*This series will cover the Zerp QB strategy in depth by breaking down each individual piece of the ideal Zero QB draft to help you optimize your start-ups this offseason. Volume III helps you finish up your campus starting lineup.
When people hear zero QB, they panic. Superflex has become 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, 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. II, take a look here: https://campus2canton.com/the-0-qbers-guide-to-drafting-vol-ii-heavy-devy/
To check out Vol. I, take a look here: https://campus2canton.com/the-zero-qbers-guide-to-drafting-vol-i-early-round-targets/
FILLING OUT OUR LINEUP
As much as I’d love to, we can’t continue to stick to devy selections for the entirety of our draft. It’s like cheesecake for an appetizer, entree, and dessert. It’s too much of a good thing and will ultimately kill us (or in this instance, our campus roster).
Because half of a C2C league is the college fantasy side of things, it stands to reason that we should at least invest some resources toward that venture. There are plenty of players that, for one reason or another, should produce big time in college but probably won’t be drafted. For some, it’s size, for others athletic ability, and some produce solely because of the system they are in. These players fall in C2C drafts, but they still hold significant value.
This tier is difficult to talk about with much certainty, mostly because it depends on your league mates. I have seen leagues that skew heavy toward college fantasy, so most of the top options are gone by round six or so. I’ve seen others that still have some amazing options on the board in round 20. So while I think this will apply to most leagues, generally, don’t be surprised if some of these options go earlier.
It is also important to note that this is the range where drafters should consider looking at the quarterbacks still available in their leagues. Paying attention to the investment league mates are making in the position can help you snag some collegiate QB producers while still nabbing value across other positions.
Like Vol. II, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather, I am providing some of my favorite options in this range. I would wager at least a few of these players should be available in your leagues:
Rivers is my favorite value at the running back position in C2C startups. Currently going at pick 174, the Fresno State running back is a true dual-threat who should see the bulk of the touches in the running and receiving game for the Bulldogs in 2021. On a per-game basis, he was an RB1 in 2020 and I expect him to continue that form in 2021.
By now, everyone knows that Mike Norvell running backs are hot commodities in the CFF world. During his time at Memphis, he helped to develop Antonio Gibson, Tony Pollard, Darrell Henderson, and Kenneth Gainwell. Not only does he develop them, but they also produce at a high level in college. See the chart below for his teams’ strong rush EPA.
Now at Florida State, drafters should expect similar production from the Seminoles’ leading running back, Jashaun Corbin. Corbin has a strong recruiting pedigree, ideal size (6’0, 215), and a three-down skill set. Don’t be surprised if he takes off this season.
The man in the feature image, Shakir should go much earlier in drafts than he has been this offseason. While he doesn’t pop in Jerrick’s Player Metrics Tool, he does have some context that I believe will boost his draft stock. First, Shakir has been a contributor in the rushing game each of the past three years, totaling 284 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. He also has NFL size at 6’0, 190, and is a good athlete. But even if doesn’t catch the eye of scouts, a top 10 finish CFF this season feels like a strong bet.
Another Fresno State player appears on this list, which should give you an idea of the value that their offense provides in C2C startups. Cropper is one of the top recruits in Fresno history and he broke out in a major way in 2020. He’s the WR1 in an offense that passed the ball 41 times per game last season. Expect that to continue into this year and for Cropper to deliver major value on his current ADP of 229 (I’d take him much earlier than that).
Tolbert is quickly rising up draft boards, and for good reason. The 6’3, 195-pound junior is simply too big and too fast for the defenses in the Sun Belt. With new quarterback Jake Bentley, I expect Tolbert to finish as a top-five receiver this year. I also suspect his athletic profile will help him achieve Day 2 draft capital.
If you missed Michael Mayer or Arik Gilbert early, you likely punted tight end for a few rounds. There should be some strong options on the board in these rounds, including Nevada’s Turner. A former receiver, he transitioned to tight end and impressed last season. He still moves like a receiver at 6’6, 240, and has soft hands. The Wolfpack should pass the ball a ton again this season, although he does have to compete with Elijah Cooks and Romeo Doubs for targets, amongst others. Turner may not have a season that rivals 2020, but he’s a contender to finish as TE1.
Another great athlete at the TE position, UCLA’s Dulcich could be one of the main targets in an offense that lacks dangerous pass catchers. He’s big (6’4, 242) and dynamic (he’s a former WR too). For those that miss out on Turner, Dulcich should be a strong consolation prize.
QUARTERBACKS TO CONSIDER
We’ve hit the point in our Zero QB adventure where quarterback should be considered. Here are a few of my favorite targets that should be available in this range. All of them have uncertain NFL futures, but they should score you points on your college team.
Eleby is probably my favorite mid-round quarterback target, for a number of reasons. First, he scored a ton of points last season. Amongst returning starters, Eleby finished ninth in all of FBS in 2020 on a per-game basis (27.79 ppg). Eleby also happens to play in the MAC, which is one of the highest-scoring conferences in all of college football. And while he loses top target D’Wayne Eskridge, the Broncos return two quality options in Jaylen Hall and Skyy Moore. I expect a big season out of Eleby, with the possibility that he rises up draft boards.
Another MAC quarterback, Hutchinson possesses something that Eleby does not have; rushing upside. In 2020, the junior signal-caller finished the season with 262 yards on the ground to go along with roughly 277 passing yards each week. Like Eleby, Hutchinson plays in the MAC, so expect some high-scoring games out of him. I don’t foresee an NFL future for Hutchinson, but the college production will be strong.
Like Hutchinson, Armstrong has some rushing upside (677 yards last season net of sacks). He plays on a team that will likely be trailing most of the year, which should present quite a bit of passing volume too. Armstrong is not refined as a passer and I have doubts he gets drafted moving forward, but potential top-ten production can’t be passed up.