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CFF Targets - This WR reminds me of a VP alumnus, and no-one is talking about him
We're taking a trip down memory lane today, with stops in Muncie, Indiana, and the Dallas metroplex
I got here the same way the coin did
- Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men (2007)
I first came across today’s player by chance when he was still in high school, playing at Dallas-metro powerhouse Duncanville High. Those of you who follow recruiting will recognize the name of the school—they pump out massive prospects every year, and this cycle is no exception. I don’t remember why I was watching the game, it might have actually been to see Southlake Carrol wonder-kid Quinn Ewers, but I made a mental note to follow #13 from Duncanville. Luck of a coin flip, one could say. That player—Roderick Daniels Jr., chose his college destination a few blocks away at SMU, keeping the same colour way for his uniform, and is still rocking that crisp #13.
The player he reminds me of? Many of you should remember him—Ball State’s Justin Hall. Why? Hall was infamous for being used extensively as a rusher in addition to superb target volume. The Cardinals had specific packages for him near the goal line to get the ball in his hands via jet sweeps and screens. The insistence from the coaching staff in getting Hall the rock some way-some how was phenomenal for CFF. I played in three leagues in 2021, and I drafted Justin Hall as my first WR in all three of them. Simply put, Justin Hall is one of my favourite VP alumnus. In an ideal world, every WR I have on my rosters would be a carbon copy of JHall. Jerreth Sterns works too.
Now I should note — importantly — that Daniels has not come close to Hall in terms of FPG averages so far in his career. His profile is not Justin Hall, let me be clear about that. Outside of the similar stature and aesthetic style on the gridiron, what really drew the parallel for me was SMU’s bowl game vs. BYU last season. Daniels was targeted 7 times, of which he caught 6 passes for 54 yards and a score, but more notably, Jr. handled the rock 10(!) times for 59 yards. That is JHall type ish.
The coaching staff at SMU is already well-known within the CFF community, and managers are seeking to find who the next WR1 for the Mustangs will be. Many believe it will be Jordan Kerley, and the offseason rumblings seem to suggest as much. But even if that is the case, can there be value with some of the other commodities?
Let’s take a look…
Coaching & System
Rhett Lashlee is a coach that CFF managers have followed for several seasons now. He joined the Mustangs as head coach in 2022, and his WR1—Rashee Rice, caught 96 passes for 1355 yards and 10 TDs.
Lashlee spent the previous two seasons as the OC at Miami. With the Hurricanes, his WR1 in 2021 was OU transfer Charleston Rambo, who caught 79 passes for 1172 yards and 7 TDs.
In 2018 and 2019, he served as the OC at SMU. His 2019 offence was bananas for CFF, producing both a 1000-yard rusher and receiver. The WR1—James Proche, caught 111 passes for 1255 yards and 15 TDs. Proche also broke the 1000-yard mark the season before, catching 93 passes for 1199 yards and 12 TDs.
Excluding the COVID season, the WR2 averaged 47.25 receptions, 684 yards and 5.75 TDs over that span.
This trend in value in Lashlee’s WR1s is also a fairly recent phenomenon. During his time as OC at UConn (2017) and Auburn (2013-2016), he failed to have even one WR break 1000-yards. He can be forgiven for not cracking the seal at UConn, but one would have expected at least one at Auburn. Nonetheless, the recent trends in usage are pretty clear, and Lashlee’s WR1 is an obvious buy in CFF. His WR2 on the other hand, is not as obvious. In his first go around at SMU, his WR2 broke 800 yards both seasons, which is pretty good for a WR2. But lately, the value has not been the same.
There are other forces at play here that have my interest, though, which I will explain in the proceeding section
WR Roderick Daniels Jr. — 5’9, 185
Daniels is the slot guy in the crowded room that is SMU’s wideout group. He finished 2022 as the Mustangs’ WR5 from a yardage standpoint, catching 22 passes for 243 yards and 3 TDs (6.54 FPG in 1-ppr). In his freshman season (2021) he averaged 3.7 FPG. Now the rising junior has the opportunity to be the go-to guy from the slot. While it’s unlikely that he’ll be the leading receiver on this team, the coaches’ usage of Daniels could still make him a valuable commodity in CFF. Here is something Lashlee said this offseason:
Roderick is going to be mainly (a receiver) in the spring just because of depth, Jake's almost cleared but he won't do much in the spring just out of abundance of caution. He's [Daniels] been great. He'll play mainly receiver in the spring, maybe towards the end we'll kind of start to toy a little bit. I still think, as we ended the season last year, you saw how good he was with the ball in his hands. I'm not saying he is this guy, but the way he's used is like Deebo Samuel was used in the NFL and that's kind of the way we see him. He can run the football out of the backfield, catch out the backfield, obviously the return game and all the ways you can get the ball to receiver and we're still going to try to utilize that skill set.
