Last Saturday, the SEC kicked off the 2020 campaign, and the Big Ten and PAC-12 are returning to the gridiron soon. College fantasy footballers must be prepared to set, and change, lineups at the last minute all season. In order to assist readers, John Laub presents the Scholar’s Surreptitious Starters, a look at the top college fantasy football sleepers for Week 5 of the NCAA Football season.
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College Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5
Matt Corral, Mississippi at Kentucky: O/U 61.5 & Kentucky -6
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 44%
During the offseason, college fantasy footballers closely watched the quarterback battle between Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee in Oxford, Mississippi. New coach Lane Kiffin kept the starter under wraps for the game against Florida last week.
On Saturday, college football fans finally saw the winner of the competition in Kiffin’s explosive offensive scheme. Corral led the Rebels to five touchdowns in the 51-35 loss to the Gators. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns. He also scrambled for 50 yards on 13 carries, totaling over 35 fantasy points.
In 2019, the redshirt sophomore had an up-and-down campaign. He played in ten games and passed for 1,362 yards and six touchdowns while adding 135 on the ground.
Corral clearly made giants steps forward in the offseason, and his improvement showed against Florida. “I wasn’t successful last year. Why? That’s what I was asking myself: What wasn’t working and what did I do wrong? It all came down to my work ethic there. It takes a lot of sacrifices when you realize you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I think I’ve taken a big leap from last year to this year as far as that goes,” Corral said in August (clarionledger.com).
The Rebels’ dual-threat signal-caller provides a terrific option this week for CFF owners who need a starting quarterback in lineups.
Shai Werts, Georgia Southern at UL-Monroe: O/U 49 & Georgia Southern -20
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 25%
Over the past three seasons, Shai Werts has provided electrifying (and fantasy-worthy) performances for the Eagles. In 2018, the redshirt senior rushed for 908 yards and scored 15 times. He manufactured seven 20-point performances, including two 30-point outings.
Last year, Werts scrambled for 733 yards and crossed the finish line five times. Against Arkansas State, he produced a career-best 41.8 fantasy points with 151 yards rushing, 175 yards passing and four total touchdowns.
In the first two games this year, Werts posted 28.1 and 18.9 fantasy points while totaling three touchdowns, passing for 308 yards and running for 187 yards. The numbers are even more impressive when considering that Georgia Southern had a COVID-19 outbreak, and 33 players were inactive against Campbell on September 12.
The matchup foreshadows a huge outing for Werts in Georgia Southern’s option offense against UL-Monroe. The Warhawks are winless in three games, allowing 263 yards per game and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Werts is likely available in many leagues and a stupendous spot starter this weekend in CFF lineups.
Skylar Thompson, Kansas State vs. Texas Tech: O/U 64 & Kansas State -1.5
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 59%
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina vs. Arkansas State: O/U 64.5 & Coastal Carolina +3
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 38%
Twitter on Fire!
Who Ya Got at QB?
- Max Duggan, TCU: 34.7%
- Zach Smith, Tulsa: 11.1%
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State: 44.4%
- Other, post below: 9.7%
“Kansas State QB Skylar Thompson has had the first & third-highest passing yard totals of his career the past two games…” @FBSFantasyFoot
“Hacksaw Max Dugan. He is a post-hype sleeper. Very rare in these parts.” @aceholesrule
Vincent Davis, Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina State: O/U 46.5 & Pittsburgh -14
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 18%
After defeating Louisville, the Panthers have opened the season with three consecutive victories. Last year, the Panthers lacked punch on the ground and coach Pat Narduzzi sought an improved running game in 2020. Who would come to the forefront in the backfield?
It appears that Vincent Davis is the difference-maker. At 5’8” and 175-pounds, he does not profile as a prototypical bell-cow runner. Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh coaching staff trusts the sophomore to carry the mail in 2020.
He leads the team in carries (42) and rushing yards (156) after exploding for two gains over 20 yards against the Cardinals last week. He is also tied for the team lead with two rushing touchdowns and a capable pass catcher with seven receptions for 64 yards.
His teammates are also eager to give Davis the ball. “Vince is one of the toughest guys on the team. He prides himself on that. He’s a smaller guy, but it takes two or three to bring him down. He’s a guy I love playing with, a guy who plays full tilt.” Pitt captain and quarterback Kenny Pickett said after the Louisville game (post-gazette.com).
Davis, a three-star prospect and Floridian, was rated as the nation’s No. 32 running back and Florida’s No. 78 overall prospect by Rivals in 2018. As a true freshman last year, he paced the team in yards per carry with a 5.1 average and finished second with 314 yards rushing.
Senior A.J. Davis suffered an injury against Louisville, and the backfield lacks experienced options. Pittsburgh possesses an alluring opponent to exploit on the ground, and Davis warrants more touches and an increased workload this week.
Oscar Adaway, III, North Texas vs. Southern Mississippi: O/U 72 & North Texas -1.5
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 34%
Often, I begin my research for Surreptitious Starters with the highest Over/Under games on the upcoming docket. Las Vegas projects 72 points will be scored in the Southern Mississippi-North Texas contest, and I immediately looked into the backfield of the favored home team.
