Who’s stock is on the rise for CFF 2023? Let’s discuss some guys that have seen an increase in their CFF value since the end of the regular season due to various reasons that may include coaching changes, transfers, NFL declarations, etc.
Brennan Armstrong, North Carolina State
Armstrong was someone we strongly urged owners to draft with caution heading into 2022, given the coaching change from Mendenhall and Anae to Tony Elliot. Sure enough, his fantasy output dropped from 33 ppg in 2021 to 16 ppg in 2022. But, as Peaches and Herb sang in 1978, “Reunited and it feels so good!“. Armstrong hit the transfer portal and found his way back into the open arms of new Wolfpack OC Robert Anae. There are still some questions about the WR room and a young, talented MJ Morris potentially nipping at his heels, but Armstrong knows this offense inside and out. It’s unlikely he reaches the QB2 status he achieved in 2021, but a serious uptick in production from 2022 can be expected.
Cade Klubnik, Clemson
The former five-star and second-year Tigers QB had a couple of things work out in his favor this offseason. First, DJ Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State, thus officially clearing the path for Klubnik. He was going to be the QB1 in Clemson either way, but now he doesn’t have to worry about an experienced option behind him should he struggle early. Second, and more importantly, TCU OC and Broyles Award winner Garrett Riley was hired at Clemson. Riley has coached three different QBs in the last three seasons, and all of them finished inside the top 20 QBs for CFF. Max Duggan, Tanner Mordecai, and Shane Buechele all lack the tools and upside of Klubnik. He is now in a far more QB-friendly offense than what Clemson has seen the last couple of seasons.
Malik Hornsby, Texas State
Hornsby is someone that was identified as a dynasty target way back in early November when he was the QB3 for Arkansas. His incredible upside as a runner with elite track speed that translates well to the field is what made him appealing if he transferred to the right landing spot. Once he hit the portal and landed at Texas State, it was full on Michael Scott .gif – “Oh my God!… Okay, it’s happening!” Hornsby drops down a level in competition from the SEC to the Sun Belt and will be coached by GJ Kinne, recently hired from Incarnate Word. For those unfamiliar with Kinne, he runs a fun-and-gun offense where his QB, Lindsey Scott, had 4686/60/8 passing with 132/712/11 rushing in 2022 alone. There is still some risk that maybe Hornsby is an athlete dressed up as a QB, but the ceiling is nuclear if Kinne can unlock him.
Jo’Quavious Marks, Mississippi State
Similar to Klubnik, Marks finds his way onto this list because of a coaching change and attrition to the room. Kevin Barbay takes over as OC with the passing of the late, great Mike Leach (RIP). Barbay’s App State offense ranked 27th in neutral game script rush rate; a stat that Miss State was ranked 130th. His time at CMU produced Lew Nichols and his amazing 341/1848/16 rush line in 2021. In his 2019 season, Jonathan Ward went for 1,100 and 15, and Kobe Lewis 1,000 and 12. Fortunately for Marks and his receiving prowess, Barbay isn’t afraid to utilize his RBs in the passing game too. Lastly, an opportunity for Marks to monopolize this backfield increased dramatically when his running mate, Dillon Johnson, transferred to UW.
Ky Thomas, Kent State
Thomas had a strong redshirt freshman season at Minnesota, where ran for 824 yards and six TDs in relief of injured Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts. Outproducing Bucky Irving that year looks even more impressive now that we have seen what Irving has done at Oregon. After a wasted season playing second fiddle to Devin Neal at Kansas, he reunites with his former Gopher RB coach, Kenni Burns, who is now the head man at Kent State. Burns has an incredible track record producing monster CFF RBs during his time at Minnesota. Thomas is clearly the most talented back in the room, with Marquez Cooper transferring over to Ball State. It should be wheels up for the new Golden Flash… as long as he is granted a waiver for immediate eligibility, given he’s transferred twice now without graduating.
Treshaun Ward, Kansas State
Ward was part of a three-headed backfield at Florida State but looked for greener pastures and put down roots in the Little Apple. Ward was overshadowed by Jashaun Corbin and Trey Benson in the last couple of years at FSU, but he is certainly no slouch. He has shown game-breaking ability with his 6.6 ypc over his career and ranked fifth nationally in breakaway % in 2022. If opportunity is what Ward seeks, then he chose wisely. Despite his diminutive stature, Deuce Vaughn’s 619 touches over the last two seasons were second in the country over that span. DJ Giddens was serviceable in relief of Vaughn, but Ward was handpicked by this staff. Ward won’t match Vaughn’s incredible production, but he’s in a much better situation to reach his potential now.
Luther Burden, Missouri
It’s fair to say that Burden, the former five-star WR, had a good, but not quite great, freshman season with 63 touches for 463 yards and eight touchdowns. He was outpaced by Dom Lovett and struggled with consistency with play-calling that was, quite frankly, a burden to Luther Burden. Coach Drink is handing over the play-calling duties to former Fresno State OC Kirby Moore (yes, the brother Kellen). During his time as OC (1 season) and WRs coach (6 seasons), Moore’s top receiver averaged 84 touches, 995 yards, and seven TDs, resulting in fantasy studs like KeeSean Johnson and Jalen Cropper. As a play-caller, Moore demonstrated creative ways to get the ball to Cropper and Remigio that will certainly benefit a dynamic playmaker like Burden. Additionally, Lovett transferred out to Georgia, making Burden the clear alpha in the room. The QB addition of Jake Garcia also has the potential to help the Tiger’s pass game.
Jalil Farooq, Oklahoma
Farooq smashed the easy button this offseason and found his way onto this list without really doing anything. Marvin Mims, somewhat surprisingly, declared for the draft, OC Jeff Lebby turned down Alabama’s OC offer, and QB Dillon Gabriel decided to return. The Sooners struck out on multiple key WR transfer offers (Dom Lovett, Dante Cephas, Kaden Prather, J Michael Sturdivant). OU eventually filled their open WR coach job with Emmitt Jones, one of the more proven and respected coaches at his position. All this adds up to a potential breakout season for Farooq, who is clearly the most talented receiver in Norman.
Adam Randall, Clemson
“It’s that damn Randall! He’s so hot right now!” – Jacobim Mugatu (Zoolander), spring 2022.
Few freshmen generated more buzz among the CFB spring junkies than Adam Randall. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in April. But in typical Clemson fashion, he returned to the field just over five months later. 2023 should see a fully healthy Randall more confident with his ability to explode out of cuts. He’s a lock to see increased snaps with the departures of Joe Ngata, EJ Williams, and Dacari Collins. New OC Garrett Riley does a far better job of scheming receivers open than previous Clemson OCs. Similar to Lincoln Riley’s system, Randall’s boundary position has been the featured spot in each of Garrett’s three seasons as a play-caller. Our C2C Athletic Comparison Tool has George Pickens as a comp for Randall, which sounds really fun in this offense.