Daily Blog • August 4, 2010

It has come to my attention that many of my most avid readers also play college fantasy football, and this sure seems like a match made in heaven. Statistical analysis and prognostication, my specialties, are the key components of a successful college fantasy football campaign. And as we continue to provide the most thorough and accurate college football analysis, the loyal readers of PhilSteele.com can also look forward to a weekly look at the top college fantasy football players across the nation similar to what we did last year. (Check the blog archives). We’ll provide the data needed to compete in your BCS or conference-only league, and with the help of my friends CollegeFootballGeek.com you’ll be privy to the insider information needed to dominate and hoist the trophy at season’s end.

Here are the 2010 College Fantasy Football Sleepers courtesy of Todd DeVries of CollegeFootballGeek.com

What is the definition of a college fantasy football sleeper?  The answer lies in the eye of the beholder.  Someone new to the fantasy game might consider a player from a smaller school like Utah State (quarterback Diondre Borel) to be a sleeper, while the savvy fantasy vet would know that Borel is already a proven fantasy commodity.

For the sake of this article, let’s define a sleeper loosely as someone that probably won’t be drafted in the first half of your fantasy draft. Some of the guys on our list below will be undervalued on draft day and are certainly worthy of a back half selection, some might make a nice final round flier, and others are simply names to stash away on your waiver wire watch list.

Below is our list of sleepers sorted first by position, then by CFG Big Board preseason fantasy ranking.

Quarterback Sleepers

Zac Dysert, SO (Miami OH) – CFG Rank #27
Dysert had a productive freshman campaign in 2009, rushing for 258 yards and five scores while passing for 2,611 yards and 12 TDs.  Good numbers considering he barely played in the Redhawks’ first three games.  With a full season ahead, look for Dysert to become one of the fantasy stars of the MAC.

Kirk Cousins, JR (Michigan State) – CFG Rank #29
When we ran the numbers, Cousins projected as a top 30 fantasy quarterback on our CFG Big Board (projection: 3,226 passing yards, 24-8 TD-INT ratio), but he isn’t getting any love in the early mock drafts we have been a part of.  He’s surrounded by veteran talent at all of the skill positions and is certainly worthy of a selection on draft day.

Jamie Hampton, SR (Troy) – CFG Rank #32
Hampton is not a young or unproven commodity. He won the starting quarterback job over Levi Brown back in 2008, but suffered a season ending knee injury a few games in. With Brown stepping in and blowing up in his place, the coaches had the luxury of redshirting Hampton in 2009. Now he’s back at the helm of the Trojans’ explosive offense. In his five games from 2008, Hampton had 1,283 total yards and 13 total touchdowns. 

Steven Ensminger, SR (Louisiana Tech) - CFG Rank #38
The new coaching combination of head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has fantasy zealots drooling all over their draft cheatsheets.  Expect lots of yards in this offense, folks. Ensminger is a converted tight end who looked great in the new offense this spring.  He has the edge over Ross Jenkins heading into August camp.

David Isabelle, SO (UAB) – CFG Rank #40
Joe Webb was an elite fantasy quarterback last fall, rushing for an amazing 1,429 yards and accounting for 32 total touchdowns.  Isabelle has a similar dual threat skill set.  As a backup to Webb last fall, he rushed for 288 yards, which was good for second on the entire team.  We have him projected for 810 rushing yards and 7 scores to go along with pedestrian passing numbers.  Add it all up and Isabelle is our No. 40 preseason fantasy quarterback.

Dan Persa, JR (Northwestern) – CFG Rank #42
Believe it or not, the Wildcats have churned out multiple fantasy stars at the QB position.  Persa is next in line.  He is a classic dual threat who might be worth a late round flier for his 2010 schedule alone.  The non-conference slate is full of tasty matchups (Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Rice, Central Michigan) and the first truly tough Big Ten defense he will face is Penn State on November 6th.

