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CFF Targets - This cheap stack combo may win a lot of leagues in 2023...
This QB and WR duo may be the key to winning your CFF league... and they come at a discount price
Every hour, every second, man, it don't stop
- KRS-ONE, musician
Upon listening to the 90s hip-hop classic 1,2 pass it I couldn’t help but relate that lyric from KRS-ONE to the daily writing routine that accompanies the every-other day publishing schedule we’ve got going on over here at VolumePigs. Today, we’re continuing the trend with a trip to Silicon Valley, where we’ll examine a QB-WR combo that offers immense CFF upside on San Jose State’s (SJSU) roster.
QB Chevan Cordeiro and WR Justin Lockhart are not the most discussed commodities amongst CFF circles this offseason, but they probably should be. Both players are generally selected in the mid-to-late rounds of re-draft formats currently, and that means there’s an opportunity for savvy drafters to discover some nice (cheaply priced) value to bolster their rosters.
Now, for all those risk-averse readers out there — yes, stacking a QB/WR combo in CFF is like leveraging in finance, it’s a double or nothing kind of deal that has the potential to ‘boom or bust’ so to speak. However, when said players can generally be acquired later in drafts, it tends to make the upside worth it. Thankfully in our case — unlike an over-leveraged investment gone wrong — we can simply cut ties with both players and acquire replacements off of the waiver wire, removing ourselves from the situation appropriately. In Silicon Valley the motto is fail fast and fail forward; the mindset is that we should embrace risk and use failure as a stepping stone to success.
That philosophy pays in CFF too. The first month of the season always has studs by the dozen available on the wire, so fear not about double dipping in drafts — a lot of players we draft aren’t going to be on our rosters by mid-October anyway; it’s better to know early on if you’ve got a hit or not.
While we’re featuring two players today instead of one, we will start the article with the same format as always, with a focus on the staff first.
Coaching & System
SJSU head coach Brent Brennan has been with the Spartans since 2017. Before that, he occupied a role called the ‘outside WRs coach’ at Oregon State (OSU) in 2016, and served as the overall WRs coach from 2011 to 2015. His time at OSU saw some prolific WRs; Brandin Cooks won the coveted Biletnikoff award in 2013, a season in which he caught 128 passes for 1730 yards and 16 TDs. The season prior, the Beavs produced two 1000-yard WRs in Cooks (67-1151-5) and Markus Wheaton (91-1244-11).
With the Spartans, Brennan’s teams have produced a few notable WR seasons. The first is Tre Walker in 2019, in which he had 79 receptions for 1161 yards and 2 TDs in 10 games. In 2020, SJSU’s Billy Gaither was on a torrid pace catching 41 passes for 725 yards and 4 TDs in 7 games (averaging 5.85 catches and 103 yards a game).
Brennan’s OC — Kevin McGiven, joined the Spartans in 2018 in the same role. He served with Brennan at OSU in 2016 as the OC of the Beavs. Prior to Oregon State he served as the OC at Utah State in 2013 and 2014. His 2014 season had a notable WR performance, McGiven’s WR1 caught 66 passes for 939 yards and 7 TDs.
While there isn’t a lot to write home about as far as past QB production, this staff inherited an elite arm talent at the Group-of-Five (G5) level in Hawaii transfer Chevan Cordeiro last offseason. In 2022, Cordeiro averaged 27.16 FPG (4-point passing TD) and his WR1 — Elijah Cooks averaged 19.8 FPG (1-ppr). Cooks now moves on, but Cordeiro should provide stability to this offence and elevate his numbers in year two with the SJSU system. That would be great if so, but even if he were to just repeat what he did in 2022, 27.16 FPG is a pretty good number. I’d say any QB over 27 FPG is a good CFF commodity to hold in re-draft formats.
What’s even more encouraging is that Cordeiro locked onto his target-man — Cooks, supporting him to a strong FPG average also. With Cooks out of the picture now, someone will have to step up and fill the void. I think that there is none better positioned to do so than last season’s WR2 Justin Lockhart.
WR Justin Lockhart — 6’3, 194
Lockart was one of the few skills players from the Jay Norvell regime in Nevada not to follow their coach to Fort Collins last offseason. His physical profile fits what Norvell preaches for his skill players — tall and long (like a basketball player); similar to other players Norvell recruited while in Reno: former Nevada Wolfpack WR Romeo Doubs (6’3, 200) and former SJSU WR Elijah Cooks (6’4, 215).
