2023 College Fantasy Football Mountain West Preview

Mountain West

by Corey Pieper
2023 College Fantasy Football Mountain West

A college fantasy football preview for the Mountain West Conference in 2023 has to mention the diversity of the offenses. This conference offers all kinds of offensive philosophies when it comes to winning football games.

Hawaii has returned to the Air Raid offense which had led to historic seasons in the past from quarterbacks such as Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang. Those quarterbacks routinely threw the ball over 500 times per season.

Air Force is one of just a handful of teams nationally that still runs the triple option. Last year, Air Force attempted only 86 passes all season!

Those two universities are the extremes, but there are other teams within the conference that have fairly clear tendencies. San Diego State and Wyoming have typically been run-focused teams. Fresno State and Boise State have often produced relevant college fantasy football wide receivers nationally from the Mountain West Conference.

What it means is that college fantasy football players need to do their homework to understand the Mountain West conference.

A good starting point is to read the 2023 College Fantasy Football Mountain West preview.

2023 College Fantasy Football Mountain West Preview

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John Lee Eldridge III, RB, Air Force Falcons

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Drafting the primary ball carrier in an Air Force offense is fantasy gold because of the carries they'll receive. Last season, that back was Brad Roberts. Air Force's triple-option rushing attack helped Roberts lead all of college football in both rushing attempts (345) and rushing yards (1,728). Roberts has exhausted his eligibility, but someone will have to fill the production.

I'm going with John Lee Eldridge III, although he is not the same body style. Roberts essentially played fullback for the Falcons. Eldridge is more built to play the slot-back position. However, I found some articles such as this one which indicate that the coaching staff is going to try him at the fullback position. I think he is unlikely to receive the 300-plus carries of Roberts, but he should get in the 250-carry range. With the yards-per-carry he is likely to have that's a recipe for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns. Draft him as a top-40 running back.

Taylen Green, QB, Boise State Broncos

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The safe pick for Boise State would be running back George Holani. He is coming off a 1,300-yard total season with 13 touchdowns. Instead of going with the safety of Holani, I'm going to go for the upside selection that is quarterback Taylen Green. If you learned from some of my previous previews, such as this one on the Big 12 Conference, it should be apparent that a dual-threat quarterback in college fantasy football can lead to fantasy championships.

Green's dual-threat ability was on full display in the Frisco Bowl last season. In that game, he only threw for 137 yards and a touchdown, but ran for an additional 121 yards and two more touchdowns. That was his third game of the year with over 100 rushing and two rushing touchdowns! The passing isn't a finished product, but he did have four games with multiple passing touchdowns. Green is a player whom you can draft in the mid-rounds who if everything comes together, could carry your team to a fantasy championship.

Tory Horton, WR, Colorado State Rams

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Last season, wherever I could I selected Clay Millen as a fantasy quarterback. I was excited to see him orchestrate head coach Jay Norvell's offense at Colorado State. Unfortunately, every aspect of the Colorado State offense fell flat on their face, except for wide receiver Tory Horton.

Not counting the two passes that Tory Horton completed, the Rams passing offense only threw for 2,226 yards. Somehow, Horton was still able to record 1,113 receiving yards.  That is over half the entire passing offense by just him! On a team that struggled with passing the ball that much, Horton still found a way to finish as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver in points. It's hard to imagine the quarterback play not being better.  There is a good chance Horton finishes as a top-5 wide receiver this year and should be drafted in the first 20 picks of any draft.

Malik Sherrod, RB, Fresno State Bulldogs

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Choosing Malik Sherrod as the college fantasy football option for the Bulldogs is a projection based on the system. Other than the shortened 2020 season, the Bulldogs have had a running back go over 1,000 total yards every season since 2018. Last season, that back was Jordan Mims. Mims has moved on to play for the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent leaving Sherrod as the top returning running back in production.

One of the major questions with Sherrod is going to be his size.  Sherrod is listed at five foot seven inches and only 175 pounds. Last year, he averaged under six carries per game. He still had some impressive games because he averaged over five yards per carry. Now we need him to replicate that per-carry production with more carries to be a fantasy factor.

Tylan Hines, RB, Hawai'i Warriors

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Hawai'i is one of the most intriguing college football teams for fantasy production. Last season, they brought in program legend Timmy Chang as the new head coach. Chang promised a return to the run-and-shoot offense. That was the offense that made him one of the most prolific passers in all of college football in the early 2000s. While the offense didn't click in the first season as well as was hoped for, one nice surprise was the production of the running backs.

Primary running back Dedrick Parson reached 1,001 total yards and 12 touchdowns. It was an excellent year of production in his last season of eligibility. Tylan Hines was off the radar as a transfer from Air Force but showed his electric skillset in his opportunities. Hines reached 99 or more total yards three consecutive weeks toward the end of the season. He was able to do that even though the most he touched the ball during those games was 15 times. Hines is a player that I am looking to target late, especially in any league that has a PPR aspect.

Sean Dollars, RB, Nevada Wolfpack

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Ken Wilson's inaugural season as a head coach didn't go the way he planned. The Wolfpack won their first two games of the season but then proceeded to lose every game the rest of the season to finish with a record of 2-10. Even though the record wasn't great, it wasn't without fantasy goodness. Running back Toa Taua still had a season that included over 1,200 total yards and 12 touchdowns!

