Conference Preview: ACC
Conference Preview: ACC

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

Welcome to the ACC installment of Rotowire's Conference Preview series. The ACC may be short on national contenders outside of Clemson, but this is a conference that's ripe with top-end talent across the board. 

For each conference preview, we will have first-, second-, and third-team All-Fantasy teams as well as sleeper and bust selections. To the right of each player's name will be their overall positional ranking.

All-ACC Fantasy Team

First Team

QB: Bryce Perkins, Virginia  (5)

RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson  (2)

RB: AJ Dillon, Boston College  (18)

WR: Justyn Ross, Clemson  (18)

WR: Tamorrion Terry,  Florida State  (24)

TE: Carl Tucker, North Carolina  (22)

Second Team

QB: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson  (15)

RB: Cam Akers,  Florida State  (29)

RB: Deon Jackson, Duke   (47)

WR: Tre Turner,  Virginia Tech  (25)

WR: Emeka Emezie, North Carolina State   (26)

TE: Tre' McKitty, Florida State  (34)

Third Team

QB: Quentin Harris, Duke  (19)

RB: DeeJay Dallas, Miami  (48)

RB: Cade Carney, Wake Forest  (57)

WR: Damon Hazelton Jr.,  Virginia Tech  (34)

WR: Sean Riley,  Syracuse  (37)

TE: Brevin Jordan,  Miami  (32)

Sleepers

Ryan Willis, QB, Virginia Tech 

As a disclaimer, this section is going to be littered with quarterbacks. Looking above, there are six wideouts ranked inside the top 40 in projections, and only one of their quarterbacks appear. The Hokies' top-two wideouts are here as well, setting the stage for Willis to turn in another strong season. Once taking over as starter last year, Willis at least three total touchdowns in seven of 10 appearances. He topped 280 yards four times and attempted 31 or more passes seven times. Tre Turner is appropriately ranked above, but is still a sleeper nationally, and Hazelton gives Willis a sound red-zone target. Willis even had six games with double-digit rushing attempts. With a committee backfield, Willis is the clear focal point of the offense. He's not sexy, but he's likely to return starting value at a backup price.

Tommy DeVito, QB, Syracuse 

I'm capping myself at two QBs for this section, but don't hesitate to at least consider FSU's James Blackman as a backup option nationally, while the winner's of competitions at Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest all appear in position to be at worst weekly options. DeVito, however, is more than that. On system alone, DeVito is an ideal fit for Dino Babers and what he enjoyed running at Bowling Green. Forget a little about Eric Dungey, and think back to 2015 where Babers' QB Matt Johnson produced 4,700 yards and 43 touchdowns. Syracuse gets Clemson at home, and only has "challenging" road games at Florida State and North Carolina State to deal with, as the non-conference schedule includes Liberty, Maryland, Holy Cross and Western Michigan. Dungey's running ability led to durability concerns, and capped his passing numbers. That won't be the case here. 

A.J. Davis/Todd Sibley Jr., RB, Pittsburgh 

I'm cheating a bit here by listing both Panther RBs, but if the past is any indication, there should be enough work for both to contribute significantly, and one could emerge as a real star. Pittsburgh is looking to replace 347 carries, 2,357 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, and it's unlikely they will throw more to compensate for the losses of Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, as quarterback Kenny Pickett is limited at best with his arm strength, accuracy and receiving options. Both Davis and Sibley are built well enough to shoulder the load, with Davis having a bit more burst and elusiveness, while Sibley enjoys lowering his shoulders and taking on contact. Pick your poison on style with a late round lottery ticket that could pay off handsomely.

Cam'Ron Harris, RB, Miami 

This is a deep league, or ACC-heavy special for me. Miami has tremendous depth in their backfield, so it's unlikely Harris will ever see huge carry totals on a weekly basis, and there are major questions surrounding their offensive line. But presumed starter DeeJay Dallas has never been more than a committee member, and has consistently struggled with ball security. Higher-recruited classmate Lorenzo Lingard remains limited in his recovery from a knee injury from last year and won't be a threat for volume for at least a month; which leaves Harris as at worst the 1b to Dallas' 1a. He's a high-upside play to the stability of Dallas, who still figures to get the shorter yardage work.

Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest 

This article feels incomplete without a mention of Clemson's Tee Higgins, who can't qualify as a sleeper, but seems better than the seventh-ranked receiver in the conference based on our projections, so there, he's been named and is in store for a big year. So is Surratt, who had two games last year of over 100 yards, scoring four times with two coming in the final two contests. Wake must replace the dynamic Greg Dortch (89 catches, 1,189 yards, eight TDs) and Alex Bachman (37-547-6), freeing up plenty of opportunity for Surratt to build on his 41-581-4 line from last season. His 6-foot-3, 220 pound frame is better built for possession and red zone targets, but he does have the ability to get deep and make big plays, just not always after the catch. I love his target share potential, and flirting with double-digit scores seems probable.

Busts

Quentin Harris, QB,  Duke 

We got an abbreviated look at Harris last year during Daniel Jones' injury, and while the seven total touchdowns in two games is great, it came against Baylor and North Carolina Central. He completed only 50.0 percent of his passes, and that was with the Blue Devils' veteran receiving core that isn't returning, with Duke needing to replace it's top four receivers that tallied 183 catches a year ago. Harris can run, and that figures to keep his value from bottoming out, but for me, he's a similar skilled player to Boston College's Anthony Brown. Brown has less opportunity with the ability to fall back on Dillon, but the lack of receiving threats is identical. DeVito, Willis and Blackmon for me above Harris in ACC circles.

P.K. Kier, RB, Virginia 

The Cavaliers must replace 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns from Jordan Ellis, and 93 receptions, 1,058 yards and nine TDs from Olamide Zaccheaus from last year. The conventional, or lazy, assumption is that Kier is the next man up, and ready to assume a large role in this offense. That very well may be the case as head coach Bronco Mendenhall said "I'd rather it be that than by committee, but too early to say right now," when asked if he had a workhorse carrier. But Kier missed most of spring practice and is behind Wayne Taulapapa, and faces competition from Lamont Adkins and freshman Mike Hollins. Kier averaged only 3.1 YPC in limited action last season, and his upside comes only from a voluminous role that isn't certain to materialize.

Ricky Person, RB, North Carolina State 

Person is in a similar spot to Kier above, though he is a more talented/heralded recruit. The 'Pack will be breaking in a new QB, need a new lead receiver, and must replace Reggie Gallaspy's 228 carries, 1,098 yards and 18 touchdowns from a year ago, so opportunity isn't an issue for Person. Or maybe it is as durability issues led to a missed spring, and the emergence of Zonovan Knight. It's certainly possible there's enough work for both to emerge as viable options, but with so much ambiguity regarding Person's role, and the Wolfpack's offense as a whole, the risk with Person seems to outweigh the reward.

Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami  

Thomas appeared in the sleeper portion of this column a year ago, and somewhat justifiably so before his temporary dismissal from the program. His talent remains elite among a receiving corps that has plenty of skill to spare. The problem with Thomas isn't his fault. Miami has no clue who will be its quarterback, and figures to play at least two throughout the season, and likely three if one of Tate Martell, N'Kosi Perry or Jarren Williams don't transfer. Mix in offensive line concerns that will limit the ability to force the ball downfield, and that incredibly deep receiving corps' that includes Buffalo transfer K.J. Osborn, freshman Jeremiah Payton and former five-star Mark Pope, and Thomas is left with minimal volume and only the occasional big play to provide a weekly return. It's going to be a feast or famine season.

Sean Riley, WR,  Syracuse  

Riley caught a team-high 64 balls last season, the Orange offense should be a bit more pass-happy with a less-mobile DeVito under center, and they are looking to replace Jamal Custis' team-high 906 yards from a year ago. It's obviously a great spot for Riley to build on his 2018 success, but he's best suited to remain in the slot, while Taj Harris is the favorite to assume Custis' outside role. A year ago at this time, everyone expected Devin Butler to lead the Orange, and he finished the year with 14 grabs, 126 yards and zero scores. Riley won't bust that hard, and there's reason to expect he matches or slightly builds on last season's 756 yards and three scores. But the upside isn't there as there's not a role change looming. Drafting Riley for stability is fine, but drafting him expecting an explosion in production seems unwise.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
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