Peyton Ramsey – Sophomore – Indiana – 4% Owned:
Despite performing well in relief of Richard Lagow last year, Ramsey entered fall camp as the underdog behind Arizona grad transfer Brandon Dawkins. In 2017 Ramsey performed well in his first season, completing 65% of his passes with a 10/5 TD/INT ratio and became the first Indiana Freshman to throw for 300 yards in a game since 2006. After wresting the starting job from Dawkins, Ramsey has proven up to the task, leading Indiana to a 4-2 record with the only losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.
Interestingly, Ramsey has posted quality fantasy performances in the 3 games against the tougher Big 10 opponents than against the less heralded schools Ball State/UVA/FIU. Ramsey has averaged a mere 25 Pass attempts and 8 carries per game against those 3 lower tier teams, averaging 160 passing yards per game. Conversely, Ramsey has averaged 45 pass attempts and 13 carries per game against MSU/Rutgers/Ohio State, averaging 294 passing yards per game. With an upcoming schedule of Iowa/Penn State/@Minnesota/Maryland, I think we see the Hoosiers lean on their fledgling young QB similarly. In dynasty leagues, Ramsey is an easy add. Standard leagues can take a wait and see approach against Iowa, but keep him in mind if injuries strike and you need a stop-gap option.
Brock Purdy – Freshman – Iowa State – 1% Owned:
Oklahoma State spent their week of preparation game-planning for statuesque Iowa State QB Zeb Noland. What they got was dynamic freshman QB Brock Purdy, who lit up Oklahoma State for 18/23 passing/318 yards/4TD/1INT and 19 carries for 84 yards and a TD. Iowa State was without their star RB David Montgomery, so they had to lean on Purdy even more than anticipated in his first start. He looked the part and then some, as Purdy allowed ISU to open up their playbook with more RPO than any game this year. It paid off as Purdy faked a pitch to RB Nwangu and jaunted for a 29-yard score against the overmatched OSU defense.
Purdy also displayed impressive grit by staying in the pocket and unloading the game-winning 60 yard TD pass to Tarique Milton right as he took a vicious shot from an unblocked blitzing LB. Purdy also delivered a picture-perfect 21 yard TD strike to Hakeem Butler while rolling right after being flushed out of the pocket. He passed the eyeball test with flying colors. With a shootout-laden upcoming schedule of WV/Texas Tech/@Kansas/Baylor, Purdy could very well run with this job and be a rock solid #2QB for the next month and beyond. Purdy is a must add in all formats, and potentially fantasy gold in Dynasty leagues.
Jordan Love – Sophomore – Utah State – 4% Owned:
Coming into the 2017 season, Utah State started the season with ZERO starting offensive lineman that had ever taken a college snap. Despite the inexperience, Utah State still ran for 171 yards and scored 30.2 PPG in 2017. Heading into this year, all 5 OL starters returned along with a total of 9 offensive returning starters including Sophomore QB Jordan Love, who took the job from incumbent Kent Myers and started the final 5 games of 2017. Utah State has been dominant since losing a close game against Michigan State, averaging a whopping 52.2 points per game in 2018. Love has been the catalyst for this improvement as he has posted a 66.3% completion percentage with a 9/3 TD/INT ratio and 3 rushing TD’s. Though Love prefers to stay in the pocket, his 6’4 220 lb. frame allows him to be a force on the goal line and siphon those valuable short yardage scores.
Utah State now approaches the soft underbelly of their MWC schedule, playing UNLV/@Wyo/NM/@Hawaii/SJ St./@ Col St the next 6 weeks. Utah State is going to smash their way through their remaining schedule. My only concern is they dominate so thoroughly that Love doesn’t have to throw much, and instead HC Matt Wells chooses to simply bully these inferior schools. Love is a waiver wire stud owned in merely 4% of leagues and should be picked up in all formats.
Elijah Mitchell – Sophomore – Louisiana – 1% Owned:
Through 4 games last year Elijah Mitchell was having a fine Freshman season, rushing for 257 yards/6.1YPC/4TD before being out for the year after breaking his foot in game 5. Mitchell is solidly built at 5’11, 220 lbs. but was still behind Trey Ragas in the backfield pecking order. However this offseason, UL brought in well regarded Alabama and Arizona St. offensive assistant Billy Napier to be their new Head Coach. When schools change HC’s, previous depth charts are thrown out the window, and everyone on the roster starts with a clean slate.
Broken bones in the foot area are notoriously slow healing injuries, so Mitchell was brought along slowly in fall camp and given light work the first 2 games against Grambling and Mississippi State. As Mitchell has gotten more comfortable, he has shown the ability to match or surpass Ragas in carries. Against Coastal Carolina, Mitchell turned his 5 carries into 43 yards and a TD. Against Alabama, he rushed 11 times for 85 yards while catching his lone target for 13 yards. Napier was impressed with Mitchell’s 8 YPC over that span, because he gave Mitchell a heavy load this week against Texas State, rushing 20 times for 191 yards and 3TD to go with 2 receptions for 34 yards.
Conversely, Ragas received 21 carries for 100 yards and 1 TD in the same game. Napier’s offense is geared to run the ball. Owners should be hesitant with Ragas, as I see this offense moving towards a split backfield between Ragas and Mitchell with Raymond Calais handling the passing downs. My advice is to pick up Mitchell in Deep leagues as a flyer, and certainly as a handcuff for Trey Ragas owners.
