Who’s stock is on the decline for CFF 2022? 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. I am not saying that many of these guys don’t still carry some value. Instead, they have a potentially overvalued perception by your league-mates.

QUARTERBACKS

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Courtesy of Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

Say what you will about Dan Mullen, but the man probably belongs on the CFF quarterback production Mount Rushmore. His spread RPO system consistently churned out elite CFF QBs of all talent levels, including Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, Nick Fitzgerald, and Kyle Trask. There is no doubt that Richardson (AR15), oozing with all his athleticism, seemed like the perfect fit for a system that loves to run the QB. Instead, Mullen remained loyal to a struggling Emory Jones to a fault. Now, we have Billy Napier as the new swamp king. 

Richardson is a physical freak at 6’4″ and 230 pounds. The arm strength is undoubtedly there for the 4-star, third-year QB. But no one will mistake him for having the accuracy or awareness of Tom Brady. While Napier’s system isn’t terrible for QBs, it just pales in comparison to what could have been with Mullen. As mentioned in this tweet by Chris Moxley, there are two types of QBs that produce at a top 24 level- pass-heavy or rush-heavy producers. Napier historically makes neither, and it shows with him having never produced a top 24 QB. Richardson certainly has the skill to achieve that rush category, but we ask Napier to step outside his comfort zone.

Additionally, Florida welcomes former OSU 4-star QB Jack Miller from the portal. Jones continues to linger on campus, and it doesn’t make AR15 owners feel super comfortable. I could certainly be convinced there is a reality somewhere out there where Richardson is handed the starting job and goes bananas. But things remain murky, and his ceiling is now lower with the coaching change.

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami

Last season, Van Dyke (TVD) burst onto the scene as a redshirt FR under OC Rhett Lashlee. He averaged 28.9 fantasy PPG once named the starter after D’Eriq King went down. Lashlee had this engine humming in the second half of 2021, and TVD was the catalyst with a very impressive QB rating of 160. Unfortunately, we see the exit of Lashlee (SMU) and enter the concerning CFF combo of Mario Cristobal and OC Josh Gattis.

Lashlee is from the Sonny Dykes coaching tree, where pace and volume are key. This alone will be a significant change for TVD as Miami ranked 24th in plays per game while Oregon was 86th. Not surprisingly, Gattis was in the bottom 30 in the country in plays per game during his tenure as play-caller at Michigan. Yes, you can still have productive fantasy QBs in offenses that run fewer plays. Still, in doing so, you are betting on Mario/Gattis having a highly efficient pass offense to the levels of Lincoln Riley in year one at Miami.

Furthermore, the pattern we tend to see with the few QBs that found CFF success in offenses that ran fewer plays is an elite rushing trait that allows them to score often around the goal-line. Garrett Shrader and Malik Cunningham were the only two QBs in the top 24 on teams that ran fewer plays in 2021 than Michigan and Oregon. So, not only are you betting on an outlier with TVD, but those outliers don’t even fit the style of play or skillset that TVD possesses.

Again, for CFF purposes, don’t get into a habit of betting on QBs that don’t belong to either a high pass volume or QB rush offense. Lastly, the most fantasy points a QB averaged under Gattis was 18 ppg. Cristobal’s track record was a little better at Oregon, with his QB season-high being 22.5, but that is pretty pedestrian when you realize that QB was Justin Herbert.

Jayden de Laura, Arizona

The town of Pullman itself may be boring as watching paint dry, but the same cannot be said for their football program. Between the pirate, Mike Leach, and the saga that was Nick Rolovich, it has been a wild ride the last few years at Wazzu. Despite the chaos around him and his off-the-field demons, de Laura (JdL) had a solid season and became a source of stability within the program.

As a 3-star QB out of Hawaii, he ran the run-n-shoot offense throughout high school. He was very familiar with it when he arrived at WSU, where he ran the same system under Rolovich. It was a profitable QB system for CFF owners to invest in. Given its propensity to produce nearly 600 pass attempts per year. Unfortunately, Rolovich wasn’t a fan of needles, so Wazzu decided to go differently. New head coach, Jake Dickert, selected Eric Morris and his air raid system as his OC. This new system would have also been beneficial for JdL, but instead, he elected to portal to sunny Arizona.

