I’ve been trying to write this piece weekly because the more experience these players get, the better they’ll be. In basically every aspect of one’s life, the more repetitions a person has doing something, the better they will be at that particular “thing.” It’s very cliche to say but practice makes perfect. Now that the season is here, we can read into statistics, rather than practice reports. Freshmen and sophomore’s aren’t always adjusted to speed, physicality, and schemes to name a few. Most of their potential has hardly been tapped into. Here are some of the underclassmen who caught my eye this past weekend:
QB – Gunner Kiel (Sophomore) Cincinnati – Kiel was the highest rated prostyle quarterback on Rivals in the class of 2012. After a bizarre recruitment where the gunslinger committed to both Indiana and LSU, he eventually ended up at Notre Dame. He redshirted while in South Bend and then decided to transfer to Cincinnati. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Kiel had to sit a season after arriving in Cincy. On Friday, Kiel’s talents were finally displayed at the collegiate level. The sophomore threw for 416 yards and 6 touchdowns in his collegiate debut. His 6 touchdowns set a record for TD passes in an FBS quarterback’s debut. Head coach Tommy Tuberville’s quarterbacks faired well in his last coaching stop at Texas Tech. Gunner very well may be the most talented QB he’s been around. The Bearcat’s success will rely heavily on the right arm of Kiel. Cincinnati also has a fairly favorable schedule in the American Athletic Conference. If your in need of a quarterback, Kiel could be your guy.
QB – Drew Hare (Sophomore) Northern Illinois – Fantasy owners in search of a dual-threat quarterback should look towards Hare’s direction. In his first career start, the sophomore quarterback threw for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns while running for an additional 74 yards and 1 touchdown. Hare could prove to be a poor man’s version of Arizona’s Anu Solomon. Don’t forget what Jordan Lynch was able to accomplish as Northern Illinois’ quarterback last season. Hare’s talent doesn’t quite measure up to that of Lynch’s. But if he’s able to put up a fraction of Lynch’s numbers from a season ago, he could be useful to fantasy owners. Lynch threw for nearly 2,900 yards with 24 touchdowns and compiled 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. Hare is worthy of a roster spot if you have room for him.
RB – Jarvion Franklin (Freshman) Western Michigan – Chance’s are he won’t be on your league’s waiver wire, but if he is, go scoop him now. In his first two collegiate performances, Franklin has proved to be a productive “workhorse”. In his debut against Purdue, the freshman ball carrier had 19 carries for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns. After a bye week, Franklin once again produced great numbers. In Saturday’s 45-33 victory over Idaho, Franklin carried the ball a whopping 33 times for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns. Through his first two games of his young career, Jarvion is averaging 186.5 yards and 3 touchdowns per outing. Don’t expect numbers like that ever week, but his average of 7.2 YPC on 52 carries is an indicator of future production, assuming he continues to see a fair share of carries. Add Franklin as a solid running back option.
RB – Shaun Wilson (Freshman) Duke – What team couldn’t use another big-time playmaker in their offense? Wilson broke out on Saturday, while carrying the ball 12 times for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns. Duke’s week 3 opponent, Kansas has been absolutely terrible this year, so don’t read into the performance too much. I would like to see his workload increased to really justify an addition to fantasy rosters. Duke currently ranks 21st in yards rushing per game in the FBS. Wilson showcased his talents on Saturday, and may become an offensive priority. Due to his small sample size it’s hard to justify anything, but sometimes you need to take gambles. This Duke offense is capable of moving the football, and Wilson could provide fantasy owners with some good value.
RB – Ralph Webb (Freshman) Vanderbilt – Webb has been the lone bright spot on offense for the Commodores this season. Through three games, the freshman has carried the ball 58 times for 281 yards and 1 touchdown. Vandy will have a tough time scoring points in the SEC. The thing I’ve liked about Webb this season, is that his carry and yardage total has increased every game this season. If head coach Derek Mason doesn’t want to be embarrassed in the SEC this season, his best option would be to pound the ball, eat the clock, and keep his defense on the sidelines. Webb is more of a guy to track in deep settings. He does carry value in dynasty formats, but don’t expect the world out of him.
WR – Teldrick Morgan (Sophomore) New Mexico State – This guy should be added in all fantasy formats in my opinion. Through three games, the sophomore wide-receiver has 22 catches for 342 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 22 catches rank him in the top-20 nationally in catches. His 15.5 yards/reception prove he has big play ability. In each of this season’s three games, Morgan has caught a 30+ yard pass. New Mexico State’s defense has had trouble giving up points this season, which always bodes well for the statistics in a teams passing game. Morgan has proved to be the Aggies best and most consistent offensive player. If he’s available, add him with confidence.
WR – Cayleb Jones (Sophomore) Arizona – Coming out of high school, Jones was the 5th rated wide receiver nationwide in the class of 2012. He went on to play at the University of Texas, and eventually decided to transfer to Arizona. Almost everyone in the college fantasy football circles is very high on Rich Rodriguez offenses. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon has had a very nice start to his career, he averaging 311 yards and 2.67 passing touchdowns per game. Who better to capitalize on in fantasy football than the team leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns? In three games, Jones has 16 receptions, for 289 yards, and 3 touchdowns. In his past two games, Jones has 13 catches for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jones is currently owned in only 7% of Fantrax leagues, and has a ton of upside. Definitely worthy of roster consideration.
WR – Roger Lewis (Freshman) Bowling Green – In Saturday’s win over Indiana, Lewis had 16 catches for 149 yards and 1 touchdown. He currently has 30 receptions on the season, for 366 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Lewis continues to see a high number of passes come his way, he could provide great value for fantasy owners. Quarterback, James Knapke and the Bowling Green Falcons threw the ball 73 times on Saturday. If they continue to rely on the pass that much, Lewis is a no-brainer. He’s currently owned in 14% of Fantrax leagues, and definitely deserves roster consideration.
WR – Demarcus Robinson (Sophomore) Florida – In two games this season, Robinson has 21 receptions for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robinson has clearly been Jeff Driskel’s favorite target early on in the season. In the class of 2013, Robinson was ranked as the fifth receiver in the country. His talent level is through the roof, and is clearly the most explosive playmaker in this offense. Florida is making a point to get the ball in his hands. If he continues to see over 10 targets a game, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be highly productive for fantasy owners. Pick him up if your in need of receiver help.
TE – Jake Butt (Sophomore) Michigan – Butt made his season debut on Saturday, as he was out early due to a knee injury. In his season debut, Butt caught 3 passes for 59 yards and 1 touchdown. The sophomore tight-end is a big target at 6’6 and could end up being one of QB Devin Gardner’s favorite targets. Last season as a true-freshman, Butt caught 20 passes for 235 yards and 1 touchdown. Almost all of that production came in the last 4 games of the season. With tight-end being a hard position to find consistent fantasy points, Butt could be a decent option for fantasy owners. Keep an eye on him.
If you have any questions or want to talk football, give me a shout on Twitter @PutBoobieIn