have Byrum Brown on their radar and, hopefully, their rosters.
Haynes King, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Sophomore
As a quarterback at Georgia Tech, your upside is limited by how many times they throw the ball. Can you name a quarterback in the NFL that went to Georgia Tech? I had a tough time answering that one, too! Option quarterbacks are regarded as not possessing the skills to succeed at the next level. However, if you are looking for a player that you can use for your Campus-2-Canton league that provides a solid floor for the next few years, Haynes King is the player for you.
King has 2,122 yards passing with 21 passing touchdowns and 462 yards rushing with three more touchdowns. And, at times, King has shown the ability to be successful with just his arm (against Bowling Green, King completed 32 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns) and his legs (against Boston College, he had ten runs for 150 yards and a touchdown). In last week’s game against UNC, King showed why he is such a dynamic playmaker by throwing for 287 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 90 yards. King has the full complement of skills to be successful as a college quarterback and possibly beyond.
Preston Stone, SMU Mustangs, Sophomore
After being used sparingly last year, this year has been the breakout Preston Stone needed. Through eight games, Stone has 2,138 yards passing for 19 touchdowns while also running the ball 40 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
In the past three weeks against Temple, East Carolina, and Tulsa, Stone had 947 yards passing, eight passing touchdowns with 50 yards rushing, and one rushing touchdown. At 6’1″ and 219 pounds, Preston Stone has also put himself on the radars of many NFL executives. Preston Stone is an ideal long-term quarterback who will provide CFF value in the short term and Devy/C2C value in the long term.
Ishmail Mahdi, Texas State Bobcats, Sophomore
As a sophomore, Ismail Mahdi has been inconsistent but has had more ups than downs. In a three-game stretch against Nevada, Southern Miss, and UL Lafayette, Mahdi had 493 yards rushing and six touchdowns as he scored 99.1 points in that span.
Last week against Troy, Mahdi rushed the ball 20 times for 128 yards. CFF managers were hoping for an even bigger game against Troy, but game flow prevented Mahdi as Texas State lost 31 to 13. At 5’9″ and 180 pounds, Mahdi was unknown during his recruitment out of high school and subsequent entrance into the transfer portal. Mahdi is proving analysts wrong as he continues to impress with his development as a runner.
Omarion Hampton, North Carolina Tar Heels, Sophomore
Omarion Hampton has shown fantasy managers glimpses of the overall talent he possesses. At 6’0′ and 220 pounds, Hampton was a 4-star prospect entering college. As a freshman, Hampton played in 12 games and notched 414 yards rushing on 88 attempts while registering six touchdowns.
As a sophomore, Hampton had 923 yards on 160 carries and has found the endzone ten times. In UNC’s loss to Georgia Tech, Hampton ran the ball 29 times for 153 yards and had two touchdowns. Omarion also caught four passes for 41 yards. Hampton’s development from last year to this year is evident, and fantasy managers should take notice.
Jonah Coleman, Arizona Wildcats, Sophomore
Jonah Coleman found himself behind Michael Wiley to start the season. However, injuries provided Coleman the opportunity to showcase his abilities. And, with Wiley now back from injury, no longer is the backup.
Instead, they are options 1a and 1b for the Wildcats. In a massive win over Washington State, Coleman had 11 rushes for 70 yards and three touchdowns and grabbed four receptions for 98 yards. The dual-threat ability of Coleman is what excites many analysts about Coleman’s impact in fantasy. Through eight games, Coleman has 21 receptions for 291 yards with one receiving touchdown while rushing for 488 yards on 76 attempts and three touchdowns. Jonah Coleman should be considered in C2C leagues and is worth a roster spot in deeper, DEVY leagues.
Jadyn Ott, California Golden Bears, Sophomore
Full disclosure: I was a big fan of Jadyn Ott’s entering this season, and that opinion has not changed. Last week against USC, Ott ran the ball 21 times for 153 yards and three touchdowns. At times this season, Ott has been game-scripted out of the plan due to California being behind and using the passing game more than the running attack.
