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CFF Re-Draft Transfer Targets Series
If you’ve played CFF the past few seasons, you probably already know that transfers are a great way to find hidden value (HV) in mid to late rounds of drafts. For simplicity I will use the term ‘HV’ frequently in my articles as this concept is at the heart of why one does offseason research for fantasy football drafts- and the abundance of it every year in college football is why I believe CFF is the best format for fantasy football. HV refers to the phenomenon where a player or team that was not highly productive, or highly rated by CFF managers previously, is now viable to have a huge spike in production, and may be going under the radar in CFF circles.
The best example of this in recent years is the offseason transformation of the WKU Hilltoppers football program in the 2021 offseason. Previously an unknown commodity to most CFF managers, Bailey Zappe (QB), who transferred to WKU after starting multiple seasons at FCS Houston Baptist, ended up as QB1 in CFF, with one of the most prolific seasons we’ve ever season in college football. His WR1, Jerreth Sterns, an undersized slot receiver (who’s only FBS offer prior to committing to Houston Baptist was to play QB in Army’s triple option offence), finished as WR1 in CFF, and was the highest fantasy scoring player per game for most of the season of the non-QBs. The most important component of the transformation may not have been the individual players however. Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, now a household name in CFF circles, brought his version of the air-raid offence to WKU along with his best players, and transformed WKU’s passing attack into college football’s most prolific offence in 2021. For those of us who were paying attention to this offseason transformation, and did our homework on the Kittley offence, the HV on investing in WKU players in CFF drafts that summer was immense. Personally, I participated in three 16 round ppr re-draft leagues that year, ranging from 10-12 managers per league, I acquired Zappe and Sterns in all three of them, ranging from 8-11th round draft selections in each- not bad when you consider the returns!
Before getting into the players, I should add why I like transfer players so much for finding HV.
A Note of Caution
With so many players transferring it can be difficult to cut through the noise and identify players best positioned to spike their production next season. Indeed, far more transfers will be rendered useless from a CFF perspective rather than useful this upcoming season.
When looking at transfers it’s important to understand why they are transferring and the context around it. There are many different kinds of transfers. Jahmyr Gibbs (RB) transferring from Georgia Tech to Alabama last year is not the same as Trey Sanders (RB) transferring from Alabama to TCU this offseason. One was the best player on a poor team, and wanted to increase his exposure at a big program, the other has been lost on a depth chart his entire career at a big program, and is transferring down a level in hopes for more playing time and a chance at the NFL draft.
When evaluating transfers you almost have to put yourselves in the shoes of that player and ask yourself, why is this player transferring, and what are they looking for in their next destination?
The Kenneth Walker III Case Study
What I like about certain types of transfer players is that there are some cases where you can almost infer that the player has been given some indication from the staff that they will be heavily used in the offence. This is the gold that CFF managers covet.
Let’s use KWIII as an exercise. He was fairly productive and already CFF relevant at Wake Forest. In 2020, he ran for 579 yards and 13 TDs in 7 games with an average of 17 carries per game (119 total).
Impressive considering he was actually the RB2 at Wake. Upperclassman Christian Beal Smith carried the ball 142 times for 732 yards and 5 TDs that same season.
So KWIII decides to transfer after his true sophomore season in 2020, and lands at Michigan State. Okay, so if we’re reading between the lines here, one could assume he did not like splitting carries at WF, or perhaps did not like the system. If this is the case then we could assume that the coaching staff at MSU probably, at the very least, told him some stuff he wanted to hear. Probably something along the lines of ‘if you’re that guy, we are going to feature you a lot’.
He ended up averaging just under 22 carries a game in 2021, which included a 7 carry game against FCS opponent Youngstown State, and a 6 carry game vs. Ohio State in which he was injured. He finished with 1636 yards and 18 rushing TDs in 12 games that season. KWIII was available in the last round of every re-draft league I participated in that summer, and I suspect he was available in yours too.
Now you might be thinking that this exercise is obvious in hindsight, however I believe that the early signs are often present ahead of time to those who are paying attention. This is where my series of articles comes in, and hopefully, I can help you highlight a few players to keep an eye on this offseason.
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