The fourth week of the college football season is in the books and it provided some incredible performances from a variety of players. While TCU QB Trevone Boykin’s 485 passing yards against Texas Tech was impressive, four other quarterbacks exceeded the 400-yard plateau, with one of those topping 500. LSU RB Leonard Fournette received the headlines, but three other running backs furnished 180-plus rushing yards, and two actually finished with more than Fournette. Without further delay, let’s examine a few of the metrics used by PFF to identify players on the rise.
Aggressive gunslingers targeting receivers on 20-plus yard (deep) attempts.
Hayden Moore ($7,200) – Cincinnati vs. Miami
Unfortunately, the opportunity to include the redshirt freshman within your DraftKings lineups is no longer an option for Week 5 after the Bearcats defeated Miami 34-23 on Thursday Night. Moore produced a pair of receiving TDs and another on a one-yard QB sneak. An impressive performance, but Moore makes this list after generating 204-of-557 passing yards against Memphis in Week 4 producing a nation-high of five 20-plus yard completions, and four TDs.
Brent Stockstill ($6,100) – Middle Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
Another redshirt freshman that has exploded onto the scene, albeit with far less fanfare, finds the Blue Raiders signal caller completing the 12th-most completions of 20-plus yards through Week 4. Last week at Illinois, Stockstill connected on 4-of-8 deep targets in accounting for 35 percent of his passing yardage, and one-of-three TDs. Look for the Murfreesboro, TN product to continue that aggression in Week 5 facing Vanderbilt at home.
Josh Rosen ($7,200) – UCLA vs. Arizona State
Rounding out the quarterbacks that stood out for deep targeting, we find another freshman, of the true variety, in Rosen. Facing off against another undefeated Pac-12 team in Arizona, Rosen targeted receivers at a depth of 20-plus yards on one-fourth of his total passing attempts. He was able to connect on 4-of-7 of those targets for 142 yards and a 35-yard TD strike to Thomas Duarte.
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The quarterbacks who simply dominated opponents with pinpoint accuracy.
Skyler Howard ($6,500) – West Virginia @ Oklahoma
The early-season schedule has been kind to the Mountaineers, but there is no denying the efficiency of Howard. Taking into account the passes thrown away, spiked, batted down, and altered on hits as they were thrown, Howard produced an 85.2 accuracy percentage that placed him seventh in the country in the Week 4 victory over Maryland. West Virginia will face off with Oklahoma in Week 5 and the offense will need that same level of effectiveness to leave victorious.
Brett Rypien ($6,600) – Boise State vs. Hawaii
The Broncos newly-minted true freshman quarterback not only justified the coaching staff’s decision, he completed 24-of-35 passing attempts (84.4 accuracy percentage) in a tough road matchup at Virginia. He connected on three TD passes in Charlottesville and will welcome Hawaii in Week 5 to further cement his featured role in the offense.
C.J. Beathard ($5,900) – Iowa @ Wisconsin
Despite playing his games as a member of a Power-5 conference and securing victories over four FBS opponents to begin the 2015 season, Beathard has received little notoriety. Last weeks Iowa City visitor, North Texas, witnessed the junior from Franklin, TN complete 18-of-21 passing attempts for a ridiculous 95.0 accuracy percentage. Wisconsin is favored by a TD with Iowa on the road and could be just the opportunity he needs to spread the word of his arrival.
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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.
DeAndre Washington ($5,500) – Texas Tech @ Baylor
Very few expected the Red Raiders to perform so admirably in Week 4 against TCU, but Washington was not included on that list of doubters. The 5’8”, 201 pound senior took 22 carries to produce 188 rushing yards and four TDs. During the performance, he broke free on the nations second-most 15-plus yard runs (four) for 103 of those rushing yards … one of which was a 26-yard TD run.
Matt Dayes ($5,300) – North Carolina State vs. Louisville
Despite facing a Week 4 FBS-opponent in South Alabama, the Wolfpack faced little resistance on the road in Mobile toward securing their fourth victory of the season. Dayes was only provided with seven rushing attempts, but he made the most of each in producing 95 yards, and took one 77 yards to the house. While Dayes does not frequently generate a significant amount of “long” runs, his role on the team will grow significantly after the dismissal of Shadrach Thornton, and that opportunity will begin this week against Louisville.
Wendell Smallwood ($4,900) – West Virginia @ Oklahoma
Producing the third-most runs of 15-plus yards (three) in Week 4, Smallwood officially notified the nation of his featured role in the offense. Tallying his role in the complete embarrassment of Maryland, Smallwood produced 147 yards and a TD despite only playing in half of the teams offensive snaps.
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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.
