College Football 2011: My SEC Fantasy Football Team
This is the first in a series of fantasy teams, so why not start with the top conference?
CBSSports.com hosts College Fantasy Football, and it is becoming even more popular with each new season. Each draft can be narrowed to one conference, a handful or all 11 FBS conferences and independents.
I will be going through each of the AQ conferences individually, followed by the AQ and INDs combined and ending with a full draft.
Now, the following slides will not fit perfectly into the fantasy roster format. I have chosen a starter and reserve for QB, RB, WR, TE and K as well as Team Defense.
So here we go.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
This is going to be one of the hardest positions to pick. Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Kentucky will be replacing QBs this next season. LSU, MSU, and South Carolina may have returning starters finding themselves in QB battles. Florida and Vandy's QBs underachieved this past season. Well, that really only leaves...
Starter: Aaron Murray, Georgia
This selection is pretty easy. Aside from Cam Newton, Aaron Murray was the top QB in the SEC as a FRESHMAN. Wait, let's add to that the fact that his star receiver A.J. Green was suspended the first four games of the season.
Murray threw for 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns, finishing the season with a 154.48 QB rating. He only threw eight INTs on the season, but three were in the Florida loss. However, people fail to realize that the freshman still had 313 passing yards that game with three passing TDs.
He stands 6'1" and is listed at 209 pounds, so his size is ideal for a prototype SEC QB.
I expect Murray to go up next season. Yes, the loss of Green to the draft will hurt, but Murray showed he could still produce without Green. Not to mention one of the biggest growing periods is between the freshman and sophomore seasons.
Reserve: Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Before Bray took over the starting job for Tennessee, the Vols were horrible. Then he takes over against Memphis and leads them to four straight wins (five if you still consider the Music City Bowl a win for Tennessee).
He finished with 1,849 yards on only 224 attempts with 18 TDs and 10 INTs.
Maybe Tennessee's season would have been much better if he started from the get-go. At least his stats would be higher.
Expect his sophomore season to be a good season for fantasy points.
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
The SEC is sending out a Heisman-winning RB in the form of Mark Ingram, as well as welcoming in one of the top RB recruits in Isaiah Crowell. The SEC is pretty loaded at this position, and most fantasy drafts could easily include multiple other RBs. However, here are my two.
Starter: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
With my third upcoming sophomore pick in a row, I take the South Carolina RB that rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 TDs in an offense run by the Ole Ball Coach (wait, he recruits RBs?).
He also added 412 receiving yards.
Steve Spurrier usually relies on the QB in his systems, but Spurrier has lost faith in Stephen Garcia. Expect next season's play-calling to center on Lattimore.
Reserve: Knile Davis, Arkansas
Another player that got off to a slow start but finished the season with a bang, Davis totaled 30 carries in the first five games. To put that into perspective, he had 30 against both MSU and LSU.
He finished the season with 1,322 yards and 13 TDs.
Ryan Mallett is gone, and while Arkansas breaks in a new QB, look for it to rely on Davis.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The SEC takes a hit at this position with seven of the top 10 WRs graduating or declaring for the draft.
Starter: Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Right now, Jeffery has not declared for the draft. Some people expect him to, but since he is still in the SEC while I am typing this, he is my first starter at WR.
He led the SEC last season with 1,517 yards. He had 17.2 yards per catch. Jeffery also added nine receiving TDs on the season.
Now, while I expect South Carolina to lean more on the run game next season, Jeffery will be the top (read: only) target for Garcia since Tori Gurley, who had half as many receptions, has declared for the draft.
The third leading receiver last season for USC was Lattimore, so Jeffery really is the only true option for Garcia.
Starter: Tavarres King, Georgia
I have a lot of faith in Aaron Murray, and if that faith is well placed, then look for King to put up some numbers. He was overshadowed last season (at least the latter half) by A.J. Green, but now Green is gone.
King had 504 yards with an 18.7 yards per catch average and five TDs.
I fully expect King to anchor the receiving corps for the sophomore Murray.
Reserve: Marquis Maze, Alabama
Alabama will be breaking in a new QB next season, but Nick Saban likes to run pretty balanced offenses. While it appears that the run game will be the Tide's strength next season, Maze is another WR that was overshadowed for the good part of last season. Now, Julio Jones is gone.
Maze had 557 yards at 14.7 yards per catch and three TDs.
So while the QB will be a question mark for for the Tide going into next season, they have steady hands ready to receive.
Reserve: Justin Hunter, Tennessee
This is my first "under-the-radar" selection for the fantasy team. Tennessee will rely on the passing game next season with Bray under center. Hunter, an upcoming sophomore, didn't have very impressive numbers last season, but he has loads of potential.
Hunter finished the season with only 415 yards but at an incredible 25.9 yards per catch average and had seven TDs.
Hunter was clutch last season, and look for his reception numbers—and thus his yardage—to really skyrocket next year.
For some teams, the tight end is used as nothing more than an extra lineman. For others, he is the primary receiver in some packages. Thus, when choosing a tight end for a fantasy team, you have to be able to tell the difference.
Starter: Brandon Barden, Vanderbilt
Most people may be surprised to see a Vanderbilt player on anyone's fantasy team, much less as a starter. But Barden has had three very good seasons thus far, and I don't expect the fourth to be any different.
Barden has averaged around 30 receptions over the past three years with his yardage increasing each season.
Last season he had 34 receptions and 425 yards—both great numbers for a tight end.
He was Vandy's leading receiver last season, and I don't expect that to change.
Reserve: Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
Lutzenkirchen (pronounced Lute-sin-kirk-en) didn't have gaudy numbers last season, but boy was he clutch.
He only had 15 receptions last season with 185 yards, but five of those receptions were TDs.
He has the potential to be a real receiving threat in the proper system, which is not a Cam Newton-based system.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
How important is the placekicker in the game of football? Well, ask a Boise State fan. Or an Auburn fan. Or—well, I could keep going.
Starter: Blair Walsh, Georgia
Walsh was sure-fire for the Bulldogs last season, going 20-of-23 on FGs and 46-of-47 on PATs. He totaled 106 points for Georgia and hit twice from beyond 50 yards.
I would feel confident sending Walsh out onto the field in last-second circumstances.
Reserve: Bryson Rose, Ole Miss
Rose was 16-of-18 for FGs and 43-of-44 for PATs last season. His two misses were in the 30-39 range, but he hit two from beyond 40.
As an Ole Miss fan, I get to the games about two hours in advance. I have seen Rose hit from beyond 50 like clockwork in warm-ups. If he is given the opportunity in a game, I expect him to do it.
Team Defense: the only part of the fantasy draft that is larger than an individual's accolades and stats. Defenses anchor most SEC teams, and even one considered weak by SEC standards can still hold its own against top-notch offenses.
LSU's defense is solid every year. They take a hit with the loss of the nation's top DB in Patrick Peterson, but the Tigers always have someone else ready to take over.
The box is stout for the Tigers even with the departure of Drake Nevis. LB Ryan Baker and the number of redshirt freshmen and upcoming sophomores on the DL bodes very well for LSU.
The Tigers allowed 18.2 points per game last season, including holding Auburn to 24 in that loss.
I don't think anyone would be surprised to see LSU's defense near the top of college football, even though they play some of the best teams in that nation.