Conference Preview: AAC Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams

Conference Preview: AAC Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The AAC is due for lots of change in the coming seasons, with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF all set to leave for the Big-12 in the 2023 and 2024 seasons. Meanwhile, six new programs will be joining the AAC in the coming seasons: Charlotte, North Texas, UAB, Rice, FAU, UTSA. Listed below is some fantasy advice for this top-heavy conference. Over the last two seasons, Cincinnati has dominated the American Athletic Conference. The Bearcats posted a 8-0 conference record last season and though they lost many of their top players to the NFL Draft, the conference still runs through Cincinnati. Last season, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF finished as the top three teams in the AAC and are poised for another top-3 clash. Listed below is some fantasy advice for the top-heavy conference.

Below, you'll find our 2022 college fantasy football draft kit with all the offseason content you need to gear up for the upcoming season. 

2022 College Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2022 All-AAC Fantasy Teams

First Team

QB: Tanner Mordecai, SMU (21)

RB: Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina (21)

RB: Camar Wheaton, SMU (35)

WR: Nathaniel Dell, Houston (9)

WR: Ryan O'Keefe, Central Florida (22)

TE: Christian Trahan, Houston (17)

Second Team

QB: Clayton Tune, Houston (23) 

RB: Tre Siggers, SMU (50)

RB: Brandon Campbell, Houston (51)

WR: Rashee Rice, SMU (24)

WR: Xavier Weaver, South Florida (51)

TE: Tyrick James, Tulane (18)

Third Team

QB: Seth Henigan, Memphis (38)

RB: Corey Kiner, Cincinnati (63)

RB: Tyjae Spears, Tulane (28)

WR: JuanCarlos Santana, Tulsa (42)

WR: Nick Mardner, Cincinnati (64)

TE: Josh Whyle, Cincinnati (19)

AAC Fantasy Sleepers

Corey Kiner, Running Back, Cincinnati

It's hard to call any SEC transfer running back a sleeper, but if Kiner wins the starting running back spot in Cincinnati, the LSU transfer is poised for a big year. Kiner appeared in 11 games last season for the Tigers, carrying the ball 79 times for 324 yards and two touchdowns. With the Bearcats losing their former starting running back Jerome Ford to the NFL Draft, Luke Fickell and the Cincinnati coaching staff went and recruited the former four-star recruit for a reason. Even if Kiner starts the season splitting carries with Ryan Montgomery to start the season, expect Kiner to take over the starting role as the season progresses.

Demarkcus Bowman, Running Back, UCF

Sticking with the same trend, Bowman is a former Florida Gator who transferred to UCF this offseason. Bowman is entering his third collegiate season playing for his third team, though the junior running back only appeared in six games with Clemson and Florida over his first two seasons. Bowman has a great chance to be featured in the Knights' offense, though he currently sits behind Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson on the depth chart. Bowman's SEC experience should allow for the running back to climb up the ranks in Gus Malzahn's offense.

 Josh Whyle, Tight End, Cincinnati

Whyle earned All-AAC honors for his 2021 season, which included 14 games, 26 receptions, 332 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-6 tight end had the chance to enter the NFL Draft pool following his junior season with the Bearcats but decided to return for one more season to try and improve his draft stock. Whyle is in a great spot in the Cincinnati offense, being one of the most experienced returning starters on the offensive unit considering all the changes at quarterback and running back. For an unranked tight end, expect Whyle to make some noise for the Bearcats this season. 

 KeSean Carter, Wide Receiver, Houston

The 5-foot-11 wide receiver missed the final five games of the season while dealing with a foot injury, but should be ready to assume his role as the No. 2 wide receiver on the Cougars. Listed behind Nathaniel Dell, the No. 9 ranked RotoWire fantasy wide receiver, Carter may find himself increasing his targets as teams lock onto Dell. One problem Carter may run into is the Cougars' All-AAC tight end, Christian Trahan. If Carter fails to emerge early as a viable option in the Cougars offense, he may never meet his potential as a senior wide receiver, though his value as a late draft pick is worth considering.

AAC Fantasy Busts

 Isaiah Bowser, Running Back, UCF

The Knights struggled offensively last season, ranking bottom half in the conference in both the rushing and passing games. Bowser is returning for his second season with the Knights after appearing in eight games, gaining 703 yards on 159 carries, scoring nine touchdowns. Bowser missed five games last season, including the final three while dealing with a leg injury, but ultimately returned to the Knights for their bowl game, carrying the ball 35 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns. With Bowser entering his fifth season and the Knights having two young backs behind him, it's very possible his offensive output will decrease this season as Gus Malzahn looks to expand and improve the offense moving forward.

Camar Wheaton, Running Back, SMU

Wheaton enters the season as a redshirt freshman, joining an SMU running back room, which already features Tre Siggers, who led the Mustangs in rushing last season. Siggers will likely continue to be the starting running back this season, though Wheaton does have the potential to earn the starting spot. Wheaton is a former five-star recruit who originally committed to Alabama and will certainly have his time as SMU's leading back, but his value as the No. 35 ranked running back is far too high this early. 

Xavier Weaver, Wide Receiver, USF  

With this USF team having the potential to finish among the worst in the conference, I have trouble trusting any player on this team. Weaver did rake in the most receiving yards among all Bulls players last season, but in the same breath, he only caught two touchdown passes in 41 receptions. It's not that I don't think Weaver has the potential to have another 700-yard season, it comes down to who is throwing him the ball. Over the past few seasons, USF has been a revolving door of quarterbacks. The Bulls will potentially have their third consecutive season starting a new quarterback if Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon is able to win the starting job. With this uncertainty in the quarterback room comes a lack of chemistry that may become a factor in Weaver's production this season. 

CJ Johnson, Wide Receiver, East Carolina

Johnson returns to the pirates as the likely No. 1 option as wide receiver entering the season. Last season, Johnson finished the season with 35 receptions for 520 yards and one touchdown, the second leading receiver on the team. Though Johnson has the chance to make large strides entering his fourth season, the East Carolina offense has a strong amount of weapons to work with (Keaton Mitchell, Ryan Jones, Jsi Hatfield), which may affect Johnson's output. East Carolina is primed for a strong season in the AAC and it may very well come partially at the hands of Johnson, but he won't do it alone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Dern
Charlie Dern is a breaking news contributor for RotoWire, specializing in college sports. He formerly was a beat writer for the Lakeshore Chinooks and Sports News Editor for the Badger Herald, where he covered Wisconsin men's basketball, men's hockey, and football.
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