The Top QB, RB, and WR From Every FCS Conference
The 2016 college football season is just around the corner, and our fantasy coverage is in full swing. What makes fantasy CFB great is not the top half of this list, full of future pros and Heisman candidates, it’s the bottom half full of unknowns that put up monster numbers year in and year out.
We are limiting this list to one QB, RB, and WR per conference. Narrowing down this list was a lot harder than it may seem… If you are going to play fantasy college football on Fan Picks or a Fantrax or anywhere else this season, you better be familiar with these names:
Top SEC Fantasy Players
Chad Kelly – Ole Miss
Josh Dobbs is always tempting, because we think he takes a step forward this season and he has flashed insane upside he has as a runner, but Kelly is an easy choice at QB in the SEC. He led the SEC in passing yards, touchdowns, while also adding an additional 500 yards and 10 touchdowns as a runner.
Leonard Fournette – LSU
Fournette is one of the best college football prospects we have ever seen. LSU proved they are willing to let him pile on stats early in the year, remember he had 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first 7 games last season.
Damore’ea Stringfellow – Ole Miss
We expect to get plenty of Calvin Ridley push back here, but keep in mind he will have to share targets with Foster and Howard and will also be playing with a new QB. Stringfellow will benefit from increased targets with Treadwell leaving, and is playing with the SEC’s top QB.
Top Big 10 Fantasy Players
JT Barrett – Ohio State
Another cake choice… The last time JT Barrett was the unquestioned starter he broke off a stretch where he was one of the 3 or 4 best fantasy college football players in the nation. We expect him to be a top 10 fantasy player again this year.
Saquon Barkley – Penn State
There is plenty of competition for the top RB spot in the Big 10… Certainly Mike Weber, Justin Jackson, Devine Redding, and Corey Clement deserve consideration, but Barkley is our pick. In his 8 games as a starter, Barkley averaged 23 touches for 140 yards and 1 td per game. Not mind blowing numbers, but as a true freshman with a young (struggling) offensive line we think those numbers take another jump up this season.
Jehu Chesson – Michigan
Chesson came on late last season with 525 yards and 6 touchdowns in Michigan’s final 4 games. His elite speed, and great size make him a big play and red zone threat. Despite getting a new starting QB in 2016, we expect Michigan’s passing game to take another step forward this season.
Top Pac 12 Fantasy Players
Luke Falk – WSU
Luke Falk is entering his senior year, and third year as a starter in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. He has an extremely talented group of receivers around him, Pac 12 defenses outside of Stanford and Washington are awful, and… he’s Mike Leach’s QB.
Christian McCaffrey – Stanford
Clearly McCaffrey is the top fantasy RB in the Pac 12, but we have to mention some of the other guys in the conference as it’s a loaded group. Royce Freeman, Myles Gaskin, Nick Wilson, and Soso Jamabo are all players that could finish in the top 20 at the RB position this fantasy season.
Gabe Marks – WSU
He’s the number one fantasy receiver in the nation, and will break all kinds of records so long as he isn’t injured. Other top 20 receivers in the conference include JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darren Carrington, Jordan Villamin, and fellow WSU receiver River Cracraft.
Top Big 12 Fantasy Players
Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech
Mahomes is a beast and fantasy machine. Baker Mayfield will have a solid year, and it’s hard to list anyone over Seth Russell, but Mahomes is the man in the Pac 12… Air raid system, well coached, experienced, durable, and most importantly, zero defense so he’s got to put up 50 almost every week.
Samaje Perine – Oklahoma
The Oklahoma staff got away from Perine last season, and we honestly feel like it cost them a shot at the college football playoff. He’s the best player on the team, the fourth best running back in the country, and should get the ball 25+ times every week. Even with just 225 carries last season, he put up 1,349 yards and 16 touchdowns. All three numbers are going up in what will be Perine’s final year in Norman. There are a ton of other fantasy-relevant backs in the Big 12: Justin Stockton, Mike Warren, Shock Linwood, Joe Mixon, Johnny Jefferson, Rushel Shell, and Kyle Hicks to name a few.
James Washington –
We need consistency out of Washington this season, but with an even more experienced Mason Rudolph we are betting we get it. Washington had 3 games over 169 yards, and 5 games under 42 yards. David Glidden and his 57 receptions have moved onto the Falcons roster, so we think Washington’s role expands even more and he vaults into a consistent top 10 fantasy receiver in his Junior season. He just narrowly edged out KD Cannon, Ian Sadler, KaVontae Turpin, and Allan Lazard. If Russell is healthy all season and the Baylor offense performs like it did under Briles, I do think Cannon is the top receiver in the Big 12 and #2 receiver in the nation.
Top ACC Fantasy Players
Deshaun Watson – Clemson
Landslide victory… best quarterback in the nation, and one of the three or four quarterbacks in the discussion as the top scorer this fantasy football season.
Dalvin Cook – Florida State
You can’t go wrong with Cook, Fournette, or McCaffrey at the top of any CFB fantasy draft. Cook is slightly more injury prone than the other, missing one game and parts of three others, but was absolutely dominate last season.
Isaiah Ford – Virginia Tech
For us, it really came down to Ford and Mike Williams at the ACC receiver spot. Williams may end up with more touchdowns, but Ford will push 100 receptions again this season and thrive in Justin Fuente’s system.
Top Independent Fantasy Players
Taysom Hill – BYU
Let’s be real, if Notre Dame would pick a QB… either one… they would be our Independent fantasy QB. However, they haven’t and it doesn’t seem like they will. Zaire is the better player, but Kizer proved he deserves the job last season so what do you do? Taysom Hill is not a bad number 2 option. He is the BYU offense, and will rack up huge yardage as a passer and runner every week. Can he stay healthy is the only question.
