Credit: @3rd&Shortt on Twitter

*This series will cover the Zero QB strategy in depth by breaking down each piece of the ideal Zero QB draft to help you optimize your start-ups this offseason. Volume II focuses on the early devy selections managers should consider.

When people hear zero QB, they panic. Superflex became the de facto standard setting for dynasty leagues and Campus 2 Canton leagues in particular. The thought of punting the most important position seems suboptimal, to put it kindly. But what if I told you that not only could you build a stronger team by completely skipping the quarterback position early in your Campus drafts? That you would also be using the optimal team-building strategy as we approach the 2021 college football season?

You read that right. And it’s the truth. 

In this series, I’ll give you a look deep into how I’m drafting this offseason. These articles  will cover all aspects of the draft, including early non-QB targets, late round stashes, the NFL upside QBs I am targeting in the middle rounds, and how to marry together this QB-less college roster with an NFL team to create a bigger championship window for you.

To check out Vol I, take a look here: https://campus2canton.com/the-zero-qbers-guide-to-drafting-vol-i-early-round-targets/

WHY NFL UPSIDE?

There are differing opinions on exactly how to handle the early rounds in a Campus 2 Canton draft. One camp prefers to switch to college fantasy producers early on. This ensures strong production on your campus team and gets you closer to that championship. After all, we play fantasy to win, and loading up on CFF talent is a great start.

The other camp argues that devy talent is the way to go. The ultimate goal of a C2C is to build an unbeatable dynasty on the NFL side, and nailing a devy draft goes a long way toward achieving that.

While I reside somewhere in the middle of these two groups, I think it’s important to target some devy value early. A constant stream of devy talent on the college side can help in two ways. First, the obvious benefit is that this talent can move up to your NFL squad. You then can use their talents to win a championship further down the line. Second, you can use these players as trade fodder. The nature of C2C leagues encourages a robust rebuild at times from teams, so there are usually several teams looking to acquire as much devy talent as possible via trade. Moving these players before they hit your NFL roster is a perfectly valid method of capitalizing on your assets.

THE APPROACH

In the first volume of this series, we took a look at handling the first two rounds of our drafts. If we played our cards right (and our league-mates cooperated), we have at least two high-end RBs on our roster to build around. At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “now we take a QB!” 

And you’d be incorrect.

According to our college ADP, in a typical college draft there are likely seven QBs off the board by the start of the third round (in order):

  • Spencer Rattler
  • DJ Uiagalelei
  • Sam Howell
  • Bryce Young
  • Kedon Slovis
  • Jayden Daniels
  • CJ Stroud

A few names are still left that could be intriguing, namely Oklahoma freshman Caleb Williams and Ole Miss junior Matt Corral. Both of those guys should probably be considered if they make it out of the third round. There’s also Nevada’s Carson Strong, a rising star in devy circles. I’m less sold on Strong than most, though, mostly due to his lack of mobility and inexperience in reading defenses. Again, this approach is all about eliminating as much risk as possible, which crosses Strong off our list. The same goes for Malik Willis, a player whose NFL future is uncertain in my eyes.

Beyond those options, this area is a graveyard for quarterbacks. Drafters can make their selections from two buckets of players here with few exceptions; those that are former devy darlings but are fading fast (Hudson Card, Graham Mertz, Haynes King), or high scoring collegiate quarterbacks with questionable NFL futures (the aforementioned Willis, Grayson McCall, Desmond Ridder). I’m not interested in any of those in the former category, and we can find high-end CFF options 15-20 rounds later in our drafts. 

Looking beyond the quarterback position gives us decisions to make at running back or wide receiver. Because we established that the strength of the current RB group lies in the first two rounds in Volume I, wide receiver is the obvious choice. So our Heavy Devy rounds will also be WR Heavy.

THE OPTIONS

Credit: Chris Pletsch./The Register Guard

In Volume I of this series, I laid out a list of players that should be considered with this approach. In this section, I’ll provide a roadmap but can’t possibly cover all the relevant names, as many decisions will come down to personal preference and how the draft board is falling. Here are a few players I find myself repeatedly drafting in this range this offseason.

Josh Downs

Downs is likely to be the leading receiver for the Tarheels this year. Not only will he benefit from the play of quarterback Sam Howell, but the scheme which UNC deploys should also play to his advantage. Offensive coordinator Phil Longo has a history of top production from his slot receivers, including former Ole Miss WR AJ Brown and, more recently, Dazz Newsome. Below are the career stats for these two. Notice the two years Longo spent with Brown (17-18) and Newsome (19-20).

Jaden Walley

In my humble opinion, Jaden Walley may be the best current value in all of the C2C format. Walley’s ADP currently sits at 97.21, which makes him WR32 on average. That’s very cheap for the leading receiver in a Mike Leach offense and a probable top-50 pick when he decides to enter the draft. After adjusting to the college game early last season, Walley tallied 33 catches for 547 yards and two touchdowns in his final five games. I’m excited to see what he can do after a full offseason of working with his teammates.

Parker Washingon

As a Pitt fan, I hate saying anything nice about Penn State. But I really like Parker Washington. He has nice size (5’10 212), skill set, and YAC ability to carve out a role in an NFL offense. Toss a freshman breakout on top of those things, and we have something exciting! His ADP of 66.73 is just about perfect. I actually like the value of teammate Jahan Dotson right now as well (ADP of 92.95).

Marvin Harrison Jr.

I argued with fellow Campus 2 Canton contributor (and resident Buckeye homer) Matt Bruening about my placement of Harrison Jr. in April, but he has shot up my rankings since then. So, Matt, I’ll finally say publicly that you were right. With the wide receiver room suddenly a lot less crowded in Columbus, Harrison has a legit shot at producing in a major way starting in 2022. His ADP skyrocketed to 69 in May (nice), and I think it will get even higher over the next few months.

Troy Franklin

Joe Moorhead’s offenses have not been known for producing high-end NFL WR talent, so I initially dropped Franklin down my board. Then, he looked amazing in their spring game…

I’m not entirely convinced Franklin will be a super producer at Oregon, but I’m sold on the talent. If he can gain a few more pounds (listed at 6’2 170 currently), I think he has all the potential in the world.

OTHER OPTIONS

Credit: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press via Bleacher Report

As I mentioned above, I’ll consider a few QBs in this range, depending on the price. Although it nullifies the actual Zero QB approach, it’s tough to pass up players like CJ Stroud or Matt Corral in the 4th. Consult our ADP tool or rankings to find out if you’re getting value or not!

Beyond that, I can understand securing a top TE if one falls. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Georgia’s “WR” Arik Gilbert are the only two TEs I’ll consider in these rounds. There is a large gap after those two.

I’ll also look at a few running backs in this range. Players that look to be nice values currently include Cincy’s Jerome Ford and UTSA’s Sincere McCormick. Both should be big producers and could be Day 2 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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