College Football Best Ball Journal, April Edition

College Football Best Ball Journal, April Edition

This article is part of our College Football Best Ball Journal series.

The brain trust that got together for the mock a few weeks ago has come together to do a Best Ball once a month through the rest of the offseason to help develop the best ADP possible by the time most leagues start drafting. We finished the April edition in the last few days and I will offer my thoughts on the draft here in this space. 

It was a 26-round beast, but it was necessary to go that deep into the player pool considering the best-ball format that precludes in-season moves. With that, it felt like we entered the Wild Wild West by around Round 16, meaning that the last 10 rounds can be pretty informative as to which analysts are believers (or non-believers depending on how big the slide) in certain players or teams. Below you'll find the draft cut up into five-round chunks with my analysis of each pick along the way. 

RoundPickOvr.PosPlayerSchoolFantasy Team
111RBHubbard, ChubaOkStTeam ChrisKay
122QBFields, JustinOHStJoe D (theCFFsite)
133RBPatterson, JaretBuffTeam CFFnate
144RBEtienne, TravisClemTeam andrewpkatz
155QBRattler, SpencerOklaTeam zthall
166RBGainwell, KennethMemTeam John McKechnie
177RBHall, BreeceIAStTeam Quarantine
188WRMoore, RondalePurdTeam kevin_brown87
199QBHowell, SamUNCThe Justin Heisey
11010WRChase, Ja'MarrLSUTeam FranchiseKF
11111QBEhlinger, SamTexTeam mikebainbridge20
11212WRSurratt, SageWakeJosh Chevalier
2113WRSmith, DeVontaAlaJosh Chevalier
2214WRWallace, TylanOkStTeam mikebainbridge20
2315WRRoberson Jr., ReggieSMUTeam FranchiseKF
2416RBLewis, KobeC MiThe Justin Heisey
2517RBBorghi, MaxWaStTeam kevin_brown87
2618WRTerry, TamorrionFlaStTeam Quarantine
2719WRAtwell, ChatariusLouTeam John McKechnie
2820RBHarris, NajeeAlaTeam zthall
2921QBKing, D'EriqMiaFLTeam andrewpkatz
21022WRBateman, RashodMinnTeam CFFnate
21123RBHenderson, JustinLaTecJoe D (theCFFsite)
21224WRAdams Jr., JonathanArkStTeam ChrisKay
3125WRStevenson, MarquezHouTeam ChrisKay
3226WRBrown, DyamiUNCJoe D (theCFFsite)
3327QBAhlers, HoltonECUTeam CFFnate
3428WRPickens, GeorgeUGATeam andrewpkatz
3529WRCoxie, DamonteMemTeam zthall
3630QBO'Hara, AsherMidTNTeam John McKechnie
3731RBHill, KylinMisStTeam Quarantine
3832WRRobinson, Wan'DaleNebTeam kevin_brown87
3933WRJohnson, C.J.ECUThe Justin Heisey
31034WRRoss, JustynClemTeam FranchiseKF
31135WRNewsome, DazzUNCTeam mikebainbridge20
31236RBHawkins, JavianLouJosh Chevalier
4137QBNewman, JamieUGAJosh Chevalier
4238RBHolani, GeorgeBoiseTeam mikebainbridge20
4339QBSanders, SpencerOkStTeam FranchiseKF
4440QBPurdy, BrockIAStThe Justin Heisey
4541QBLawrence, TrevorClemTeam kevin_brown87
4642QBCrum, DustinKentTeam Quarantine
4743RBBrown, JourneyPSUTeam John McKechnie
4844RBMarable, CJCoCarTeam zthall
4945WRWaddle, JaylenAlaTeam andrewpkatz
41046QBCostello, K.J.StanTeam CFFnate
41147QBCunningham, MicaleLouJoe D (theCFFsite)
41248QBBuechele, ShaneSMUTeam ChrisKay
5149QBMond, KellenTxAMTeam ChrisKay
5250RBBrooks, KennedyOklaJoe D (theCFFsite)
5351RBValladay, XazavianWyoTeam CFFnate
5452WRWalker, TreSJSUTeam andrewpkatz
5553QBHartman, SamWakeTeam zthall
5654WRBell, DavidPurdTeam John McKechnie
5755WRSt. Brown, Amon-RaUSCTeam Quarantine
5856RBIbrahim, MohamedMinnTeam kevin_brown87
5957WRSmart, JaredHawaiiThe Justin Heisey
51058RBKnox, BrendenMarshTeam FranchiseKF
51159RBSpiller, IsaiahTxAMTeam mikebainbridge20
51260RBKoback, BryantToledJosh Chevalier

