Conference Preview: ACC Preview: Cain is able

Conference Preview: ACC Preview: Cain is able

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

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 1st Team

QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville (1)
RB: Mark Walton, Miami (12)
RB: Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech (45)
WR: Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State (8)
WR: Deon Cain, Clemson (18)
TE: Jaylen Samuels, North Carolina State (1)

All-ACC 2nd Team

QB: Eric Dungey, Syracuse (7)
RB: Clinton Lynch, Georgia Tech (73)
RB: Jeremy Smith, Louisville (76)
WR: Steve Ishmael, Syracuse (24)
WR: Jaylen Smith, Louisville (28)
TE: Chris Cunningham, Virginia Tech (11)

All-ACC 3rd Team

QB: Daniel Jones, Duke (21)
RB: Tavien Feaster, Clemson (80)
RB: Travon McMillian, Virginia Tech (89)
WR: Ahmmon Richards, Miami (30)
WR: Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh (35)
TE: Cam Serigne, Wake Forest (12)


Kelly Bryant, QB, Clemson

There figures to be at least six new starting quarterbacks in the ACC, and that turnover alone will lead to some nice bargains when we look back at drafts at the season's end. Bryant comes with some risk, as it seems feasible Clemson will use multiple quarterbacks early in the year before settling on a starter. But Bryant is arguably a better runner than the man he's trying to replace, and there remains no shortage of top options at Clemson's other skill positions. Obviously you can't draft Bryant and expect Deshaun Watson, but there's very clear upside in both Bryant's talent and the offense he plays in, and he can be drafted in national leagues as a third QB or less, which seems likely to provide a nice return.

Josh Jackson, QB, Virginia Tech

Hokies' head coach Justin Fuente is a bit of a quarterback whisperer, and Jackson has the raw talent to be Fuente's next success story. Quite simply, the quarterback is the focal point of Fuente's offense; both by ground and air. A less-mobile Paxton Lynch ran 200 times over two seasons at Memphis, while Jerod Evans ran 204 times last season. In those three years, no running back carried more than 155 times. This is another situation where you can't draft the replacement solely based on his predecessor's success, but Jackson has tremendous dual-threat upside.

Jonathan Hilliman, RB, Boston College

Injuries have derailed what was once a promising career for Hilliman, who ran for 860 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. In the past two years, he's been limited to 740 yards on 235 carries, scoring only eight times. But the Eagles' backfield has been the talk of their August camp through a week plus. There's a little concern here of a committee, but Hilliman is healthy, experienced and has the combination of power and speed to be the lead back even if there are some reductions in workload to keep him healthy. He remains a safe choice to lead the team in rushing, and more importantly, touchdowns.

T.J. Rahming, WR, Duke

Rahming caught 70 balls last year, while no other Blue Devil snagged more than 34. Yes, his 10.6 yards per catch and one touchdown don't scream upside, but he's a player who blossomed late in 2016 as quarterback Daniel Jones grew into his starting role. Rahming topped 100 yards in each of the final three games of the season, catching 28 balls in that span. He's a real threat to approach 100 catches this year, and the yardage will grow by default at worst.

North Carolina, All Skill Positions

There are plenty of questions in Chapel Hill, as the team replaces its quarterback, top two running backs, and three of their top four receivers from last year. But Larry Fedora's system remains in place, and that's a high octane offensive system that lends itself to fantasy success. After watching Brandon Harris at LSU, it's hard to feel confident he'll succeed as a transfer here, but at the very least he fits this offense better. And if he falters, or the Heels drop a few games, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt get an opportunity and run with it. Wide receiver Austin Proehl managed to grab 43 passes a season ago, even with Mack Hollins, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer around. Those three leave 165 receptions and 18 touchdowns to be replaced. And running back Jordon Brown appears to be the starter almost by default. Proehl is the safest bet here, but if you buy into the system, there's some nice risk/reward available.


