Big 12 Preview: Rudolph and Washington for the Win
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-Big 12 Fantasy Team
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (7)
RB: Chris Warren, Texas (12)
RB: Justin Crawford, West Virginia (15)
WR: Keke Coutee, Texas Tech (7)
WR: James Washington, Oklahoma State (9)
TE: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma (2)
QB: Shane Buechele, Texas (8)
RB: Kyle Hicks, TCU (22)
RB: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State (47)
WR: Steven Sims Jr., Kansas (14)
WR: Allen Lazard, Iowa State (22)
TE: Dayton Valentine, Kansas State
QB: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State (16)
RB: Alex Barnes, Kansas State (61)
RB: Terence Williams, Baylor (65)
WR: Jeff Badet, Oklahoma (25)
WR: Jalen McCleskey, Oklahoma State (37)
TE: Jordan Feuerbacher, Baylor
Kenny Hill, QB, TCU
While Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are expected to have the two best offenses in the Big 12, Hill and the Horned Frogs should be close behind if not ahead by the end of the season. TCU returns 10 offensive starters after returning just two a year ago. Hill had his ups and downs while completing 61.1% of his passes for 3,208 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Where Hill can provide even more upside is with his legs as he also rushed for 10 scores in 2016. The key for Hill will be limiting his mistakes as he was pulled from games four times last season. If he can do that, the sky is the limit for Hill, who could be one of the most productive fantasy quarterbacks in the country.
KaVontae Turpin, WR, TCU
Turpin entered the 2016 season with a lot of hype, but a PCL injury derailed his breakout season. Despite playing in only eight games, Turpin tied for fourth on the team with 30 catches and was the team’s all-purpose yardage leader while also returning the majority of the punts and kickoffs. The speedy junior will have to compete with talented seniors Taj Williams and John Diarse for targets, however, Turpin has the most upside of the three due to his versatility.
Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas State
Bill Snyder’s Wildcats could sneak up on the rest of the conference and a better offense will be the reason why. Senior Jesse Ertz received most of the snaps at quarterback last season and connected with Pringle 39 times for 631 tards as the JUCO transfer averaged 16.2 yards per catch. If Pringle's chemistry with Ertz improves and his catch rate rises from last season's paltry 46 percent, this could be a huge year for Pringle. Furthermore, Kansas State returns eight offensive starters and Pringle should be the top receiving threat in an undervalued unit.
Jalen McCleskey, WR, Oklahoma State
Believe it or not, McCleskey caught two more passes than teammate James Washington in 2016 while hauling in 73 catches for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. Washington is going to draw a ton of coverage as one of the top receiving prospects in the country which means that McCleskey will have free roam in the slot when experienced quarterback Mason Rudolph doesn’t decide to chuck it up to Washington. Senior Marcell Ateman will eat up some of McCleskey’s targets, but it shouldn’t be detrimental as Oklahoma State will field one of the most potent offenses in the country.
JaMycal Hasty, RB, Baylor
Junior Terence Williams will likely lead the team in carries and yardage, but there’s enough offense to go around where Hasty can make a significant impact for fantasy teams. Moreover, first year Head Coach Matt Rhule is expected to transition the Bears from a spread offense centered around the pass to more of a pro-style offense using both fullbacks and tight ends. Both Williams and Hasty saw significant work last year with Williams leading the team with 185 carries for 1,048 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns while Hasty added 119 carries for 638 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. What's more, Williams is set to miss the first three games of the season with a shoulder injury, which should allow Hasty to seize the spotlight.
Oklahoma Sooners RB Situation
The sad part about this recommendation is that the Sooners have arguably the best offensive line in the country and a Heisman-Hopeful quarterback in Baker Mayfield. The problem is that both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon left early for the NFL and it’s a toss-up on who new coach Lincoln Riley goes with at running back. Will it be sophomore Rodney Anderson who has dealt with injuries the last two years, sophomore Abdul Adams who played in limited action last year (53 carries for 283 yards), JUCO transfer Marcelias Sutton or freshman Trey Sermon? I’m afraid the answer is a little bit of everyone which doesn’t bode well for predicting fantasy production.
David Montgomery and Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State
Montgomery passed Warren on the depth chart in 2016 as the true freshman rushed for four more yards on 25 fewer carries. While it appears the job is Montgomery’s to lose, Warren is still in the backfield and is only two years removed from rushing for 1,339 yards during an impressive season as a redshirt freshman. Both will likely see a fair share of carries and will diminish each other’s fantasy value throughout the season.
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Some believe Grier is a sleeper as he was Florida’s starting quarterback in 2015, yet, as TCU’s Kenny Hill showed last season, it’s not a given to have tremendous success with the change from the SEC to the Big 12 in your first year with the starting job. It won’t help Grier that the Mountaineers lost their top two receivers in Shelton Gibson and Dakiel Shorts. While Ka’Raun White will slot in to the number one position, this West Virginia team probably isn’t as great as the team which finished 10-3 last year. Moreover, Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy are really talented at the running back position.
Derrick Willies, WR, Texas Tech
Have no doubt about it, Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will be one of the most productive in the county as the Red Raiders averaged 45.1 and 43.7 points per game in 2015 and 2016 respectively. While they did lose all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the NFL, Nic Shimonek showed enough last season to have a lock on the starting job. Willies was a JUCO transfer that underwhelmed in 2016 with only 18 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. While he could make a jump in his senior season, it’s more likely that Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson stay ahead of him on the learning curve and the depth chart.
Zach Smith, QB, Baylor
As discussed above, the Baylor offense will be making a transition from a spread offense to a more traditional pro-style offense. Smith won’t have the opportunity to put up the type of numbers that Seth Russell had in 2015. Additionally, the Bears lost their top two receivers in KD Cannon and Ishmael Zamora who had combined for 150 catches for 2,024 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016. That’s a lot of production for Chris Platt and Blake Lynch to make up for with Smith in a new offense. All of this is under the presupposition that Smith holds off Arizona transfer Anu Solomon for the starting job, which is no guarantee.