NATE MARCHESE – MAY 13, 2022
As a follow-up to our pre-spring stock up report, we will now look at some players that have seen their stock rise in CFF value from the time spring camps kicked off. This offseason has been incredibly turbulent, considering all the player and staff movement, injuries, and conference realignment. Here are some players that have increased their value, whether it be via the portal or positive spring camp reports.
JT Daniels, West Virginia
The Daniels experiment at Georgia has finally ended, and not a moment too soon. After his inability to reclaim the starting gig from Stetson Bennett IV, Daniels cranked up Country Road and traveled north to reunite with his former OC at USC, Graham Harrell. In February, Jared Palmgren and I discussed on the Chasing the Natty podcast that West Virginia said they wanted spring to assess the QBs on the roster to decide if they wanted to pursue a QB in the portal. It didn’t take long for Neal Brown and Harrell to determine their starting QB wasn’t currently on campus. I expect Daniels to be the immediate QB1 in Morgantown and should hit the ground running with the familiarity of the Harrell air-raid.
Harrell’s offenses have averaged over 40 passes/game over the last five seasons. Some solid WR assets are already in place with Ford-Wheaton, Sam James, and Kaden Prather. The D is likely to take a step back, so we should see the volume needed for viable CFF options in the WV pass game. I was able to stack Daniels (round 14), Ford-Wheaton (round 20), and Prather (round 24) in a recent best ball to give you an idea of where their post-spring value sits. Daniels choosing WV over Missouri and Oregon State was undoubtedly best for his CFF value, and it creates a synergistic effect on the WV receivers with a value bump for them.
Grant Gunnell, North Texas
The 6’6″ 230 lb. Texas native chose Arizona over Alabama, Ohio State, and Texas A&M coming out of high school. It appeared the sky was the limit after essentially outplaying Khalil Tate as a true freshman in 2019. However, injuries derailed his 2020 season, and a coaching change led to a transfer to Memphis. This initially appeared to be a good landing spot, but injury again impacted things. Seth Hennigan won a tightly contested QB battle to become the clear QB1 there. So, Gunnell heads back to Texas, and there is a lot to like here.
Historically, North Texas has had a prolific pass offense under Seth Littrell (and Graham Harrell, previously mentioned as OC). However, this was far from the case in 2021. Part of this had to do with the Mean Green being snake bit with skill player injuries. The other part had to do with awful QB play. 29-year-old Austin Aune is the incumbent starter. He had an abysmal QB rating of 111.8 with a 9/9 TD/INT ratio and an adjusted pass yards/attempt of 6.0. Gross. Gunnell provides far more upside (if healthy, and that’s a big if) than the other QB options at UNT.
UNT was also projected as one of my top offenses to rebound in 2022 before adding Gunnell. They get back Jyaire Shorter and Tommy Bush (UGA transfer) from injury, add Missouri transfer Jay Maclin, and still have Roderic Burns. The cupboard is certainly not bare. This offense
QB Honorable Mentions
Evan Prater (Cincinnati)
Behren Morton (Texas Tech)
Camar Wheaton, SMU
Wheaton was a consensus top-three freshman RB in the 2021 class, but the 5-star was buried on the Alabama depth chart. He could not see the field in year one and continued to struggle with advancement. The Tide added elite talent like Jahmyr Gibbs. I felt Wheaton’s high school tape failed to warrant his 5-star rating. Joining an RB room as talented as Alabama’s was a mistake. I did not see a clear path for playing time in Tuscaloosa.
Wheaton wisely looked for greener pastures and found a landing spot close to home at SMU. His track speed (10.6 in the 100 meters) is likely to shine at the G5 level, and he should now have the opportunity to produce right away, instead of having to wait for his body to develop and uber talents in the Tide backfield to move on. Rhett Lashlee’s system has been a CFF RB producer with guys like Cam’ron Harris, Rooster Knighton, and Xavier Jones. SMU provides a great opportunity with its most talented RB, Ulysses Bentley IV, transferring to Ole Miss. Wheaton will now be the most talented RB on campus when he arrives at SMU.
British Brooks, North Carolina
One of the few non-transfers on the list, stock is rising due to spring camp reports. Campus2Canton’s own Tarheels insider, Brandon Sanders, attended the UNC spring game and talked with those in the know down in Chapel Hill. All signs point to Brooks as the clear RB1 to start the season. I thought maybe UNC would be seeking a portal RB like they did last year with Chandler. The word is they wanted to reward Brooks for his loyalty to the program in returning for the fifth year. He finished the season strong with 285 yards and three TDs in the final three games. All indications are that he had a very strong spring camp.
