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There is nothing like MACtion. A Tuesday night game between Toledo and Akron hits different during the college football season. Our preview of the MAC East highlights some of the players in these matchups that are incredibly fun but also provide fantasy upside. For this preview, players on each team are broken out into four categories:
- Fantasy Relevant
- Roster Fillers
- Avoids at ADP
All teams are listed in alphabetical order.
I like the Zips heading into the 2022 season – they could surprise in the MAC. New head coach Joe Moorhead is a massive coup for the program as they look to climb out of the basement of the MAC. The offense will be rush heavy but features a QB who can do everything in DJ Irons. Last year, he competed with Zach Gibson for playing time but he should be the full-time starter this year. In his starts, he rushed for 296 yards in six games but if you exclude matchups where the Zips could never compete (Ohio State and Auburn), he rushed for 281 yards in four contests on 69 attempts. He has a rushing floor each week and can provide adequate passing numbers in good matchups.
The lead RB in a Joe Moorhead offense has been money the last few years. Both Travis Dye (Oregon) and Kylin Hill (Mississippi State) posted monster seasons under Moorhead so there’s a reason for optimism this year. However, diagnosing who the lead back presents a challenge. Incumbent Jonzell Norrils should operate as the primary RB to start. He was the most efficient RB for the Zips last year with a 118-573-3 rushing line and 17 receptions.
Norrils’ primary competition comes in the form of transfer Cam Wiley. Although an athletic player, he failed to see the field in Minnesota and has only 43 career carries. He’s more upside than anything and when he did play, he was the least efficient back on the team with -4.4 yards per carry over team. Overall, if the high-usage trend continues for Moorhead, one of these backs could drastically outperform expectations.
In deep leagues, tight end Tristian Brank is worth a look. Last year he had a 25-269-3 receiving line but returns as the leading receiver. Both Konata Mumpfield and Michael Mathison transferred from the program and while they did bring in two transfers to replace them, Brank is likely the only starter in the receiving game that has any chemistry with QB Irons. He’s a stash-worthy candidate who could see a big uptick in production this year.
Avoid At Cost
None. Akron doesn’t have any players being drafted in the top 20 rounds of drafts currently.
For now, it’s hard to say any Bowling Green player should qualify as fantasy relevant.
While fantasy relevancy (i.e. a starter for your college team) eludes most Bowling Green players, for now, that doesn’t mean the potential isn’t there. Starting with RB1 Terion Stewart, the offense should rebound in 2022. Stewart, coming off a massive three-game freshman season where he rushed for 295 yards on 7.9 yards per attempt, failed to live up to expectations in 2021. He still led the team in rushing but split work with Nick Mosley and Jaison Paterson. I think injuries played a big role here and heading into 2022, there should be optimism around Stewart as the most efficient back, and given his size (5’9”, 215lbs), he can operate as the workhorse for the Falcons.
Stewart also gets the benefit of a massively improved offensive line. They return two quality starters and added three immediate impact players along the line. Right tackle Marcelo Mendiola should solidify the tackle spot despite being squeezed out at Cincinnati. Overall, the offensive line, which ranked 117th in line yards, should fuel a positive turnaround.
At receiver, Tyrone Broden should be the primary outside weapon again this season. He has chemistry with quarterback Matt McDonald and has weekly upside. Broden is the most explosive player for the Falcons, evidenced by his 16.6 yards per reception, and operates as a true alpha at 6’4”. Over the last five weeks in 2021, Broden averaged 15 points per game with two 30-point performances in the conference. With an improved offense, Broden could take a step forward as a truly dominant force at receiver.
Tight end Christian Sims might be the best player on this offense in 2022. Sims, coming off an All-Conference selection, looks to improve on his 2021 numbers. His 16% receiving yardage share was above-average for a tight end but his 99.2 fantasy points left much to be desired in 10 games. He’ll be involved again this year, but can he break through for a top-12 season?
I’m aware that I’m maybe too excited for the Bowling Green offense. There’s a lot to like here with returning production and offensive improvements at key positions. If the offense does improve, this might make QB Matt McDonald valuable in 2022. Based on his production last year, McDonald underperformed touchdown expectation by six and has 20+ potential this year. I don’t know what his true week-to-week upside is but in good matchups, he can provide value.
In deep leagues, receiver Austin Osborne is worth a dart throw. He led the team in receptions last year and figures to do so again this year. Despite his 8.5 yards per reception, Osborne still operates as the favored target for McDonald and as I’ve reiterated – he improves if the offense does.
Avoid At Cost
Made you Look! Did y’all think Bowling Green players are being drafted highly?
Buffalo has been a factory for prolific rushers, and I project the same in 2022. The lead back should be Mike Washington, the best size-adjusted athlete in the room, Washington operated as the RB1 in Buffalo’s spring game and even caught a touchdown. He played a limited role last year with only 23 carries for 132 yards for 5.8 yards per carry. In the limited sample, he led the team in yards per carry even with Kevin Marks, Dylan McDuffie, and Ron Cook seeing more work. There’s been hype around second-year back Al-jay Henderson, who had three touchdowns in the spring game. He’s smaller than Mike Washington at 195lbs but should see carries this year. I don’t think he can jump Washington based on the spring reports.