My Picks

Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis at 1.6

Chatarius Atwell, WR, Louisville at 2.7

Asher O'Hara, QB, Middle Tennessee at 3.6

Journey Brown, RB, Penn State at 4.7

David Bell, WR, Purdue at 5.6

In my last article, I lamented not going after Kenneth Gainwell even though I was happy with taking Jaret Patterson at No. 4 overall. Again, Patterson is great, but Gainwell is rare. He has an established path to being the top overall back in the game this fall. His numbers as a freshman were rare. Only four players had at least 1,000 rushing yards in addition to 50 targets. As you can see, Gainwell was in good company there and he was the only underclassman of that bunch. With so much of Memphis' key players coming back, this could be an offensive juggernaut. I want the guy who can push for 300 touches in that offense. 

I definitely paid full price to get Atwell in the second round and I get there are some concerns with going after him at that stage of the draft. He's got a very slight frame -- we list him at 5-foot-9 and 153 pounds -- and it'll be tough to replicate last year's efficiency. Among receivers with 100 or more targets, only LSU's Ja'Marr Chase averaged more YPT (14.13) than Atwell's 12.0. My counter to that is that Atwell, and Louisville as a whole, was able to put together such a successful 2019 despite so much evidence suggesting that it would be a disastrous season in "Year Zero" under Scott Satterfield. Bobby Petrino left that program in shambles and Satterfield guided it to an eight-win season with a bowl victory over an SEC team. So basically what I'm saying is that if Louisville can turn around to that degree in just a few months under Satterfield, imagine what Year Two might look like. And Atwell stands to be a big part of that. I'm buying the Louisville hype. 

This was the second time in two drafts I got Asher O'Hara. A quarterback with the potential to throw for 3,000 yards and run for another 1,000 is always going to have my stamp of approval.

A ton of quarterbacks started to go in the fourth round, so I wanted to zig zag after already addressing that position in the third. Journey Brown might've still been available in the fifth but I was okay with chasing his upside. Yes he has a relatively small market share (25 percent) compared to other running backs in this range, but few match his explosiveness. Clemson's Travis Etienne is the only returning running back with at least 125 attempts who averaged more yards per carry (7.8) than Brown's 6.9 on 128 rushes. Check out this quote from coach Ja'Juan Seider this week: 

I'll buy in on that even if it's a bit of an overpay on draft day. 

My fifth-round pick ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy from my first draft writeup where I argued that while Bell is a fifth-round talent, paying for him at that price feels steep considering that Rondale Moore is probably (hopefully) going to be playing more than four games this year. I fell for my own trap. 

