In our final installment of “College Fantasy Football Sleepers,” we focus our attention on wide receivers and tight ends.
There are a plethora of sleepers at the wide-receiver position. Many on our list will be trying to fill the void of a star who is off to seek fortune in the NFL.
Once such example is BYU’s McKay Jacobson. The speedy receiver, who had a nice freshman year in 2006, is back from a two-year LDS mission in Japan. With Austin Collie leaving early for the pros, Jacobson has a good chance to step in and produce in 2009.
It’s a similar situation with the tight ends, as two of our sleepers will be trying to fill the shoes of Missouri’s Chase Coffman and Rice’s James Casey.
The definition of a sleeper varies depending on who you talk to. For the sake of this article, sleepers will be defined as players who are projected to make contributions to their teams but could far exceed those projections.
We are leaving incoming freshmen off our sleeper list since we just published a comprehensive analysis of the ‘09 recruiting class last week. See it here.
2009 Pre-Spring Sleepers: Wide Receivers
Juan Nunez (Western Michigan)
Wide receiver Jamarko Simmons and his 104-1,276-7...gone. Wide receiver Schneider Julien and his 59-712-6...gone. Tight end Brandon Ledbetter and his 45-464-6...gone.
Quarterback Tim Hiller and his 522 pass attempts, 3,725 yards and 36 touchdown passes...returns. Get the picture?
Nunez posted 57-701-7 in 2008 and those figures will go up, potentially way up, in 2009.
Jimmy Young (TCU)
Some will argue that Young officially graduated from “sleeper” status to “solid producer” after his 5-226-3 eruption against Wyoming on October 25th. But we think Young has a chance to greatly improve on his season stats from last year (59-988-5). Remember, Young and quarterback Andy Dalton were both only sophomores last year. With another offseason to work together, they could become one of the best pass-catch duos in the Mountain West next fall.
Jacory Stone (Eastern Michigan)
Stone didn’t score many touchdowns in ‘08, but he was valuable in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues, posting 88-943-3. Stone finished the season red hot, catching 28 balls for 248 yards and a score in his final two games.
Stone should see more balls this fall with fellow wide receiver Tyler Jones (75-760-6) graduating, and starting quarterback Andy Schmitt returning.
McKay Jacobson (BYU) With quarterback Max Hall, tight end Dennis Pitta and running back Harvery Unga all returning on offense, opposing defenses are going to have their hands full trying to slow down BYU.
Jacobson will benefit from the surrounding talent and could quietly emerge as the Cougars leading wide receiver this fall. But keep your expectations in check - don’t expect him to be the next Austin Collie (106-1,538-15 in ‘08).
Phillip Livas (Louisiana Tech)
Think of Livas as "Percy Harvin Lite." He accounted for 944 yards of offense in 2008—607 receiving and 337 rushing. His best performances came at the end of the regular season when he eclipsed the 100-yard mark and found the end zone in each of his last two games.
Livas was only a sophomore last year and one would expect his workload to increase in his junior campaign.
Chris Wellington (Nevada)
Both Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy graduate, leaving their 115 combined catches and 1,761 yards behind. Welllington posted a respectable 42-632-6 last season, and should greatly improve on those stats in 2009 with Colin Kaepernick back under center.
Vincent Brown (San Diego State)
Brown had an up and down sophomore year. His 8-183-3 explosion against Idaho gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of. We’re banking on the arrival of new head coach Brady Hoke here to inject some consistency in the Aztec offense.
Mike Williams (Syracuse)
Williams is back on campus after a one year suspension for academic reasons. In 2007, Williams was the best player on the offensive side of the ball, posting 60-837-10. Williams is grateful for his second chance and we expect his renewed enthusiasm to show on the field.
Plus, the Cuse will more than likely be playing from behind most games, which will certainly help Williams pile on the stats.
Toren Dixon (Rice)
Dixon is one of the lone returning contributors from Rice’s explosive 2008 offense. He caught 50 balls on the year for 598 yards and five scores. With the departures of tight end James Casey and wide receiver Jarrett Dillard, Dixon will be asked to step up in the receiving game this fall.
Unfortunately, he won’t have uber-fantasy stud Chase Clement throwing him darts. The Owls will be breaking in a new quarterback. Dixon is a low-risk, high-reward type player.
Marcus Barnett (Cincinnati)
Barnett exploded onto the scene in 2007 with 13 touchdowns to go along with 62 catches and 862 yards. Last season, Barnett experienced the classic “sophomore slump” taking a back seat to Marty Gilyard and Dominick Goodman. He only posted 30-277-1 on the year. With Goodman off to graduation, and Tony Pike returning at quarterback, can Barnett re-capture the success he enjoyed his freshman year?
2009 Pre-Spring Sleepers: Tight Ends
Taylor Wardlow (Rice)
Filling the shoes of the immortal James Casey won’t be easy. But remember, it doesn’t take much to be a Top 20 fantasy tight end. 400-500 yards and five touchdowns will do the trick.
Wardlow caught nine balls in ‘08 for 93 yards and three scores. Even with Chase Clement off to graduation, Wardlow is a low-risk high-reward case at the TE position.
Andrew Jones (Missouri)
Jones is in a very similar situation to Wardlow. He has some big shoes to fill (Chase Coffman) and his superstar quarterback is gone (Chase Daniel).
Jones posted 20-146-0 last year in a reserve role. Assuming he lands the starting TE job at Mizzou, he provides tremendous upside.
Jason Harmon (Florida Atlantic)
Harmon is returning from a serious knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2008 season. Back in ‘07, Harmon was a top fantasy tight end (63-825-5).
In his absence last fall, FAU continued to utilize the tight end position. Jamari Grant and Rob Housler combined for 77-1,161-8.
If Harmon is 100 percent healthy this fall, he should catch a lot of passes from Rusty Smith.
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.