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CFF Targets - The new TE1 in college football?
Fantrax done F'd around on this one...
Bring back the fever… again
- Roosevelt, Musician
With a nickname like OGII, it’s hard to argue that you’re not an absolute baller. Syracuse’s ‘TE’ Orande Gadsden II (son of former NFL’er Orande Gadsden), is a 6’5, 215 pound receiving monster by way of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He broke out last season as a true sophomore with the Orange (14.9 FPG), despite some shoddy QB play. But that was as a WR in CFF.
Players who are not TEs that get the TE designation are straight up cheat codes in CFF. There was the fever dream that was CJ Donaldson last fall. In September, the CFF community quickly found out that — despite being the starting RB for WVU — Donaldson could be used as a TE on their CFF team. Unfortunately for those who were hoping to repeat the process in 2023, Donaldson has been shifted officially on Fantrax to RB.
But this summer, Fantrax — in all their glory — brought back the fever once again, with Syracuse’s WR OGII getting the TE designation. This is a cataclysmic event in the CFF world, as OGII becomes a legitimate contender to be the TE1 in 2023. As the current draft price is less than a guy like Brock Bowers, I’d even go as far as saying that OGII is the best profile of any of the TEs currently.
But seriously, OGII sucks. Don’t draft him. If you see me drafting him I assure you it’s strictly for experimental purposes…
Kidding aside, OGII has all of a sudden become a monster CFF asset. So what makes him so special? Let’s go through it.
Usually I’d do coverage on the coaching and system in this section, but that’s not really the magic here. However, I will note that the Orange have had 1000-yard receivers under head coach Dino Babers in the past—Trishton Jackson (6’1, 191) in 2019 (66 receptions, 1023 yards and 11 TDs), Steve Ishmael (6’2, 209) in 2017 (105 receptions, 1347 yards and 7 TDs), and Amba Etta-Tawo (6’1, 194) in 2016 (94 receptions, 1482 yards and 14 TDs). All three of those came with a run-heavy QB, too.
OGII is a valuable commodity at TE because he actually doesn’t play TE (*mind blown*). He played most of his snaps last season from the slot, and by reports this spring he is inline to once again be the WR1 for this team in 2023.
The TE position is so weak year in year out that simply having a WR1 for even a below-average passing attack automatically catapults the player in question to potential TE1. OGII averaged just shy of 15 FPG (14.9) in 2022; the reality is that if your TE finished the season with 15 FPG, the likelihood is extremely high that you had the TE1 or TE2 at worst for that season. And, unless the rest of your team was poorly constructed, it’s also very likely you won a lot of games that year.
Fellow C2C writer Chris Moxley wrote an interesting article about positional value and the TE position, which I think is worth a read if you’re interested in CFF.
TE/WR Oronde Gadsden — 6’5, 215
The rising junior Gadsden led the Orange in receiving last season with 61 catches (91 targets) for 969 yards and 6 TDs. He did so while primarily operating out of the slot position on the field, and was rarely used as an inline blocker. You can see from the photos of him that his frame is much more that of a WR than a slot receiver or TE.
He saw 10 or more targets in three games last season (10 vs. NCSt., 10 vs. vs. UVA and 12 vs. Minnesota in the bowl game). It sounds like he is going to be the go-to target man once again this season, here’s an excerpt from a report out of spring camp:
On friday (spring game), Lamson’s (Syracuse QB) main targets were, unsurprisingly, Oronde Gadsden II and LeQuint Allen. Gadsden — a first-team All-ACC selection last year after hauling in 61 passes for 969 yards — recorded four catches for 46 yards, and Allen received 11 touches for 30 total yards.
For as tall as he is it’s surprising he didn’t have more TDs than he did (he actually only scored in four games). Regardless, if he just repeats what he did last fall he will be a top TE if not the top TE in CFF in 2023. This is a definite buy in any CFF league but the question is how much should you pay up for him? There’s an element of game theory at play here, and it can sort of set up a race to the bottom with respect to the price for a player like this.
I’m not one of these guys that believes in paying a 1-3 round pick on TEs. The highest I’ve picked is round six for Nevada’s Cole Turner in 2021 and Ole Miss’ Michael Trigg in 2022 (ouch). The Turner pick was sound based on his past performance, the Trigg one was poor on my behalf (we admit our mistakes openly around here). Gadsden, like Turner, has enough factors built in to suggest the probability is extremely high that anyone who drafts him can plug him in to their roster and not have to worry about the TE position for the rest of the season.
Here’s my problem with TEs: the best ones almost always end up averaging around 15 FPG. The next tier of guys get you around 10-12. We’re talking about a difference of a handful of FPs per week difference. And, I guarantee you (that’s right, guarantee) that there will be at least one player that nobody is talking about, not me, not the C2C guys, not anyone else, who will emerge at the beginning of the season—on the waiver wire, and who can provide you 10-12 FPG. Is it worth spending a round two/three pick on Gadsden? The argument is that he provides probably the highest probability of netting you around 15 FPG vs. another player that has that in his range of outcomes. Gadsden is basically a lock to be a top TE, and that’s certainly worth a lot of draft capital. At a position that is so scarce and volatile, certainty is at a premium—not necessarily the difference in points from TE1 to TE5.
So with that being said, could I see myself paying a heavy price (e.g., round three) to acquire him? Sure, this is a unique circumstance and thus the standard procedures don’t necessarily apply. I’d much rather acquire him at round six or higher, though, but that’s highly unlikely to happen in any CFF league now.
And a last thought to note before this ends up being another story: with TEs, I generally believe you should declare your strategy early: either pay the price to get the guy (Gadsden, Bowers); or let the draft play out and pick up a high upside player later (like, last round of the draft), and assume you’ll be leveraging the wire for this position. For me, paying a sixth round price for Turner and Trigg in 2021 and 2022 was paying up to get the guy I wanted. Turner was the first TE selected in leagues where I picked him that year, Trigg was usually the third TE taken in 2022.
It’s funny that OGII is likely to be WR1 on this team. He’s officially listed as a TE on Syracuses’s roster and his biggest competitor for targets is probably going to be RB LeQuint Allen. Allen has said he hopes to break a receiving record for RBs this fall. God forbid a player who’s actually listed at WR on this team end up leading them in targets.
Starting QB Garrett Shrader is not a great passer, and he’s going to be running a lot too. There may not be an enormous amount of targets to go around but — with Shrader we at least know he’s not going to be whipping it downfield often. Short and intermediate throws are the name of the game for a passer like him, and that’s where OGII and Allen benefit. That being said, OGII’s YPC average last season (~15) is among the highest of returning TEs, so when Shrader does decide to go deeper, OGII’s usually on the other end of it. Nice.
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