All offseason I opined for a transfer QB to join the Bulls. That didn’t materialize and we ended up with a murky room with possibly Casey Case leading the way. Cole Snyder and Matt Myers are also potential starters but all three are of similar quality. Case might have the best raw talent at the position with an above-average arm and came in as a dual-threat quarterback according to 247. In spring, he also showed some willingness to push the ball downfield. Unfortunately, none of these QBs are not fantasy targets but can provide production for skill players.
Receiver Quian Williams will operate as the lead option in this group again in 2022. Last year, Williams posted a 32% receiving yard market share for the Bulls en route to a 64-835-2 season. He should catch more receiving touchdowns due to variance but if we see better quarterback play this year, he could top 1,000 yards. The return of Jovany Ruiz from injury could complicate this but they play different roles. Williams operates on the outside and Ruiz is a slot option. The real kicker for Williams will be how Indiana transfer Justin Marshall fits into this offense. The Indiana transfer was heavily involved in spring, being the second-leading receiver in the spring game (behind Williams).
Some of the players above are worth stashing in leagues. First, Henderson makes this list simply based on his dynamic spring game performance. I prefer Mike Washington, but it’s not out of the question that Henderson siphons work from Washington.
I also think a receiver could emerge behind Williams if the offense proves to be more efficient compared to the expectation. Ruiz is a slot weapon who in his only healthy game, posted a 7-109-1 stat line. Assuming he returns from his ACL tear healthy, it’s not out of the question he could be the most targeted option. He’s only with targeting in *very* deep leagues but don’t discount upside.
Avoid At Cost
HA! Got you again.
Despite their consistently brutal non-conference schedule, Kent State probably has the most fantasy-relevant roster in the MAC conference. Starting with QB Collin Schlee who takes over for NFL-bound Dustin Crum. Schlee has played limited snaps thus far in his career but when on the field, he’s been incredibly efficient. He averaged 9.9 yards per pass attempt in 2021 and had 20 carries for 127 yards. He’s a bigger QB than Crum but he has legit dual threat upside that gives him a weekly top-12 upside. I’m very excited for Schlee in 2022.
At RB, Marquez Cooper returns as the lead rusher and has massive in-conference upside. As mentioned above, the first three of four games on the schedule set up negative game scripts for Cooper but in conference, it’s smooth sailing. He ranked second in the MAC in rush attempts and in his last ten healthy games, averaged 105 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game. He also had six games over 120 rushing yards, making him valuable in best ball as well. and He’s an undersized back but with the schedule and defensive matchups, that matters less.
Receiver Dante Cephas was the primary option for this offense in 2021 and expects to return to that role this season. Cephas posted a massive 36.2% market share last year en route to an 82-1,240-9 receiving line. Like Cooper, Cephas was more productive in conference matchups averaging 105 receiving yards per contest.
None. I think the Kent State roster is top-heavy in most years and 2022 is no different.
Schlee will likely throw for upwards of 3,000 yards but the distribution will center around Cephas and Ja’Shaun Poke. Poke was the popular target in this offense last season and despite an underwhelming 2021 campaign, he’s worth watching on waivers.
Avoid At Cost
Once again, Kent State players are going late enough in drafts where they’re worth it at their respective prices.
This offense starts and ends with the passing games. The Redhawks ranked 24th in neutral game script pass rate in 2021 and return the same coaching staff this year. Offensive coordinator Eric Koehler wants to pass and with QB Brett Gabbert returning, it’s likely we see another aggressive passing season from this offense. Gabbert averaged 27.1 fantasy points per game last season with three games above 42 fantasy points and above 20 points in all but one matchup. He has a consistently high floor and in conference play – legit week-winning upside.
Gabbert loses Jack Sorenson, his leading receiver over the last two seasons. However, he returns a one-time Penn State transfer Mac Hippenahmmer. He is a personal favorite of mine as he checks so many boxes in this offense. Gabbert is a top-10 QB in average depth of target and Hippenhammer operates as a deep threat speedster with 16.4 yards per reception. He was second on the team in receiving last year with a 48-786-5 line and faces little competition in 2022. Last year, Sorenson had 1,406 yards and ten touchdowns. Hippenhammer can slide into similar usage for Miami that Sorenson had last year. I think he has weekly top-12 upside and can post a quality season.
Realistically, the only two players worth rostering are Gabbert and Hippenhammer.
One player to keep an eye on is the tight end, Jack Coldiron. Not only is that an excellent TE name but he could factor into this offense more this year. In seven starts he posted 16-293-1, an incredibly explosive line for a TE. He only played in seven games last year after redshirting in 2019 and has the upside to outperform his receiving line this year. In his first game of the season, he was one of the most involved players, going 4-67 against a quality Minnesota team. He’s a stash but in deep leagues, he’s a name who can provide some valuable weeks, especially in best ball formats.
Avoid At Cost
This Ohio team has very little fantasy upside. They’re one of the worst teams in the MAC and with an offense ranked 126th in neutral game script pass rate, none of their producers are coming in the passing game. One player worth flagging on waivers is Sieh Bangura. A second-year RB, Bangura should assume the starting role with the departure of De’Montre Tuggle. This offensive line ranked 11th in line yards last year but only returns two starters so it’s an outstanding question for this group. Ultimately, Bangura is worth a shot in deep leagues or keeping an eye on for waivers.
Avoid At Cost