The Sun Belt West is not as robust top to bottom as the East but has a conference title contender in Louisiana. Head coach Billy Napier has revitalized the Ragin’ Cajuns from the foundation up, creating a strong culture and team identity. They are 21-3 over the last two seasons, losing only to SEC opponent Mississippi State and ranked conference foes Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina. They are easily the team to beat on this side of the Sun Belt. 


The other programs in the west are all trying to create a culture change of their own. After nine straight bowl appearances, Arkansas State was 4-7 in 2020 and head coach Blake Anderson resigned (to take the Utah State job). Butch Jones is now charged with the task of bringing post-season play to Jonesboro. After ASU, the programs really drop off with South Alabama, Texas State, and Louisiana-Monroe combining for six wins a year ago. South Alabama has a few interesting pieces to discuss but the rest of this conference is in wait and see mode for 2021.

For our conference previews, we will try to include all the relevant offensive players for the 2021 season, broken into the following groups:

  • Fantasy Relevant
  • Roster Fillers
  • Stashes
  • Player to avoid at ADP

All teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Arkansas State 

Fantasy Relevant

Layne Hatcher should not have to split time this season and could have an out-of-nowhere explosion. Since transferring from Alabama in 2019, Hatcher has traded snaps with Logan Bonner despite very clearly outplaying the incumbent on the field. The ASU quarterback position has accounted for 7,919 yards and 74 touchdowns over the past two seasons. 

Arkansas State has passed a lot and been successful through the air under OC Keith Heckendorf (2019 and 2020). EPA stands for expected points added, which in a nutshell calculates how each play puts a team in position to score. For this metric, higher is better and the dotted line is national average. Heckendorf will remain in place and hope to continue stressing defenses with the pass. Explore more coaching trends at campus2canton.com!


A complete afterthought on draft day, Hatcher could easily surpass 3500 yards and 30 touchdowns. That is solid QB2 production on the college side of your C2C league. Former head coach Blake Anderson left and took Bonner with him, but Keith Heckendorf the architect of the offense will remain in place. Hopefully, he will unleash Hatcher on the Sun Belt with explosive results.  

Roster Fillers

Courtesy of Stuttgart Daily Leader

Corey Rucker (above pic), Dahu Green, and/or Jeff Foreman could all wind up as college fantasy starters this season. As recently as 2019 the Redwolves had three receivers over 800 yards. Additionally, in each of the past three seasons, ASU has boasted one 1,000 receiver so the Redwolves play on fertile fantasy soil. Rucker is the youngest, checking in at 6’2” and 190 pounds. He set an FBS freshman receiving yards record with a ridiculous 9-310-4 line against Louisiana-Monroe, which was 68% of his output on the season. Nevertheless, breaking any sort of record as a true freshman is notable. He has already continued his development being named one of the most consistent performers in spring camp by the new staff. 

Green is more likely the safer option, as he is a veteran and I think will be a top target this season. However, the ASU faithful seem to seriously doubt his ability to stay healthy. Foreman had an incredible 33.8 yards per reception en route to his 16-453-5 line as a sophomore. Given the potential for a lot of yards, I have no issues rostering any of these potential breakouts. 

Stashes

Tevailance Hunt transferred in from TCU and made an impact already during spring ball. After a promising sophomore season for the Horned Frogs, Hunt barely played due to injury in 2020 and departed for ASU. If none of the other receivers step up, Hunt would be one to watch. 

Players to Avoid

None. Like most players in the Sun Belt, there aren’t any that are taken high enough to avoid at ADP.

Louisiana

Fantasy Relevant

None. Louisiana plays a nasty, defensive style of football and their offensive production is so spread out there is not a reliable fantasy producer to speak of. 

Roster Fillers

Chris Smith falls somewhere between a roster filler and a stash. I think he’s more the former being the likely lead running back on a productive and run-heavy offense. He has already carved out a nice role in his first two seasons despite two established upperclassmen in the fold. Both of those backs, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, are now on NFL teams so it’s Smith’s time to shine. 

Courtesy of RaginCajuns.com

He has been very efficient in limited duty and was the most productive receiver in the RB room last year. Over 20% of his touches were via the pass. He is an exciting player that can be scooped up late in any C2C draft with near-term production on tap as well as a potential NFL future. 

Levi Lewis can be a QB4 on a college roster with his dual-threat potential. He finally got it loose on the ground in 2020 accumulating 335 yards and five scores. Listed at 5’10” and 184 pounds, his NFL potential is nil, so he’s only a college fantasy depth piece.

Stashes

Kyren Lacy should be more than a stash after leading the Cajuns in receiving as a true freshman, but for fantasy, the stats just don’t work. The 6’3” 212-pound sophomore only caught 28 passes for 364 yards but that was good for 15% of the receiving yard market share. A guy leading any team in production as a true freshman is worth noting. Five players caught between 15 and 28 passes, so it would be nice to see Lacy pull away a little more from the pack. 

There could be spot start potential for a guy like Lacy on your fantasy team, and this is the type of profile that can pop in year two, leading to NFL potential. Granted it was in the SEC, but Treylon Burks’ freshman line was 29-475-0 but he led the team in yards before exploding in his second year.

Players to Avoid

None. There isn’t a player on this team being drafted high enough to avoid.

Louisiana-Monroe

Fantasy Relevant

Roster Fillers

Stashes

Players to Avoid

None. Rinse and repeat for all categories. There are no fantasy-relevant options on this winless team from 2020. 

Texas State

Fantasy Relevant

None. There are no weekly fantasy starters on this team.

Roster Fillers

Marcel Barbee came to Texas State from junior college and immediately made an impact for the Bobcats. He hauled in 40 receptions for 584 yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which paced the team. The 6’2” 192 pound receiver looks to improve those numbers as a senior. 

Courtesy of koaa.com

I doubt Texas State will pass enough to make Barbee a weekly starter but anyone posting double digit scores should be rostered.  

Stashes

None. There are no prospects I can find worth rostering. 

Players to Avoid

None.

South Alabama

Fantasy Relevant

Jalen Tolbert is a college football fantasy stud, compiling over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020. The WR16 in points per game should see a volume boost now that Major Applewhite is the offensive coordinator in Mobile. The fifth-year senior should set personal bests in multiple statistical categories and be a high-end WR2 in college fantasy. 

Weighted dominator calculates a player’s market share of receiving yards and touchdowns, giving 80% weight to yards and 20% to touchdowns. The dotted line is how future NFL fantasy WR2s performed at that age in college. Tolbert “broke out” late in year 3, but continued to dominate as a 4th year player in 2020. Explore more college player metrics at campus2canton.com!


His NFL potential being an older group-of-five prospect is limited, but I would not be shocked to hear a lot of buzz surrounding him at the Senior Bowl six months from now. The 6’3”, 195 pound receiver’s career will speak for itself. 

Roster Fillers

None. There is not another player that can be counted on even as bench depth. 

Stashes

Jake Bentley transferred from Utah for a sixth year of playing college quarterback. With over 1,000 career attempts, Bentley brings a ton of experience to the Jaguars. Despite a rough COVID year at Utah, he’s been about an average power 5 starter for most of his career and will likely win the starting job this fall. 

Courtesy of USA Today

As a junior at South Carolina in 2018, he threw for over 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns so he has been a startable asset before. Given the aforementioned Major Applewhite’s presence at USA, Bentley has a chance to become fantasy relevant once again in his final season. 

Players to Avoid

None. Tolbert is affordable at ADP and no one else from this team is being drafted.

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