Ben Chappell, SR (Indiana) – CFG Rank #44
Chappell passed for an impressive 2,941 yards last fall with a 17-15 TD-INT ratio.  His top six receivers from ’09 return, including the dynamic duo of Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher (combined 138-1732-10 last fall).  With a woeful Hoosier defense on the other side of the ball, Chappell will be chucking it often in comeback mode. Remember, garbage stats are a fantasy player’s best friend.

Kolton Browning, FR or Trey Revell, SR (UL-Monroe) – CFG Rank #46 & UNR
Revell had a promising 2009 season which had fantasy owners believing he might be someone to watch in 2010.  Then spring camp ended with Browning surprisingly named the starter.  If ULM settles on one of these quarterbacks, they will become an intriguing fantasy option when Sun Belt play begins.

Austin Dantin, SO (Toledo) – CFG Rank #54
Dantin saw limited action last fall and put up some respectable numbers, including a 326 yard passing game in the season finale.  The Rockets offense accounted for 3,342 passing yards in 2009.  With star wideout Eric Page catching passes, Dantin has a chance for a big season.

Alex Carder, SO (Western Michigan) – CFG Rank #57
Carder has the unenviable task of replacing school legend Tim Hiller.  However, he’ll have a great set of veteran receivers to help him out as well as one of the more experienced offensive lines in the country (107 career starts, No. 11 in the country per Phil Steele).

Ryan Aplin, SO (Arkansas State) – CFG Rank #58
The Red Wolves are installing a new fantasy-friendly no-huddle offense this fall. Aplin is coming off shoulder surgery and will battle Phillip Butterfield for the starting job.  If he’s healthy, we expect him to win it.  Aplin showed excellent maneuverability last fall, rushing for 122 and 82 yards two Sun Belt games. 

Kale Pick, SO (Kansas) – CFG Rank #66
Pick is the frontrunner to win the starting job over Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham.  He’s on this list due to his dual threat capabilities.  In limited time last fall, he rushed for 167 yards on only 14 carries.  There are concerns with Pick.  First and foremost, he needs to win the job.   If he does, he’ll be working with an inexperienced set of skill position players as well as adapting to a new coaching staff.

Jamarr Robinson, JR (Maryland) – CFG Rank #67
Robinson is a fantasy threat because of his running ability.  In less than four games of action last fall filling in for the injured Chris Turner, he rushed for 229 yards, including a 24 rush, 129 yard effort against a stingy Virginia Tech defense.  If he can improve as a passer, he could do some damage in the ACC this fall.

Brad Wornick, SO or Dominique Davis, JR (East Carolina) – CFG Ranks #71 & 134
Fantasy owners are excited about the new offensive coordinator for the Pirates, former Texas Tech WR coach Lincoln Riley.  They will be installing a version of the spread offense, and have some quality personnel at the wideout position in Dwayne Harris and Darryl Freeney.  Whoever wins the starting job between Davis and Wornick will be in a great fantasy situation.

Geno Smith, SO (West Virginia) – CFG Rank #72
This highly touted recruit (PS#4) showed flashes of brilliance last fall in mop up duty, completing 65 percent of his passes.  He suffered a set back this off-season (broken foot).  If healthy, he has the tools to become the latest in a long line of viable fantasy quarterbacks from Morgantown.

Ryan Griffin, SO (Tulane) – CFG Rank #76
Tulane is shifting their offensive philosophy from a run-oriented mindset to more of a passing attack.  This is good news for Griffin, who looked sharp as a freshman last fall, passing for 1,382 yards and a 9-6 ratio in limited time.  The Green Wave will be playing from behind often, which is always a good for fantasy stat-padding.

Sean Renfree, SO (Duke) – CFG Rank #90
The promising sophomore will try to fill the void left by the productive Thaddeus Lewis.  The Blue Devils’ top six receivers return, including the dangerous Donovan Varner.  Duke will be playing from behind quite a bit, which is always a nice perk for a fantasy signal caller.

