The second week of the college season was nothing short of spectacular that included a razor-thin finish in favor of Houston over Louisville, Notre Dame surviving a scare from Virginia, Michigan State enacting revenge over Oregon, and a double-overtime victory for Oklahoma in Knoxville, Tennessee. The impacting individual performances easily fills a spreadsheet and we will take a look at the best of that group using Pro Football Focus’ signature metrics.
Aggressive gunslingers targeting receivers on 20-plus yard (deep) attempts.
Last weeks list: Matt Johnson (BG), Chad Kelly, Joe Hubener.
1. Luke Falk – Washington State – An obvious (chalk) play, but just when it seemed like Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense would find difficulty repeating previous seasons passing dominance, Falk led the Cougars to a road victory over Rutgers by connecting on 7-of-11 deep targets. Despite only utilizing 16.9 percent of his total targets downfield, he still attempted the fourth-most deep passes in the country, and connected with an elite-level 63.6 accuracy percentage. The main difference from his performance in a Week 1 loss to Portland State, Falk was able to accelerate his time-to-throw average by almost 28 percent.
2. Greg Ward Jr. – Houston – After starting off with a selection of Falk, we will avoid discussing the Week 2 dominating deep prowess of, known superstars, Jared Goff, Cody Kessler, and Baker Mayfield. Instead, we will next focus our attention on Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. The junior from Tyler, Texas properly greeted the Cardinals devoted with a first quarter 29-yard TD pass to Steven Dunbar, later took the final quarter lead back with a 22-yarder to Linell Bonner, and, while not meeting the deep definition, won the game with a 15-yard toss to Demarcus Ayers with three minutes remaining.
Should the news of Ward’s arrival somehow avoided your notice, correct that oversight, and process the results. At games end, Ward completed 4-of-8 deep attempts, averaging 26.5 yards/completion, and reaching the endzone tied with the most in the country (3). During the offseason, the numbers spoke of a need to increase Ward’s attempt percentage from 12.2 percent to a number in the 20’s, considering he completed 56.6 percent of deep attempts in 2014 (fourth-best in the nation). If Saturday’s numbers are an indication (24.2 attempt percentage), Ward could be in for a magical, Heisman-consideration, season
3. Tanner Mangum – BYU – While UCLA QB Josh Rosen has absorbed a large portion of the fanfare directing a collection top-rated recruits, Mangum has simply outsmarted the predicted spread while securing come-from-behind victories over Nebraska and Boise State. While 3-of-9 at 20-plus is far from elite, consider that he averaged 63 yards/completion, and produced 2 TDs. One-third of all of Mangum’s attempts traveled beyond 20 yards and, make sure you don’t mistake that lofty per completion average, as Mangum did most of the work for his receivers with a 71.9 yards in the air percentage. While Rosen enticed scouts at the most recent Elite 11, Mangum actually earned earned co-MVP honors at the Elite 11 in 2013 — along with QB Jameis Winston.
The quarterbacks who simply dominated opponents with pinpoint accuracy.
Last weeks list: Malik Zaire, Will Grier, Mike Bercovici.
1. Skyler Howard – West Virginia – One of the more exciting sophomore quarterbacks in the country, Howard’s dual-threat ability causes instant-salivation to DraftKings entrepreneurs. Ironically, Howard has yet to utilize his running ability, as matchups with Georgia State and Liberty have failed to force his hand. Regardless of opponent, the skillset has been on full display, connecting on 21-of-26 attempts against Liberty, and generating an 84.6 accuracy percentage (seventh-highest in Week 2). The most important takeaway: Howard has successfully discovered replacements, Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante, for NFL-rostered WRs Kevin White and Mario Alford.
2. Drew Hare – Northern Illinois – While the impressive run will most likely come to an end in a Week 3 matchup with the vaunted Ohio State Defense, the early season performance by Hare is one that should not be forgotten. Facing off with UNLV and Murray State, Hare has proven he is much more than a run-oriented quarterback, as his year-to-date precision ranks within the top-five in the nation. Against Murray State, Hare completed 28-of-37 attempts (three drops and a throw-away), and producing the countries fifth-best accuracy percentage (86.1). Let’s also avoid assuming the pinpoint accuracy was generated on dink-and-dunks, as Hare averaged 12.57 yards/completion.
3. Jacoby Brissett – North Carolina State – Had you not already read the name introducing this paragraph, you’d be shocked to learn of the individual with the highest accuracy percentage after the first two weeks. Brissett has connected at an otherworldly 88.9 percent clip in matchups with Troy and Eastern Kentucky. Yes, a very strong argument can be made that the results are skewed by the opponents, but that is simply the current state of college football statistics, as only a few teams have faced off with a pair of top-level opponents. Besides, the point of the research is to identify the players on the verge of a breakout, not following highly-covered performances reported to every corner of the globe. Brissett, understandably, dominated EKU in Week 2, completing 17-of-23 (two drops) and an 82.6 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.
Last Weeks list: Ray Lawry, Tre Madden, Soso Jamabo.
