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The Itis: CFF Treats - Observations from Week Seven
Have the Pokes reincarnated 2019 Chuba Hubbard? What should you do with Brock Bowers? VP examines these topics and more on this week's recap article.
I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Ann of Green Gables
Have the Pokes Reincarnated 2019 Chuba Hubbard?
If you were playing CFF back in 2019, you know exactly what I’m talking about with this headline. The Canadian out of Edmonton, Alberta (same province that produced Stanford’s Elic Ayomanor, FYI), was leaned on like no other by Mike Gundy on his way to 2000+ yards rushing, a feat that we haven’t seen repeated since. Ironically, that season produced — I believe — three separate runners who cleared this mark (Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, OSU’s JK Dobbins, and Mr. 2K himself—Chuba Hubbard).
That season went down as a legendary one within the annals of CFF lore. Indeed, to this day there are some (like myself) still chasing the patterns we saw from the 2019 campaign. Not that Mike Gundy hadn't been notorious for utilizing RBs in a very volume pig-esque fashion before, but that season was very much an exclamation mark. Last year I drafted Dominic Richardson, hoping he’d find some of that same CFF nectar that his predecessors found in Stillwater (Jaylen Warren was very productive in 2021 after Hubbard). It was going OK for the first few weeks, but ultimately fell apart somewhere in October. Apparently not learning my lesson, I drafted Ollie Gordon this season in the 24 team dynasty league I participate in, and managed to acquire him via waivers a few weeks ago in my home league after OGII’s sluggish start.
While I don’t think Gordon is going to hit 2K yards (though I suppose anything is possible with Mike Gundy in charge), he seems to have ascended as the focal point of the offence in the last three weeks. He had an historic day on Saturday becoming the first OK State player to go over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game in 30 years. His output (46 points) finished second only to the iron man himself—Ashton Jeanty (48 points). The Pokes are also #Winning now in back-to-back weeks where they were dogs (and on the road IIRC), so it’s likely that Gundy continues this formula for success until it stops working (they might have some trouble Week Ten vs. OU). Besides that annual Bedlam game, however, the Pokes’ schedule sets up really nicely down the stretch.
RB Rooms in Flux
Each season we see RBs that started the year as RB1 fade into irrelevancy, while another, takes their spot. This season is no exception, and there are five names in particular who have ascended recently into either RB1 or RB1B roles
Fresno State’s Malik Sherrod — I was high on his teammate—Elijah Gilliam to start the season, that’s no secret. I thought his play in Sherrod’s absence would keep him in the driver’s seat. That didn’t happen, and it’s been obvious for a few weeks now that this is Sherrod’ backfield again. Sherrod just had his best game of the season vs. Utah State (37.6 points). More importantly, he saw 24 carries while Gilliam only saw three. I know EG was banged up earlier, but I’m pretty sure this is just how the split is going to look until further notice. That makes Sherrod an intriguing option via waivers if available (he’s apparently rostered on 22% of teams currently). I’m not to the point where I would recommend him (hence leaving him off the Pig Market article), but he’s definitely one I’m watching.
Utah’ Sione Vaki — Who the hell is this kid? I guess he saw Travis Hunter playing two ways at CU, and thought: why not? Clearly, he’s been needed. The Utes are extremely banged up in the RB room, with Chris Curry and Micah Bernard out for the season. Encouragingly for his shareholders—Ja’Quinden Jackson received a heavy workload on Saturday vs. Cal with 22 carries for 94 yards and a score. The full-time safety part time roadrunner—Sione Vaki, was right behind him with 15 carries for 158 yards and two scores (28.3 points). I’m willing to bet that if he’s in your pool of eligible players, he’s probably available in your league this week. They play a porous USC defence this week, so it’s entirely possible that Vaki has the game of his life to followup his breakout performance last Saturday.
Kent State’s Jaylen Thomas — Not that it appears to matter much, but Kent State’s Jaylen Thomas has taken over as the primary volume pig in the Golden Flash backfield in the last two weeks. He’s carried the rock 23 times or more in back-to-back weeks, and if KSU can simply find a way to score every so often, Thomas would be a great asset to have as we descend into the chaotic realm of MACtion. The head coach of KSU learned from the best, evidently. A disciple of the fabled PJ Fleck school of carry distribution—he was the RBs coach with the Gophers the past few seasons, notably when they rode Mo Ibrahim early and often. I like what I’m seeing from their usage patterns, maybe next season there’ll be a player worth rostering from this RB room.