Tyler Bass, SO (Memphis) – CFG Rank #117
Bass is intriguing dual threat who saw limited action in 2009.  Before succumbing to a shoulder injury that ended his season, he rushed for 180 yards in a little more than three games to go along with 673 yards and a 6-4 TD-INT ratio.  Bass is in a fight for the starting job with Miami transfer Cannon Smith and a host of others.  He’s not worth a draft pick until he is named starter, but he is someone to keep on your watch list.

Running Back Sleepers

Morgan Williams, JR (Toledo) – CFG Rank #33
Williams showed flashes of brilliance during his freshman year, but spent his sophomore year backing up Dajuane Collins.  With Collins moving on, Williams is the main back for what should be a highly productive Toledo offense.  Look for him to eclipse the 1,000-yard, 10 TD barrier.

Willie Geter, SR (Bowling Green) – CFG Rank #34
Geter is gaining steam in fantasy circles and might not be defined as a sleeper once most drafts take place in mid-August.  In 2009, he totaled 1,122 yards from scrimmage with 10 scores while playing second banana to the potent Tyler Sheehan-Freddie Barnes passing connection.  With that duo moving on, the offense is expected to be centered around Geter.

Lennon Creer, JR (Louisiana Tech) – CFG Rank #38
Creer, a Tennessee transfer, will compete with Lyle Fitte for the starting role.  If he can win the job and become the feature back, he will have tremendous fantasy potential.  The new offense led by Tony Franklin and Sonny Dykes will provide plenty of opportunities.

Charles Clay, SR (Tulsa) – CFG Rank #41
Clay was a fantasy bust in 2009, falling way short of some lofty expectations.  Now, as a natural reaction, fantasy owners aren’t touching him with a ten-foot pole.  His average draft position has dropped much farther than it should.  He still has loads of potential due to his outstanding receiving skills.  He could be a steal in the late rounds of your draft this year.

Andre Ellington, SO (Clemson) – CFG Rank #42
Ellington will combine with Jamie Harper to try to fill the shoes of the departed Mr. Everything, C.J. Spiller (1,715 yards from scrimmage, 16 TDs).  Ellington has a similar skill set (he can catch and run) .  We have him projected to rack up about 1,000-1,100 total yards and 10 scores.

Sam McGuffie, SO (Rice) – CFG Rank #43
The popular Michigan-transfer will likely be drafted earlier than he should in most leagues based solely on name recognition, but there is no denying his ability.  The questions with McGuffie are with his supporting cast.  Rice does not appear to be fielding one of its better offensive units in 2010.

Martin Ward, SO (Marshall) – CFG Rank #44
With star running back Darius Marshall leaving early for the NFL, Ward is now the Herd’s go-to guy.  He looked solid filling in for an injured Darius last fall, rushing for 393 yards and 3 scores.  His first two games are a Murderer’s Row (Ohio State, West Virginia), but after that it is smooth sailing.

Aaron Winchester, SO (Western Michigan) – CFG Rank #45
Winchester will be asked to fill the void left by longtime starter Brandon West.  With the Broncos breaking in a new quarterback, and a strong offensive line returning, look for the offense to lean a bit more on the running game than in past years.  Winchester will have the opportunity to flirt with a 1,000 yard season.

Mikel LeShoure, JR (Illinois) – CFG Rank #46
LeShoure doesn’t have a terribly high ceiling as long as fellow RB Jason Ford is lurking in the shadows, but a 1,000-yard, 10 TD season is not out of the question.  LeShoure averaged 6.8 ypc in 2009 and should see more touches this fall.

Isaiah Pead, JR (Cincinnati) – CFG Rank #47
Brian Kelly’s protégé, Butch Jones, takes over as head coach of the Bearcats.  This is good news for fantasy owners and the offense should continue on its upward path.  Look for Pead to build on his 1,007 total yard, 11 TD season from a year ago.