In Lockhart’s first season with the Spartans (2022), he caught 36 passes (71 targets) for 578 yards and a score (8.3 FPG). He spent the prior three seasons with the Wolfpack (2019-2021), producing his best season in 2021, catching 35 passes (51 targets) for 470 yards and 2 TDs (7.8 FPG). But in each of those seasons, Lockhart’s been the WR2 option at best. Now he has an opportunity to be the key feature man in an offence that supported Cooks to nearly 20 FPG last season and returns the QB side of that equation.
As mentioned in the previous section, Cook leaves behind a significant production vacancy. In 2022, Cordeiro targeted him 108 times, of which Cooks caught 69 passes for 1076 yards and 10 TDs in 12 games (averaging 9 targets a game). As the WR2, one has to think Lockhart’s next in line to fill that role. There are no other significant names on the roster currently in the WR room that jump out as threats to Lockhart’s WR1 status for 2023.
QB Chevan Cordeiro — 6’1, 187
Cordeiro’s undoubtedly one of the elder statesman of college football (CFB) currently. As he enters his sixth season in the collegiate ranks, Cordeiro has a legitimate chance to finish as a top-five CFF QB in 2022. That may sound like sunshine pumping, but when looking at the numbers from last season (Cordeiro finished as QB20 in FPG), it is actually not that far fetched. If you take out the QBs who left CFB this offseason, Cordeiro returns as the 13th highest FPG QB from 2022. Certainly I think top-ten is not out of the question.
Originally from Hawaii, Cordeiro began his career at the flagship school in 2018. He had his best season with the Rainbows in 2020, in which he passed for 2083 yards, 14 TDs to 6 INTs, while also rushing for 483 yards and 7 TDs in 9 games (26.3 FPG).
2021 would be a disappointing season for Cordeiro and the Rainbows, as the team struggled. Despite having some weapons at his disposal, Cordeiro’s FPG average slumped to 21.4 by season’s end. Major staff shakeups ensued the following offseason and Cordeiro decided to take his talents to the Valley up in northern California.
He saw immediate success with the Spartans in 2022 (27.2 FPG). Cordeiro attempted 427 passes, of which he completed 259 (60.7%) for 3250 yards and 23 TDs to only 6 INTs. He also saw success on the ground, rushing for 265 yards and 9 TDs on 138 attempts. If we combine the passing and rushing attempts and average them over the 12 games Cordeiro played, we see that on average there are 47 plays a game in which he was eligible for fantasy points. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that in year two he could take a step forward in his passing efficiency — which would benefit the pass-catchers too.
SJSU’s toughest out-of-conference opponent this season is Oregon State. Like with all G5 commodities, Cordeiro’s value lies within the conference schedule. In 2022, he scored less than 25 points in only four of the twelve games, and one of those was the contest vs SEC opponent Auburn (16.05 FPs). They also get FCS opponent Cal-Poly in early September, before traveling to the midwest to face-off vs. MAC opponent Toledo. In SJSU’s bowl game last year, the Spartans played another MAC program — Eastern Michigan. Cordeiro had one of his best games of the season, scorching the Eagles as he threw for 366 yards, 3 TDs and 50 yards rushing and another score (37.3 FPs). They play USC in week zero, but that is outside of the CFF scoring range — so his FPG average may not be great until later in the season (USC and OSU will probably be tough for SJSU). Patience will be key here, week two onward should be gravy.
VP’s Final Thoughts
I like both Cordeiro and Lockhart where they’re being drafted right now. People may scoff at my headline, but it was Jerreth Sterns and Bailey Zappe in rounds eight and nine in my 2021 re-drafts that won me a lot of games that season, and I don’t think I was alone. I’m not going to suggest that the Spartans are going to mirror that production, but I don’t see why Cordeiro can’t finish this season hovering around 30 FPG, and Lockhart in the 15-20 FPG range — that is potentially round one/two value at a late round price. Count me in.
The biggest threat to Lockhart is not another WR. TE Dominick Mazotti was a prominent figure in this offence last season, finishing with an average of 8.7 FPG in seven games. Something to note is that Mazotti was not targeted and did not register a stat in the first two games he played in during the 2022 campaign, which weighed his averaged down. If you average the numbers in games where we know he played, he finished 2022 with 12.12 FPG in five games, with his best games being 23 points vs. UNLV, 15.4 vs. Nevada, and 14 vs. Colorado State. Moral of the story? I think it’s two fold: 1) Mazotti is a guy to put on your radar for a deep TE selection and 2) Lockhart may not be the go-to guy for red zone targets, but overall there is very little competition for lead receiver on this team.
Cordeiro should at the very least continue what he did last season, and potentially elevate his numbers from a year ago.
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