As a follow-up to our Stock-Up Report, here we will highlight the other side of the coin for CFF 2023. Let’s discuss some guys that have seen a decrease in their CFF value since the end of the regular season due to various reasons that may include coaching changes, transfers, injuries, etc
Drake Maye, North Carolina
The UNC offense as a whole is undergoing some significant changes this offseason, with previous OC Phil Longo taking his highly successful CFF system to Wisconsin. UNC chose to replace Longo with Chip Lindsey, a historically less productive OC. Additionally, the loss of Josh Downs and Antoine Green, with their combined 1,800+ yards and 18 TDs, will be challenging to replace. Lastly, the schedule has increased difficulty with the addition of Clemson (in a playoff week) and non-con that includes South Carolina, App State, and Minnesota. There isn’t much of a runway to build up momentum prior to takeoff with a new offensive scheme and new WR room. Maye will remain a high-end producer due to his talent. With the demand the poor Tar Heel defense will place on the offense, duplicating 2022 will be difficult.
Behren Morton, Texas Tech
Morton looked to be everything we had hoped for when he got some midseason starts and performed admirably in this high-octane Zach Kittley offense. But Morton fans everywhere had to pour one out when they heard Tyler Shough elected to use his Covid season and return to Lubbock for 2023. Donovan Smith has transferred to Houston, so it will now be a two-man battle. It is safe to assume Shough will be the week-one starter for his fourth consecutive season. However, when it comes to health, Shough has about as much luck as a bald man that just won a comb. He’s missed half his team’s games over the last three seasons. But his return likely means Morton is no more than a handcuff in redraft. His dynasty owners will be forced to wait another year or another injury to see a return on their investment.
Will Rogers/Mike Wright, Mississippi State
Rogers is back for his fourth season as the Bulldogs starting QB, but unfortunately, he and the rest of the football world will be without the Pirate. Rogers has finished as QB15 and QB35 the last two seasons, with almost 1,300 pass attempts over that stretch. Meanwhile, new MSU OC Kevin Barbay has asked his QBs to throw essentially half the volume of Leach QBs. Barbay comes from the Jim McElwain coaching tree that loves to pound the rock and has never had a top-40 QB in CFF. Rogers will certainly have to improve his efficiency dramatically (6.1 ADOT) or become a factor on the ground to offset the decreased pass volume he is sure to see.
Speaking of being a factor on the ground, Mike Wright joins the Bulldogs QB room by way of Vanderbilt. Clocked at close to 22mph, Wright is an absolutely amazing athlete that could have thrived in the right system and landing spot when he entered the portal. Instead, he stayed in the SEC and landed at a program with an established QB1 and with an OC in Barbay that historically doesn’t feature QBs as part of the run game. A total head-scratcher of a transfer.
Jaydn Ott, Cal
If you drafted Ott, then you have to be happy with the hand you drew. What’s not to love about the RB34 as a true freshman? Well, let’s start with the new OC, Jake Spavital. Here is his RB1’s average stat line in his four-year tenure as head coach at Texas State:
130 carries/ 626 yards/ 4 TD Rushing with 21 rec/ 142 yards/ 0.5 TD Receiving
Honestly, his three seasons prior to that as OC at West Virginia and Cal weren’t much better. He’s had one RB reach 1K rushing (just barely), and none reach double-digit TDs. Additionally, Spavital has never coached Ott but felt the need to immediately upgrade the Bear’s RB room depth with talented players like Byron Cardwell from Oregon and Justin Williams-Thomas from Tennessee. Both of whom were more highly touted than Ott in the recruiting ranks. It’s possible Ott is talented enough to overcome the hand he’s been dealt this offseason, but you are no longer holding pocket rockets.
Camar Wheaton, SMU
Wheaton was a stock-up candidate a year ago after the blue-chip recruit transferred from Alabama to the RB-friendly Rhett Lashlee offense. But, he failed to separate from the likes of Velton Gardner and Tyler Lavine in a 2022 season that saw Wheaton limited by an off-season knee clean-up. So, 2023 should be wheels up now that he’s healthy, right? Not so fast, my friend! SMU had easily the best portal season of any G5 program, and that included the additions of former four-star LJ Johnson from Texas A&M and Jaylan “Rooster” Knighton from Miami. The latter accumulated 841 yards and 11 TDs under Lashlee in 2021, back when Miami was fantasy relevant. Maybe Wheaton breaks out a year later than many expected, but he now has a more talented group of bodies to climb over to get there.
Nakia Watson, Washington State
Watson was lowkey good in 2022 as the RB37 on the season and averaged 24 PPG over the last five weeks after returning from injury. New OC Ben Arbuckle comes over from WKU. While this is great for the passing game, it is a concern for the RB production. Three RBs averaged between five and ten touches per game over his last two seasons, and none scored more than four TDs. Yes, just two years of coaching at the FBS level is a small sample size. Arbuckle stems from a coaching tree that historically lacks RB volume. Much of Watson’s value in 2022 was buoyed by his 13 TDs on less than 175 touches. This generally isn’t sustainable, thus making Watson a prime TD regression candidate for 2023.
Tyrin Smith, Texas A&M
Smith slid in nicely to the WR1 slot role at UTEP following Jacob Cowing’s transfer to Arizona. Smith had a pretty similar stat line going 71/1039/7 despite very underwhelming QB play. But unlike Cowing, who found a very favorable landing spot when he entered the portal, Smith made the puzzling decision to head down the road to College Station. Not only is Smith making a big leap in competition level, but he joins a very established WR room with Evan Stewart, Moose Muhammad, and Ainias Smith all returning. At best, he is WR2, and he is, quite possibly, the WR4. The passing game should see progress in 2023, with Jimbo handing the keys to the Hog over to Petrino. But the WR1 during his five seasons at Louisville still had a meager average stat line of 46/739/5 that generally came from the boundary WR spots.
Ali Jennings, Virginia Tech
Jennings struggled to find success in his first two seasons while at West Virginia but certainly flashed once he dropped down a level in competition to Old Dominion. He finished as WR7 in terms of PPG in 2022 at ODU. That is a pretty impressive feat, given the limitations he had at QB and lack of offensive creativity. A transfer to a more efficient offense had the potential to secure him as a top-tier WR. Instead, he chose VaTech. Neither team excelled passing the ball, but ODU had a higher Pass EPA (.211 vs .126) with a higher neutral game pass rate (51.5% vs 46.8%) as compared to the Hokies and their bottom 15 pass production. Jennings should remain fantasy relevant as his team’s WR1 with Kaleb Smith moving on. His ceiling is likely capped here as returns to P5 competition in a program with an unsettled QB situation.
Myles Price, Texas Tech
Unlike the other WRs mentioned here, Price didn’t transfer to an unfavorable landing spot but saw some interesting changes within the Red Raider WR room. Expectations were high for Price heading into his first season under OC Zach Kittley. Injuries early on and the emergence of fellow slot WR Xavier White seemingly derailed 2022 for Price. He failed to record a single 100+ yard game and didn’t reach double digits in fantasy output in any week after September 24. His bounce-back campaign for 2023 appears to have taken a hit before it even got started, with White announcing plans to use his Covid year to return for another season. Furthermore, Tech added a highly sought-after Austin Peay slot WR transfer, Deandre McCray. We love the potential for the inside WR in a Kittley system due to the historically massive volume. But there are now more cooks in the kitchen than we anticipated at the conclusion of 2022.