“When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” – Wanda, Bojack Horseman (Season 2, Episode 8)
Whether it’s holding onto priors or ignoring relevant details, the average Campus2Canton fantasy player often views their favorite players through rose-colored glasses despite the not-entirely-positive news or developments surrounding these players. This is the reality check for some of these names.
WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama (ADP: 84.1 – 7th – 8th round)
Drafting Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton accomplishes…what? He wasn’t productive last season in 13 games, posting a 40-677-7 line with Bryce Young at quarterback. He was the starting outside receiver alongside JaCorey Brooks but was demonstrably worse than Brooks in almost every category. His 2.03 yards per route run ranked behind Brooks, and his 1.55 receiving yards per team pass attempt was substantially below expectation for a third-year player in the Alabama offense. Poor efficiency and poor production.
Burton, even being regarded this highly, is a true mystery. In his career (33 games), he has had two games with more than 100 receiving yards, and one of them came against FCS school Austin Peay, a matchup Alabama won 34-0 and entered favored by 41 points. Prior to that point, he had gone 25 straight games without producing over 100 yards, despite starting every matchup.
In 2023 he now has one of Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, or Tyler Buchner. All three were underwhelming on their respective campuses this spring and have limited experience starting or in-game action. When they have played, have shown limited passing ability. Last season Buchner had -0.06 passing EPA per play, and Milroe had 0.1. Both numbers are substantially lower than needed to produce quality passing offenses (the goal is between 0.3 and 0.4 EPA per pass play). Simpson, a mystery box, was an erratic passer in high school with a backyard football mentality, and judging by spring, he was behind Milroe regardless.
A player who has failed to eclipse 100 receiving yards in 94.3% of his collegiate games and is getting a downgrade at quarterback should be nowhere near a top-seven-round pick in C2C leagues. The only upside is based on his athleticism which, through three years, has failed to translate to meaningful production.
TE Michael Trigg, Ole Miss (ADP: 92.8 – 8th – 9th round)
Is drafting Michael Trigg just ~vibes~ right now? There are legitimate red flags, and like the quote to lead off the article, the red flags are being looked at through rose-colored glasses due to strong priors. Last season Trigg posted 17-156-3, and while he battled some injuries and played in only seven games, he still posted a 1.43 yards per route run and only had an 8.8 average depth of target. That’s not dynamic utilization from an allegedly dynamic tight end.
Last year was underwhelming. Trigg was being drafted as a top-three tight end and valued as such in C2C rankings. Inconsistency and injury derailed last season’s campaign, but he now has competition. Ole Miss brings in Memphis transfer Caden Prieskorn, one of the most productive tight ends in the country last season. He was heavily featured for the Tigers and was a priority target for this Ole Miss team. Ole Miss will likely feature 2TE sets more than in the past seasons, likely limiting the upside of both in college fantasy.
Production isn’t necessarily the deal breaker for the tight end position, and some of the most productive NFL tight ends don’t have extensive collegiate production to back up their profiles (see: Kittle, George). However, we’ve yet to see Trigg put together his “mismatch” skillset into being an onfield mismatch. The most we’ve seen from him has been two back-to-back elite spring game performances. Now we need to see it during the regular season.
I actually believe Trigg can still be a potential NFL tight end, but not with a single-digit round draft pick in C2C leagues. This pick screams hanging onto priors from last season a little too strongly. Limited production through two years and now legit competition? I can’t get behind him being drafted at TE3 in C2C drafts.
RB Carson Steele, UCLA (ADP: 84.6 – 7th – 8th round)
I think this will adjust as the summer goes on, but it needs to be called out immediately. Carson Steele was excellent for Ball State in the MAC the last two years, but the jump in competition is substantial. Like his fellow MAC transfer Colin Schlee, the adjustment hasn’t been easy for either. Steele was listed fourth in the post-spring depth chart from 247 Sports.
Second-year back TJ Harden has emerged as the most impressive back, and at best, this situation is trending towards a committee where Steele is a significant part. The idea that he will slide into the Zach Charbonnet role from last season is far-fetched at this point. This comes after Chip Kelley said as much in a spring press conference.
Steele should not, in any capacity, be drafted in single-digit rounds. The upside of the Steele pick has faded with time. He entered as a prized acquisition via the transfer portal, but through spring, his struggles with fumbling and inconsistent play have pushed him not only down the depth chart but into a likely committee. Adjust.