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The Itis: CFF Treats - Observations from Week Eight
RB1 and WR1 Races Have Two New Contenders; One of the Best Under-the-Radar(ish) Offences for 2024; and a New Volume Pig Emerging in Connecticut; highlight this week's recap.
There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.
- Linus, Charlie Brown Halloween (1966)
RB1 and WR1 Races Have Two New Contenders
Some players in CFF are late bloomers. The unenviable task of determining how long is too long to hold on to some players is a difficult conundrum that we all face at some point during the CFF season, particularly early on. With some — like Oklahoma State RB Ollie Gordon — drafters probably shed him earlier in September of this year. Just like the fictional character Linus in the classic Halloween movie “Charlie Brown Halloween”, even the most passionate believers can become dissuaded in the face of uncertainty. Most of the time, CFF managers are right to shed players that are showing no signs of life early on. But every now and then there are players who you wish you could take back — but only once it’s too late.
Ollie Gordon has a legitimate shot to finish this season as RB1 — I wrote last week that the Pokes seemed to have reincarnated the 2019 version of Chuba Hubbard via true sophomore Ollie Gordon. After all, it was in Hubbard’s true sophomore season that he broke out also, so it would appear history is repeating itself here. I watched the Pokes’ game vs. WVU this past weekend, and the impression I had watching Gordon’s smooth, long strides was that he reminded me of one Breece Hall. CFF players I’m sure will remember Hall’s exceptional performances during his time at Iowa State. And just to be clear about the headline, when I say RB1 I’m talking about FPG, which I think is the best measure of a player’s value rather than total points (which are more skewed by who played the most games). As long as all the players played a similar amount of games, I think FPG average is an accurate measure (at least, the best we have) on who was the best that season. Jeanty has a commanding lead still, sitting at 34 FPG (the only non-QB to average over 30 FPG currently), but with the pace Gordon is on, and a potential Holani return presumably coming at some point, that race could get tighter down the stretch. Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the screenshot—yes, I do currently own three of the top four scoring RBs in my home league (*beats chest*).
Sam Houston’s Noah Smith has come out of nowhere, but looks legit — After putting him in the Fool’s Gold section of my weekly waiver report after his big game in Week Four, I was relegated to eating crow the next week. To be honest, I wasn’t too upset about it as I had claimed him off of waivers in one of my leagues despite my warning to the readers. We are now four games straight with Smith seeing double digit targets, and he also has six, three, one and three carries over that time span. Despite the offence not being highly explosive (though it is improving), the sheer volume Smith sees has him in the conversation now. His poor start to the season of course weighs his average down, but if you just look at what he’s done in the last four weeks in isolation, it’s hard to argue that there are many WRs that CFF players would have rather had during that span. Despite the slow start, Smith currently sits at 19th in the FBS in catches.
Boston College One of CFB’s Best Offences in 2024?
One of the most unlikely CFB programs that has been productive at all three levels in CFF this season is Boston College. The Eagles not only have one of the best CFF QBs, Thomas Castellanos, but also a solid WR in Lewis Bond. They've also had, at various times, a CFF-relevant RB in Pat Garwo (when healthy) and Kye Robichaux (in Garwo's absence). Castellanos is a true sophomore, so, unless he transfers in the offseason, he has to return. Bond is in his junior season, but it feels likely he'd return for another year also. I suppose technically, Ryan O'Keefe can return as well, given he only played in four games this season prior to the neck injury. If he doesn't return in 2023, then he should still be eligible for 2024. With Garwo potentially moving on in 2024, Robichaux could potentially be a sneaky asset (scored 18.9, 17.1, and 36.9 points while Garwo's been out).
In terms of the staff here (this might change somewhat over the offseason, as is usually the case), BC has somewhat of a unique hierarchy of coaches.
At the top of the hierarchy is the Eagles' head coach, Jeff Hafley, who has been the CEO of the program since 2020. He is primarily a defensive head coach, which perhaps explains the complicated offensive coaching system. Prior to joining BC, he was Co-Defensive Coordinator at Ohio State.
Then there is Rob Chudzinski, associate head coach/head of offensive development (whatever that means). He joined BC in 2020 with Hafley and served as a special assistant to the head coach. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL (2015-2017) and spent two years as a head coach prior to that (2013 Cleveland Browns, 2014 Indianapolis). The main takeaway I found when looking at his track record was that his top offensive player in terms of production and volume while with the Colts was the 5'9", 183-pound slot receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton went over 1000 yards in three of the four seasons Coach Chud oversaw the program and never saw fewer than 100 targets in those four seasons.
Then there is OC/QBs coach Steve Shimko, who joined the program as TE’s coach in 2020. Shimko was promoted in 2022 to QB’s coach before getting elevated to OC for 2023. It seems safe to assume he and coach Chud will be working on the offence in a collaborative manner, which is good news because Chud’s track record is intriguing, whereas Shimko doesn’t really have a track record.
Hometown Hero Taking Over Reins for Huskies?
When Victor Rosa went down on Saturday against USF, I imagine most Husky fans held their breath. The true sophomore out of Bristol, CT, has been an engine for the UConn offense in both seasons that he’s been on campus. But as always, when one player goes down, it creates an opportunity for another to step up.
That was the case for the Huskies on Saturday, as another true sophomore—Camryn Edwards out of Norwalk, CT—filled in and performed at an elite level, rushing for 149 yards and a score on 22 carries and notching another score plus 15 yards through the air on five targets (32.4 points). The opponent, of course, has to be considered here. But even still, that was an impressive performance. Especially so when you consider Edwards joined the program originally as a DB recruit. He doesn't even have a 247 profile as far as I can tell.
