Opportunity is paramount in fantasy football. Whether it’s redraft, dynasty, or devy, getting an idea of how changing situations may alter the distribution of playing time and production in the upcoming season is important. Now is the time of the year to identify players looking at expanded roles, particularly in devy formats where getting an early jump can pay major dividends.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be going through each Power Five conference highlighting skill position players that could see additional opportunity due to vacated production. To be clear, not all of these options will be top-tier devy assets. But regardless, each one is on track to see a bump in opportunity which could result in an increase in fantasy value.
Let’s get started with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jawon Pass, Louisville
Pass has the unenviable task of replacing all-world everything Lamar Jackson. However, he does have an intriguing skill-set that should fit nicely in Bobby Petrino’s offensive scheme. The 6-foot-4-inch, 231-pound sophomore dominated in the spring game and has a solid recruiting pedigree. He also has access to a dynamic group of wide receivers including Jaylen Smith, Seth Dawkins, and Dez Fitzpatrick. Pass is nowhere near the athlete Jackson is, but then again, hardly anyone is. He’s an intriguing prospect that could rise in a fantasy-friendly offensive system.
Devin Leary, N.C. State
Ryan Finley enters this season as the unquestioned starting QB for the Wolfpack, but Leary is in solid position to take over in the short-term. He has decent size at 6 feet 2 inches and is expected to take over the starting gig by 2019. He was a favorite of SB Nation’s Bud Elliott during the 2017 Elite 11 QB Camp where scouts praised his accuracy. Ultimately, he was awarded the highest grade among all camp participants. Few freshman QBs can confidently be counted on as devy assets, but Leary is one that is worth monitoring.
Colin Wilson/Dae Williams, Louisville
Jackson accounted for 50 percent of Louisville’s rushing production last season, so there’s ample opportunity for the returning running backs to pick up whatever isn’t absorbed by Pass. The problem is, we’re likely headed for a running-back-by-committee situation. At 231 pounds, Colin Wilson has the pedigree while Dae Williams is the team’s top returning RB from a season ago. If injury or performance pushes one of these two into a lead-back role, we should expect solid production in an offense that should remain prolific even with the change at QB.
Ricky Person Jr., N.C. State
With Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels off to the NFL, N.C. State will need to replace 65 percent of last season’s rushing production. Rising senior Reggie Gallaspy II is set to inherit a large workload, but keep an eye on true freshman Ricky Person Jr. The 6-foot-1, 212 pound North Carolina native ranked 85th overall in the 2018 class according to Rivals and could push for early playing time.
Tee Higgins, Clemson
The WR1 spot in Clemson’s offense has proven to be extremely fruitful for fantasy owners with Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Martavis Bryant as the primary examples. Rising sophomore Tee Higgins appears to be next to occupy the role. At 6 feet 4 inches and 200 pounds, Higgins was the star of the team’s spring game showing tremendous chemistry with incoming freshman — and potential starter — QB Trevor Lawrence. He’ll be competing with a deep group of WRs including Amari Rodgers, Trevion Thompson, Justyn Ross, and Derion Kendrick, as he looks to improve on last season’s 0.11 Dominator Rating. He could easily become a household name by the end of 2018.
Jeff Thomas, Miami (FL)
Ahmmon Richards gets most of the attention among the Hurricanes’ WRs but rising sophomore Jeff Thomas could be on the verge of a breakout season. His 0.10 Dominator Rating as a freshman last season is underwhelming but he did average 12.5 yards per target and was a solid contributor in the return game, which we know is important when evaluating college prospects. Thomas is undersized at 5 feet 10 inches and 175 pounds, but possesses blazing speed. If Miami’s QB play improves from a season ago, Thomas should flourish as a complement to Richards.