Charlotte’s Shadrick Byrd — What a disappointing season it’s been for the 49ers. Not that much was expected of them to begin with in year one of Biff Poggi’s regime (Vegas set their O/U win total at 2.5 IIRC), but I thought they’d at least figure out a way to run the football effectively with a focal point in the backfield. Early on it looked like freshman Durrell Robinson might be that guy, but he then went down with an injury for the season. Byrd recently saw 20 carries vs. Navy. He accumulated 92 yards with those touches (4.6 ypc) which is not bad. I did a focus piece on Byrd this offseason, and in it I remarked that Poggi’s preferences on offence are easy to find. He was run-heavy while HC’ing St. Francis Academy High School. He helped UM get over the OSU hump with implementing a more smash-mouth approach, coincidently with the same RB he had in HS—Blake Corum as a featured player in that scheme. But it was actually Hasssan Haskins who kicked things off with Poggi-ball coming into effect in 2021 for the Wolverines. I remain confident that there will be some stud CFF RBs to come out of this 49ers program in the near future, but it probably won’t be this year.
Tulane’s Makhi Hughes — I wrote about Hughes on this week’s Pig Market (it was a post-publication addition), where I remarked that he’s taken the torch the last few weeks and run with it (no pun intended). If you played CFF last year, you know that this Tulane program rode Tyjae Spears heavily, it looks like Hughes has ascended into this role. I don’t know what the deal is with Shaadie Clayton, but he’s been in the backseat lately.
UAB’s Jermaine Brown Jr. — It is officially #WheelsUpSZN for UAB’s (dual eligible) Jermaine Brown. After a tumultuous start to the season with Isaiah Jacobs also securing steady amounts of volume in the backfield, Brown has ascended in the last two weeks. What’s more, it was announced on Tuesday that Isaiah Jacobs will be out for the remainder of the year, meaning the production and volume we’ve seen lately is likely to continue. If Brown is WR eligible in your league and you have him, you’re probably feeling pretty good right about now.
Horrendous Year for Top TEs
Welp, there’s no other way to put this. It’s been a tough year for TE drafters. Almost all of the top pre-season TEs have either underperformed or have been rendered unavailable. Orande Gadsden, who has lost his nickname ‘OGII’ to OK State’s Ollie Gordon, was ruled out for the season early on, and now Brock Bowers might be following suit. Other players like Brady Hunt just didn’t play at all.
Even a breakout player like CU’s Michael Harrison has been relegated back to irrelevancy with Travis Hunter back in the lineup.
Of the remaining options left at TE, these are some of the top options currently. I use the word ‘top’ fairly loosely here:
CSU — Dallin ‘Wallstreet’ Holker
MTSU — Holden Willis (if eligible)
KSU — Ben Sinnott
OSU — Cade Stover
Oregon State — Jack Velling
PSU — Tyler Warren
SMU — RJ Maryland
USCjr. — Trey Knox
ND — Mitchell Evans
FSU — Jaheim Bell
One question I received a lot this week is whether there might be some value in picking up Oscar Delp in Bowers’ absence. Personally, I think there’s probably better options available. I think UGA will place a higher emphasis on the WRs now, rather than funnelling targets to Delp. Unfortunately, by the time we have clarity on this issue, it’ll be too late. If Delp is peppered early and often vs. UF in two weeks, then he’ll likely be a hot buy on the wire the following week.
Who’s Worth Holding?
When certain players go down for an extended amount of time, their previous potency in CFF makes them a difficult conundrum for CFF managers to contemplate when assessing whether they should cut said player and find someone else, or hold steady for their return.
This notion became particularly relevant to me, and my friend Henri — who is the #1 seed in my home league currently — during our last run. Upon greeting him under the autumn leaves of Toronto West’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, I remarked that it was ironic that his TE—Brock Bowers, would go down with injury this weekend after we had just talked about this very thing the previous Thursday. His reply — which I’m paraphrasing — he quipped “something something… voodoo magic… something something this was your plan all along”.
