This is my favorite type of article to write because there’s truly nothing better than uncovering a sleeper to help you win a championship in Campus2Canton leagues. Part I of this series detailed a few favorites that you’ve never heard of…but given more news from camps and transfers, it’s time for Part II.
The goal of this article and overall series is to provide names to target in the last 2 to 3 rounds of drafts. While the upside for some players listed could substantial, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that these are truly late-round guys. Dart throws…, but educated dart throws. Given the tread lightly warning, let’s get to some of the favorites.
1. Ty Keyes, QB, Southern Mississippi
Keyes is a fascinating player who has become my favorite last-round QB in recent weeks. Keyes was a 3-star QB in the 2021 class and had multiple Power 5 conference offers, including Auburn, Oregon, and Nebraska. He was no slouch despite being the 40th QB in his class, according to the 247 composite. This player had legit interest from major programs and has the athleticism to justify it.
In high school, Keyes accumulated 14,565 yards over four years as a starter with a 155-27 touchdown-to-interception ratio en route to winning the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year in both 2019 and 2020. Specifically, in his senior season, Keyes threw for 2,546 yards, 30 touchdowns, and three interceptions on only 202 passing attempts. Admittedly, this was against weak competition, but his elite efficiency and 67% completion percentage tell a story of a QB with passing upside. The reason Keyes makes this list is due to his rushing ability. In his final season in high school, Keyes posted 560 rushing yards on 41 attempts, good for 13.7 YPC at the QB position. Keyes is a legitimately dynamic playmaker, evidenced both by statistics and his impressive offer list.
Currently, Keyes is impressing so far in spring for Southern Miss. The highlight of these practices was his performance in their annual spring game, in which he started as the QB1. Head Coach Will Hall noted Keyes’ improvement throughout spring, “He’s always been super talented, but now he’s just starting to get it.” Keyes has seen growth, with the spring game being his breakthrough moment. According to reports, Keyes had two rushing touchdowns and a long passing touchdown in the game.
The job should be his, a touted recruit and a player who, as a true freshman, started two games last season before being injured. Keyes is the future of the program. Last season, Keyes had 22 rushing attempts for 150 yards in two games as a starter. This excludes sack data which gives us insight into how dynamic a rusher he can be. Additionally, Southern Miss ranks 98th in Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings for 2022, meaning Keyes will have ample opportunity to provide late-game heroics and garbage time stats.
Keyes has legit upside as a last-round pick. He’s the likely starter, will need to play hero ball, and has rushing upside. He’s a nice dart throw.
2. Tez Johnson, WR, Troy
Heading into his third year at Troy, Johnson looks to take the next step forward as the leader of the Trojans’ offense. I’ll admit, this isn’t the sexiest of positions to advocate for. Another year of experience, stability in the QB room, a new head coach, and a new offensive coordinator gives reason for optimism. Despite his diminutive size at 5’10” 160 lbs., Johnson is the WR1 heading into the 2022 season. His 26% Weighted Dominator and 1.75 Receiving Yards Per Team Pass Attempt (YPTPA) paints the picture of an active WR and focal point of a passing offense. In 2021, his 67 receptions ranked second in the Sun Belt conference with additional upside this season.
The potential flashed for Johnson last season, in which he posted five games over 80 yards despite only exceeding 100 yards once. His reception totals should give him week-to-week starter potential, especially in conference matchups. For this to come to fruition, Johnson needs to take the next step as one of the country’s Group of 5 alphas.
The new coaching staff under Jon Sumrall brings in OC Joe Craddock. In his last full season, Craddock had a neutral game script pass rate of 47%, almost 4% above average despite below-average quarterback play, posting three above average pass rates seasons of five as an offensive coordinator. It’s hard to project this season with quarterback Gunnar Watson, but if history is any indicator, it’s fair to expect an above-average passing rate.
Involved in every part of the game, Johnson returned kicks both seasons and had a handful of rushing attempts. He’s a player Troy wants to be involved in all phases of the game. This is a very deep target, but with the potential to smash against a relatively weak Sun Belt schedule, he’s a player to target in the last round of drafts.
3. Tyrone Broden Jr., WR, Bowling Green
The next time someone (cough Felix cough) talks about shooting from deep, remind him he has yet to hype a Bowling Green player. Anyway, enough of airing Campus2Canton’s dirty laundry. Broden is a fascinating player with alpha size at 6’4” 200 lbs. He has flashed league-winning upside multiple times in his career at Bowling Green.
It’s admittedly hard to get excited about a player like Broden, given the context of his offense. However, his 2021 season gives us insight into what could be heading into 2022. Last season, Broden posted two games of 30+ points in conference play against Buffalo and Akron out of six total games. He also scored 18 points one week, giving him an average of 16.5 points per game in conference play. Any player scoring like that in conference play is worth rostering in C2C leagues, especially in Best Ball formats.
The upside from Bowling Green in 2022 lies in the improved offensive line play and the three transfers brought in that should be day one starters. The combination of Bronson Warner, Jakari Robinson, and Marcelo Mendiola is a good enough group of transfers to make a big difference for an offensive line that struggled in 2021. Last season, the line ranked 114th in average line yards per play and 118th in passing down line yards. An improved offensive line play should help QB Matt McDonald. He ranked 48th of 81 quarterbacks who threw more than 275 passes last season. Broden should be the beneficiary with more time to throw, given his size and role as a downfield target in this offense.
The purpose of this article is to give last-round targets in C2C leagues. All three above are for college fantasy production but still provide upside in that aspect. However, it’s still important to acknowledge that despite my affinity for these players, they’re still players that should be late targets. Don’t feel the need to reach if you think others will.