1. C.J. Prosise – Notre Dame – Have you taken a step back and properly examined the improbable results from the Fighting Irish in the face of painful losses at the offensive skill positions? Of course, the process was begun with the masterful recruiting done by HC Brian Kelly and staff. The second most-glaring ingredient is Prosise, a recent WR-to-RB convert that produced six runs greater than 15 yards that resulted in 117-of-155 rushing yards against Virginia in Week 2.
2. Brian Hill – Wyoming – Recent news surfaced that Hill has supplanted incumbent starter Shaun Wick and DraftKings enthusiasts should take immediate notice. During a late-2014 season five-game audition facing Mountain West opponents as the “bell cow,” Hill generated per game averages of 148.6 rushing yards and 1.4 TDs. The promotion comes on the heels of shredding the Eastern Michigan defense to the tune of 21 carries, 242 yards, and four 15-plus yard runs that averaged 35.3 yards a pop.
3. Boom Williams – Kentucky – At the center of the Wildcats proud victory over South Carolina in Week 2, Williams was able to furnish his team with three runs of 15-plus yards (14 attempts) and an average of 22 yards/occurrence. This, one week after racking up a pair of long runs against Louisiana-Lafayette averaging 56.5 yards.
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.
Last weeks list: Shaun Wilson, De’Veon Smith, Jahad Thomas.
1. Dalvin Cook – Florida State – Obviously, adding Cook to the list is as about as obvious as obvious gets, but no other running back came close to meeting the results of the Seminole. Provided with 30 rushing attempts against South Florida, Cook produced 4.87 yards after contact/attempt (Yco/Att), and breaking a tackle every 2.31 carries. His 210.9 elusive rating was 42.9 percent higher than every running back in the nation in Week 2.
2. Terrell Newby – Nebraska – South Alabama may have been, understandably, relieved that Ameer Abdullah had moved on to the Detroit Lions prior to their matchup with the Cornhuskers. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Nebraska came equipped with a replacement out for blood. The running back mentioned above as being 42.9 percent lower than Cook on the elusive rating scale, Newby exploded through the South Alabama blockers with 3.29 Yco/Att, and a broken tackle every 3.11 attempts.
3. Chris Carson – Oklahoma State – The JUCO-transfer and leading back for the Cowboys has emerged in 2015 to great success. Despite facing Central Michigan and Central Arkansas, Carson has shown enough, in limited carries, to be a list-worthy addition. In Week 2, Carson generated 3.00 Yco/Att and shed one tackle every three attempts (93.8 elusive rating).
A list of the receivers who furnished the weekends best performances on tracking down (deep) targets traveling greater than 20 yards.
Last weeks list: Gehrig Dieter, Courtland Sutton, Braxton Miller.
1. Roger Lewis – Bowling Green – We began last weeks Vertical Monsters list with a Falcon and, based 100 percent on the numbers, we shall do so again. Playing within College Park and surrounded by a hostile following, Lewis responded by securing 3-of-3 catchable deep targets, leading to 104 yards, and two TDs. The Bowling Green passing attack is the nations best for very good reasons.
2. Trevor Davis – California – Buried at the bottom of every DFS player pool, Davis is a player PFF has been touting as a breakout candidate for some time. After his performance in Week 2 against San Diego State, the time to take notice is now. As if being one of the top kick returners in the nation wasn’t enough, Davis racked down both of his deep targets for TDs, and an amazing 67.0 yards/reception.
3. Tyrain Taylor – New Mexico State – While the Aggies reside with a relatively obscure existence within fantasy-circles, he is a must-notice name whenever a New Mexico State slate is included. In Week 2 against Georgia State, Taylor brought-in all three catchable (11 TOTAL!) deep targets, racking up 133 yards, and each taken to the proverbial house.
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.
Last weeks list: Rashawn Scott, Johnell Barnes, Bug Howard.
1. Quincy Adeboyejo – Ole Miss – After destroying the defenseless UT Martin program 76-3, the Rebels decided that the point should be solidified facing a more significant opponent. Their encore performance held Fresno State as the victim, crushing the Bulldogs 73-21. The most important detail concerning Adeboyejo is his ability and not the pronunciation of his name. His workday finished in Week 2 after bringing in all five of his targets, racking up 120 receiving yards, three TDs, and a ridiculous 7.50 yards/route run (YPRR).
2. Mitchell Juergens – BYU – With the Cougars long list of hail mary throws, a receiver must have been responsible for there completion. Surprisingly, No. 1 wideout Mitch Matthews failed to secure any of his six deep targets, but Juergens came prepared to provide backup. Offered 27 snaps in route, Juergens managed to grasp 4-of-5 catchable targets, for the weeks fourth most receiving yards (172), and a superior 6.37 YPRR.
3. Matt VandeBerg – Iowa – Universally accepted as a run-first offense, QB C.J. Beathard has imprinted the Hawkeyes with a broader definition of offensive utilization. After the seasons first two games, it is abundantly clear that Beathard has found his preferred target, and VandeBerg has properly furnished the quarterback with a substantial return-on-investment. Facing Iowa State in Week 2, VandeBerg engineered a 4.44 YPRR value from 12 targets and 25 snaps in route.