Taua is no longer eligible for college football. The most likely replacement for him came through the transfer portal in the form of Sean Dollars. Dollars was a four-star recruit who was heavily recruited nationally. He ultimately chose the University of Oregon. In four seasons on campus, Dollars only had a total of 49 carries for 316 yards. His lack of usage preempted him to move to Nevada for his final collegiate season. Hopefully, he can fill that Taua role and replicate similar production for what is likely one of your last-round picks.

Christian Washington, RB, New Mexico Lobos

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Finding a fantasy recommendation from the Lobos was a challenge as this has been one of the most consistently poor offenses in all of college football. With that in mind, the team did bring in a new offensive coordinator this season named Bryant Vincent. Most recently, Vincent was the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama-Birmingham where DeWayne McBride just finished second nationally in rushing yards.

McBride is also an NFL-caliber back drafted in the 7th round by the Minnesota Vikings. Anything could happen, but at this point, it seems unlikely that Christian Washington has an NFL future. Because of that, it's also possible that Washington doesn't receive even close to the 233 carries that McBride had last season. I'm optimistic about the Lobos offense being better this season, but that is a very low bar as the entire team only scored 157 points as a team last season (41 of those came in week one against FCS-opponent Maine). There are too many questions to put any investment into this offense in your fantasy draft this season.

Kenan Christon, RB, San Diego State Aztecs

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It wasn't that long ago that San Diego State was among the most reliable offenses for college fantasy football in the entire nation. From 2010-2018, the team had at least one running back go over 1,000 yards rushing every season. But in the last few seasons, something has changed with the rushing predictability. San Diego State did still have a thousand-yard back in 2021, but last season no running back broke even 400 rushing yards! The team had a whopping 16 different players get a rush attempt last season! If a player is going to emerge as a 1,000 yard back, he is going to need to get more carries. Because of the carry split last season, no player had more than 102 rushing attempts.

Last year, I selected Kenan Christon late in some best-ball drafts. It didn't work out the way I planned. I'm doubling down again though as Christon is the running back I'm going to suggest. Christon was originally a USC recruit before transferring to San Diego State. On a per-touch basis last season, I still believe he was the most effective back. We just need him to get more of those touches. Christon is a running back to look at later in fantasy drafts.

Chevan Cordeiro, QB, San Jose State Spartans

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San Jose State is a program to target in the Mountain West Conference for its offensive prowess. Wide receiver Justin Lockhart could finish as a top-36 wide receiver this year. If he does, it will be because quarterback Chevan Cordeiro improves his production for the 6th consecutive season between Hawaii and now San Jose State.

You read that correctly. Cordeiro is entering his sixth collegiate season. So far, he has increased his passing yardage and passing touchdowns in each of his five seasons. It culminated in 3,251 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns (he added nine rushing touchdowns). Even though he has done it five consecutive seasons, it's far from a guarantee he'll increase his production again for a sixth season. And here's the thing, he doesn't even have to improve upon last year's numbers to be a fantasy usable quarterback for your team. If he just repeats the season he had last year, he is likely to be a top-25 quarterback in all of college football.

Ricky White, WR, UNLV Rebels

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There is both a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator coming to UNLV this season. I was fairly surprised by that development because the team finished a respectable 5-7 last season and showed signs of progress. One player whom I expect the new staff to continue to lean upon is wide receiver Ricky White.

White transferred to UNLV last season after spending the first two seasons of his career in the Big Ten conference at Michigan State. White stepped in and instantly assumed the primary receiver role in the offense. He finished with a team-leading 51 receptions and 619 receiving yards. The entire offense only completed 227 passes so his 51 receptions were just shy of 25% of the total. It seems likely that the team will be playing from behind a lot this season which should lead to more passing volume. Perhaps it will be enough to make White fantasy relevant in college fantasy football this upcoming season.

Terrell Vaughn, WR, Utah State Aggies

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One of the biggest debates going into last year's CFF season involved Utah State. Who would be the wide receiver to replace Deven Thompkins after his 1,700 receiving-yard season in 2021? Names that were thrown out included Xavier Williams, Nyny Davis, Justin McGriff, Terrell Vaughn, and Brian Cobbs. Cobbs would end up leading the team in receiving but it was barely over half the production of what Thompkins offered the year before. Cobbs has exhausted his elibiligity, leaving Vaughn as the top returning producer.

Actually, it's not just Cobbs but also Williams, McGriff, and Davis who are no longer on the roster. Those players have vacated 121 receptions, 1,465 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Vaughn had 56 receptions for 624 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season. What gets interesting is when you think what could be if Vaughn matches his production, and adds even 30% of the vacated production. If he could do that, it would be 92 receptions, 1,063 yards, and eight touchdowns. It's certainly a bit of projection, but that would likely be a top-20 wide receiver.

Harrison Waylee, RB, Wyoming Cowboys

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Harrison Waylee transferred to Wyoming this offseason after a productive first three seasons at Northern Illinois. His decision to move to Wyoming is a perfect fit for a team that loves running the ball. Take out the shortened 2020 season, and this team has had a running back go over 200 carries and 1,000 rushing yards in the last four seasons. The only thing that seemingly stands in the way of Haylee being the next in that progression is his health.

Waylee was able to play in a career-high 11 games last season. However, there were times last season when he was seemingly hampered, including the last two games of his season when he touched the ball less than 10 times in each. He is also dealing with some knee swelling already according to this website report. Assuming Waylee is fully healthy and ready to roll in week one, he is worth a mid-round selection in your college fantasy football drafts for what should be a safe floor week to week.

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