Opportunity is the most important factor to consider when analyzing fantasy football. Whether it’s at the NFL level or in college, the more pass attempts, carries, and targets that a player gets, the better. It’s far from an exact science. But last year’s opportunity reports highlighted the likes of Eno Benjamin, Jalen Reagor, Hakeem Butler, and Miles Sanders as targets in devy leagues set to see a boost in value.
In last year’s set of articles I profiled two or three specific prospects at each position. This year I’m going to take a more holistic look at the opportunity landscape in each power five conference. In doing so I hope to cast a wider net of potential beneficiaries of vacated opportunity. Not every name mentioned here will end up panning out. But each prospect should have a chance to boost their potential draft positions this season and beyond.
Let’s analyze the Pac-12.
To see the other entries in this series, check out the following links:
Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud looks to be the favorite to take over the coveted QB spot in Mike Leach’s air raid offense at Washington State. Just three Cougars’ QBs have been drafted since 2000, none before the sixth round, making Gubrud’s path to NFL relevancy a steep one. But for college fantasy purposes, he’s an easy QB1 assuming he wins the job. Manny Wilkins is out at Arizona State and the race to replace him is still ongoing. Junior Dillon Sterling-Cole is the most experienced of the bunch but true freshmen Jayden Daniels, Joey Yellen, and Ethan Long have all taken snaps with the starters this spring. I lean slightly to Daniels given his age, prolific high school career1, and dynamic dual-threat abilities, but there’s plenty of potential in the Sun Devils’ QB room.
Since 2015, Washington Huskies’ fans have only known Jake Browning as their starting QB. There were highs and lows during that time but there’s no doubt his absence will be felt. Georgia transfer and Washington native Jacob Eason is the assumed starter. At 6-foot-6, 228 pounds, he has the “look” that NFL scouts always covet. He also ranks 16th among all QBs in 247 Sports all-time prospect rankings. Eason will have the weapons around him to make a run at draft relevancy. The situation at UCLA is also one to watch. Sophomore Dorian Thompson-Robinson (6.6 adjusted yards per attempt in 8 games last season) is the likely starter assuming Washington transfer Colson Yankoff is forced to sit out this season. Both are gifted athletes who could excel in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Junior RB Salvon Ahmed is poised to take a big jump for the Washington Huskies in 2019. In two seasons as Myles Gaskin’s backup, Ahmed has averaged 6.2 yards per touch with 10 total TDs. He also snagged 34 receptions in 27 games. His elite speed paired with a talented and experienced offensive line and likely workhorse role make him a prime candidate to see a boost in value. At Colorado, redshirt sophomore Alex Fontenot will have every opportunity to seize the starting gig in 2019. I’m banking on his tested explosion (40.9″ vertical) and agility (4.2-second shuttle) from high school translating over in his new role.
Sophomore Christopher Brown Jr. should see more work for California with Patrick Laird gone. Brown exhibited solid agility and strength as a high school senior and should handle the majority of carries for the Golden Bears’ at 230 pounds. Sophomore Max Borghi is popular in the devy community as evidenced by his current ADP 2. And as the heir apparent to James Williams‘ dual-threat role, it makes a ton of sense. A high school track star, Borghi will also benefit from an offensive line that returns four starters from last season.
Senior Zack Moss (Utah) and junior Eno Benjamin (Arizona State) are two entrenched starters with access to 100+ vacant carries. Benjamin is a top-five talent in the 2020 class while Moss could be underrated at this point. And at USC, I’m interested to see if junior Stephen Carr can make a comeback. Injuries have held him back but he’s shown flashes of brilliance.
California’s QB situation is dicey, making it tough to truly recommend any pass catcher. Michigan transfer Kekoa Crawford could emerge as the WR1 but I’m not going out of my way to acquire anyone here. At Stanford, however, it’s a different story. Junior tight end Colby Parkinson has all the makings of a first-round pick: Size (6-foot-7, 240 pounds), production (39-582-11 in 19 games), and athleticism. With Kaden Smith and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside gone, don’t be surprised if he dominates inside the red zone. Former top-150 recruit Osiris St. Brown could also show out. The junior WR has just eight receptions in seven career games but has shown a penchant for making big plays (25.5 yards per reception).
In Kevin Sumlin’s air raid offense piloted by Khalil Tate, Stanley Berryhill III could flourish at Arizona in the absence of slot WRs Shun Brown (86 targets) and Tony Ellison (52 targets). Beat writers have pegged Penn State transfer Juwan Johnson as a critical piece of Oregon’s offense in 2019. While he could be useful in college fantasy leagues, his age (22.8) and career production (0.18 msREYDS) make it difficult to consider him for devy/dynasty purposes.
The nature of Washington State’s offense makes it difficult for any single WR to emerge. But senior Dezmon Patmon and junior Tay Martin are the prime candidates to do so this season. No one on Arizona State’s roster can truly replace N’Keal Harry but senior Brandon Aiyuk should be first in line. The former JUCO standout made the most of his opportunity (47 targets) last season averaging 10.1 yards per target.
Image Credit: Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Eno Benjamin.
NFL subscribers, the time to get into PGA DFS is now! For a limited time, upgrade your subscription by adding a 2019 Rest of Season PGA subscription at a $10 discount. Click here for details!