Contrary to many of the opinions I’ve seen on Twitter surrounding this transfer, I don’t think this is a positive move for JdL. He goes from a highly productive passing system at Wazzu to the nation’s 69th ranked passing offense in Arizona that threw a total of 12 TDs last year. He also now has to learn a new system, something he’s never been asked to do since he entered high school. And let’s face it, it’s an offense ran by an OC in Brennan Carroll that is more known for who his father is (Pete) than the results he has produced on the field. Here is what Arizona’s passing looked like in 2021:

Passing Table
Passing
Rk Player G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
1Will Plummer1015526758.116106.05.069109.4
2Gunner Cruz4619365.65365.84.723114.6
3Jordan McCloud3487266.74816.74.125118.1
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/13/2022.

Yes, de Laura works with another talented incoming transfer in WR Jacob Cowing. That and the negative game script Arizona is sure to have worked in his favor, but JdL had similar weapons and a negative game script at Wazzu too. It is possible that JdL was essentially pushed out of Pullman with Eric Morris wanting to clear a path for QB Cameron Ward to follow him from Incarnate Word. But the fact remains that JdL is leaving an excellent system for a less favorable one. If you didn’t like de Laura before the transfer, you shouldn’t like him now.


RUNNING BACKS

Travis Dye, USC

Few players made more of a CFF impact in the second half of the season than Dye. He took off like a rocket ship once CJ Verdell went down with an injury. He scored 26+ points in seven of his final nine games. His efficiency was on display as he was in the top 25 RB for both yards after contact/attempt and breakaway %. He excelled in the pass game with a 47/398/2 (rec/rec yards/TDs) and just one drop on 55 targets. So why is the stock down?

Dye leaves an Oregon run game led by Cristobal, and OC Joe Moorhead that you could argue was a perfect fit. You rarely find a P5, run-heavy offense that favors a 5’10”, sub -190 lb. RB as the workhorse. Second, there will be a massive drop in the offensive-line success that Dye will see transferring from Oregon. Oregon’s line was second in average line yards, ninth in power success rate, and allowed the lowest stuff rate in the country. Compared to USC, which was significantly lower in all offensive-line categories. Third, USC adds Austin Jones from the portal and 247’s (certainly not my) #3 incoming RB, Raleek Brown. Both of them have similar traits to Dye in that they are most effective when used in the passing game.

Lastly, Riley hasn’t had an RB catch 25+ passes since 2016 with Joe Mixon. His RB1 has never had more than 18 receptions. So, keep in mind if you invest in Dye that you aren’t investing in the clear RB1 in the perfect fit Oregon offense that features the RB in the passing game with a stout O-line. Instead, it’s quite the opposite at USC.

Sean Tucker, Syracuse

Courtesy of Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard via AP

Let me start by saying I love Tucker’s game. A lot. It pains me a little to have him on this list. I am holding on to hope that his skill and versatility will prove me wrong here, but I have my doubts. He has already defied the system odds in being so productive under head coach Dino Babers. Syracuse hadn’t had a single 200+ carry or 1,000+ yard RB in his Syracuse tenure before Tucker came along. But the primary reason Tucker’s CFF stock is on the decline is due to the new OC hire of Robert Anae.

If you read my “Stock Up” article where QB Garrett Shrader was featured, you would know that Anae comes to the Orange by way of Virginia and is a Bronco Mendenhall disciple. They developed a system together that featured the QB run game. Featuring guys like Taysom Hill, Bryce Perkins, and Brennan Armstrong in their most successful years. Over the last three seasons, Anae’s RB1 carried it 62, 88, and 116 times and were all nonexistent in the passing game. His nine-year average from his RB1 is better than that but is still a meager 148/717/6.8. Only once in the nine seasons did he have an RB boast meaningful receiving production.