Bobby Rainey, JR (Western Kentucky) – CFG Rank #50
Toby Gerhart’s positional coach of the last three years, Willie Taggart, takes over the helm for the Hilltoppers.  Can some of Gerhart’s success rub off on Rainey?  He rushed for 939 yards and 6 scores a year ago.  We’ve got him pegged for 1,008 yards and 8 TDs in 2010.

Larry Caper, SO (Michigan State) – CFG Rank #52
The Spartans produced a fantasy stud in Javon Ringer a few years back.  Caper and Edwin Baker come onto the scene last year as freshman and shared the load along with a couple veteran backs.  With the vets graduating, Caper should see a significant increase in carries.

Joe Martinek, JR (Rutgers) – CFG Rank #53
“Jersey Joe” quietly rumbled his way to 979 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2009.  Against one of the weaker schedules in the country, Martinek should produce at a similar level and become a decent fantasy back in BCS-only leagues.

Princeton McCarty, JR (Idaho) – CFG Rank #56
McCarty rushed for 680 yards in a backup role a year ago.  With 2009 starter DeMaundray Woolridge and his 171-979-18 statline moving on, the door is open for lots of carries.  There are concerns: McCarty will battle Deonte Jackson for touches, and he will be running behind one of the country’s most inexperienced offensive lines.

Mo Plancher, SR (USF) – CFG Rank #61
With Mike Ford leaving the team, Mo Plancher is easily the most accomplished back left on the depth chart.  New head coach Skip Holtz will likely lean on the run in his first year which should equate to a significant increase in touches for Plancher (129-581-5 in 2009).

J.J. DiLuigi, JR or Joshua Quezada, FR (BYU) – CFG Rank #62 & UNR
With Harvey Unga unexpectedly withdrawing from school this spring, the Cougars have some huge shoes to fill.  Assuming BYU goes with a feature back approach and not a shared load scenario, whoever wins this position battle will hold fantasy value.

Tre Newton, SO (Texas) – CFG Rank #68
With Colt McCoy now playing on Sundays, the Longhorns are installing more of a pro set offense.  One would think this would mean good things for the Texas running backs.  Coach Mack Brown is searching for a feature back, and Newton has a shot of being The Man.  Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Jamal Charles, Cedric Benson and Ricky Williams were rushing for huge numbers in Austin.

Jared Tew, SR (Air Force) – CFG Rank #69
Tew carried the rock 238 times in 2009 for 970 yards and 9 scores.  Look for more of the same from the 6’0 210-pounder in his swan song season.

Raymond Carter, JR (Colorado State) – CFG Rank #73
The Rams are only two years removed from Gartrell Johnson’s 1,467 rushing yard performance.  In 2010, the RB depth chart is crowded with Carter, Leonard Mason and John Mosure all in the mix.  Carter is a UCLA-transfer who could be the most talented of the bunch.  He’s not worth a draft pick, but monitor this situation in September to see if Carter can emerge as the feature back. 

Alvester Alexander (sophomore, Wyoming) – CFG Rank #77
Alexander is the surefire feature back for the Cowboys.  He rushed for 640 yards and 7 scores as a freshman last fall and should improve greatly upon those numbers in year two.

Jermie Calhoun, SO (Oklahoma) – CFG Rank #84
Calhoun is one Demarco Murray tweaked hammy away from fantasy glory.  And Murray is always banged up.  Calhoun has the talent to excel at the job if given the chance.  Even if Murray stays on the field, Calhoun has value.  We project him for around 800-900 total yards and 6-7 TDs as the No. 2 man.

Mike Ball, SO (Nevada) – CFG Rank #85
The Wolfpack had three rushers eclipse the 1,000 rushing plateau in 2009 – Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott.  Exit Lippincott and enter Mike Ball as the potential RB3 of the trio.  Ball averaged 9.6 ypc last year with the highlight of the season being a ridiculous 15-183-5 statline versus UNLV.

Phillip Tanner, SR (Middle Tennessee) – CFG Rank #99
Tanner was seemingly on the verge of a big fantasy season in 2009 before sustaining a season-ending injury in September.  He is apparently fully recovered and ready to be the lead back for the Blue Raiders. Tanner has a nose for the endzone, scoring 16 TDs in 2008.