fail looney tunes GIF

Rounds 6-10

RoundPickOvr.Pos.PlayerSchoolFantasy Team
6161WRJackson, WarrenColStJosh Chevalier
6262RBJefferson, JermarOreStTeam mikebainbridge20
6363RBBailey, DavidBCTeam FranchiseKF
6464RBWatson, NakiaWiscThe Justin Heisey
6565QBDaniels, JaydenAzStTeam kevin_brown87
6666RBMitchell, ElijahULLafTeam Quarantine
6767WRMarshall Jr., TerraceLSUTeam John McKechnie
6868WRVaughns, TylerUSCTeam zthall
6969RBEaly, JerrionMissTeam andrewpkatz
61070WRMcKoy, IsaiahKentTeam CFFnate
61171RBThompson, SaRodorickTxTchJoe D (theCFFsite)
61272RBJohnson, JoshULMonTeam ChrisKay
7173WRDarby, FrankAzStTeam ChrisKay
7274WRHaselwood, JadonOklaJoe D (theCFFsite)
7375WRShakir, KhalilBoiseTeam CFFnate
7476WRStokes, KeylonTulsTeam andrewpkatz
7577RBSermon, TreyOklaTeam zthall
7678TEGranson, KylenSMUTeam John McKechnie
7779QBGabriel, DillonUCFTeam Quarantine
7880RBFord, JeromeCinTeam kevin_brown87
7981WRPearson, JahcourW KyThe Justin Heisey
71082QBSlovis, KedonUSCTeam FranchiseKF
71183QBBook, IanNDTeam mikebainbridge20
71284QBMartinez, AdrianNebJosh Chevalier
8185TEKolar, CharlieIAStJosh Chevalier
8286WROlave, ChrisOHStTeam mikebainbridge20
8387QBBrennan, MylesLSUTeam FranchiseKF
8488RBFelton, DemetricUCLAThe Justin Heisey
8589RBWhittington, JordanTexTeam kevin_brown87
8690WRPhilyor, WhopIndTeam Quarantine
8791QBClifford, SeanPSUTeam John McKechnie
8892WRNixon, TreUCFTeam zthall
8993RBDavis, Re'MahnTempTeam andrewpkatz
81094TEKuithe, BrantUtahTeam CFFnate
81195RBMcDaniel, TJSMUJoe D (theCFFsite)
81296WRRambo, CharlestonOklaTeam ChrisKay
9197RBWilliams, D.J.AubTeam ChrisKay
9298WRWease, TheoOklaJoe D (theCFFsite)
9399RBBoyd, RakeemArkTeam CFFnate
94100RBWhite, ZamirUGATeam andrewpkatz
95101RBRountree III, LarryMizzuTeam zthall
96102RBCarothers, JamaleNavyTeam John McKechnie
97103TEJordan, BrevinMiaFLTeam Quarantine
98104QBCordeiro, ChevanHawaiiTeam kevin_brown87
99105RBRivers, RonnieFresThe Justin Heisey
910106TEPitts, KyleFlaTeam FranchiseKF
911107WRMitchell, OsirusMisStTeam mikebainbridge20
912108RBVerdell, CJOregJosh Chevalier
101109RBMcCormick, SincereUTSAJosh Chevalier
102110RBGoodson, TylerIowaTeam mikebainbridge20
103111WRHarris, TajSyrTeam FranchiseKF
104112WRBell, RenardWaStThe Justin Heisey
105113WRSnead, TylerECUTeam kevin_brown87
106114RBWilliams Jr., PookaKansTeam Quarantine
107115WRMoore, SkyyWestMITeam John McKechnie
108116TEBushman, MattBYUTeam zthall
109117TEFreiermuth, PatPSUTeam andrewpkatz
1010118RBHuntley, CalebBallTeam CFFnate
1011119WRCooks, ElijahNevJoe D (theCFFsite)
1012120TEMitchell, JamesVaTecTeam ChrisKay

My Picks

Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU at 6.7

Kylen Granson, TE, SMU at 7.6

Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State at 8.7

Jamale Carothers, RB, Navy at 9.6

Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan at 10.7


It's unrealistic to expect LSU to repeat last year's fireworks without Burrow and Brady, but I don't think that offense is going to disappear, either. There's too much talent, and Marshall is near the top of that list. A foot injury last year cost him three games and yet he still had more touchdowns (13) than games played (12). He also averaged a convincing 10.1 YPT and 14.6 YPR. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Marshall profiles as a capable Robin to Ja'Marr Chase's Bat Man in the LSU offense. 

Granson was on my FOMO list from last draft and I wasn't going to go 0-for-2 on him. He is the TE1 for this year and it'll be hard to convince me otherwise, even with a pretty strong group behind him rounding out the Top 5. I don't want to get 100 percent exposure to Granson in these Best Ball drafts as the offseason continues, but a few shares is the goal. His dominance after Reggie Roberson got hurt in Week 9 -- 39 targets, 27 catches, 442 yards, 11.3 YPT, 7 TD -- is just too much to ignore. 

I feel weird about the Clifford pick. There's something to be said for stacking offenses in Best Ball formats, but QB/RB usually isn't the path. Perhaps I overreacted to the QB run that started unfolding after the Granson pick, with Dillon Gabriel, Kedon Slovis, Ian Book and Adrian Martinez -- all players I would've considered in the 8th -- coming off the board between picks. I feel alright about Clifford; he was better on a per-game basis than Dustin Crum, Adrian Martinez, and Kedon Slovis last year. Penn State also hired Kirk Ciarrocca as the offensive coordinator, and we know what he got out of Tanner Morgan at Minnesota last year. But maybe buying into new systems isn't the smart play this year with spring practices all-but wiped out across the country. We will see. One thing I know is that I was probably bidding against myself in the ninth when it came to Clifford.