When Ott has been given the chance to be a featured back, Ott has not disappointed managers. In Cal’s matchup against Arizona State, Ott was given 29 rushes and returned 165 yards and a touchdown. Ott has averaged 21 fantasy points per game and shows no signs of slowing down. Ott should be rostered in all formats.
Jay Maclin, North Texas Mean Green, Sophomore
Jay Maclin has been the primary receiver for the Mean Green, having already been targeted 45 times in six games. For the year, Maclin has 25 receptions for 587 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2022, Maclin had just 16 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdowns. Maclin may not have entered the season as a “must-have” in C2C or CFF leagues, but he is a valuable commodity and will continue to do so for at least one more season.
Although Maclin has been in college for four years, he is classified as a sophomore and should log at least one more NCAA season, which is great news for fantasy managers! At 5’11” and 187 pounds, Maclin was a 3-star recruit of Missouri. After two years of little playing time at Missouri, Maclin transferred to North Texas and has been an instant success. Target Maclin as a vital contributor to your CFF lineups in 2024, and hope for a possible Tank Dell explosion to occur.
Jalyn Polk, Washington Huskies, Sophomore
It’s unfair to Jalyn Polk, but Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze get all the attention the receivers get from analysts. However, an injury to Jalen McMillan has given Polk time to shine. In the past five weeks, Polk has surpassed 100 yards receiving in four of the last five weeks while also receiving double-digit targets. When opportunities have been there for Polk, he has taken full advantage. Last week against Stanford, Polk had five receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Jalyn Polk may not be the most heralded Huskie’s receiver, but he can be just as impactful.
Pofele Ashlock, Hawaii Warriors, Freshman
In nine games this year, Pofele Ashlock has 51 receptions for 572 yards and five touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman, Ashlock started the first two games as an All-American by notching 241 yards receiving with three touchdowns. Ashlock has cooled a bit since then, but the talent is evident.
At 6’2″ and 175 pounds, Ashlock has room to add muscle while keeping his speed and explosiveness intact. With the offense numbers Hawaii usually puts up, Pofele Ashlock will have more opportunities to develop his national reputation, with fantasy analysts having Ashlock on their radars.
Elijah Metcalf, Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, Sophomore
Entering college, Elijah Metcalf was a three-star recruit from Charlotte, North Carolina. In the eight games the Blue Raiders have played, Elijah Metcalf has 40 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns.
Against Jacksonville State, Metcalf had four grabs for 115 yards and two touchdowns, showing fantasy managers precisely what he can achieve as a third or fourth receiver on fantasy rosters. With games remaining against New Mexico State, Florida International, and Sam Houston State, Metcalf has an outside chance at breaking 1,000 receiving yards and building a lot of momentum heading into his junior season.
Luke Hasz, Arkansas Razorbacks, Freshman
At 6’3″ and 242 pounds, Hasz appears to have all the tools to be a highly successful tight end for fantasy managers. To see what Hasz has the potential to accomplish, one only has to look at his game against LSU. Against the Tigers, Hasz grabbed six receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Hasz has also had games where he has caught just two passes for 19 yards. At a position starving for fantasy producers, Hasz has what it takes for CFF and C2C managers to invest in.
Jack Velling, Oregon State Beavers, Sophomore
In a position that craved consistent performers, Jack Velling has broken out the last three weeks. Against Arizona, UCLA, and California, Velling has 12 receptions for 192 yards and six touchdowns. Part of Velling’s success could be the revelation Oregon State has gone through with DJ Uiagalelei as quarterback. Will that continue next year? With a position group losing Brock Bowers, Oronde Gadsen, and Cade Stover, any player showing promise at tight end is worth a flier.
Max Klare, Purdue Boilermakers, Freshman
Although his season ended shortly due to injury, there was enough promise shown during the first five games to hold a roster spot for the 6’4″ and 245-pound tight end named Max Klare. Before his injury, Klare grabbed 22 passes for 196 yards. The main negative I see in Klare’s game is his need to find the end zone. Although other players may have taken over the workload for this season, 2024 is Max Klare’s time to shine and should be rostered in most formats.