Kendrick Hardy, rFR (Southern Miss) – CFG Rank #103
The Golden Eagles made a fantasy star out of Damion Fletcher the past four years.   Hardy appears to be in a possible Running Back By Committee situation at the moment, but the highly-touted former recruit has the most upside of the bunch.   If he can win the job outright, look for a healthy combination of carries and receptions.

Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson, SO or Trajuan Briggs, FR (Cal) – CFG Rank #173 & UNR
Backup running backs at Cal have proven to be valuable fantasy commodities in recent years.  See Shane Vereen last year as a prime example.  With Vereen now entrenched as the star back, look for true freshman Briggs to battle “CDJ” for a spot in the 1-2 rotation.

Wide Receiver Sleepers

Armand Robinson, SR (Miami, OH) – CFG Rank #35
Robinson established a nice rapport with up-and-coming quarterback Zac Dysert last fall.  With a full off-season to work together on their timing, we think Robinson has a chance for a 900-1,000 yard season.

Phillip Livas, SR or Ahmad Paige, SO (Louisiana Tech) – CFG Rank #44
All eyes are on the Bulldogs and their new offensive attack.  Livas is a jitterbug in the Dexter McCluster mold who had a explosive 2008 season (944 yards from scrimmage).  Paige is a 6’1 180-pound transfer from Tennessee who is expected to contribute from the get-go.

Tracy Moore, SO (Oklahoma State) – CFG Rank #48
There’s excitement in the air with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Fantasy owners are very aware of the Playstation-like stats that his offense produced at Houston. But the big question at WR is where will the production fall?  The two starting slot WRs on the initial spring depth chart are Tracy Moore and Josh Cooper. Cooper is only 5-11, 185. The main targets at Houston have been larger, TE-body types. Enter Tracy Moore: 6-3, 225.

Maurice Shaw, SR (Idaho) – CFG Rank #56
If Johnson (above) doesn’t pan out, Shaw could be the main receiving cog for the Vandals.  He caught 32 balls for 666 yards and 6 scores last fall.  With leading WR Max Komar (62-1,052-11) moving on, someone will need to step it up.  Shaw is the safest bet to pick up the slack.

Casey Robottom, SR (Tulane) – CFG Rank #67
Tulane is moving towards a more pass-heavy attack, which is good news for the wideouts.  With leading receiver Jeremy Williams graduating, Robottom steps into the No. 1 role and has a chance to far exceed his ’09 stats (50-584-2).

Russell Shepard, SO (LSU) – CFG Rank #71
Russell Shepard entered LSU as the next “Slash.” A little QB, a little RB, a little WR. He is an immense talent who has settled down at the wide receiver position.  If Les Miles is smart, he will look to get the ball in Shepard’s hands in a variety of ways in 2010.

Tai-ler Jones, FR (Notre Dame) – CFG Rank #79
Jones is a freshman phenom who had a monster spring.  Word is that he was pushing for the No. 2 wideout spot opposite of Michael Floyd.  Stay tuned for reports out of Irish camp in August to see if he can secure the job.

Antavious Wilson, SO (Marshall) – CFG Rank #85
Wilson enjoyed a productive freshman campaign, catching 60 balls for 724 yards and 3 TDs.  He seemed to get better and more involved with the offense as the season progresses.  With a year under his belt, and the offense moving to the spread formation, the potential is there for Wilson to have a breakout season.

Vidal Hazelton, SR (Cincinnati) – CFG Rank #87
Hazelton began his career as a USC Trojan. In 2007, he played in thirteen games and compiled a 50-540-4 statline.  Now Hazelton will be in the pass-happy Butch Jones offense. Jones utilized two go-to WRs during his time at Central Michigan, and Vidal looks to be ready to step into that role opposite Armon Binns.