There has been some RB success (Jamaal Williams and Smoke Mizzell) sprinkled in for Anae since 2013. The fact remains that Tucker got more touches in 2021 alone than Anae has given to his RB1 in the last three seasons combined. Maybe Anae diverges from the Mendenhall way under a new head coach. Perhaps Tucker’s talent and established history with Babers are enough to overcome the likely decline in volume. But you certainly better hope he maintains his double-digit TD production if you plan to take him in rounds one or two like he has been going in some early mock drafts.

Devin Neal, Kansas

Unlike the other two running backs on this list, Neal has stability from the same coaching staff and system he played in last year. Neal had one of the more impressive true FR seasons in 2021. If you had told me after his 170 yards and four TD performance against Texas that he would be a top 25 RB in 2022, you wouldn’t have heard an argument from me. So, what gives? If the run-heavy Lance Leipold system remains intact after a strong freshman campaign, why is Neal on the stock down list?

Kansas landed one of the better RBs from the transfer portal in Ky Thomas. The former Minnesota RB exploded onto the scene in his second year halfway through last season. Starters Mo Ibrahim and then Treyson Potts both suffered season-ending injuries. Thomas went for 779 yards and four scores over the Gophers’ last seven games. He proved he was certainly capable of being a workhorse back, while receiving a higher PFF grade than Neal. Additionally, Kansas made a QB change to Jalon Daniels, a talented runner in his own right, towards the end of 2021.

KU took some steps in the right direction, but the fact remains that they will continue to have a negative game script and will be operating behind the 119th ranked run-blocking offensive line. Factor in the reps that Thomas and Daniels will demand, and you are looking at a substantial change from the bellcow status we had hoped for Neal. He will remain a very strong dynasty option as KU continues to improve and certainly has the talent to have a future playing on Sundays. But the Jayhawk backfield has likely gone from being a solo act to a duet, thus the stock down status from what things looked like as we closed out 2021.


WIDE RECEIVERS

Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia

Courtesy of UPI

If you read my comments on Shrader in the “Stock Up” report, you would know how highly I think of former Virginia OC Robert Anae. The same could not be said for former Clemson OC Tony Elliot, who now takes over as head coach for Virginia. I could have just as easily put Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong on this list, but the plethora of weapons at his disposal led me instead to focus on Wicks.

First, let’s look at the Elliot system and all those weapons Wicks has to compete with. The OC that Elliot hired at Virginia, Des Kitchings, is the former Falcons and Gamecocks RB coach. We know nothing about him, and he’s unlikely to call plays, so we will focus on Elliot’s time at Clemson. From a volume perspective, Virginia averaged 46.2 pass attempts in 2021 compared to 31.8 for Clemson. Part of that is certainly game script, but a 14 pass attempt/game difference is staggering! Despite the 57/1203/9 (rec/yards/TDs) stat line, Wicks finished third on the team in receptions behind Keytaon Thompson and Billy Kemp, who both return. Virginia also welcomes back Lavell Davis, who missed all of 2021 after an impressive true FR season where he had 515 yards and five TDs as a boundary receiver. Can this offense likely see a decline in pass volume support four proven receiving options?

Now, let’s get analytical for a second. A total surprise to CFF owners in 2021 who failed to read the spring practice reports, Wicks played 430 of his 513 snaps out wide and led the country in ADOT (average depth of target) with an astounding 18.5 yards! When comparing that to the two seasons Elliot led the Clemson offense; we emphasize the inside receivers. The two leading WRs for 2021 were Justyn Ross with 54% of snaps in the slot with an ADOT of 10.9 yards and Beaux Collins with 64% of snaps in the slot with an ADOT of 13.3 yards. Additionally, the overwhelmingly lead receiver in 2020 for Elliot was Amari Rodgers, who played 86% of snaps in the slot and had an ADOT of 7.6 yards. So, here we have a case of a decline in pass volume, more mouths to feed, and a systemic change in positional emphasis. Stock down.

