Navigating the College side of a Campus to Canton (C2C) Startup is a daunting task. It is similar to a rollercoaster with many highs and potentially just as many lows. Stay calm and remain fluid; this allows you to adjust quickly depending on what league mates do. During this off-season, I’ve used a strategy to load up on RBs and WRs early in drafts. This means passing on the top-tier QBs like C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Caleb Williams, etc. The QB landscape is never a certainty, as last season showed us: Spencer Rattler struggled at Oklahoma, leading to his transfer to South Carolina; Sam Howell had a down statistical season, causing him to fall down NFL draft boards; DJ Uiagalelei vastly underperformed for various reasons and is no longer a Devy asset for some.
When stocking up on skill players early, have QB targets for later in the draft. The idea is to find QBs that will provide a big statistical season while also potentially moving up NFL draft boards with a strong season. Below are a few QBs I have targeted in C2C drafts and when you should target them.
Clay Millen QB Colorado State (rFreshman 6’3” 200 LBS)
Of all the QBs mentioned in this article, Millen is probably the least known. Listing him first is no accident. He is one of my top targets in startups this off-season. I want you to be able to capitalize on a potential “League Winner.” Millen is a former 3-Star Recruit (247 Composite) who spent his first collegiate season at Nevada. Brought in by then Head Coach Jay Norvell to be the successor to Carson Strong, entering the NFL Draft.
On December 6, 2021, Norvell accepted the Head Coaching job at Colorado State (CSU) and the high-powered offense previously at Nevada. In less than ten days, Millen had entered the Transfer Portal and committed to CSU. In addition to Millen, CSU also brought in four additional offensive players previously from Nevada. These players include WRs Melquan Stoval and Tory Horton, who are set to be two of Millen’s favorite targets.
Millen has the ability, offensive weapons, and offensive scheme to have an incredible statistical season. He is a very similar talent to Strong; he has a very strong arm and likes to push the ball vertically up the field. The one difference between Millen and Strong is mobility. Clay moves well in the pocket and can move the chains on the ground. Being in a pass-heavy offensive with excellent weapons will lead to consistent plays like this:
Fantasy Outlook: 2022 is a crucial season for Millen; he has the opportunity to make a sizable statement with a massive statistical season. Carson Strong was high on draft boards for much of the season before the knee issues came to light. Millen is 2024 draft-eligible, so he has two seasons, minimum, to ball out and impress scouts.
Draft Millen in Round 12 or 13. Then later in your drafts, look at WR Melquan Stovall or WR Tory Horton (Round 40+). This cheap stack can pay huge dividends toward winning a College Championship.
Devin Leary QB NC State (rJunior 6’1” 215 LBS)
Leary is a former 4-star recruit (247 Composite) out of New Jersey, where he attended Timber Creek High School. He may be the most disrespected QB in C2C leagues right now. He is being drafted as the QB36 in C2C startups, the 177th player overall (per Campus2Canton.com ADP tool). After a season in which he dominated opponents, passing for 3,433 yards, 35 TDs, and only five INTs.
Leary took last season’s success straight into spring camp and dominated the spring game. He dismantled an excellent Wolfpack defensive unit during the spring game, going 26/34, 355 yards, and three TDs. Every indication points toward another impressive statistical season in 2022, especially with ACC defenses being some of the weaker Power 5 units in the country. Only four schools ranked in the Top 50 in PPG allowed during the 2021 season, according to ESPN.com. Conversely, eight schools ranked outside the Top 70.
Leary has the tools required for the NFL. It would not be a surprise for him to rise draft boards during this season and gain steam, similar to the Zach Wilson rise of two years ago. Some of those traits NFL teams look for are a strong arm with the ability to make every throw on the field, good mechanics using lower body rotation to add velocity on throws, quick release, and enough mobility to navigate the pocket and get yards when needed.
Fantasy Outlook: Leary has NFL upside as long as he replicates his 2021 season this year. The 2023 QB class is wide open beyond the top two, and Leary is in a prime position to make a statement.
Draft Leary between Rounds 10-12.
Hunter Dekkers QB Iowa State (rSophomore 6’3” 235 LBS)
Dekkers is a former 4-star recruit (247 Composite) and the #13 dual-threat QB of the 2020 Recruiting class. He has spent the last two seasons backing up former 4-year starting QB Brock Purdy. Purdy is gone, and the reins have been handed to Dekkers to guide the Cyclones’ offense in the 2022 season. Being a dual-threat QB, he can escape the pocket and provides good rushing upside for your fantasy team. In addition to his mobility, he has an excellent arm, capable of hitting WRs all over the field.
Losing Breece Hall is a significant blow to the offense; however, the Cyclones have a favorable schedule this season. They have a difficult Week 2 matchup with Iowa, but they have home games against Baylor (Week 4) and Oklahoma (Week 8) in Ames. Playing in the Big 12 should allow Iowa State to accumulate solid numbers every week.
Fantasy Outlook: Hunter Dekkers has potential NFL upside; two years of high-level college production will be crucial. If the NFL does not come knocking, you have a high-level college producer for three seasons in your quest for an NCAA title.
Draft Dekkers between Rounds 15-18.
Taulia Tagovailoa QB Maryland (rJunior 5’11” 200 LBS)
Tagovailoa, younger brother of Tua, is a former 4-Star recruit (247 Composite) and the number 5 Pro-Style QB in the 2019 recruiting class. Tagovailoa spent a redshirt Freshman season with the Alabama Crimson Tide before transferring to College Park and the University of Maryland.
During the Covid season of 2020, he showed flashes of his ability, and then in 2021, those tools were on full display. Taulia amassed 3,860 yards, 26 TDs, and 11 INTs while also adding another 81 yards and two TDs on the ground. Maryland started the season on fire over the first four games. Taulia averaged 335 yards, had 10 TDs, and only one INT. The offense was clicking, and Taulia regularly found Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett for chunk plays. Everything changed in Week 5 against Iowa, #1 WR Dontay Demus sustained a gruesome leg injury, and the season unraveled.
Taulia possesses incredible arm talent with a quick release. He thrives in the short and intermediate passing game, getting the ball out fast to his playmakers. One area he needs to improve upon is his willingness to push the play vertically. The arm strength is there, and it seemed as though the confidence was lacking. 2022 is a chance at a fresh start for the Terrapins, and they will go as far as Taulia Tagovailoa takes them.
Fantasy Outlook: NFL arm talent is not a question. The willingness to push the play downfield is a concern. If the NFL decides Taulia is not meant for the next level, then he will be a highly productive NCAA producer for your team.
Draft Taulia in the early portion of Round 11.
Things to Remember
The critical thing to remember during a C2C startup is not to panic, don’t compound a mistake into several mistakes. Do not feel you need to reach for a QB early in drafts; take the better talent at RB or WR and move on to the next selection. As you can see, there are several QB options to target later in drafts that will keep you competitive while also ensuring that the pipeline is set with skill positions.
Good luck with your drafts, and have fun!
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