The Funk’s College Preview – ACC Offenses
Written by David Funk, Basic Bloganomics
This is the beginning of my previews and rankings for the upcoming fantasy college football season. I’ll break down team offenses and defenses while listing player names by each conference to help fantasy college owners out with deciding who to pick in 2009. A number of factors that determined my rankings include, but are not limited to: returning experience, talent, overall depth, schedule strength, offensive/defensive schemes, and coaching. In no way are these rankings listed predict how teams finish in the overall standings in each conference or in national rankings. This is to help fantasy college football owners in team offensive and defensive leagues like Sporting News and also to provide some player names for individual leagues, too. I begin by breaking down ACC offenses.
ACC Team Offensive Rankings:
1. Florida State(Starters returning: 7)
The good news for Florida State is the entire offensive line returns fully intact for this year led by center Ryan McMahon, and is one of the nation’s best. Christian Ponder returns at quarterback, but there will be new starters at receiever though talent exists with Richard Goodman and Bert Reed as the projected starters. The running game will be fine with the veteran offensive line opening holes for Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones. Head coach Bobby Bowden thinks they will be better on offense, but their non-conference schedule is tough with games at Florida and BYU as well as South Florida at home.
2. North Carolina State(Starters returning: 7)
There’s plenty of optimism in Raleigh on offense with Russell Wilson returning at quarterback, who can win with his running and throwing. His top receiver targets in Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams are back for him to throw to. Senior Jamelle Eugene returns at running back, and the Wolfpack will get a boost with Toney Baker coming back from injury to provide depth. The offensive line returns four starters including right tackle Jeraill McCuller. The team won four straight to end the regular season after starting 2-6, and they only play four road games which gives them a shot to have a productive fantasy season on offense.
3. Georgia Tech(Starters returning: 9)
The triple option offense under first year coach Paul Johnson worked well in 2008. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt returns as the right guy to run the offense along with running back Jonathan Dwyer who led the ACC in rushing a year ago. Roddy Jones is the A-back, and averaged 8.5 yards per carry, too. Demaryius Thomas and Tyler Melton return as receivers in a run-heavy offense, but they usually draw single coverage which gives them a chance to put up big numbers at times like when Thomas had 230 receiving yards against Duke in 2008. The offensive line returns three starters, but they had to transition from a pro-style offense to triple option which was a struggle for them.
4. Virginia Tech(Starters returning: 8 )
Tyrod Taylor will not have to contend with starting at quarterback this year, but he still has much to prove as a passer. Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale, and Dyrell Roberts were all freshmen a year ago, and should help Taylor out in the passing game. Darren Evans returns at running back coming off a year in which he broke the school’s record for rushing yards as a freshman. The concern once again for the Hokies will be the offensive line which has allowed more sacks than anyone in the ACC the last three seasons. Their first game against Alabama in Atlanta will test the offense very quickly.
5. Maryland(Starters returning: 5)
With Chris Turner returning at quarterback along with depth at running back, this offense has a chance to be very good even with the loss of receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL. Da’Rell Scott is the leading rusher and he earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2008. Torrey Smith is an athletic receiver that was most productive at the end of last season, and Ronnie Tyler gives them a solid option in passing situations. The offensive line loses three starters and only two were on the roster a year ago, but center Phil Costa is back. Their youth will be tested with road games at California, NC State, and Florida State.
6. Wake Forest(Starters returning: 9)
The Deamon Deacons have accurate quarterback Riley Skinner returning which gives them a chance to rebound from a disappointing offense from a year ago. Running back Kenny Harris had a big game against Navy in their bowl game, and Josh Adams returns at the position, too. Question marks loom at receiver, but Marshall Williams did catch 26 passes last year. Devon Brown and Terence Davis need to step up to give Skinner more options in the passing game. The offensive line struggled last year which hurt Jim Grobe’s offense that usually dominates on the ground. Their favorable schedule could see a marked improvement this year.