Luther Ambrose, JR (UL-Monroe) – CFG Rank #88
Ambrose quietly produced  311 rushing yards , 455 receiving yards and 5 scores in 2009 as a sophomore.  New head coach Todd Berry would be wise to continue to get the ball in this playmaker’s hands this fall.  Ambrose is not worth a draft pick, but he could become a nice waiver wire addition when Sun Belt play begins.

Kito Poblah, SR (Central Michigan) – CFG Rank #92
Leading receivers Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown have graduated, and Poblah is poised to be the new main man in the Chips’ passing game.  However, he’ll be catching balls from a new quarterback this fall and the transition could take some time.

Tyler Stradford, JR (North Texas) – CFG Rank #105
Stradford is an Oklahoma-transfer who is finally eligible to play for the Mean Green.  He should be one of the more gifted skill position players in the Sun Belt conference, but can he put up big stats with a new quarterback at the helm?

James Green, FR (Toledo) – CFG Rank #106
Green is a former 4-star Tennessee commit who is a former high school teammate of Toledo starting quarterback Austin Dantin. If he can keep his grades in order, look for the 6’3 200-pounder to make a splash for the Rockets in the coming years.

Armauni Johnson, JR (Idaho) – CFG Rank #114
Johnson is the deepest of sleepers.  The JUCO transfer makes our list thanks to a lights out spring where he seemed to catch everything in sight.  He’s not worth the risk as a draft pick, but he is worth keeping an eye on early in the season to see if he can pick up where he left off in the spring.

Darius Johnson, SO (SMU) – CFG Rank #128
Aldrick Robinson is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the pass-happy Mustangs.  Someone will need to step up and become the No. 2 man.  Darius Johnson has caught the eye of the coaching staff.  Can he catch a boatload of balls in 2010?

Dejuan Miller, JR or Kenny Stills, FR (Oklahoma) – CFG Rank #137 & UNR
Ryan Broyles can’t catch all of Landry Jones’ passes!  Miller and Stills are going to battle it out for the No. 2 wide receiver job.  Stills is a freshman who turned heads in spring ball.  Miller is a junior who posted a respectable 36-434-1 statline in 2009.

Chris Harper, SO (Kansas State) – CFG Rank #159
Harper transferred over from Oregon and appeared to be a nice fit as an option quarterback for the Wildcats.  However, in a somewhat surprising turn of events, he was moved out to the wide receiver position this spring.  The guy has the ability to play any skill position and it will be interesting to see how KSU utilizes him this fall.  Put him on your watch list.

Jameel Owens, SO (Tulsa) – CFG Rank #162
Owens is an Oklahoma transfer who was cleared by the NCAA to play in 2010.  He steps into a pass-happy offensive system that has treated fantasy wide receivers well in past years.  With WR A.J. Whitmore’s dismissal from the team, Owens will have a chance to become the team’s No. 2 receiver right away.

Tight End Sleepers

Vance McDonald, SO (Rice) – CFG Rank #10
McDonald has been a spring camp all-star the past two years.  Can he translate his solid practice field performance to actual game situations?

Justin Jones, rFR (East Carolina) – CFG Rank #16
Jones had a big spring camp in the new offensive system.  He is not worth a selection on draft day, but keep an eye on him early in the season to see if he continues to see lots of balls thrown his way.

Jordan Reed, rFR (Florida) – CFG Rank #17
The quest to replacing Aaron Hernandez is on.  Reed will battle Desmond Parks for the starting gig.  Keep an eye on the August practice reports to see who emerges as the starter.

Michael Egnew, JR (Missouri) – CFG Rank #24
Andrew Jones was supposed to be the next great Mizzou tight end in 2009, but it never materialized.  Don’t be surprised if Egnew outperforms Jones on the stat sheet in 2010

Vaughn Charlton, SR (Temple) – CFG Rank #25
Charlton was moved over from quarterback to tight end this offseason.  He is an intriguing fantasy prospect who could produce some bonus passing yards on a few trick plays.  In a down year for fantasy tight ends, Charlton is worth keeping a close eye on.

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