With Fall Camps wrapping up and the season set to kick off on Thursday, teams began releasing their two-deep depth charts on Monday. Let’s take a look at what freshmen could have a fantasy impact not only this season, but in the years to come.
- Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville – Although Will Gardner was named the starter, Bonnafon has impressed head coach Bobby Petrino enough that he is likely to see a few series during Louisville’s season opener on Monday night against Miami. So much so that Petrino has even considered a rotation similar to what he used in his first go around with Louisville when he had Stefan LeFors and Brian Brohm. Bonnafon’s running ability (Ran for 18 touchdowns as a high school senior) gives Louisville a different dimension and threat to the traditional pocket passer Gardner. Fantasy owners will definitely want to keep tabs on this situation as the season goes on.
- DeShaun Watson, Clemson – Considered by many recruiting outlets as the number one overall senior quarterback in high school last season, Watson has not disappointed since landing on campus. Head coach Dabo Swinney named senior Cole Stoudt the starter but he knows that Watson is the future and will give him plenty of playing time this season to get him prepared. A quote from Swinney after one practice regarding Watson: “He’s not going to be just a situational guy. When he plays, we can call anything. There is nothing that we feel he can’t do. He’s not a package guy. He’s not a short yardage guy. He’s not a bring him in only on this side of the field. He’s a guy that we have to get some experience.” – (Via Tony Crumpton of Tigernet.com)
- Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL) – The four star prospect will be the first true freshman to start under center for Miami since Jacory Harris in 2008. Kaaya beat out the old veteran Jake Heaps with his poise, ability to make all the throws and knowledge of the playbook. Kaaya will have a steep learning curve to start out, with road games at Louisville and Nebraska in September. But he has plenty of upside in the coming seasons for fantasy owners as Miami never lacks for impact skill position players. Now is the time to grab him if he is still available in your league.
- Royce Freeman, Oregon – When Oregon released its depth chart on Monday it backed up all the hype we have been hearing for the past month regarding Freeman. And that is that he is already really good. The freshman has come in and made the race to start at running back a three-way competition between himself, Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall. The 6-foot-0, 229 pound Freeman was already physically gifted and he has transferred that to the field. A quote from Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell, who has been with the university for 31 years: “I think he is going to be a really, really special guy” – (Via Jason quick of OregonLive.com). Regardless of who starts the season opener against South Dakota, Freeman is going to get plenty of run this season and be a top fantasy option for the next couple of years.
- Nick Chubb, Georgia – Chubb has created quite the buzz during Georgia’s fall camp, check this video of him blowing up a teammate during a blocking drill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaTAyzPrqAc He’s been a leading rusher during some of the scrimmages and has showcased his toughness, physicality and game-breaking ability. Now you would think with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall slated to get most of the work, Chubb would be a redshirt candidate. Head coach Mark Richt has already stated there would be no redshirt and that he along with fellow freshman phenom Sony Michel will both get work in the season opener against Clemson. Gurley is surely going to bolt to the NFL after this season and open the door next spring for Chubb to be the starter. Dynasty owners would have been wise to draft Chubb, for those who are in keeper leagues Chubb is a must own.
- Kalen Ballage/Demario Richard, Arizona State – This duo is the future of Sun Devil offense. Ballage stands at a physically imposing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds and runs a sub-4.40 40-yard dash. He has been very impressive during fall camp, so much so that head coach Todd Graham said he was the most impressive freshmen running back he has ever seen. Bold statement from the head coach. Ballage brings a lot to the table and his versatility will be used in the passing and run game as well as special teams. But his power and speed will be best utilized best when he lines up in the backfield and allows Graham to split rising star D.J. Foster out wide, giving opposing defense’s headaches. Richard, another highly touted prospect from California is your more prototypical running back at 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds. He also brings a versatile skill set and head coach Todd Graham has already said he will use him in the slot to take advantage of his talents as a receiver. Although Graham has stated that D.J. Foster will be the centerpiece of his offense, both Ballage and Richard were listed on the two-deep depth chart and will see the field plenty this season. Fantasy owners should invest in them now.
- Allen Lazard, Iowa State – Lazard was arguably the biggest recruit last year in the state of Iowa and he chose the Cyclones over Stanford, Nebraska and Notre Dame to name a few. At 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds Lazard is a matchup nightmare for opposing cornerbacks. In just his second week of fall practice he was promoted to playing with the second team offense and sprinkled in a little work with the first team. Wide receiver is one position on the team where the Cyclones are loaded. They return last year’s leading receiver Quenton Bundrage along with Dondre Daley, P.J. Harris, Tad Ecby and D’Vario Montgomery. Lazard was listed second behind starter Quenton Bundrage on the depth chart that was released on Monday. Head coach Paul Rhoads stated that Lazard will see the field in the opener against North Dakota State and will likely get some targets. I believe Lazard’s role in the offense will only increase as the season goes on and fantasy owners would be smart to stash him now before the real hype begins next season.
- Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech – In an offense looking for playmakers, Ford has stepped up and made the most of his opportunity. Ford was the star of last Friday’s scrimmage catching four passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He and All-American cornerback Kendall Fuller have had their share of battles during camp, which has only made Ford better. At a recent press conference head coach Frank Beamer compared Ford to former Hokie and Green Bay Packer standout Antonio Freeman. High praise from coach Beamer. While Ford is not a must own player right now, fantasy owners should monitor his development and role in the offense as the season goes on.
- KD Cannon, Baylor – Baylor is quickly becoming the new “Wide Receiver U” as it has produced some tremendous talent over past several seasons. Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams all put outstanding numbers at Baylor and have been impact players at the NFL level. Antwan Goodley appears to be the next one to carry that mantle this season, but freshman KD Cannon is also waiting in the wings. Cannon was the 34th ranked player nationally by Rivals.com for the class of 2014 and has lived up to that ranking thus far. During fall camp Cannon has showcased his blazing speed and soft hands. An injury to projected starter Clay Fuller has really opened the door for Cannon to contribute this fall for Baylor. Baylor’s offense is always a fantasy goldmine and Cannon will be a major part of it going forward.
Others To Keep An Eye On
- Brandon Harris – QB – LSU
- Kyle Allen – QB – Texas A & M
- William Crest – QB – West Virginia
- Madre London – RB – Michigan State
- Taiwan Deal – RB – Wisconsin
- Corey Avery – RB – Kansas
- Dorian Baker – WR – Kentucky
- Simmie Cobbs – WR – Indiana
- Melvin Holland Jr. – WR – Minnesota
Got a College Fantasy Football question? Or just want to talk football in general? Give me a shout on Twitter @HaitianKid79