If Rosa continues to miss time, Edwards is an intriguing option down the stretch, as the only other RB to get carries on Saturday besides Rosa and Edwards was Cameron Edwards, who saw only one. They play Boston College next week, which should be fine in terms of the strength of the matchup. At Tennessee and James Madison in the following two weeks will probably be rough, but then there are back-to-back weeks against the FCS program Sacred Heart and G5 doormat UMass in the playoff weeks of the CFF schedule. So Edwards is definitely someone to watch going forward.
This Season’s Most Disappointing QBs
Every season, at every position, there are players who were highly touted in the offseason by various members of the CFF community, only for those players to ultimately fall flat once the action kicks off. It’s an inevitable part of the process. The QB position is no exception to this rule. Some of the most disappointing players include:
I’ve written before on Brennan Armstrong, who was a player I believed in strongly before the season, so I won’t rehash that here.
As far as Rourke, it’s also curious that he’s taken a step back, but he’s also been banged up throughout the season, and was already coming off a major injury from late in 2022. He’s had a few big games, but has not had demonstrated the desired consistency of a QB drafted in his range.
KJ Jefferson is another big blow. I suppose I underestimated the extent to which Dan Enos — the Razorbacks’ OC to start the season — would be in over his head in the SEC. He did a pretty good job at Maryland, but ultimately that success did not translate. I’ll be curious to see what happens with Jefferson’s output now that Enos has been banished from the program.
Frank Harris is in a similar situation to Rourke, in that he’s had at least one good game, but has struggled with his health also. The loss of their OC to Oregon probably did not help either.
Of the names on this list, I believe Milton is the only one that I didn’t include in my rankings this offseason. He’s had some good games too, but ultimately has failed to live up to the lofty — and probably unreasonable — expectations bestowed upon him by the CFF community. The second coming of Hendon Hooker is probably an unreasonable mark to determine whether a player is a good CFF asset. Let this serve as yet another reminder to all of us that — while systems are important — you don’t just replace elite producing players year after year.
Some Interesting Receiving Stats
How many of you out there know that the leader in TDs from the TE position isn’t actually Dallin Holker? I’ll pause a minute to let you guess who it might be… one… two… there… OK, time’s up. The answer is: our boy Jack Velling, of Oregon State. Velling is actually tied for 14th in total receiving TDs currently, ahead of WRs like Jamari Thrash, Rome Odunze, Marvin Harrison Jr., Tory Horton and Luther Burden.
Sticking with receiving TDs, how many of you would have guessed that it is currently LSU’s WR2—Brian Thomas, who leads the FBS in TDs caught. The players immediately behind him include UM’s Roman Wilson, and Utah State's WR2 Jalen Royals. I’m not sure many of us would have guessed before the season that by the end of October, two of the three receiving TD leaders would be the player who is considered WR2 on their own teams, but here we are.
UK’s Ray Davis leads all RBs in receiving TDs with five, and is tied with WRs such as Tetairoa McMillan, Lewis Bond, Pofele Ashlock in this regard. He has more receiving TDs than Xavier Worthy, Xavier Weaver and Evan Stewart.
Late Season Considerations (NFL Draft)
On this week’s run with my dear friend Henri, I lamented to him about how I had just traded for Caleb Williams a month ago in one of my leagues, and yet he might not play another snap now that USC has lost two games. Indeed, if you’re #TeamCaleb, what’s left to play for? Well, I would hope from a pure optics standpoint he’d have enough pride to finish the season and not quit on his teammates. I feel like I’m becoming one of those out-of-touch old guys at the NCAA or something while writing that. But genuinely, I feel like that’s got to be one of the worst looks you could put out in the pre-draft process. It’d be one thing to sit the year out from the beginning (like Chase did in 2020), but to give a half-hearted effort, and then call it quits at the first sign of adversity, I simply cannot respect that.
It does bring into focus an important consideration in CFF, though. That is, high-profile players always have the option to sit out if they feel their draft stock is secured. It was one reason I was wary of drafting Bijan Robinson last season and instead opted for KState’s 5’6” Deuce Vaughn, even when Robinson was available. The possibility that Texas could lose multiple games was high, and Robinson’s O-line was hot garbage the season before, so it would at least be understandable that he — as an RB with a limited lifespan in the game of football — would opt out later in the season. In the end, my worries were for naught. He ended up playing the full season and was extremely productive.
But it is something to keep in mind when trading for players or even when drafting them in the summer. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Caleb Williams. For CFB (and my fantasy team)’s sake, fingers crossed Williams continues to play. I will say that he has not been good now two weeks in a row—not even cracking the starting lineup in terms of points scored on the one team I have him in. As it happens, the player that is probably his primary competitor for that #1 overall draft pick — Drake Maye — has seemingly found his form as of late. Should Williams sit out to finish the season, at the very least it’ll make for an interesting conversation in April if Maye continues his form to conclude 2023.
By now, I assume everyone has heard about the on-going investigating happening at UM currently. Given that the investigation is still going through its process, I won’t comment my opinion one way or the other.
I am curious, however, given the unique nature of this scandal, what the audience think will be the level of punishment received if UM is found guilty.
For paid subs, I’m now making the comment section open to requests for topics that you want to read about. I won’t promise that I’ll do all of them, but if there is an interesting idea, then I will work that in.
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