There is nothing better than waking up on Saturday and turning on College Gameday. The pageantry and atmosphere of college football cant be topped no matter the sport. Just check out this video of Virginia Tech entering the stadium.
If you don’t get chills from watching that, I am convinced you don’t have a soul. College football did not disappoint Week 1. It was filled with high-quality action all across the country. It was filled with loads of points (except in the Big Ten) and reminded us why we all love this sport. But it wasn’t all good news for Devy and C2C managers out there. While some players performed well, we did see some big names disappoint on the gridiron. This season I will be bringing you a weekly column on navigating the college football landscape and its ever-changing devy values. Value can be difficult to judge, especially in leagues where there are so many different types of managers. But it’s good to get out front of your league mates, especially in C2C. Let’s dive in.
Zach Charbonnet (JR – UCLA) 6’1″, 220 lbs
Alright, I want to be 100% upfront on Charbonnet. I have never been a believer in him as a running back. As a Michigan fan, it could just be me being jaded. He’s never had the speed I wanted in a runner and had serious production concerns at Michigan. Fast forward to this year, and he started the season out great. Against Hawaii, he had 106 yards and three touchdowns. Even then, I was hesitant to say that his stock was trending up. It is Hawaii, after all. But this week, Charbonnet went up against LSU. While this version of LSU is far removed from the 2019 national title team, it’s still an SEC opponent. Charbonnet was able to rush for 117 yards and a touchdown on just eleven carries. In both games, he’s had a total of 19 touches, scored four touchdowns, and racked up 272 yards. He’s been excellent. Charbonnet’s contact balance, footwork, and burst have been on full display this season. Just take a look at this run.
Now the real question is what we’re doing with him in our leagues. I think it’s important to put his season so far in context. While he has looked good, he does split carries with fellow UCLA RB Brittain Brown. Brown has out-touched Charbonnet this season. That’s something to be aware of. With that being said, he has still looked good within that system. If he can continue to play this way, his ceiling is an early day two draft pick. If I had him on a roster, I would consider moving him. I know that may not be the popular opinion but use his recent hype to gain a better asset either on the NFL side or college side.
Tavion Thomas (SO – Utah) 6’2”, 230 lbs
One of the biggest question marks heading into the season was who would start at running back for Utah. Ty Jordan’s tragic death after the season left the room with a ton of question marks. Before the season, there were four running backs competing for carries. They were Thomas, TJ Pledger, Chris Curry, and Micah Bernard. Thomas transferred to Utah from Independence Community College after leaving the University of Cincinnati Bearcats program when he was redshirted. As a high school recruit, Thomas was ranked the 20th best running back in the country in the 2018 class, according to 247Sports, and had offers from all the top college football programs in the country — Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, USC, and Wisconsin, among many others. So his profile checks out. On Thursday, he had 12 attempts for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Just take a look at this great run below.
While he did play against Weber State University, so our expectations should be lowered a bit, the fact he could have earned the starting spot in the backfield is the key takeaway. As someone who only has a 2% rostership in Fantrax leagues, he should be on everyone’s must-watch list moving forward. If he has a big game against rival BYU, his stock will only increase. If your leagues have weekly waiver wire adds, he’s a must-add.
Anthony Richardson (FR – Florida) 6’4”, 236 lbs
While other websites and analysts were touting Emory Jones as a top ten pick in the upcoming 2021 draft, I slowly drafted Richardson shares across all my leagues. His game against FAU is precisely why. Richardson’s athleticism was on full display on Saturday, rushing for 160 yards on just seven attempts and adding a rushing touchdown. He also threw for forty yards. While he is limited as a passer, Richardson is one of the best athletes at the quarterback position that Florida has had in a decade. Richardson became the first Florida quarterback to rush for 100 yards since Jeff Driskel rushed for 177 yards against Vanderbilt in 2012. The kid is just electric when he has the ball in his hands. Just take a look at this run.