Christian Gibson – Senior – New Mexico State – 0% Owned:
New Mexico State started 2018 slowly, losing big to Wyoming/Minnesota/Utah State/New Mexico. Though their early slate was against clearly superior teams, something had to change for the Aggies if they were going to reach a bowl game for only the second time since 1960. With Larry Rose graduating, the next RB in line for the job was multi-purpose RB Jason Huntley. Huntley excels in the passing game, catching 39 passes for 383 yards in 2017. However 6 games into the season, Huntley is averaging a mere 3.1 YPC on 54 carries. Huntley’s inefficiency running the ball opened the door for Christian Gibson to receive a greater share of work. Gibson began to separate himself from Huntley 2 weeks ago vs. UTEP, as Huntley had only 8 carries for 26 yards while Gibson ripped off 10 carries for 103 yards in the NM St victory.
That trend carried over in a big way this past week in a win against Liberty, as Gibson took over the lead back role with 13 carries for 127 yards and 2 TD’s, with Huntley managing a meager 5 carries for 11 yards. NM St faces @Louisiana/Georgia Southern/@Texas State/Alcorn State over the next 4 weeks, and Gibson will be dining on some of the worst defenses imaginable. He’s a solid deep league add and must-have for disgruntled Huntley owners.
Frankie Hickson – Junior – Liberty – 1% Owned:
Frankie Hickson came into the year as the clear #2 RB behind Kentory Matthews and received sparse carries the first few games until Matthews got hurt 3 weeks ago vs. North Texas’ staunch defense. Hickson made the most of his opportunity, running for 96 yards on 21 carries in a game where Liberty managed only 7 points. Last week Liberty faced New Mexico in a 52-43 shootout in which Hickson toted the rock 27 times for 65 yards and 2 TD’s in a workhorse performance. This past week is when Hickson broke out, as he rushed 24 times for 155 yards and a TD against New Mexico State. Hickson is the clear starter until at least Matthews regains health in an offense that has scored 49 points or more 3 times this season, and faces Troy/Idaho St/Massachusetts their next 3 weeks. This is a potent offense that feeds their #1 RB. So long as Hickson is in that role, he is well worth a short-term pickup in Deep Leagues.
J-Shun Harris II – Senior – Indiana – 0% Owned:
Harris is best known as a lethal punt returner, who in 2017 returned 14 punts for 266 yards, 19 YPR, and 2 TDs before tearing his ACL for a 3rd time vs. Maryland in the 8th game of the season. To put in perspective just how great a returner he is, Luke Timian replaced Harris as the primary punt returner and gained only 90 yards on 12 punt returns. Harris managed to make a full recovery from his ACL injury but continued to work solely as a punt returner until starting WR’s Whop Philyor, and Luke Timian got hurt allowing Harris to crack the lineup as a WR. In his first game, Harris caught 6 passes for 42 yards against Michigan State. He followed that up with 7 catches on 9 targets, 54 yards, 1 TD versus Rutgers, before snagging 8 balls on 14 targets for 104 yards in an electric performance against Ohio State this weekend. Harris should continue to be a focal point out of the slot and has led the team in targets in each of the past 2 weeks with 23 total. He’s a nice, low floor, PPR deep league add for the next few weeks at least.
Travis Fulgham – Junior – Old Dominion – 1% Owned:
Fulgham was the second leading receiver for Old Dominion last year with a receiving line of 30 receptions for 394 yards and 1 TD. However in the first few weeks of 2018 Fulgham was relegated to a secondary role in the offense behind the surging Jonathan Duhart, catching only 5 passes in the first 3 games. In that time frame ODU was having little success moving the ball behind Steven Williams, so HC Bobby Wilder made the call to go with Blake LaRussa against Virginia Tech. From that point forward Fulgham has posted WR #1 numbers, catching 9 passes on 14 targets for 188 yards and a TD vs. VT. Fulgham hauled in 3 passes on 6 targets for 32 yards and a TD against ECU the following week before torching FAU for 10 catches on 13 targets for 151 yards and 1TD. ODU faces Marshall/@WKU/MTSU/North Tex/VMI/@Rice for the rest of the year. With LaRussa at the helm, the ODU offense should continue to produce 35+PPG against this cream-puff stretch of CUSA teams plus an FCS tilt against VMI. Fulgham is an easy waiver addition in all formats of 14+ teams.
Damon Hazleton – Sophomore – Virginia Tech – 15% Owned:
I usually don’t like to list players who are owned in more than 10% of leagues, but with Damon Hazleton, I’m willing to make an exception. Owned in a mere 15% of Fantrax leagues, Hazleton has caught a TD in every single game this year. He also has 100 yards receiving in 3 of the last 4 contests and sports a 39.7% Dominator Rating (Hat Tip to the Devy Watch Pod– Dominator measures the percentage of total targets a WR receives). Hazleton hasn’t skipped a beat since Ryan Willis took over, as he has seen 26 passes thrown his way by Willis in the last 2 games against the upper echelon defensive units of Notre Dame and Duke. Beyond the numbers, Hazleton has prototype NFL size at 6/2, 217 Lbs. And faces a positively delicious stretch of opponents in @NC/GT/BC/@Pitt/Miami/UVA to end the season. Pick him up everywhere; he’s a target hog and a legit stud. 15% ownership is insulting.