Carothers is interesting. He was an unknown coming into last year who burst onto the scene in Week 7 and tore it up with 98 rushed for 712 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last eight games regular season contests. But cases like that can happen at Navy, and that's what concerns me a bit. Who's to say that another relative unknown gets the hot hand when Carothers comes out for a drive and never looks back? You can't for sure. But Carothers' flourish to end 2019 should afford him the starting role to open the year and his production suggests he can reward Navy for its faith in him. 

Skyy Moore was my next pick and one of my favorites of the entire draft. The more I've dug into the research prepping for these drafts, the more bullish I am on this Western Michigan offense. Quarterback Jon Wassink is gone and so is LaVante Bellamy, but a lot of talent remains, starting with Moore. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, catching 51 of 86 targets for 802 yards and three touchdowns. Moore's 9.3 YPT was 1.7 better than the team's total YPA and his catch rate (59.3) was right in line with the team's completion rate of 59.6 percent. Three touchdowns on 51 catches might mean that there was some bad luck that gets corrected this year, too, if he has a similar or greater target volume. I'm in on Moore. 

Round 11-15

RoundPickOvr.Pos.PlayerSchoolFantasy Team
111121WRBlue, JadanTempTeam ChrisKay
112122QBBonner, LoganArkStJoe D (theCFFsite)
113123QBBowman, AlanTxTchTeam CFFnate
114124RBWalker, GaejW KyTeam andrewpkatz
115125QBArmstrong, BrennanUVATeam zthall
116126DSTClemsonClemTeam John McKechnie
117127RBMurray, MarcelArkStTeam Quarantine
118128TECupp, BaylorTxAMTeam kevin_brown87
119129WRMack, TaysirPittThe Justin Heisey
1110130RBTrayanum, DeaMonteAzStTeam FranchiseKF
1111131TEGaines, XavierMarshTeam mikebainbridge20
1112132WRDarden, JaelonNorTxJosh Chevalier
121133WRMoore, ElijahMissJosh Chevalier
122134DSTGeorgiaUGATeam mikebainbridge20
123135RBHarbison, TreCharTeam FranchiseKF
124136RBEmery Jr., JohnLSUThe Justin Heisey
125137DSTUtahUtahTeam kevin_brown87
126138WRVasher, T.J.TxTchTeam Quarantine
127139WRShorter, JyaireNorTxTeam John McKechnie
128140WRGrimes, RandalUNLVTeam zthall
129141WRSmith, JakeTexTeam andrewpkatz
1210142WRThornton, TyquanBaylTeam CFFnate
1211143RBBrown, SpencerUABJoe D (theCFFsite)
1212144QBHooker, HendonVaTecTeam ChrisKay
131145DSTAlabamaAlaTeam ChrisKay
132146WRWilliams, SethAubJoe D (theCFFsite)
133147QBJones, MacAlaTeam CFFnate
134148WRRice, RasheeSMUTeam andrewpkatz
135149DSTWisconsinWiscTeam zthall
136150RBAllison, O'ShaanOhioTeam John McKechnie
137151DSTOregonOregTeam Quarantine
138152WRWright, DanteColStTeam kevin_brown87
139153TEDurham, PaynePurdThe Justin Heisey
1310154WRSmith, ShiSCarTeam FranchiseKF
1311155RBCoates, DestinGAStTeam mikebainbridge20
1312156RBWilliams, CharlesUNLVJosh Chevalier
141157DSTOhio StateOHStJosh Chevalier
142158QBDuggan, MaxTCUTeam mikebainbridge20
143159RBWilmore, JordanUtahTeam FranchiseKF
144160QBCooper, CammonWaStThe Justin Heisey
145161WRMcCoy, BruUSCTeam kevin_brown87
146162QBRobison, ChrisFlAtlTeam Quarantine
147163RBKnight, ZonovanNCStTeam John McKechnie
148164RBScott III, StevieIndTeam zthall
149165RBBrown Jr., ChristopherCalTeam andrewpkatz
1410166WREagles, BrennanTexTeam CFFnate
1411167TEGilbert, ArikLSUJoe D (theCFFsite)
1412168RBGray, EricTennTeam ChrisKay
151169QBWillis, MalikLibTeam ChrisKay
152170RBNewton, RichardWashJoe D (theCFFsite)
153171RBMensah, KevinUConnTeam CFFnate
154172WRWilson, GarrettOHStTeam andrewpkatz
155173WRTucker, VictorCharTeam zthall
156174WRPittman, MycahOregTeam John McKechnie
157175WRWilliams, MarlonUCFTeam Quarantine
158176RBCharbonnet, ZachMichTeam kevin_brown87
159177RBLaborn, KhalanFlaStThe Justin Heisey
1510178WRJana, TerrellUVATeam FranchiseKF
1511179RBClair, AndrewBGSUTeam mikebainbridge20
1512180QBBrewer, CharlieBaylJosh Chevalier