The real question mark is who Florida and Dan Mullen go with as the starting quarterback. Richardson does have flaws that will need to be developed in the passing game. His athleticism will work against FAU, but he won’t be able to rely on that against other SEC teams. Emory Jones has been named the starter for their second game, but he looked awful. He made two very poor decisions that resulted in turnovers, and if he continues to do that, Richardson will be on the field more and more. Richardson is everything we want in a Konami-style quarterback, and he could be the player that sees the most significant increase in value as the season progresses.
Jaylon Robinson (JR – UCF) 5’9” 180 lbs
Robinson has been one of my favorite players to acquire all off-season. In 2020 he had 55 receptions for 979 yards and six touchdowns. His ADP was always a value at WR63, and he’s only going to rise as 2021 goes. In the UCF offense with Dillon Gabriel, I fully expect him to lead the team in targets. Over the off-season, Robinson visited Gabriel’s home state of Hawaii for off-season workouts. There’s apparent chemistry between the two of them. Against Boise State, he had six receptions for 140 yards and one touchdown, equating to 26 fantasy points. We’re going to see those kinds of numbers all season.
As a receiver, he exhibits excellent straight-line speed and is an underrated route runner. He keeps his hips low and gets out of breaks quickly. He can also excel in traffic, and even with his size shows he’s strong enough to win 50/50 balls. Robinson is the type of receiver the NFL is falling in love with. It would not surprise me to see him make noise in the NFL draft. Another factor is UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s system, where he loves to utilize receivers with jet sweeps and reverses, so it’s just another way to get Robinson touches.
Blake Corum (SO – Michigan) 5’8” 200 lbs
If you thought that I wouldn’t find a way to get a Michigan player in this article, you don’t know me. The Wolverines crushed Western Michigan this past weekend, and Corum was a big reason why. He finished the game with 111 yards on 14 attempts and scored a rushing touchdown. He also added two receptions for 22 yards and two touchdowns. Corum scored 31 fantasy points on Fantrax and is still only rostered in 10% of leagues. That’s just blasphemous. In my opinion, he’s the clear RB1 option on that team. Hassan Haskins will continue to get carries, but it will be hard to keep a player like Corum off the field. He is just too dynamic – he hits holes quickly and is explosive. He has big-play threat written all over him, and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield only elevates his profile. It also seems as long as Cade McNamara is starting at quarterback, we should see Michigan rely heavily on their rushing attack. Buy Corum stock now.
With it only being one week into the college football season, there are not many players whose stock is down this season. But here are two players that I am most concerned with moving forward.
Eric Gray (JR – Oklahoma) 5’9”, 206 lbs
Let’s be as honest as possible about Eric Gray. he had a terrible debut for the Sooners. Against Tulane, he had 27 yards on nine attempts. He also added a negative six receiving yards. Not only did he have a bad day his teammate Kennedy Brooks had a fantastic day carrying the ball. Brooks rushed for 87 yards and scored a touchdown on just 14 attempts. Another storyline to keep an eye on is how Oklahoma will use freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. He came into the game and vulture another rushing touchdown, and we could see the Sooners using that package more this season. If you pair that with Spencer Rattler’s rushing upside in the RedZone, it could be a long season for Eric Gray managers out there. As a non-Gray guy, this is precisely what I was worried about with him as a runner. He doesn’t have the top-end speed I would want from a back, and if he’s not getting goal-line work, it severely limits his ceiling. Right now is not the time to trade him away, though. You need to hope that he can have a couple of bounce-back games before the end of the season. But for me, he’s not an asset I want on any of my rosters. There was always too much risk at his ADP, and in my opinion, he will never live up to expectations.
Michael Penix Jr (JR – Indiana) 6’3”, 218 lbs
What could go wrong for Penix Jr. did go wrong on Saturday. He threw three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, and only completed 45% of his passes. Iowa’s defense was all over the quarterback and could have had two to three more interceptions had they not dropped them. Indiana came in as a possible dark horse in the conference got annihilated by Iowa 34-6. There was optimism after last season, where Penix threw for 1,645 yards with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. But that optimism seems to be waning. His poor play, along with his injury history, is not great for his value. His performance Saturday should be worrisome for fantasy managers in C2C leagues. This week, he should have a bounce-back against lowly Idaho, but his game against Cincinnati the next week will tell us everything we need to know about him as a player.