The Lewis County Fantasy Football Draft Kit
HERE WE GO AGAIN: The Top Players to Watch in a Wide-Open Year for Prep Football
By Aaron VanTuyl
The Chronicle (well, me, really) has done a Lewis County Fantasy Football column each week for something like seven years now.
And in that time, I can’t remember drawing as much of a blank when the draft-kit Week 1 column came around as I am now.
Three-fourths of our 2016 All-Area football team graduated, leaving a whopping six kids back this year. (They were all juniors, for what it’s worth.) Three of those six were offensive linemen, and another was a defensive back.
That leaves two LCFF-qualifying players back from the All-Area team — Napavine receiver Jordan Purvis and teammate Noah Lantz, a slot back.
It wasn’t only our coverage are hit hard by graduation, though. We cover five leagues, and those five leagues passed out 13 various MVP awards last fall; the recipients of 12 of those awards are off to college or the workforce. The only MVP back is Montesano running back Carson Klinger, the 1A Evergreen Offensive MVP (and probably the top pick in Grays Harbor Fantasy Football, if that’s your thing). It’s especially rough at the quarterback position; the only locals on rosters this season that got All-League honors of any sort last year were Tenino’s Miles Cannon (honorable mention), Mossyrock’s Evan Gootgeld (second team) and Adna’s Conner Weed (second team). W.F. West’s Nole Wollan was also an honorable mention, but the EvCo All-League list doesn’t break it’s HMs down into offense or defense.
Needless to say, it’s anyone’s ballgame this year.
Typical fantasy football rules apply in LCFF: rushing yards and receiving yards are 10 for a point, rushing/receiving touchdowns are 6 points each, and quarterbacks (or trick play guys) get a point for every 25 passing yards and 4 points for passing touchdowns. Kickers get 3 points for a field goal and a point for a PAT. (Tight ends are fairly tough to come by, and defensive stats are too complicated to tally up, so it’s a short lineup.)
Anyway, here’s the position-by-position breakdown of who to draft this fall in your hypothetical league:
1. Miles Cannon, Tenino: Cannon had a breakout season last year, especially in the first three games of the year with a new offense; theoretically that means he can pick up a fresh system quickly. He’s now paired with coach Cary Nagel, the offensive coordinator at Franklin Pierce last season. FP quarterback Willie Patterson passed for 2,700 yards and 35 touchdowns (an average of nearly 250 yards and over 3 TDs a game) in 2016. Do the math. Literally. That’s how fantasy football works.
2. Nole Wollan, W.F. West: This might be a shot in the dark, but I’m taking it. Wollan’s first snap in a preseason jamboree was a keeper that went for 38 yards; he’s a pretty good running quarterback. The Bearcats’ deepest offensive group is wide receiver; he’s got new-in-town Jordan Thomas, 6-foot-8 target Brandon White, reliable Dakota Hawkins and speedy Tyson Guerrero to throw to, just for starters. Plus, his arm feels better than it did last year. In a year with plenty of question marks at quarterback he’s worth a long look.
3. Conner Weed, Adna: Coach K.C. Johnson loves him, and he’s shown that, when given the chance, he can pile up yards through the air. With big-play backs Isaac Ingle and Derek Chilcoate off the college, Weed should get a chance to do a little more under center.
4. Kaleb Rashoff, MWP: Something of a sleeper, but Rashoff — only a junior — has already been the starter for two years. That’s good! And he’s got one of the best targets in the county (6-foot-6 Matt Poquette) to throw to. He might not pass a ton, but there’ll be plenty of opportunities for home-run plays with Poquette lined up out wide.
1. Ka’imi Henry, W.F. West: The guys up front aren’t as big, but coach Bob Wollan mentioned trying to find more of a featured back this season — and Henry’s got the most experience and put up a few big stat lines last season, particularly when Austin Emery was hurt and he was, you guessed it, the Featured Back. He also ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Bearcats’ first three games of 2016, so he’s probably a reliable option.
2. Jose Pineda, Centralia. New Tiger coach Jeremy Thibault likes to spread the wealth (to a maddening degree, as far as LCFF is concerned), but he’s got a quick option in senior Pineda. It’s also worth noting that Pineda had 116 receiving yards, 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns against R.A. Long last season — the Tigers’ Thursday night opponent in Week 1.
3. Seth Lindsey, Winlock: The Cardinals haven’t exactly set the world on fire the last few years, but young Seth Lindsey’s always been there to take the lion’s share of carries and produce. He’s a senior, he’s strong, and win or lose he’s going to put up numbers — and what more could you ask for in fantasy football?
4. Cole VanWyck, Napavine: Yes, the Tigers always seem to use a running-back-by-committee look, but this year that committee’s going to have more on its plate. And VanWyck, a senior, should see plenty of work in an offense that should score plenty of points.
5. Keyton Wallace, Toledo: One in a half-dozen running backs in the committee last year, Wallace should have a much bigger load on his plate this time around. The Indians are still going to be plenty good, and it’s usually a safe bet to put your money on a Wallace in Toledo.
6. Lazaro Rodriguez, Onalaska: The Loggers, in what should come as news to no one, a running team, and Rodriguez — all 5-foot-5 of him — is a quick, tough back who’ll get lots of carries.
7. Chance Fay, Adna: A junior who hasn’t been in the lineup since his freshman year, Fay was a productive back way back in 2015, rushing for nearly 100 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Wahkiakum. Adna’s got lots of size, experience and depth on the line, so while Fay may isn’t a relatively well-known commodity, he could be a valuable pickup.
8. Gavyn Higdon, MWP: Big kid, veteran starter, and on a team that should be plenty improved over last season. He could be splitting carries with Dylan Pelletier, but Higdon’s going to have enough goal-line opportunities to be worth a pickup.
9. Tyson Nissell, PWV: Kaelin Jurek leaves some awful big work boots to fill, and Nissell seems like the best candidate to grab yards in the Titans’ run-first offense.
1. Noah Lantz, Napavine: The Tigers are probably going back to their pre-Wyatt Stanley offensive look, with more fly sweep sets and, thus, more work for a speedy slotback type like Lantz. They’ll still score plenty of points, just in a different fashion,
2. Guy Murillo, Tenino: The Beaver senior was an All-League honorable mention pick last year and, in Cary Nagel’s offense, should get plenty of chances to do something with the ball. He had two touchdowns and 53 yards against Montesano last year, so he can make plays against tough competition.
3. Jordan Purvis, Napavine: Purvis is a big target with great hands. How valuable he is in this setting, though, depends on how the Tigers’ quarterback situation shakes out. If Napavine’s new faces at QB (Randy Kinswa and Dawson Stanley, depending on the scenario) are up to passing 15 or 20 times a game, Purvis is going to pile up stats; if they struggle, his upside won’t be as high. That being said, though, he’ll catch pretty much anything within arm’s reach, so he should get his looks.
4. Tyson Guerrero, W.F. West: Guerrero could get looks in sweep situations to add to his value, and he’ll get a few targets a game on top of that. He’s not the biggest receiver in the Bearcat lineup, but he’ll get his touches.
5. Matt Poquette, MWP: Similar to Purvis, Poquette’s a big, athletic target, though his fantasy value relies more on the shape of the MWP offense than his own ability to catch the ball. As previously mentioned, he should get a shot or two at a home-run play every game.
6. Dakota Hawkins, W.F. West: A senior who’s played with QB Nole Wollan for about a decade, Hawkins has big-play abilities and good hands. He’ll get plenty of looks.