Gary Bryant Jr, USC

A 4-star top 10 WR recruit, Bryant was mostly overshadowed by Drake London through the first two months of the 2021 season. But when London’s season came to an early end with an ankle injury, Bryant saw his CFF output jump from 9.6 ppg to 18.1 ppg. Bryant, and his 36 targets over his final three games, was proving to be the next man up in the Graham Harrell air raid with a promising QB in Jaxson Dart. My, oh my. What a difference a month makes.

On the cover, the change to Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams seems prosperous for Bryant in his third season. But read a little deeper into that book, and you find that Riley hasn’t had a WR with more than 60 targets in either of the last two seasons. Compare that to the 119 targets London had in eight games last year! And it’s not like Riley hasn’t had the talent lately with five-star WRs like Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease, as well as Marvin Mims and Charleston Rambo. There has been a recent emphasis on a two-man game between the QB and RB with more underneath routes to hybrid-type players. This has led to an increase in the percentage of passes that have been behind the LOS or less than ten yards downfield.

Lastly, Riley and Caleb Williams bring 4-star WR Mario Williams from OU. It’s fair to assume that Caleb has already built a rapport with Mario that does not exist with Bryant. Add P5 transfers Brenden Rice and Terrell Bynum to the return of Tahj Washington, Michael Jackson III, and Kyle Ford – this WR room is LOADED. Incoming freshman Raleek Brown, who could see time in the slot, is also lurking. It has the makings of a very crowded WR room under a coach that has failed to feature a WR in two years.

Ryan O’Keefe, UCF

Positive spring practice reports came to fruition for O’Keefe, who led UCF with an 84/812/7 receiving line and added 274 and a TD on the ground. Brandon Johnson, UCF’s second-leading receiver, is out of eligibility and is moving on. So, all signs were wheels up for O’Keefe heading into 2022 as the primary target, in a solid pass offense with a healthy Dillon Gabriel set to return at QB. Not so fast, my friend! Since the regular season ended, UCF saw a massive influx in transfers that includes Kobe Hudson and John Rhys Plumlee (JRP), the hiring of Chip Lindsey as OC, and the transfer of Gabriel to OU (with a short layover in LA).

Lindsey’s last six seasons as OC/play-caller, two of which he spent with Gus Malzahn at Auburn, have resulted in an average a WR1 stat line of 69/740/4. That’s concerning but not nearly as problematic as the prospect of Plumlee winning the QB job at UCF. JRP and Malzahn have stated that he is coming to UCF to compete at QB. As much as I love the thought of that for JRP (see my “Stock UP” report), the thought of a run-first QB who hasn’t played the position in two years and completed just 52% of his passes is less than ideal for O’Keefe. Additionally, 4-star WR, Kobe Hudson, has followed Malzahn from Auburn. Florida TE Kenmore Gamble also transfers in, and UCF returns a healthy Jaylon Robinson, their leading WR from 2020. This is no longer a clear-cut WR1 situation with a robust passing system for O’Keefe.


TIGHT ENDS

Elijah Arroyo, Miami

One of the more surprising players opting to wait on the NFL and return to school was Miami TE Will Mallory. Despite being a fairly productive player at high profile program and assumptions that he would test out very well in a combine setting, Mallory appears to enjoy Corral Gables enough to play a fifth year there. This puts a damper on the potential for Arroyo in 2022. As the #7 TE prospect in the 2021 class, Arroyo had received rave reviews from the former staff and looked to be a prime breakout candidate to build on his 5/84/1 freshman production, had Mallory moved on as expected.

To complicate matters, freakazoid TE recruit, Jaleel Skinner de-committed from Alabama and signed with Miami in the 11th hour in December. Skinner is the third-ranked incoming freshman TE on 247, but he is considered by many that I trust as the top overall TE. He has enrolled early and will be participating in spring practices. It appears this TE room is very loaded now for Miami, and the turn of events with Mallory and Skinner could leave Arroyo as the odd man out for 2022 and dynasty formats.

Follow Nate on Twitter @CFFNate

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