My Picks

Clemson Defense at 11.6

Jyaire Shorter, WR, North Texas at 12.7

O'Shaan Allison, RB, Ohio at 13.6

Zonovan Knight, RB, North Carolina State at 14.7

Mycah Pittman, WR, Oregon at 15.6


Hand up, I forgot to toggle off the "Fill Available Positions" option on my Autodraft settings, and I paid the price by taking a defense in the 11th round. I became more and more okay with it later in the draft but it still felt like a missed opportunity to grab a running back like John Emery Jr. or Tre Harbison. Oh well. At least I can bank on my defense forcing tons of turnovers and maybe notching a shutout or two. 

Shorter was someone I had in my queue at the end of the last draft but never got around to selecting and he ultimately went undrafted. At 12.7, he felt like a strong addition to my receiving corps that also added some nice value. He led all (redshirt) freshmen in YPT among players with at least 40 targets (11.83) and he racked up nine touchdowns. Now, there's some regression risk here. The per-target efficiency could dip without Mason Fine at quarterback and nine touchdowns on 40 targets is unsustainable. But at the same time, that many touchdowns can't be a total fluke, right? Shorter is 6-2, 215 with legit downfield ability. Even if the efficiency falls off a bit, the projected target increase with Michael Lawrence and Rico Bussey gone should help smooth things out. 

O'Shaan Allison was another guy i had in my queue for the last draft that I never got around to taking because we ran out of rounds. I tend to chase explosiveness when it comes to my skill guys, and Allison offers that in a big way. He averaged 6.3 YPC over 138 attempts last year, which ranked 11th among running backs with at least 125 carries. He doesn't have sole ownership of the Bobcat backfield with De'Montre Tuggle and Julian Ross still there, but Nathan Rourke's departure should open up some goal line carries and Allison could see his touchdowns tick up. 

Knight isn't a pick I'm all that excited about in this format because he's not a great ceiling guy, but I am sold on the floor. I also had to play the bye week game at running back with my first three backs all having off-weeks in Week 6. I'm reasonably convinced that Knight is the best back on NC State and should see the bulk of the carries and goal line work, even if Jordan Houston and Ricky Person get their share as well. I was looking for someone who could produce a decent stat line and keep things moving on the week where I'm thin at running back. Knight fits that bill.

Mycah Pittman is a pick I'm really excited about. He's a different type of receiver from his brother, Michael, but he gets it done at 5-11 and 198 pounds. Pittman was hurt to start his freshman season, which put him behind the eight ball. He still managed to catch 18 of 28 targets for 227 yards (8.1 YPT) and two scores. Those numbers are fine but not eye-popping, and a look at the depth chart might lead you to believe he's the third option in this receiving corps. If you dig deeper into recruiting profiles, though, you see Pittman is the most talented receiver on Oregon's roster and can overtake a Johnny Johnson or Jaylen Redd as the No.1 for the Ducks.

