Conference Preview: PAC-12

Conference Preview: PAC-12

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

After playing an abbreviated schedule last season, the Pac-12 is fully loaded and ready to go in 2021. All teams are currently in camp and restriction-free following a 2020 season marred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest question mark for a plurality of teams is at quarterback, as departing graduates give way to untested returnees and a slew of passers through the transfer portal. Conversely, the conference has a hefty offering of experienced players at running back, and the position should be a copious source for scoring in season-long and weekly fantasy formats. There are also some obvious targets at wide receiver and tight end, but the uncertainty of potential signal-callers for some teams could make or break the fantasy potential for pass-catchers on those squads.

The fantasy crown jewel of the conference looks to be USC's Kedon Slovis, whose emergence and stellar play after the J.T. Daniels injury two years ago likely saved Clay Helton's job. If he continues to progress, he's the Pac-12's best Heisman candidate and a chalk fantasy target.

ALL PAC-12 FANTASY TEAM

FIRST TEAM

QB: Kedon Slovis (17), USC

RB: Max Borghi (46), Washington State

RB: Jarek Broussard (12), Colorado

WR: Drake London (15), USC

WR:  Travell Harris (26), Washington State 

TE: Greg Dulcich (5), UCLA

SECOND TEAM

QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (26), UCLA

RB: CJ Verdell (68), Oregon

RB: Rachaad White (49), Arizona State

WR: Britain Covey (120), Utah

WR: K.D. Nixon, USC

TE: Cade Otton (10), Washington

THIRD TEAM

QB: Jayden Daniels (38), Arizona State

RB: Zach Charbonnet (25), UCLA

RB: Austin Jones (10), Stanford

WR: Kyle Philips (60), UCLA

WR: Dimitri Stanley (94), Colorado

TE: Brant Kuithe (3), Utah

SLEEPERS

QB Charlie Brewer, Utah

While the competition is still technically open, the former Baylor quarterback seems to be the frontrunner for the starting job. The graduate transfer is an apt passer and a skilled runner out of the backfield, with 65 passing TDs and 11 rushing TDs during his tenure with the Bears. 

QB Sam Huard, Washington

The five-star recruit has some nepotism on his side, as his dad is former Huskie great Damon Huard. While the QB job currently belongs to Dylan Morris, an early misstep may allow Huard to step in. The freshman lit up the Washington skies with record-breaking seasons in high school and has the raw skills to wrestle the starting job from Morris down the stretch. Transfer Patrick O'Brien brings some additional experience, and he could also emerge if Morris struggles.

RB Keaontay Ingram, USC

Stephen Carr's exit through the transfer portal leaves a gaping hole in the Trojans' backfield. While Clay Helton will likely use a committee approach, Ingram figures to be a huge part of that effort. The Texas transfer is a 225-pound North-South runner who will almost certainly make waves in the red zone, especially on goal-line carries.

WR Devon Williams, Oregon

Williams took a circuitous route to join the Ducks. The highly-touted wideout began his career at USC but transferred to Oregon after one year and was forced to sit out the 2019 season.  Upon taking the field in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, he caught two touchdowns and showed flashes of why he was one of the top high school prospects in the country. Although the quarterback position in Oregon is in flux, it seems likely that Boston College transfer Anthony Brown will end up under center, making for a promising duo in the Pac-12 North.

WR Michael Jackson III, USC

There's considerable buzz surrounding the freshman wideout. The 6-1, 198-pound prospect out of Las Vegas might be the fastest pass-catcher on the roster, and that speed could vault him to the top of the WR rotation. Kedon Slovis is a gutsy passer who loves to throw the long ball, so the newcomer has a great chance to benefit in the Trojans' revamped Air Raid offense.

BUSTS

QB Will Plummer, Gunner Cruz, Jordan McCloud, Arizona

Simply put, the quarterback situation in Arizona is a muddled mess.  With only a few weeks remaining in camp, they are still giving these signal-callers equal time in practice, and there won't be time for their offense to congeal. Redshirt Will Plummer could end up as the frontrunner, but coach Jedd Fisch remains undecided, and his decision-making could negatively impact the Wildcats down the stretch.

QB Chase Garbers, California

Can Garbers take a leap after another offseason with Bill Musgrave's offense? Based on his previous numbers, it's highly unlikely. While he has a strong football IQ and has generated some impressive wins during his tenure, his arm hasn't done him any favors. Garbers'  passing numbers rank among the worst compared to other returning quarterbacks in the conference.

RB Michael Wiley, Arizona

Wiley was a decent change-of-pace back alongside Gary Brightwell, but it remains to be seen if he can take on an every-down role. The sophomore pulled off some impressive games in the abbreviated 2020 season, with a 122-yard effort against Colorado as the highlight. The Wildcats have some question marks on their offensive line this season, and the uncertainty at quarterback only further fuels the likelihood that Arizona's offense will sputter. 

WR Jeremiah Hunter, California

Hunter will finally suit up for the Bears after missing the 2020 season with a hamstring injury. He joins Kekoa Crawford and Trevon Clark as a likely starter for a passing attack that will depend on Chase Garbers' progression in the offseason. While there is merit to tag the entire WR corps as underperformers in 2021, Hunter has the furthest to fall due to his unrealized hype upon entering the program.

WR Brycen Tremayne, Stanford

 Tremayne will lead a WR corps that lost Simi Fehoko to the NFL. The Cardinal also lost former QB Davis Mills to the pros, and it appears that freshman Tanner McKee has won the quarterback battle against Jack West in camp. An untested freshman is almost always a check in the minus column for any wide receiver, and without Fehoko to take the focus, defenses will now key on Tremayne.  Couple that with a brutal schedule that includes a road game at USC and a visit from Notre Dame, and you have a passing attack that faces an uphill battle this season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
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