With Week 1 in the books, we will look deep into the numbers to uncover the performers who stepped ahead of the competition to showcase their unique skillsets. With a few exceptions, players facing FBS competition will be the main focus of inclusion.
Leading signal callers targeting receivers on 20-plus yard (deep) attempts.
1. Matt Johnson – Bowling Green – The Falcons offense welcomed Johnson back from a hip injury that ended his 2014 season and he responded with the weekends highest tally of deep targets (7-of-15). Accounting for 249 of his 424 yards, Johnson attempted 20-plus yard throws on 30.6 percent of his total targets.
2. Chad Kelly – Ole Miss – The nephew of Bills great Jim Kelly was true to his namesake leading Ole Miss to a 76-3 destruction of UT-Martin. This is an offense that could make waves in the SEC this season and Kelly led the way by targeting deep receivers on 26.7 percent of his throws, connecting on 3-of-4, for 140 yards, and 2 TDs.
3. Joe Hubener – Kansas State – Another quarterback facing an FCS school, but that is also a name to add to your DraftKings toolbox, Hubener stepped in after injury knocked Jesse Ertz out for the season. While he “only” connected on 3-of-7 deep attempts, two were dropped, and he posted a healthy 38.9 attempt percentage on deep throws. An amazing 102 out of his 147 yards came from those attempts, including a TD to Deante Burton.
The quarterbacks who simply dominated opponents with pinpoint accuracy.
1. Malik Zaire – Notre Dame – Quite possibly the most impressive performance under center, Zaire simply had Longhorn defenders turning circles in South Bend. In the process of feeding top-wideout Will Fuller with a big day, Zaire completed 19-of-22 attempts (2 drops) and a 95.5 accuracy percentage.
2. Will Grier – Florida – Here is a young quarterback with a very bright future, as Grier emerged from second on the depth chart to complete 16-of-18 passes (one drop) facing New Mexico State. An amazing 94.4 accuracy percentage on a debut performance is unheard of and was supplemented by a 38-yard TD run.
3. Mike Bercovici – Arizona State – After a 38-17 loss the Texas A&M, many in yearlong leagues simply tossed Bercovici aside in favor of the top yardage passers from Week 1. The benefit of daily fantasy allows spot-start use and the requirement (to succeed) of utilizing “blinders” on view of potential options. Looking deeper into the numbers, we find that Bercovici was actually the victim of poor receiver play, and game situation. Completing 25-of-42 passes is nothing to write home about, but he was plagued by six drops, four passes intelligently thrown away, a batted pass, and a pass altered as he threw. Despite the setbacks, he still managed an extremely solid 86.1 accuracy percentage.
The homerun ability of a running back is, in its nature, a game altering addition to an offense, and DraftKings gold in your pocket. These are the backs who emerged with the most production on 15-plus yard (long) runs.
1. Ray Lawry – Old Dominion – If you haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing the abilities of Lawry, do yourself a favor and take notice. En route to 223 rushing yards and four TDs, Lawry broke runs of 15-plus on three occasions for 119 of his total yardage output, or 55.1 percent (Breakaway Percentage).
2. Tre Maddon – USC – A late nomination as the Trojans starting tailback, Madden and USC simply manhandled the efforts of Arkansas State. Generating an 83.3 Breakaway Percentage, Madden added 85 of his 106 yards on two long runs that included a 65-yard TD.
3. Soso Jamabo – UCLA – One of the breakout true freshman discussed in last weeks Burning Questions, Jamabo simply posted an 81.3 Breakaway Percentage in his debut performance against Virginia. While fellow true frosh Josh Rosen received the headlines, Jamabo led the backfield with 79 rushing yards, 65 of which came on two 15-plus yard runs.
Depending on long runs can be a fruitless endeavor, but the ability to elude defenders is a talent these running backs have mastered, and in reliable fashion.
1. Shaun Wilson – Duke – Another name requiring your immediate attention, Wilson was provided with 17 touches against Tulane and generated 12 missed tackles. He finished the weekend with 4.70 yards after contact/attempt (3rd-highest) that resulted in an ankle-breaking 334.1 Elusive Rating (best in the nation).
2. De’Veon Smith – Michigan – The debut of HC Jim Harbaugh did not go as he’d planned, but his decision to name Smith as his lead back exceeded expectations. Handed 18 touches against a very tough Utah defense, Smith was able to shed 11 tackles, producing the 22nd-highest yards after contact/attempt (1.88), and a healthy 115.0 Elusive Rating (5th-best).
3. Jahad Thomas – Temple – While Thomas struggled during his sophomore 2014 season, he wasted little time to make a statement facing the top run defense from last season. Thomas utilized 30 touches to produce seven missed tackles, 3.93 yards after contact/attempt that placed third-best in the country, and a 91.7 Elusive Rating (8th).
A list of the receivers who furnished the weekends best performances on tracking down (deep) targets traveling greater than 20 yards.
1. Gehrig Dieter – Bowling Green – The main beneficiary of the passing onslaught by Johnson that was discussed above, Dieter managed to track down 3-of-3 of those catchable targets after only managing four all of last season when Johnson was injured. Dieter was targeted beyond 20 yards on 41.7 percent of his targets and produced 73.7 percent of his total yardage.
2. Courtland Sutton – SMU – One of the top freshman performances during the weekend at receiver, Sutton connected with QB Matt Davis on 2-of-2 catchable deep targets, for all 77 of his receiving yardage, and 2 TDs against a solid Baylor secondary.
3. Braxton Miller – Ohio State – Easily the most recognizable play from the opening weekend saw Miller exploit the Virginia Tech defense for a 53-yard run following a tremendous spin move. Equally as important to the Buckeye offense, Miller displayed the ability to be the potential Devin Smith downfield replacement by securing 2-of-2 catchable deep targets, for 78 of his 79 receiving yards, including a 54-yard TD.
While many of the nations receivers are capable of producing high yardage output with a large number of targets, this list will highlight the players who generated the most efficient use of each snap in route.
1. Rashawn Scott – Miami – After losing both Stacy Coley and Braxton Berrios to injury, Scott stepped up to the opportunity and produced facing Bethune-Cookman. While the opponent doesn’t scream breakout, the turnover at receiver for Miami – either by injury or departure – lends a wealth of targets available for absorption. Utilizing 25 snaps in route, Scott posted 93 receiving yards, and a promising 3.72 yards/route run (YPRR).
2. Johnell Barnes – Duke – Another team with a significant number of available targets, Duke was searching for a wideout to emerge from a talented-but-unproven group, and Barnes could be “the guy.” Provided with 31 snaps in route against Tulane, Barnes generated 109 receiving yards, and provided new QB Thomas Sirk with 3.52 YPRR.
3. Bug Howard – North Carolina – Despite several extremely impressive performances, inconsistency plagued the North Carolina Tarheels during 2014, and QB Marquis Williams desperately needed a receiver to emerge as a true no. 1. After a Week 1 showdown at South Carolina, Howard could prove to be that player. With 114 receiving yards, including a 21-yard TD catch, Howard responded to 35 snaps in route with 3.26 YPRR.