Quarterback

Mad Bombers:

Aggressive gunslingers targeting receivers on 20-plus yard (deep) attempts.

Last weeks list: Luke Falk, Greg Ward Jr., Tanner Mangum.

Jerrod Heard ($7,400) – Texas – Outside of simply providing an offensive spark desperately needed by the Longhorns, Heard has given the program an actual identity. Following the redshirt freshman’s ascension to highlight the offense, his game-swagger immediately became obvious, and he nearly led the team to a victory against an emerging California program last week. The most dominating aspect of Heard’s game is clearly his ability to punish defenses with his versatile running ability.

Despite averaging less than 20 snaps played over the first two weeks, Heard is already tied for fourth in the nation in QB scrambles following dropbacks to pass. Last week against the Golden Bears, Heard carried the ball 24 times in generating 163 rushing yards and three TDs. What is is even more impressive, no other QB in the nation can claim to have perfect accuracy (7-for-7) at 20 yards and beyond with more than two attempts. Heard completed 5-of-5 deep passes last week that accounted for 52 percent of his total passing yardage.

Dane Evans – Tulsa – (Bye) – Long story short, former Baylor OC Phil Montgomery took over as Head Football Coach and authority of the Golden Hurricane offense this season. The success attained in his time with the Bears is, to put mildly, extremely impressive. After three games of the 2015 season, the end-result of the Tulsa turnaround could be his finest achievement to date. Ironically, no starting quarterback in the country has attempted a frequency of deep throws as that of Evans … outside of Baylor QB Seth Russell.

With WRs Keevan Lucas, Keyarris Garrett, and Joshua Atkinson at his disposal, Evans took on the mighty Oklahoma Sooners and completed “only” 4-of-12 deep passes, but each of those connections reached the endzone. With the remaining schedule comprised of AAC opponents, the Tulsa reputation could be at an all-time high by seasons end.

Matt Davis – Southern Methodist – (FCS) – While playing a very small part in seven of SMUs deplorable eleven-game losing streak last season, it was actually against Tulsa in Week 11 that Davis was handed the keys to the offense. While the Mustangs, unsurprisingly, have lost 2-of-3 games played this season to Baylor and TCU … it is the way in which they lost that speaks to their growth. Davis’ numbers would have been better in the Baylor game had he not left left the field due to injury, but the results are still able to speak for themselves.

Davis is actually tops in the nation in the previously mentioned QB scrambles after dropping back to pass and has already accumulated 302 rushing yards and four TDs. Last week against TCU, he served-up an amazing 80.8 percent of his passing yardage to his receivers prior to the catch and completed 7-of-12 deep targets for 260 of 330 passing yards (78.8 percent!).

Precision Touch:

The quarterbacks who simply dominated opponents with pinpoint accuracy.

Last weeks list: Skyler Howard, Drew Hare, Jacoby Brissett.

Greyson Lambert – Georgia – (FCS) – Lambert miraculously completed 24-of-25 passes last week against South Carolina on his way to setting a new NCAA record. Miraculous in that, the week before against Vanderbilt, Lambert did not complete a single passing attempt in the entire first half of the game. While the achievement should not be overlooked, the expectation should be a middle ground between the results of his last two games combined.

Blake Kemp – East Carolina – ($5,800) – The exhaustion of eligibility of ECU-great Shane Carden was a tough pill to swallow, especially in combination with losing its offensive coordinator to Oklahoma, WR Justin Hardy to the Atlanta Falcons, and expected QB-replacement Kurt Benkert to a season-ending knee injury. That is until Kemp was allowed the opportunity to present his talents in the presence of the Greenville-following.

After three weeks, it is abundantly clear that Kemp is not simply a fill-in, he has standalone value to the Pirates program. Taking into account for drops, throw-aways, batted passes, spikes, and hit-as-throwns, Kemp currently sits with the 17th-best accuracy percentage in the country at 77.6 percent. Facing off with Navy in Week 3, Kemp showcased his lightning-fast 2.10 second time-to-throw average to complete 36-of-49 passing attempts with seven of the incompletions resulting from the situations listed above.

Nate Peterman – Pittsburgh – (Bye) – The decision to make the switch from Chad Voytik to Peterman last week by new HC Pat Narduzzi may have come as a surprise, but the results back up the decision. Outside of the fact that Peterman’s yards/attempt average (8.56) dwarfed the value recorded by Voytik (4.67), Peterman recorded an 85.2 percent accuracy percentage against a stingy Iowa defense in Week 3. More importantly, he was able to place the ball into the hands of WR Tyler Boyd, and that detail will ensure his position moving forward.