7. Clemson(Starters returning: 7)
The Tigers had one of the most disappointing seasons on offense after very high expectations a year ago. The starting quarterback position could go to redshirt freshman Kyle Parker, but Willy Korn is the only one on the roster that has played any snaps. The running back position is one of the best in the country led by C.J. Spiller. Freshman Andre Ellington is expected to do big things at running back, too. The receiver position is inexperienced, but Jacoby Ford is back and could be the best at the position in the conference. The offensive line continued to have problems last year, and that must improve in order for the offense to be consistent and good in 2009.
8. Miami(Starters returning: 6)
The talent is there for the Hurricanes to take another step forward on offense in 2009. Jacory Harris is now the starter at quarterback, and he showed leadership qualities to be able to manage the offense when he played a year ago. Graig Cooper is a breakaway threat at running back, and Javarris James is expected to compliment him with tough inside running after being hurt in 2008. Plenty of depth and talent return at receiver led by sophmore Aldarius Johnson. LaRon Byrd and three other freshmen from a year ago should provide Harris more options at receiver, too. The offensive line returns three starters. The other concern is their brutal schedule to start the season against Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma.
9. North Carolina(Starters returning: 7)
The Tar Heels continued to improve under head coach Butch Davis in 2008. The offense does see the return of T.J. Yates at quarterback, but only one receiver(Greg Little) is back that has caught a pass in a college game. Dwight Jones will likely be the other starting receiver with freshmen Joshua Adams and Todd Harrelson seeing a lot of playing time, too.With inexperience at receiver, running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston need to continue to improve. The good news is that the offensive line returns four starters led by left tackle Kyle Jolly. The offense will need to run the ball better for them to be a solid option in fantasy football this year.
10. Boston College(Starters returning: 7)
For the Eagles to make an impact on offense, they must decide on who their quarterback will be between Dominique Davis, Justin Tuggle, and Codi Boek in new spread offensive scheme. The running game should lighten the load on whomever the starting quarterback is with solid sophomore running backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden. Rich Gunnell caught 49 passes a year ago, and leads a talented receiving corps that also includes senior Justin Jarvis. The offensive line will be good with four returning starters led by left tackle Anthony Castonzo and center Matt Tennant. With a new quarterback and new offense, growing pains are expected on this side of the ball.
11. Virginia(Starters returning: 4)
Head coach Al Groh felt the heat last year after the Cavaliers ranked 114th in scoring a year ago, so he changed offensive coordinators. The only returning starters on the offense are all along the offensive line, but one of them won’t be All-American Eugene Monroe. The no-huddle spread offense will be installed, but three quarterbacks in Jameel Sewell, Marc Verica, and Vic Hall are vying to be the starters. Hall is a great runner, and could fit the offense best. Running back Mikell Simpson returns after being injured for much of 2008. Receivers Jared Green and Javaris Brown are talented, but inexperienced. The new offense should help, but they must find a quarterback to run it properly.
12. Duke(Starters returning: 4)
The offense will once again hinder on the shoulders of quarterback Thad Lewis who is in his third year as starter. Eron Riley is gone at receiver, but Johnny Williams caught 31 passes in 2008 which he’ll be counted on more this year. Re’quan Boyette returns at running back after missing last season due to injury. The running game needs to improve on its 106 yards per game average from 2008. The offensive line returns two starters in left tackle Kyle Hill and center Bryan Morgan. Lewis has to take the next step forward and the Blue Devils must get better in the running game in order to see marked improvement in 2009.
Stud offenses: Florida State, North Carolina State
Rising offense: North Carolina State
Falling offense: Virginia
Top quarterback option: Russell Wilson
Top running back option: Jonathan Dwyer
Top receiver option: Jacoby Ford
Overall Analysis: Florida State has enough weapons to be a very good option for fantasy owners in 2009. NC State could be the best offense at season’s end in the ACC with not many glaring weaknesses on that side of the ball. Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest, and Clemson have questions on the offensive line, but all still could emerge as solid options this year. Miami, North Carolina, and Boston College have talent to surprise, but all have concerns that make them a risk to own on offense at this point. It is best to avoid Virginia and Duke altogether unless one or both show balance as well as consistency on that side of the ball.