 Rounds 16-20

RoundPickOvr.Pos.PlayerSchoolFantasy Team
161181RBEmmons, BJFlAtlJosh Chevalier
162182QBBachmeier, HankBoiseTeam mikebainbridge20
163183RBMason, JordanGATecTeam FranchiseKF
164184WRAutman-Bell, ChrisMinnThe Justin Heisey
165185TEPederson, JoshULMonTeam kevin_brown87
166186QBPenix Jr., MichaelIndTeam Quarantine
167187RBBillingsley, DKTroyTeam John McKechnie
168188WRGreene, DonavonWakeTeam zthall
169189QBPlumlee, John RhysMissTeam andrewpkatz
1610190WRBurks, TreylonArkTeam CFFnate
1611191QBNix, BoAubJoe D (theCFFsite)
1612192RBArmstrong, JafarNDTeam ChrisKay
171193WRShaw Jr., SeanIAStTeam ChrisKay
172194QBReynolds, ChrisCharJoe D (theCFFsite)
173195RBCorbin, JashaunFlaStTeam CFFnate
174196QBThomas, ZacAppTeam andrewpkatz
175197QBRourke, KurtisOhioTeam zthall
176198WRPhilips, KyleUCLATeam John McKechnie
177199RBWalker III, KennethWakeTeam Quarantine
178200RBChriston, KenanUSCTeam kevin_brown87
179201WRBradford, TrevonOreStThe Justin Heisey
1710202WRJames, SamWVUTeam FranchiseKF
1711203DSTMichiganMichTeam mikebainbridge20
1712204WRKnox, TreyArkJosh Chevalier
181205QBTrask, KyleFlaJosh Chevalier
182206RBCollins, ElijahMSUTeam mikebainbridge20
183207WRDotson, JahanPSUTeam FranchiseKF
184208RBFord, JohnnySoFLThe Justin Heisey
185209RBIngram, KeaontayTexTeam kevin_brown87
186210TEWydermyer, JalenTxAMTeam Quarantine
187211QBYoung, BryceAlaTeam John McKechnie
188212RBMills, DedrickNebTeam zthall
189213TERaine, JohnFlAtlTeam andrewpkatz
1810214WRLondon, DrakeUSCTeam CFFnate
1811215WRYarbrough, CJLibJoe D (theCFFsite)
1812216RBAnderson, OtisUCFTeam ChrisKay
191217WRTurner, TreVaTecTeam ChrisKay
192218TEGalloway, BradenClemJoe D (theCFFsite)
193219QBHatcher, LayneArkStTeam CFFnate
194220DSTSan Diego StateSDSUTeam andrewpkatz
195221WRHarley, MikeMiaFLTeam zthall
196222RBCarter, MichaelUNCTeam John McKechnie
197223RBRagas, TreyULLafTeam Quarantine
198224WRPimpleton, KalilC MiTeam kevin_brown87
199225DSTBuffaloBuffThe Justin Heisey
1910226QBWhite, BradyMemTeam FranchiseKF
1911227WRAusbon, JhamonTxAMTeam mikebainbridge20
1912228RBKennedy III, WesleyGaSoJosh Chevalier
201229RBHarris, Cam'RonMiaFLJosh Chevalier
202230WRHall, JustinBallTeam mikebainbridge20
203231QBTune, ClaytonHouTeam FranchiseKF
204232QBWiggins, KaylanFLIntThe Justin Heisey
205233QBRidder, DesmondCinTeam kevin_brown87
206234WRJones, TimSMissTeam Quarantine
207235TEFord, MarshonLouTeam John McKechnie
208236QBBrown, AnthonyBCTeam zthall
209237RBBrooks, ShamariTulsTeam andrewpkatz
2010238WRAustin Jr., KevinNDTeam CFFnate
2011239DSTAuburnAubJoe D (theCFFsite)
2012240DSTAppalachian StateAppTeam ChrisKay

My Picks

DK Billingsley, RB, Troy at 16.7

Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA at 17.6

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama at 18.7

Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina 19.6

Marshon Ford, TE, Louisville at 20.7


Make it 2-for-2 on Billingsley shares thus far, and this time I got him a lot later than I did in the first go-round. I nabbed Billinglsley at 11.4 in that one, so getting him five rounds later here gives me a read on how the rest of the industry views him right now. Maybe I'm viewing him through rose-colored glasses or maybe I'm missing something. What I see is a player atop the depth chart who is also easily the most talented of Troy's backfield. He's the only Troy back who had more than 100 carries last year and he was the only one who averaged more than 4.5 YPC. B.J. Smith is coming back but is coming off a serious knee injury, so there's no guarantee he takes the top job back. Maybe Billingsley at 11.4 was a reach but I like him a lot in the 16th.

I wanted to start rounding out my receiving corps with this cluster of picks, and Philips presented a nice value with some PPR upside. His 91 targets were among the most by a freshman* in 2019, and he caught 60 of them for 681 yards and five touchdowns. He should be the No.1 wideout again for Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is entering his third year as the starter under Chip Kelly. Even a repeat of last year's numbers would be fine compensation for a 17th-round investment when it comes to Philips. I'll take that catch rate and target volume all day. 