Running Back

Breakaway Threats:

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: C.J. Prosise, Brian Hill, Boom Williams.

Samaje Perine – Oklahoma – (Bye) – While the Oklahoma-product is far from an unknown asset, an early-season phantom ailment had limited the true sophomore to a modest 125 yards and a single TD over the seasons first two games. As good of a sign as any that the bruising record-setter has returned to full health, Perine accumulated 51.3 percent of his 152 rushing yards last week against Tulsa on four runs (2nd-most out of all backs in Week 3) stretching beyond 15-yards.

Adam Hine – BYU – ($5,600) – The BYU program has been seemingly destitute of quality backfield threats in recent years, that is until the staff was forced by an undisclosed injury to Algernon Brown to hand the featured role to Hine. Hine responded to the challenge against a solid Boise State run defense and the mighty UCLA front-seven by generating 93 and 149 rushing yards, respectively. He was able to break three runs of 15-yards or better against the Bruins and has accumulated more than enough respect to see the lions-share of the team carries over the rest of the season.

Larry Rose III – New Mexico State – (Bye) – Whenever an offense possessing a quality rushing component finds either New Mexico or New Mexico State on the schedule … the occasion is ripe for significant returns. An ironic twist to that this scenario is the emergence of the Aggies featured back. Last week against UTEP, Rose ran circles around defenders in manufacturing 124 yards on 15-yard runs alone. Make sure you don’t shy away from Rose when facing Sun Belt opponents.

Evasive Tacticians:

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: Dalvin Cook, Terrell Newby, Chris Carson.

Saquon Barkley – Penn State – (SD State) – As if sent by a higher-power to ease the suffering of the loyal Penn State following, Barkley has produced back-to-back rushing efforts that have culminated in rushing yard/attempt averages exceeding 9.0! The 2014-version of the Penn State rushing “offense” averaged 2.9 yards/carry, 101.9 yards/game, and a chilly home down south as 115th-best in the FBS.

While the incumbent, Akeel Lynch, played admirably prior to the true freshman’s breakout performances, removing his 75-yard TD run from the Temple game leaves him with a 4.45 yards/attempt average … a.k.a. less than half of the value offered by Barkley. Last week against Rutgers, Barkley not only converted 21 touches into 195 rushing yards and two TDs, but he did it in style. Averaging 6.86 yards after contact/attempt (bested only by LSUs Leonard Fournette), Barkley broke free of a tackle attempt every 2.1 rushing opportunities.

Joseph Yearby – Miami – (Bye) – With the departure of Duke Johnson to the NFL and the preseason loss of Gus Edwards, the emergence of Yearby has been vital to the Hurricanes success this season. Yearby worked extremely hard to add weight over the offseason and the results after three weeks are very encouraging. In addition to a reliable set of receiving hands that have secured 6-of-6 catchable targets, Yearby has simply moved beyond the “too small” label and can now officially be considered a featured option.

After three games, Yearby has produced the fourth-best elusive rating (191.5), seventeenth-highest yards after contact/attempt (4.10), and the fifth-most missed tackles rushing in the entire nation. Statement presented: last week against Nebraska, Yearby broke ten tackles on only 16 rushing attempts. Clear your thoughts when evaluating the Miami-product, his best may have yet to be displayed.

Justin Silmon – Kansas State – (Bye) – After the massive turnover from the Wildcats 2014 roster, HC Bill Snyder could use an extra playmaker in the backfield to keep defenses honest. The team was gifted a possible answer to that wish after Silmon generated the eleventh-best elusive rating from Week 3 in their three-overtime victory over Louisiana Tech. Silmon was only provided with six carries in each of the teams first two games, but was fed with 24-of-45 attempts against the Bulldogs, and is definitely a name to keep in mind moving forward.


Wide Receiver

Vertical Monsters:

A list of the receivers who furnished the weekends best performances on tracking down (deep) targets traveling greater than 20 yards.

Last weeks list: Roger Lewis, Trevor Davis, Tyrain Taylor.

Aaron Burbridge – Michigan State – ($7,400) – Michigan State lost more than their fair share of cornerstone pieces from the 2014 version of the Spartans team. One of the teams most questioned positions coming into the season was at wide receiver based upon the losses of Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery to the NFL. Just about as quickly as a case can reasonably be resolved, Burbridge has exploded at the onset of 2015 and within all phases of the position.