Tarean Folston – Notre Dame
We had to pick a ND back, but both Folston and Adams deserve to make this list. Neither guy is going to get the volume to be a top tier fantasy running back, but could prove to be valuable daily fantasy plays in the right matchups.
Torii Hunter Jr. – Notre Dame
Too many options at BYU, and no clear ‘go to’ player at Notre Dame made this the toughest choice on the board. We ended up going with the most experienced receiver on the Irish roster.
Top Mountain West Fantasy Players
Brett Rypien – Boise State
It’s a Boise State sweep in the Mountain West, as they return one of their best offensive units since Kellen Moore’s senior season. Rypien will be a solid stack with Sperbeck for most late slates this fantasy season.
Jeremy McNichols – Boise State
A top 5 fantasy running back slotting somewhere in there with the big three, McNichols racked up 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. He just narrowly edges out Donnel Pumphrey because of his role in the Boise passing attack. McNichols put up 51/460/6 as a receiver last season.
Thomas Sperbeck – Boise State
Despite leading the Mountain West in every receiving category, we were slightly disappointed with the season Sperbeck had last year. Most of his “struggles” were due to Rypien being a true freshman that didn’t start until week 4. Sperbeck’s 88/1400/8 could look more like 110/1600/16 by the end of this year.
Top AAC Fantasy Players
Greg Ward, Jr – Houston
Ward is currently our top rated fantasy player just narrowly edging out Watson, Mahomes, Russell, Falk, and Barrett. In addition to 2,800 yards and 17 passing touchdowns, he put up 1,100 yards and 21 touchdowns as a runner last season.
Jahad Thomas – Temple
Thomas edges out Marlon Mack at the American RB position, because he scores touchdowns and catches the football. Mack has more upside and big play ability, but Thomas gives you consistent score and production as a receiver.
Isaiah Jones – ECU
Fantasy owners love the ECU system, and with good reason they consistently are top 5 in the country in pace of play and pass attempts. Despite a down year offensively, and constant shuffling of QB’s between Blake Kemp and James Summers, Isaiah Jones caught 98 passes for 1,100 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. He will get more consistent QB play this year, and will be a more consistent fantasy performer.
Top Conference USA Fantasy Players
Brent Stockstill – Middle Tennessee
Not going to lie, it feels weird not putting Doughty on that line. Stockstill flashed some of the talent that had so much buzz around his freshman season on route to a 4,000 yard, 30 touchdown season. He returns a lot of weapons around him, and will take another step this year. This is a loaded conference with whoever Western Kentucky rolls out a virtual lock to put up numbers, Nick Mullens returns after his own 4,400 yard 38 touchdown season, and Ryan Higgins likely to put up monster numbers for LaTech.
Ray Lawry – Old Dominion
All you need to know about Ray Lawry’s upside? He led the conference in rushing last season despite having single digit carries in 5 games. If he stays healthy for the full season his production will be off the charts. If he struggles with injury again, Anthony Wales is poised to have a big year for Western Kentucky and may steal this spot.
Taywan Taylor – Western Kentucky
The questions at QB have Taylor as our number 5 fantasy receiver, but a lot of other sites have him at #1 despite the quarterback controversy. We aren’t questioning it, Taylor had 17 touchdown receptions last season, including 5 multi touchdown games and 8 100+ yard games.
Top MAC Fantasy Players
Cooper Rush – CMU
Who is ready for another year of Maction? We know Cooper is.. He’s the Mac’s leading returning passer, and just narrowly edged out Zach Terrell and James Knapke for the top spot. DFS players will want to play matchups with this trio all season.
Kareem Hunt – Toledo
What Kareem Hunt has done when healthy at Toledo has been insane. He was 5th in the conference in rushing despite missing 4 full games, and parts of 2 others. He went over 100 yards in every game his sophomore year, and put up 12 rushing touchdowns in the final 8 games last year. He will once again be the work horse in the Toledo backfield, and will team up with Terry Swanson to once again produce the nation’s top rushing attack.
Corey Davis – WMU
Do we seriously get another year with Corey Davis? Davis put up 78/1,408/15 as a sophomore, 90/1,435/12 last year, and clearly enters this season as not only the best receiver in the Mac, but one of the 2 or 3 best fantasy receivers in the country.
Top Sun Belt Fantasy Players
Taylor Lamb – App State
Taylor Lamb doesn’t need a ton of volume to produce… Case in point was the ULM game last season, where he put up over 38 fantasy points on just 15 pass attempts. As a sophomore, and second year starter, he put up 31 passing touchdowns on just 170 completions. He also contributed 436 yards rushing with an additional 5 touchdowns.
Elijah McGuire – Louisiana Lafayette
Expectations were high for McGuire following a 1,700 yard 16 touchdown sophomore season, but he struggled with consistency and ULL was down big early in most games resulting in just 1,300 total yards and 16 touchdowns last year. We are betting ULL improves in 2016, and McGuire has that breakout 2,000 yard 20 touchdown season we thought we would see last season.
Penny Hart – Georgia State
Penny Hart is arguably the only draft-able receiver in the Sun Belt. This is a league that locks top-end talent at the receiver position, but Hart may be the best player the conference has seen in years. He is only 5′ 8″ and 180 pounds, but he’s nearly impossible to cover, in a perfect system, and is coming off a 71/1100/8 season as a true freshman.