A redshirt freshman, Oscar Adaway, III has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games to open the season. He rushed for 118 against Houston Baptist and totaled 104 versus SMU two weeks ago. He has averaged 8.8 ypc. and scored two touchdowns to open the 2020 season.
“He goes out there, runs hard and gets his pads down low. He’s a big guy who is powerful enough to run through you and athletic enough to run around you. A lot of it is his mindset. He has confidence. You see his passion when he is running the ball.” coach Seth Littrell stated (dentonrc.com).
Shrewd CFF managers are running to their waiver wires to see if Adaway is available. A three-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports, Adaway’s matchup is enticing, and he should be inserted into CFF lineups on Saturday.
Rodrigues Clark, Memphis at SMU: O/U 74.5 & SMU +2.5
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 39%
J.D. King, Georgia Southern at UL-Monroe: O/U 49.5 & Georgia Southern -20
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 35%
Twitter on Fire!
Who Ya Got at RB?
- Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech: 10%
- Leddie Brown, West Virginia: 20%
- Ulysses Bentley, SMU: 67.5%
- Other, post below: 2.5%
“Ulysses Bentley, the guy can go the distance every time he touches the ball. This weekend’s game vs. Memphis will be a track meet.” @JustinNottingh6
“The world is awake on Bentley! Driving the Bentley is the best choice.” @aceholesrule
JaVonta Payton, Mississippi State vs. Arkansas: O/U 69 & Miss. St. -18
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 12%
In the Waiver Wire Gemstones column on Tuesday, I highlighted Mississippi State receiver Osirus Mitchel as a pickup, and CFF managers swelled roster trusteeship to 59% in leagues. However, his teammate, JaVonta Payton, remains available in over 85% of leagues.
Coming of out of high school, Payton was a three-star recruit from Nashville, Tennessee. Afterward, he enrolled at Northwest Mississippi Community College and snagged 67 passes for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns. After two years on campus, ESPN ranked Payton as a four-star and top-ranked JUCO receiver.
Last year, he started two games for the Bulldogs and saw significant action on special teams. He led Mississippi State with 15 tackles on special teams and in yards per receptions at 16.3 on nine catches.
Against LSU, the 6’1” and 180-pounder caught six passes for 122 yards on 10 targets, yet has been largely overlooked by CFF diehards this week. Starting receivers in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense are worth acquiring, and Payton can be incorporated into lineups with confidence this weekend.
Jarrin Pierce, Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky: O/U 53 & WKU -7.0
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 6%
Throughout the offseason, CFF Experts, including myself, touted QB Asher O’Hara as a possible fantasy star. Unfortunately, the Blue Raiders and O’Hara have started the season terribly at 0-3, and many CFF aficionados have likely ignored the roster for viable starters.
When I looked at the target leaders in college football, Jarrin Pierce popped off the stat sheet. Two weeks ago, Pierce garnered the most targets in the nation with 15, and last week, he ranked eighth with 12 passes. Over the past two weeks, only UCF WR Marlon Williams has earned more targets (30) than Pierce (27).
A JUCO transfer, the redshirt senior played at College of the Canyons in California and named to Second Team All-SCFA as a freshman and sophomore. In 2018, he corralled 52 passes for 770 yards and five touchdowns. In 2020, Pierce has logged 22 catches for 221 yards. At 5’11” and 190-pounds, he has been targeted 10.3 times per game and averaged 7.1 yards per target.
Middle Tennessee hosts Western Kentucky and is a seven-point underdog, which foreshadows 4th quarter passing for O’Hara and the aerial assault. The Hilltoppers are ranked 56th against opposing WRs, allowing 29.5 fantasy points to the position. There is no reason to think that Pierce will not be heavily involved in the passing game, and likely to score his first touchdown of the crusade.
Josh Ali, Kentucky vs. Mississippi: O/U 61.5 & Kentucky -6
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 2%
KeSean Carter, Texas Tech at Kansas State: O/U 64 & Kansas State -1.5
Fantrax Ownership Percentage: 27%
Twitter on Fire!
Who Ya Got at wide receiver in the SEC?
- JaVonta Payton, Mississippi State: 31.9%
- Trevon Grimes, Florida: 10.6%
- Elijah Moore, Mississippi: 53.2%
- Other, post below: 4.3%
“I like RJ Sneed of Baylor.” @Ofc_Dibble
“Elijah Moore is hooked up to the Lane Train, ALL ABOARD!!!!” @JustinNottingh6
“I am alllllllll about Elijah Moore. So many looks and targets.” @aceholesrule
I love to play CFB Cash Games on DraftKings and will provide a Fantastic Four of options to anchor your roster construction each week on the Saturday main slate.
Last Week’s Fantastic Four: 75.7 points scored
If you found these college fantasy football sleepers helpful, then you’ll definitely want to check out this week’s waiver wire column and follow John Laub on Twitter!
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