While the fate of the 2020 college football season remains somewhat unclear, it might still be business as usual for fantasy owners.
Some conferences have already taken steps with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
The Big Ten first announced in July that it was adopting a conference-only schedule, and the Pac-12 followed suit shortly after. The ACC rolled out its plan Wednesday, which sees Notre Dame join the conference for this year. Teams will play 11 games (10 ACC, one nonconference matchup). The SEC was the fourth domino to fall Thursday.
Those decisions will all carry implications for fantasy leagues, especially if the number of games played differs from one conference to the next.
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley announced he's opting out of the 2020 season, which presents another variable. More players could follow his lead and sit out the year to focus on the 2021 draft.
Based on what we know now, here's a quick fantasy preview for 2020, with the player pool limited those at Power Five schools.
1. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
3. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
4. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
5. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
6. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
8. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
9. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
10. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
11. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
12. Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
13. Max Borghi, RB, Washington State
14. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
15. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
16. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
17. D'Eriq King, QB, Miami
18. Chatarius Atwell, WR, Louisville
19. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
20. Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State
21. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
22. Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
23. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
24. Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
Pay Attention to the Schedules
The Big 12 has yet to announce any alterations to its 2020 schedule, but the conference's hands are effectively tied. Outside of a temporary partnership with the ACC, a conference-only format is probably the most likely outcome.
ACC schools, meanwhile, could be left scrambling to fill that nonconference slot since Group of Five and FCS programs would be the only available options.
From a fantasy perspective, Power Five stars won't have those traditional "pay games" in which to pad their stats in a given week. Conversely, there won't be the kind of cakewalks during which coaches feel comfortable removing their best players at halftime.
During his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2018, Kyler Murray's two worst games in terms of passing yards came against Florida Atlantic and Army. Oklahoma still has matchups against Missouri State and Army lined up but lost its date with Tennessee. Should the Sooners lose all of their nonconference games, a conference-only slate might benefit Spencer Rattler in the wide-open Big 12.
Independent of that is the absence of home-field advantage.
Justin Fields is shaping up to have a monster year. Ohio State's route to the College Football Playoff might be even easier if its road games against Michigan State and Penn State happen without fans or in front of a reduced crowd.
Don't Immediately Look to a Running Back
In standard NFL fantasy leagues, running backs are a prized commodity. They generally collect a high volume of points, and the gap between an elite running back and an average running back is higher than similar gulfs at other positions.
But college football's emphasis on the spread offense and passing games means quarterbacks can rack up a ton of points every week.
That's not to say you should ignore running backs altogether in early rounds.
Chuba Hubbard ran for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns while catching 23 passes for 198 yards in 2019. As long as he stays healthy, Hubbard is a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Travis Etienne has gained 1,600-plus yards in each of the past two years, and Clemson has to compensate for Tee Higgins' departure and Justyn Ross' spinal issue, which ruled him out for the entire season. Even with Trevor Lawrence under center, the Tigers might have to lean on Etienne more in 2020.
Just don't enter the draft with a mindset that you have to grab a running back in the first two rounds.