Wow. There’s a lot to unpack there. When Rashlee evoked the name of Deebo Samuel I couldn’t help but wonder: is this the year for Jr.? Have the CFF gods delivered to me the reincarnation of JHall? Probably not, but I’m still intrigued.
As far as Daniels’ development, here’s what the OC Casey Woods said in Spring:
Junior has been an entirely different approach player . . . It's like he got kind of tired of maybe not doing everything we asked him to do and boy he jumped right in and he's been doing it and he's showing some leadership skills. Obviously, I think there's been a recognition that he's a guy that requires touches because he is so dynamic with the ball in space. We had a Jet that they bottled up over on us there, was definitely a minus-2 yard loss and he turned into a 4-yard gain. He's that kind of player that can really make yards out of things that aren't there. He's a guy that came in here with a different approach, different mindset, different leadership. He's quieter than he was, in a good way. Kind of more stoic about it, maybe. I'm really excited about potentially what we could do with him. We've talked about getting into some personnel packages to increase his versatility, put him in positions where we can get him multiple touches in different ways from from different positions across the field.
Alright now, knock it off, SMU coaches. Don’t tempt me with a good time…
Everything the OC said there is exactly what you want to hear in the offseason. What is Daniels himself saying? He sounds ready to rock, if you ask me:
I feel like I have more of a bigger role in the offense since we don't have Rashee, he's gone . . . He was our main guy, our No. 1 guy, even though I'm in the slot. We still have guys making plays on the outside, but I feel like I'm more of a big-play style and can get those explosive plays. ... We talk about it, but everybody knows. It's not a surprise. Our main guy is gone who made all our plays, so somebody's got to make up those plays, those catches and touchdowns. It can't be one person, everybody's going to try to up their game to help the team this year.
I think he’s right when he said it can’t be one person, but not because there’s not enough talent in this room. There’s too much talent—too many bodies, if you will. You have the aforementioned Jordan Kerley, Moochie Dixon, Dylan Goffney, plus TCU transfer Jordan Hudson who was an elite recruit out of high school. None of those players are likely to play the slot position, though, so Daniels probably has a monopoly on that role.
There’s a lot to ponder with the quotes above, and I can’t help but get excited to see what they do with Daniels down there in Dallas.
Here is the high school game of Duncanville vs. Southlake—it’s not the game I was originally thinking of, but Daniels does pop off, and Quinn Ewers and current Utah RB1 Ja’Quinden Jackson duel back and forth in a Texas football classic.
As mentioned, SMU has a loaded WR room. Kerley figures to be WR1 on this team, which begs the question, how potent can Daniels be as potentially the WR2?
Daniels is a projection profile. I’m basing my projection on what the coaches are saying, and a late season explosion in the bowl game. I’ve seen coaches say all kinds of things in the offseason, just for none of it to come to fruition in the fall.
When I went to check what Daniels’ ADP was on C2C, his name didn’t even come up. I’ll assume he’s been un-drafted in all CFF leagues then. That’s probably fair; if we’re talking standard CFF leagues with 17ish sized rosters, it’s hard to justify taking Daniels over other options. I recently picked him up in a 45 round dynasty league with my 39th round pick (this league has 24 teams…). So safe to say he’s free of cost right now.
I’m not going to let my JHall blinders control me here, there’s still a lot to prove with Daniels. But I’ve been waiting for the day that he might become CFF relevant since fate crossed my way several years ago. I, for one, am hoping that Jr. has a monster season this year. Bonus points if he takes over as WR1 (Lashlee’s WR1s are not typically the slot guys). In leagues where special teams points are counted (kick/punt return yardage not just TDs), our guy here could be even more relevant.
My ideal scenario is that Kerley misses time and cedes the top spot to Jr., who then takes the mantle and runs with it ahead of the other guys, fueling my squad to victory in year one of Nate Marchese’s 24-team dynasty league. How cool would that be, right?
Ah, who am I kidding, by the time that comes around I will have written another 50 or so articles, and will have completely forgotten about this one. And Daniels’ probability of even securing WR2 is not that high as it stands.
But you never know…
(VP’s alter ego) That’s BS VP, you have to call it!
- Just call it.
Well — we need to know what it is we're callin' for here.
- You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair.
I didn't put nothin' up.
- Yes you did. You been putting it up your whole article. You just didn't know it. You know what date is on the video above?
2019—#13’s been traveling four years to get here. And now he’s here. And it's either stud or dud, and you have to say. Call it.
Alright… *takes deep breath* … STUD.
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