Conference Preview: SEC: Downtown A.J. Brown
Conference Preview: SEC: Downtown A.J. Brown

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

Welcome to another installment of Rotowire's Conference Preview series. We'll be taking a look at the SEC, which is loaded with household names. However, high-profile players like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia's Jake Fromm, while talented, may be traps from a fantasy perspective.

For each conference preview, we will have first-,second-, and third-team All-Fantasy teams as well as sleeper and bust selections. To the right of each player's name will be their overall positional ranking.

All-SEC Fantasy Team

First Team

QB: Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State (9)

RB: Benny Snell, Kentucky (5)

RB: D'Andre Swift, Georgia (16)

WR: A.J. Brown, Mississippi (1)

WR: Emanuel Hall, Missouri (8)

TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (2)

Second Team

QB: Jordan Ta'amu, Mississippi (5)

RB: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M (22)

RB: Kam Martin, Auburn (28)

WR: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina (15)

WR: D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi (46)

TE: Dawson Knox, Mississippi (41)

Third Team

QB: Drew Lock, Missouri (27)

RB: Damien Harris, Alabama (29)

RB: Ty Chandler, Tennessee (35)

WR: Henry Ruggs, Alabama (47)

WR: Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt (53)

TE: Foster Moreau, LSU (53)

Sleepers


Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida

Expect the Gators to return to the ground game under new coach Dan Mullen. Since they do not currently have a dual-threat quarterback like Mullen formerly had in Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott or Nick Fitzgerald, Scarlett may shoulder the brunt of the rushing load for UF. Scarlett missed all of the 2017 campaign due to suspension after the infamous credit card scam, but was the leading rusher in 2016 with 889 yards on the ground. He averaged five yards per tote, and should spend plenty of time with the pigskin in his hand along with fellow running backs Lamical Perine and Malik Davis.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt

Ralph Webb was the face of the program during his time at Vandy, but Webb had to move on to the NFL after four years. Vaughn is a transfer from Illinois who is looking to make his mark for the Commodores. Vaughn was terrific as a sophomore but fell out of favor at Illinois during his sophomore campaign. A fresh start could be just what the doctor ordered for Vaughn , the former Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Tennessee his senior year of high school. Vaughn is explosive, well-built, and has the benefit of a veteran quarterback in Kyle Shurmur, a big-play wideout in Kalija Lipscomb, and experienced offensive line. The Commodores still will face their share of difficulties in the SEC, but the offense may be better than it has been in a very long time.

Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn

Slayton provided plenty of big plays for the Tigers in 2017. While teammate Ryan Davis enjoyed a breakout season by hauling in 84 passes for 815 yards and five touchdowns, he remains more of a possession receiver. Slayton, meanwhile, averaged 22.2 yards per catch, and tied Davis for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. The Tigers return starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham along with Davis, but fellow homerun threat Will Hastings will be sidelined for at least the first few games after tearing his ACL in the spring. That should leave even more opportunities for Slayton down the field early on in 2018.

Jonathan Giles, WR, Louisiana State

It remains to be seen who will be throwing the football to Giles, though Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow looks like the frontrunner. Giles, a transfer himself from Texas Tech, figures to get plenty of opportunities no matter who lines up under center. LSU's No. 1 wideout from a season ago, D.J. Chark, is in the NFL; in fact, the top three receivers on the roster in 2017 are no longer at LSU. That leaves Giles, who snagged 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns as a Red Raider in 2016, as the surefire go-to target in a revamped offense.

Jeremy Patton, TE, Arkansas

The tight end position is blossoming in the SEC, leaving plenty of options at the position. Aside from the above-referenced players, C.J. Conrad of Kentucky is a model of consistency, while the athletic Irv Smith, Jr. of Alabama could also break out. However, Patton has big-play ability and a new system at Arkansas under coach Chad Morris more willing to air out the pigskin. Patton is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 260-lbs, and averaged 17.2 yards per grab in limited action last season. With a stable wide receiving corps featuring Jonathan Nance and Jared Cornelius sure to draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses, Patton can create matchup nightmares on linebackers and safeties alike. Regardless of whether Cole Kelley or Ty Storey take the snaps, Patton has the chance to make some serious noise.

Busts


Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tagovailoa was the spark in lifting Alabama to the title last season, but he will be asked to be more of a steady influence as a sophomore. As epic as Tagovailoa's performance was in the National Championship victory over Georgia, there is no guarantee he is the starter for the Tide when the season begins. Even if he does get the starting nod, expect Jalen Hurts to see plenty of work if the latter does not transfer. As a result, Tagovailoa, who is a much more gifted passer than Hurts, may have a short leash or even be reined in by coach Nick Saban. There's also the inherent risk that comes with rostering high-profile Alabama players in that the Tide often has the luxury of pulling its starters after building massive leads, which cuts down on Tagovailoa's volume.

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

What can Fromm do for an encore? The true freshman was sensational in nearly leading the Bulldogs to the National Title last year, but that seems like a long time ago already. He's lost both running backs from that squad, plus the Bulldogs brought in the extremely highly-touted dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields to compete with him. Fields adds a different element to the quarterback position, and as a result could take away some snaps from Fromm. Add in an off-field accident in which he broke his non-throwing hand last month, and there may be nowhere for Fromm to go but down after a superb start to his collegiate career.

Devwah Whaley, RB, Arkansas

Whaley came to the Hogs amid great fanfare, but so far his collegiate career has been underwhelming. Last year was supposed to be his coming out party, but he struggled with just 4.4 yards per carry and eventually ceded touches to David Williams. With Williams gone and a new coaching staff installed, Whaley still has the chance to live up to his lofty expectations. However, he will have to fight off Chase Hayden and T.J. Hammonds for touches in a crowded backfield. Hayden came charging out of the gate last season before breaking his leg midway through the year, while Hammonds averaged a superb 8.2 yards per touch, albeit in limited work. Hayden is supposedly healthy, meaning Whaley will have to scratch and claw for touches in what should be a more pass-happy offense under new coach Chad Morris.

Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida

The lack of trust in the quarterback position at Florida results in a downgrade for Cleveland, who led the Gators with 410 receiving yards in 2017. Neither Feleipe Franks nor Kyle Trask is invoking much confidence, and Cleveland was more of a big-play threat than anything else last year. He averaged 18.6 yards per grab but caught just 22 balls. With more attention expected on the running game as well, Cleveland may be a true boom-or-bust type wideout for the Gators and fantasy owners alike.

Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee

In 2016, Jennings was second on the squad in receiving with 40 catches for 580 yards. In 2017, he missed all but one game due to a combination of wrist surgery and subsequently being dismissed from the team. A new coaching regime has allowed Jennings to return, but he also had arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason. As a result, it remains to be seen how much of an impact Jennings will have after missing essentially all of last season. In addition, the quarterback position will be handled by graduate transfer Keller Chryst, who will also be acclimating to a new system as well as a new school. While Chryst is expected to throw more than he did at Stanford, it remains to be seen how he will gel with Jennings in the SEC with scheduled matchups against the likes of Georgia, Alabama and Auburn.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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