Cam Phillips, WR, Virginia Tech

I admit that I was surprised to see Phillips finished last season with 983 yards and five touchdowns. And yes, the Hokies need to replace Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges, and have very little proven receivers outside of Phillips, even more so now that freshman Caleb Farley is out for the season with a knee injury. But it feels like many simply expect Phillips to take Ford's production, and I don't believe that's a guarantee. Prior to Ford, the Hokies had never had a 1,000 yard receiver in their school's history. You could argue Fuente's system helps lend itself to that type of production, and you'd be right, but Phillips will also be the focal point of defenses as the only known commodity in this rebuilding offense. He can expect constant double teams, and his 6-foot frame isn't as amenable to grabbing jump balls that the 6-foot-2 Ford and 6-foot-5 Hodges got.

Nyheim Hines, WR/RB, North Carolina State

Hines appeal and/or success could come down to position eligibility. After playing wideout last season, he's been moved back to his more natural running back position. If you're getting 10-20 touches weekly from a wideout, then Hines is in the wrong category here, as he'll provide quite a return. But if your league has him as only running back eligible, the appeal is diminished. Hines is listed at only 5-foot-9, 197 pounds, and clearly isn't built to be a lead back, or a goal line back. I personally prefer Reggie Gallaspy and his 225 pound frame, and I think head coach Dave Doeren will agree as the season moves on. Hines is a terrific player who is dynamite in space, but he looks more like a complimentary piece than a replacement for Matthew Dayes.

Nyqwan Murray, WR, Florida State

Since 2010, only one Seminole receiver has topped 60 receptions in a season; that being the school's all-time leader in receptions, Rashad Greene, who did so twice in his four years. It's an offense that simply doesn't care who catches the ball, spreading things out to the countless top-tier athletes on the roster. Murray has incredible hands and speed, but it seems that matching Travis Rudolph's 56-840-7 line from a year ago could be his ceiling.

Clinton Lynch, RB, Georgia Tech

It's hard to argue with the 17.1 yards per touch Lynch averaged last season, and it's certainly feasible he gets more carries for the Jackets this season. But that average just seems too large to replicate. Georgia Tech will break in a new quarterback in Matthew Jordan, and so long as Dedrick Mills keeps his nose clean, the offense should funnel through him. Trusting any of the Jackets' A-Backs has been a risky proposition over the years, and I'd much rather take my chances in conference on Clemson's Tavien Feaster, or even Pittsburgh's Chawntez Moss.

Ranked Player Inventory

Boston College: none
Clemson: QB Kelly Bryant (30), RB Tavien Feaster (80), WR Deon Cain (18), WR Hunter Renfrow (150), WR Ray-Ray McCloud (172), TE Milan Richard (29)
Duke: QB Daniel Jones (21), RB Shaun Wilson (122), WR T.J. Rahming (68)
Florida State: QB Deondre Francois (24), RB Cam Akers (97), RB Jacques Patrick (110), WR Auden Tate (53), WR Nyqwan Murray (82)
Georgia Tech: QB Matthew Jordan (86), RB Dedrick Mills (45), RB Clinton Lynch (73)
Louisville: QB Lamar Jackson (1), RB Jeremy Smith (76), RB Reggie Bonnafon (140), WR Jaylen Smith (28), WR Seth Dawkins (175), TE Micky Crum (13)
Miami: RB Mark Walton (12), WR Ahmmon Richards (30), TE Christopher Herndon IV (14)
North Carolina: QB Brandon Harris (41), WR Stanton Truitt (47), WR Austin Proehl (88)
North Carolina State: QB Ryan Finley (61), WR Nyheim Hines (8), WR Stephen Louis (108), WR Kelvin Harmon (121), TE Jaylen Samuels (1)
Pittsburgh: QB Max Browne (88), WR Quadree Henderson (35), WR Jester Weah (58),
Syracuse: QB Eric Dungey (7), WR Steve Ishmael (24), WR Ervin Philips (43)
Virginia: QB Kurt Benkert (53), RB Jordan Ellis (104), RB Daniel Hamm (129), WR Doni Downing (84), WR Olamide Zaccheaus (92)
Virginia Tech: RB Travon McMillian (89), WR Cam Phillips (45), WR Caleb Farley (144), TE Chris Cunningham (11)
Wake Forest: TE Cam Serigne (12)

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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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