This next pick is my first dip into the freshman class from this year. Usually my recruitnik tendencies would have me much more cavalier about attacking this class in my drafts as I view it as a blindspot that other owners might have that I don't. But a big part of identifying instant impact freshman hinges on early enrollment and going through spring practice. Young was enrolled but obviously didn't have the opportunity to push Mac Jones for the starting job this spring, so that'll make it tougher for him to win the job come fall. Young's talent still gives him an outside chance of doing that at some point this season, even if it's not Week 1. And when (if?) Young takes over, I I believe he can be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback from that point forward. He's that good and the talent around him is special. 

Michael Carter is on the other end of the excitement spectrum from Young. Again, I wanted to build running back depth at this stage and patch together a competent group of fill-ins for when my studs are on bye. Carter is part of a committee and will likely be splitting the rushing workload with Williams almost 50/50. But he's also an established and effective runner, averaging 6.0 YPC over 358 career rushes. And the touchdown Karma might be due to swing back in his favor -- he has five rushing touchdowns in his last two seasons after racking up eight on 97 rushes as a freshman. Here's hoping.

Rounding out this section, I wanted to find one more tight end before we really reached the bottom of the barrel at that position. I was initially thinking of going Tre' McKitty, the ex-Florida State tight end who is a grad transfer at Georgia. But the new system install being delayed by everything going on steered me off that move and made me look elsewhere. Ford was a great find, though. His seven touchdowns tied for third among tight ends last season and he averaged 10.8 YPT. It's an admittedly small sample of 27 targets and converting over 25 percent of his targets into touchdowns isn't sustainable. But you don't have that kind of success by accident. Ford might only top out at 40 targets but if he can keep that catch rate and continue to be a staple in the red zone, this pick should work out. 

Rounds 21-26

RoundPickOvr.Pos.PlayerSchoolFantasy Team
211241WRPayton, JaVontaMisStTeam ChrisKay
212242RBMack, JoshuaLibJoe D (theCFFsite)
213243TELaPorta, SamIowaTeam CFFnate
214244QBThompson-Robinson, DorianUCLATeam andrewpkatz
215245DSTFloridaFlaTeam zthall
216246RBCook, JamesUGATeam John McKechnie
217247RBConner, SnoopMissTeam Quarantine
218248RBByrd, JordanSDSUTeam kevin_brown87
219249RBTyler, SeanWestMIThe Justin Heisey
2110250TEFerguson, JakeWiscTeam FranchiseKF
2111251WRGeiger, KaylonTroyTeam mikebainbridge20
2112252WRGuidry, StephenMisStJosh Chevalier
221253WRProche, JamesSMUJosh Chevalier
222254TEMcBride, TreyColStTeam mikebainbridge20
223255RBBrumfield, DevinUtahTeam FranchiseKF
224256WRHolloman, JJFLIntThe Justin Heisey
225257RBMcElroy, MarcusColStTeam kevin_brown87
226258QBDeVito, TommySyrTeam Quarantine
227259WRMaye, JamesMiaOHTeam John McKechnie
228260RBSmith, B.J.TroyTeam zthall
229261WRWatkins Jr., AustinUABTeam andrewpkatz
2210262DSTPenn StatePSUTeam CFFnate
2211263WRBowling, BrandonArkStJoe D (theCFFsite)
2212264TESimon, JoshuaW KyTeam ChrisKay
231265RBFontenot, AlexColoTeam ChrisKay
232266WRNunn, AntonioBuffJoe D (theCFFsite)
233267DSTWashingtonWashTeam CFFnate
234268DSTLouisiana StateLSUTeam andrewpkatz
235269TEMathis, JacobSoFLTeam zthall
236270QBEleby, KalebWestMITeam John McKechnie
237271DSTMiami (FL)MiaFLTeam Quarantine
238272QBPlummer, JackPurdTeam kevin_brown87
239273QBCruz, GunnerWaStThe Justin Heisey
2310274WRWiggins, DeeMiaFLTeam FranchiseKF
2311275QBBean, JasonNorTxTeam mikebainbridge20
2312276RBHarrington, DaetrichAppJosh Chevalier
241277QBHutchinson, PrestonE MiJosh Chevalier
242278WRSutton, CoreyAppTeam mikebainbridge20
243279TEPoljan, TonyC MiTeam FranchiseKF
244280TEKrull, LucasPittThe Justin Heisey
245281TEOtton, CadeWashTeam kevin_brown87
246282TEWells, ProTCUTeam Quarantine
247283WRChase, T.J.ClemTeam John McKechnie
248284RBWilliams Jr., MarcusAppTeam zthall
249285QBSmith, ZachTulsTeam andrewpkatz
2410286WRBussey Jr., RicoNorTxTeam CFFnate
2411287RBLloyd, MarShawnSCarJoe D (theCFFsite)
2412288QBWilliams, LeviWyoTeam ChrisKay
251289QBGunnell, GrantArizTeam ChrisKay
252290DSTTennesseeTennJoe D (theCFFsite)
253291DSTNotre DameNDTeam CFFnate
254292WRRobinson Jr., StephonKansTeam andrewpkatz
255293RBThomas, JaylenColStTeam zthall
256294RBGibbs, JahmyrGATecTeam John McKechnie
257295QBJefferson, KJArkTeam Quarantine
258296DSTIowaIowaTeam kevin_brown87
259297DSTLouisiana TechLaTecThe Justin Heisey
2510298DSTBoise StateBoiseTeam FranchiseKF
2511299RBCollins, ErinNIUTeam mikebainbridge20
2512300TEEpps, MalcolmTexJosh Chevalier
261301DSTBaylorBaylJosh Chevalier
262302RBJones, AustinStanTeam mikebainbridge20
263303DSTAlabama-BirminghamUABTeam FranchiseKF
264304QBGebbia, TristanOreStThe Justin Heisey
265305WRNgata, JosephClemTeam kevin_brown87
266306RBDavis, ElijahODTeam Quarantine
267307DSTBoston CollegeBCTeam John McKechnie
268308WRManning, OmarNebTeam zthall
269309QBCorral, MattMissTeam andrewpkatz
2610310WRSpielman, JDNebTeam CFFnate
2611311RBSiggers, TreNorTxJoe D (theCFFsite)
2612312RBMarks, KevinBuffTeam ChrisKay

