Five Underrated West Coast Offenses
Five Underrated West Coast Offenses
As an East Coast guy, I understand how hard it is to keep up with teams in the Pacific Time zone. Games typically start at ten or later and sometimes it means staying up until one or two in the morning to see the ending of the games. This almost makes late game slates unplayable. Who wants to play a slate and not even get a full sweat? How hard is it to pick from a player pool of players you've never really seen play?
Christopher Pacheco did a great job of previewing one of the best offenses in the DFS world in Washington State. As you read, that team has a lot of Fantasy potential each and every time they step on the field. Today though, I want to tell you about five great lesser-known offenses. These are five teams that start their games after the sun goes down on the East Coast.
Utah – This past season the Utes averaged a healthy 31.3 points per game, which only ranked them 52nd in all of college football. This season I believe they’ll be even better and it all starts with what we saw in last season’s bowl game. In that bowl game against Colorado State, we saw a quarterback who showed his full potential. Travis Wilson rushed for 11/91/3 and also threw for 158 yards and one touchdown. The Utes moved the ball extremely well and proceeded to put up 45 points.
The best player on this team though is their running back, Devontae Booker. He was a 1,500-yard rusher in 2014 with ten touchdowns. He’s one of the rare running backs in college football that can carry a full load (292 carries in 13 games) while being able to catch the football (43/306/2). Booker will be the most highly owned player from this team due to those numbers.
In the passing game, we see an improved passer from 2013 to 2014 in Travis Wilson, and they have the luxury in returning two of their best wide outs. The loss of Kaelin Clay will hurt some, but his numbers weren’t that great, so they won't miss him too much. Delshawn McClellon will be their number two going into the season after catching a touchdown in the 2014 bowl win.
UCLA – The Bruins will have a brand new quarterback under center in 2015, but every other skill position player is returning from a team that scored 33.5 points per game (36th in NCAA) in 2014. Paul Perkins is going into this season a very happy man, as he’ll be considered a feature back that is ready to carry the load. He ran it 251 times in 2014, but somehow only reached pay-dirt nine times. A lot of this has to do with Brett Hundley rushing for ten touchdowns, but now Perkins has no excuses with Hundley gone. I’m expecting another 1,500-yard season out of him with upwards of 16-20 touchdowns.
Josh Rosen is more than likely the starter at quarterback and he really couldn’t have a better situation to be in this Fall. His workhorse running back is returning (Perkins) and UCLA returns their top five receivers from a yards perspective. 16 of the 24 passing touchdowns have returned from those five players. Rosen is an extremely talented quarterback that will be able to get his feet wet with two very weak opponents to start the season: UVA and at UNLV. Jordan Payton posted a 63/896/7 line last season as the number one guy and I expect more of the same in 2015.
Colorado – If people think I’m a little too high on Illinois this season then watch out for this one. I would consider Colorado my “Illinois” of the West Coast. In 2014, they ranked 67th in the country with 28.5 points per game, a number they should surpass in 2015. With the way the Pac 12 plays defense, I believe the Sefo Liufau/Nelson Spruce combination could be the best in the country. Last season these two connected on 106 catches for 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those are the type of numbers I would expect out of Spruce, and 95 catches should be considered his floor.
Besides the two star offensive players for the Buffaloes, there are a few other players to really like. The first player I would stress for people to get familiar with is Shay Fields. As a freshman last season, he caught 50 passes 486 yards and four touchdowns. The yardage is disappointing, but he’s a PPR style receiver to begin with, so it’s not a red flag for me. Fields is going to continue to be in single-man coverage as long as Spruce is out on the field. That in and of itself is a great reason to like him. The second player to keep in your back pocket is Bryce Bobo, another sophomore receiver who had a solid 2014 campaign. He brought down 23 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He’s considered the third receiver, but due to the formations Colorado runs, he’s likely to line up on the other side of the field from Spruce.
The running back situation is a little sloppy, and to be honest, will never really play a factor in DFS. Five different players carried the ball 69 or more times in 2014, with zero players rushing 95 or more times. Michael Adkins II is considered the starter, but I believe they’ll be a running back by committee in the backfield, unless someone emerges to become a superstar, which is highly doubtful.
Utah State – I’m venturing outside of the Pac 12 with the last two teams, so these are going to be even further underrated offenses to target. The Aggies have massive potential in 2015, but it all relies on the health of one player: Chuckie Keeton. Keeton has been injured each of the last two seasons, but when healthy, he’s up there with Freddie Knighten, Dak Prescott, and Trevone Boykin in terms of run/pass potential. Keeton threw for 27 touchdowns and added eight more on the ground, while passing for 3,373 yards and rushing for 619 yards. He should be good to go for the season opener, so start saying your prayers for his health in 2015.
LaJuan Hunt was the leading rusher for Utah State in 2014 and he’ll return to try and do more of the same in his 2015 campaign. He only ran for 540 yards and one touchdown last season, so his fantasy relevance isn’t all that much. If Keeton is allowed to carry the rock like he did in 2012 then Hunt will become even more irrelevant for fantasy purposes.
The real talent to look at, besides Keeton, are his receivers. Hunter Sharp caught 66 passes for 939 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, putting up a very nice 14.2 yards per catch. He’s the number one target and will have even more fantasy impact than last season since Jojo Natson was excused from the program this offseason. Between Natson being given the boot and the graduation of Ronald Butler, the Aggies lost 87 catches, just under 1,000 yards and 4 touchdowns from two of their top receivers in 2014. Keeton to Sharp could become one of the most underrated quarterback to wide out combos in all of college football in 2015.
Idaho – Excuse me while I go full degen mode on you guys with this one, but the Idaho Vandals are a sleeper offense to target in 2015. As a whole, this offense probably isn’t going to be one where you target more than two guys at a time, but there is one receiver that should put up very big numbers. Two seasons ago, a junior named Dezmon Epps put up a stat line of 79/980/4 and was a fantasy relevant player for a terrible team. Well, after sitting out last season, he’s back and has the potential for the same kind of season that last year’s top receiver had (76/1,162/9). With Idaho’s best two receivers gone, Epps is going to be the focal point of this offense in every game.
The quarterback situation is clear, but not perfect. Matt Linehan returns for his sophomore season and should be able to post nice numbers, at least early on. He started his freshman season with three 300-yard games, one of which was against Ohio, their opponent in Week 1. We should see some progression under center from him and he could be a possible starter on two-quarterback sites, pending the slate. The running back situation is solid in Idaho, but not one that makes you jump out of your seat. While Elijhaa Penny only rushed for 590 yards on 138 carries, he did rush for 12 touchdowns. If Penny can average 4.5 yards per carry, 200+ carries, and be the goal line back that he's built for, then he can turn into a very usable option. With Epps' 5’10 size, the Vandals are going to look to Penny inside the red zone. Let’s hope we get to use this offense 3-4 times this Fall.
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