When the 2015 preseason All-ACC team was announced in July, it came as little surprise that Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd and Clemson’s Mike Williams and Artavis Scott filled the wide receiver slots. In fact, Boyd, Williams and Scott were by far the three-highest vote-getters, with North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer coming in a distant fourth.
In terms of fantasy rankings, however, are those the top three receivers? Based on 2014 statistics, here are the ACC’s top five returning fantasy wideouts:
5. Isaiah Ford (Virginia Tech)
2014 stats: 56 rec, 709 yds, 6 TD
2014 fantasy points: 109.1
Ford burst onto the scene as a freshman last season and was one of the brightest spots of a Virginia Tech offense that often struggled in the passing game. His second-quarter touchdown in a contest at Duke sparked an eventual 10-point comeback for the Hokies in a 17-16 win, and his 709 receiving yards on the year made for a team high. The sophomore will be looking for an even bigger year in 2015, but he’ll be facing a lot of talented defensive backs in an ACC Coastal Divison that has a lot of talented secondaries.
4. Mack Hollins (North Carolina)
2014 stats: 35 rec, 613 yds, 8 TD
2014 fantasy points: 109.3
A former walk-on, Hollins broke out as a sophomore at North Carolina. His 91-yard catch and run for a touchdown against San Diego State was a key part of the Tar Heels’ comeback over the Aztecs in their second game of the season, and averaging 17.5 yards per reception, he quickly established himself as one of the top deep threats in the conference. His production isn’t always consistent — he was held to three catches for eight yards in his final three games last year — but he’s a big-play threat who can strike at any time.
3. Mike Williams (Clemson)
2014 stats: 57 rec, 1,030 yds, 6 TD
2014 fantasy points: 139.0
As one of only two returning receivers in the ACC who posted 1,000 receiving yards a year ago, Williams is another player who gets the job done catching passes downfield. His production was somewhat limited in 2013 as he played behind Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, but Williams himself became a league-wide name in his first year as a full-time starter. The 6-4, 210-pound standout had his two biggest games in Deshaun Watson’s first two starts, and that duo will strike fear in opposing defenses this fall.
2. Artavis Scott (Clemson)
2014 stats: 76 rec, 965 yds, 8 TD
2014 fantasy points: 146.5
Clemson’s 2014 recruiting class was loaded with top-end talent at wide receiver, and while some of those players didn’t pan out (Kyrin Priester was dismissed, and Demarre Kitt transferred), Scott was a star from Day 1. Not only was Scott a consistent pass-catcher throughout the season, but he also had a major hand in the Tigers snapping a five-game losing streak to rival South Carolina. Like Williams, Scott will benefit from a full year of catching passes thrown by Watson.
1. Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh)
2014 stats: 78 rec, 1,271 yds, 8 TD
2014 fantasy points: 181.56
What makes Boyd such an impressive player is his ability to produce despite playing on an offense with limited weapons in the passing game. To put it in perspective, Boyd logged the most catches on his team by 57, the most receiving yards by 1,050 and the most touchdowns by four. When Chad Voytik drops back to pass, opposing defenses often know Boyd is going to be the No. 1 option, and there’s still nothing they can do about it. The junior will be suspended for the Panthers’ opener this year, but after that, he’ll be competing for All-American honors.
ESPN standard scoring used for all fantasy stats. Fumbles lost not included in the calculations.