My Picks

James Cook, RB, Georgia at 21.6

James Maye, WR, Miami (OH) at 22.7

Kaleb Eleby, QB, Western Michigan at 23.6

T.J. Chase, WR, Florida Atlantic at 24.7

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Georgia Tech at 25.6

Boston College Defense at 26.7


I can't quit James Cook no matter how much I try. We have two years of him struggling to carve out any sort of consistent role despite having star-level talent. That said -- and yes, this is a small sample and a lot of the work has come in blowouts against bad teams --  72 carries for 472 yards (6.6 YPC) in two years plus 26 catches for 221 yards on 27 targets is killer efficiency. With D'Andre Swift gone I think Zamir White gets the first crack at the starting job, but I doubt Georgia gives him a heavy workload given the injury history. It's now or never for Cook, and in the 21st round I was okay with taking that risk. 

James Maye stood out to me when I was researching for the last draft and I was happy to take a late-round flier here. He was really impressive as a freshman, leading the MAC in YPT (14.46) among receivers with at least 30 targets. Jack Sorenson is still the likely No.1 target in this offense but Maye is the best big-play threat for Miami (OH) and his target volume should tick up as a sophomore. 

Eleby might be a staple of my end-game strategy in these Best Ball drafts. I think the Western Michigan offense is being slept on for this year considering the system along with the returning talent at receiver. Eleby had a decent cameo as Western Michigan's starter as a freshman in 2018, taking over for the injured Jon Wassink. He completed 62.6 percent of his passes at 7.4 YPA to go with four touchdowns and three picks. He's not much of a runner but he also punched in three rushing scores in that span. With added time in the system and getting to enter the season with as The Guy should translate to success in 2020.

Chase is a former blue-chip guy who will be immediately eligible at FAU, where the Owls are replacing a ton of receiving production. Even though he never broke through at Clemson, Chase could have a nice second act to his career down in Boca.

With my second to last pick I took one more true freshman who I see having instant success, and that's Jahmyr Gibbs. He is arguably the crown jewel of Georgia Tech's recruiting class and is likely the best running back on the roster already. Tech had to fight of the likes of Florida and others heading into February's signing day to secure his services. I'm less worried about a learning curve for a running back, so the lack of spring practice shouldn't hurt Gibbs' chances of being an impact player for Georgia Tech right away. Outside of MarShawn Lloyd, Gibbs might be my favorite freshman running back for 2020. 

I had to finish up with a defense, so I perused the Week 9 slate when Clemson will be on a bye. And wouldn't you know it, Boston College hosts Holy Cross that week. Good enough for me. 

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John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
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