As a UGA fan, I can assure the reader, there was no-one else more disturbed by the prospect of Bowers missing extended time than I, and would never wish that into reality, no matter how much I’d like to win my league. Lesser programs (such as Alabama and Ohio State, for example), would probably fold their Football programs all together in the event that their top receiver went down in October, so kudos to Bowers and UGA for keeping the dream alive for his shareholders in CFF. The nature of the return timeline makes Bowers an interesting conundrum, given that he will likely miss at least four weeks, with the potential of up to six weeks, which would bring him back for the playoffs in the CFF period. I noted to my dear friend Henri, that even upon his return (let’s say that’s Ole Miss) that Kirby and the staff probably wouldn’t throw him to the wolves right away. This is a team with historic aspirations, something that’s never been done before (pre-WWII era CFB doesn’t count…), and so I’d think they’ll probably prep him for the SECCG (assuming UGA gets back there), where they’ll really need him. December is for the big dogs, October and November are for the pretenders, every elite CFB coach knows this. That timeline would also match that of what they did with George Pickens in 2021, and AD Mitchell in 2022.
Coming back to the original question at hand, however, I think it’s a topic worth discussing. Wazzou WR Lincoln Victor falls into this category too, when he went down with injury in September with a return timeline of a few weeks. We’ve already seen that with Victor, him returning doesn’t necessarily mean he’s back. Which was exactly my point regarding Bowers; his first game back probably won’t be a very productive one, unless UGA absolutely needs to lean on him, and even still I’d be cautious.
Generally, my philosophy with these things is taken on a case-by-case basis, but my rule of thumb is to abide by the answer to the following question: is the player one of the top (let’s say top five) at his position in CFF? If the answer is yes, then I’ll contemplate holding them. Of course, the return timeline is an important factor to consider also. I’ve held onto Victor in a few leagues because he’s a potential WR1 in all of CFF when healthy. Bowers is a potential TE1 when healthy, but his return timeline is much later than Victor’s. Lincoln Victor already returned to the lineup October 14 for Wazzou. Bowers may not return in the regular season at all, making his seat a bit warmer if you’re in need of a contributor on your roster currently. Most likely, in most regular league setups, if you had Bowers you probably only had one TE. Now — at the very least — you’ll have to drop someone to get a functional TE in the meantime.
It’s worth noting that in my home league, señor Henri did, in fact, drop Bowers. As he would say “it’s all about winning every week”. Indeed, in a 12 game season, if you’re in a 12-team league with only four spots reserved for playoff spots, the opportunity cost of holding onto players who are not contributing is enormous. Though I don’t know if I could bare to drop Bowers from a team that was sitting undefeated and in the #1 seed in my league currently. Undoubtedly Henri — an avid investor — would probably tell me to separate my head from my heart on these types of decisions.
I’m very curious how the readers feel about this one.
Big Time WRs Back
Week Seven was a good week for elite WRs making their return to CFB. Colorado’s two-way superstar Travis Hunter was extremely productive in his first game back since Week Two vs. CSU, netting 13 of his 19 targets for 140 yards and two scores (39 points). Miami of Ohio’s Gage Larvadain caught five of his ten targets for 49 yards and two scores (21.9). UNC’s Devontez Walker, who returned last week, had a strong followup to his debut with six catches (eight targets) for 132 yards, three scores and two rush attempts for 19 yards (39.1).
Wazzou’s Lincoln Victor had a less stellar return, catching four passes on four targets for 19 yards. It was apparent from Dickert’s post-game presser, however, that Victor was not 100%:
I want to give a big shout-out to Lincoln Victor. He went out there and gutted out there, I think, 23 plays. But it looked like he had a pop in his step. He's an 'energy giver' on our team. And I think it was inspiring to have him back out there through extremely limited practice. So really credit to him to go out there and do that. We have got to get back in rhythm and sync between the wide receiver and the quarterback.
I would expect that Colorado will begin to limit some of the snaps Hunter takes on offence going forward, after he was clearly fatigued when playing DB in the second half vs. Stanford (the Cardinals seemed to notice this also).
Larvadain and Walker look poised for dominance over the next few weeks and beyond, so for those out there who held onto these guys, kudos to you.
I believe Victor will be dominant again, but it might take a few more weeks for him to get right.
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