While Burbridge posted the third-best yards/route run (YPRR) total of Week 3, he actually makes this list based upon his success with deep targets. He and QB Connor Cook connected on 3-of-4 20-plus yard passes (only the three were catchable) for 81 yards and two TDs. For the season, Burbridge has generated a catch rate on his deep targets of 71.4 percent and your DraftKings lineups should take immediate notice.

Jordan Westerkamp – Nebraska – (Southern Miss) – The Cornhuskers were unable to properly counter the offensive onslaught the Hurricanes placed upon their vulnerable defense. It’s very unfortunate for the Nebraska fans that the defense has proven so inept, but it does present Westerkamp and his owners with a healthy amount of opportunities for need-to-score-now passing targets. Out of his seven targets against Miami, Westerkamp secured all five catchable offerings, tracking down all three deep attempts that added 74 receiving yards and a TD to his point total. Look forward to more of the same vertical attacking in excess throughout the remainder of of the season.

Carlos Harris – North Texas – (Iowa) – One of the true-wildcards of this list, Harris has that type of game-breaking potential that offers significant value within the appropriate hands. Last week while facing off with Rice University, Harris transformed a pair of vertical targets into TDs averaging 63 yards per occurrence. The Conference-USA schedule for the Mean Green is littered with the type of matchups that will push the offense to “air it out” and will provide the speedy receiver with opportunities to highlight his gifts.

Economical Producers:

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: Quincy Adeboyejo, Mitchell Juergens, Matt VandeBerg.

Isaiah Ford – Virginia Tech – ($5,000) – It unfortunately took a broken clavicle to QB Michael Brewer to see Ford showcase his true potential in response to his proper usage. To clearly accentuate the difference between a volume-dependent receiver and one with truly-bestowed gifts, one would only need to scan the Hokies basic statistical report. While Cam Phillips has accumulated 10 receptions to Ford’s 14, Isaiah’s abilities have allowed him to produce twice the total yardage, and also explains his nose for the endzone.

Last week against Purdue, Ford converted 27 snaps in route and 10 targets into 128 receiving yards and 4.74 YPRR. That type of production is simply unsustainable with “luck” and, factoring out the Ohio State game when Brewer played half of the snaps, Ford removed any concerns over sustainability with the 18th-best YPRR value among all wide receivers in Weeks 2 and 3. In 2014 with Brewer at the helm, Ford posted a pathetic 1.48 YPRR value that would provide next to nothing for fantasy purposes.

Ricky Jones – Indiana – ($5,100) – All cylinders are firing for the Hoosiers offense to begin the 2015 season. QB Nate Sudfeld is healthy and tossing darts across the field, the highly-anticipated arrival of UAB-transfer RB has been a huge success, and the team is 3-0 with a winnable game against Wake Forest on Saturday. As if that were not enough, Jones has quickly placed his name within a very small group of receivers who have skyrocketed into fantasy stardom. The Hooisers’ surprising difficulty in countering the Week 1 offense of Southern Illinois provided Jones with the opportunity to step forward and make a name for himself.

The invitation to the show was extended by Jones in the form of 6 receptions, 186 yards, and a TD. Jones was quiet in Week 2 against Florida International, but provided an encore performance last week against Western Kentucky when he expressed his gratitude for 23 snaps in route and seven targets by producing a YPRR value exceeding 4.5 for the second time in three games. The most recent outing culminated with an amazing 5.48 YPRR and more than enough proof of his arrival.

Trent Sherfield – Vanderbilt – ($4,800) – Sherfield only caught one pass during his freshman season and very little could be projected coming into the 2015 campaign. In Week 1 against Western Kentucky, a glimpse of the youngsters football awareness was displayed and gave the impression of greater things to come. The entire Vanderbilt offense was, as expected, mostly quiet facing Georgia in Week 2, but the fireworks were flying last week against FCS-foe Austin Peay.

Sherfield came away from the game with the distinction of producing the most productive/effective day among all of the nations wide receivers. Seeing a whopping 32 snaps in route, Sherfield was able to collect each-and-every one of his 16 targets on his way to posting 240 receiving yards, and furnishing a startling 7.50 YPRR value. While Vandy’s SEC schedule will bring far better passing defenses than what was displayed by Austin Peay … Sherfield’s value beyond his sophomore season could bring valuable R.O.I. with a solid QB under center.


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