Vic Enware ($4,600) – California vs. Washington State
The imminent return of the incumbent starter, Daniel Lasco, will bring an end to an impressive run as the teams starter. The role came with a four-fold increase in total snaps and the sophomore responded with three TDs and 149 rushing yards over those two starts. Last week against Washington, a top-20 rushing defense, Enware tied three others for the most broken tackles in the nation (11), and generated the weeks third-highest elusive rating (150.0).
Elijah Hood ($5,300) – North Carolina @ Georgia Tech
While his Week 4 opponent, Delaware, will earn Hood very little credit for the performance, digging deeper into the numbers may indicate some credit is due. Against the Fightin’ Blue Hens, Hood was able to shed seven tackles on only 14 rushing attempts. That ability to avoid tacklers actually goes beyond facing the FCS opponent, as Hood furnished the FBS’ ninth-highest elusive rating (214.3) in Weeks 1 and 3 against South Carolina and Illinois. It will be interesting to see how Hood performs in Week 5 against Georgia Tech as the Tar Heels remaining schedule will not see a significant increase in difficulty.
Kelvin Taylor ($5,200) – Florida vs. Ole Miss
After briefly finding himself planted in HC Jim McElwin’s doghouse, Taylor has succeeded in re-ascending to the top of the depth chart, and was actually on the field for 64-of-71 total offensive snaps in Week 4 against Tennessee. Producing 91 yards after contact, Taylor broke free of 8 Volunteer tackle attempts on 19 total carries.
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A list of the receivers who furnished the weekends best performances on tracking down (deep) targets traveling greater than 20 yards.
Ed’Marques Batties ($6,200) – Middle Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt
It is not surprising to find a Middle Tennessee wideout as one of Week 4’s top vertical threats considering QB Brent Stockstill’s downfield effectiveness. That said, nothing should be taken away from what Batties has been able to achieve, including the 13 receptions he collected last week against Illinois. Playing all but one snap over the teams first three games, Batties secured all three catchable deep targets against the Fightin’ Illini, and resulting in 54.9 percent of his receiving yardage.
Demarcus Ayers ($6,200) – Houston @ Tulsa
Greg Ward Jr. is likely the most underrated player in the nation and his early-season preferred target has been Ayers. On his way to collecting all eight of his catchable targets in Week 4 against Texas State, Ayers tracked-down both at 20-plus for 76 yards. A Week 5 matchup at Tulsa with an over/under of 80 should signal the appropriate steps to take in response.
Thomas Sperbeck ($6,300) – Boise State vs. Hawaii
Identical to Batties, Sperbeck’s performance in Week 4 at Virginia can be appropriated to his young quarterback. Also similar, nothing should be taken from what Sperbeck achieved, as the junior split end is an excellent receiver with 4.4-speed. The Broncos discovered their present at quarterback in Mark Rypien’s nephew, Brett, and he connected with Sperbeck on both catchable deep targets, measuring in at 47 yards per completion, and both being taken into the endzone.
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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.
Laquon Treadwell ($5,400) – Ole Miss @ Florida
While the going will most definitely be significantly more difficult in Week 5 facing Vernon Hargreaves III and the Florida Gators, Treadwell simply overmatched the Vanderbilt secondary last week. Treadwell played 78-of-92 total offensive snaps against the Commodores, 45 in route, and produced 2.98 yards/route run (13th-best in Week 4). He finds himself with the 23rd-highest YPRR total on the season and a quarter of the way to proving the belief that he is one of the better talents at receiver in the country.
Christian Kirk ($6,300) – Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
Arguably the top true freshman receiver in the nation, at least until Alabama’s Calvin Ridley has the time to alter that opinion, Kirk has been more than the Aggies could ever have expected. Not only has he emerged with the second-highest punt return average in the country (37.3), Kirk has proven his worth in route, to say the least. In Week 4’s overtime victory over Arkansas, Kirk collected 8-of-8 catchable targets on 32 snaps in route, and generated 173 yards with 5.41 YPRR. The time to buy low is no more.
Drew Morgan ($4,700) – Arkansas @ Tennessee
When the Arkansas offense lost the services of WR Keon Hatcher, the outlook had reached bottom-barrel proportions. In steps a 6’0”, 195 pound junior from nearby Greenwood with 10 career receptions to support the passing offense. That may read as comical, but the truth is … he has averaged 5.6 receptions and 92.0 YPG in the three games since losing Hatcher, as well as a TD in two of those games. The counterpart to Kirk’s huge day in the overtime loss to Texas A&M, Morgan played 61-of-76 offensive snaps, secured all eight catchable targets, and manufactured 5.38 YPRR on 29 snaps in route.
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