UNC has a deep RB room, but none have proven it on the field like Brooks. Hood continues to be limited by injuries, Kamarro Edmonds and Josh Henderson hit the portal, Omarion Hampton has yet to arrive on campus, and DJ Jones and Elijah Green so far appear to be JAGs. The only other RB generating buzz during the spring was the early enrollee freshman, George Pettaway. He comes in as the eighth-ranked RB in the 2022 composite and looked like the real deal in the spring game. At 190 lbs, he is certainly more of the Michael Carter type that Phil Longo will try to get in space and catch balls out of the backfield. Brooks weighs in at 226 lbs and likely assumes the Javonte Williams role. As we have seen in the past, this system can produce two fantasy-relevant RBs, and that could very well be the case here. If reports of Brooks getting first dibs on this job are true, he will certainly have the opportunity to get a stranglehold on it. UNC opens in 2022 against Florida A&M, App State, and Georgia State. The juice is worth the squeeze here as I was recently able to draft him in round 22 of a best-ball draft.
RB Honorable Mentions
Jalen Mitchell (Louisville)
Corey Kiner (Cincinnati)
Tyrone Tracy, Purdue
The transfer from Iowa is making one of the largest schematic changes of any WR. He goes from the outhouse to the penthouse for WR production. Jeff Brohm has produced elite fantasy options at WR, including David Bell, Rondale Moore, Taywan Taylor, Nicholas Norris, and Jared Dangerfield. Uncertainty looms over the Boilermakers’ WR core as Bell moves on to the NFL, Milton Wright battles academic troubles, and Broc Thompson was absent in the spring for yet another knee surgery.
Tracy was the talk of spring camp. The staff repeatedly brought him up as a standout in practice. He finished off the camp with a stellar spring game, including a handful of touches and a TD. The 6’1″, 205 lb. transfer is a true swiss army knife. His senior year in high school saw him carry it for 1,412 yards and seven TDs while also accumulating 1,132 yards and 16 TDs receiving. The staff has been on record of saying they plan to get him touches in various ways, including 5-7 carries a game out of the backfield. This staff is capable of being creative to get touches for dynamic players, and Tracy is a mid-round selection that appears set for a breakout season in West Lafayette. He is someone that was going undrafted when the spring started and is now going in rounds 9-12 and could go even higher depending on what happens with Milton Wright’s status.
***Update since the article was written- Purdue WR, Milton Wright, has been reported as academically ineligible and is no longer with the team.
Seven McGee, Oregon
One of the more exciting nuggets we got out of spring practice reports was the new staff at Oregon moving McGee from running back to slot receiver. He was buried on the depth chart at RB and probably limited to a third-down role. Once the move was made, reports indicated that McGee was consistently running with the 1s and making big plays during practice. He proved those reports correct with a strong spring game, breaking off a huge catch from Nix to open the game and finished with seven catches for 100 yards and a TD. Nix targeted him early and often. I continue to doubt that this offense can support multiple fantasy-relevant WRs. However, OC Kenny Dillingham has shown a level of creativity during his time at Memphis with Tony Pollard to use his most dynamic weapons as a Queen chess piece all over the field. McGee’s stock this spring has gone from unrosterable as an RB3 to a legitimate, game-breaking, starting receiver that is certainly worthy of a dart throw late in your drafts.
WR Honorable Mentions
Konata Mumpfield (Pitt)
Melquan Stovall (Colorado State)
George Takacs, Boston College
The 6’6″ 247-lb. transfer from Notre Dame was able to portal over to BC just before spring camp kicked off. Before this move, the backup to Michael Mayer had just eight catches for 78 yards with two TDs in his four-year career with the Irish and was not worth a roster spot. Even though he is new to the program, he is very familiar with two of the most critical people his success depends at BC- the QB and offensive coordinator. Takacs and QB Phil Jurkovec were in the same class at Notre Dame, and the new OC at BC, John McNulty, spent the last two seasons coaching Takacs as his positional coach at Notre Dame. Not only familiarity exists, but opportunity does as well. Outside of Zay Flowers, there aren’t many proven options in the passing game.