Maryland Football: Forecasting fantasy football from a Terps perspective

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Torrey Smith #82 of the San Francisco 49ers makes a touchdown catch against James Bradberry #24 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Torrey Smith #82 of the San Francisco 49ers makes a touchdown catch against James Bradberry #24 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Maryland football program has produced several NFL players in recent years.

With both the collegiate and NFL regular seasons approaching, that means that fans around the world will be participating in their annual fantasy football drafts.

Fantasy football has developed into a year-round empire over the past 10-15 years. Millions of fans play annually and have been doing so for quite some time.

Personally, I’ve participated in a league since I was around 13 years old. It’s a great excuse for friends to get together, conduct a live draft, and talk some trash throughout the season.

A lot of preparation goes into getting ready for your draft. It’s not an easy task to field a championship-winning team, so we decided to forecast what a few former Terrapins could do this season.

Stefon Diggs

2016 Stats: 84 receptions/903 receiving yards/3 touchdowns/10.8 yards-per-catch
Projected 2017 Stats: 92 receptions/1,050 receiving yards/6 touchdowns
The Skinny: In 2016, Diggs had a monster start to the season as he combined for 16 receptions to go along with 285 yards and a touchdown over the first two games. Following those two contests, the Minnesota Vikings star wideout only had one game (against the Washington Redskins) in which he topped the century mark in terms of receiving yards. Diggs suffered a groin injury in Week 4 and struggled to stay productive for the remainder of the season.

Injuries have always been a setback for Diggs as he missed seven games during his time in College Park. If Diggs can stay healthy, his numbers should definitely increase. He appeared to have strong chemistry with quarterback Sam Bradford, who was traded to the Vikings just before the regular season began. Yards-after-catch are a big part of Diggs’ game and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a ton of big plays from the former Maryland wideout. You can expect Diggs to be a WR2 at the very least, but could be on the cusp on a WR1 if he gets the lion’s share of targets.

Torrey Smith

2016 Stats: 20 receptions/267 receiving yards/3 touchdowns/13.4 yards-per-catch
Projected 2017 Stats: 52 receptions/920 receiving yards/5 touchdowns
The Skinny: Smith has spent the past two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers after signing a five-year deal with the team. However, his production ended up being the worst of his NFL career as he played on a team that rotated quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. In 2017, Smith comes to Philadelphia to try and help an offense that didn’t see a ton of production from its pass catcher a season ago. The Eagles brought in Alshon Jeffery and still have Jordan Matthews in the fold in addition to former first round pick Nelson Agholor, who is drawing rave reviews in training camp.

During his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Smith was a dynamic down-the-field threat. He had no fewer than 49 receptions and 767 yards in a season, so the potential is obviously there. Quarterback Carson Wentz has showed that he is a very capable passer, but just didn’t have much help last year. Jeffery should command a lot of the attention, which could open up the field for a vertical threat like Smith. The former Terp is still relatively young and has always relied on his speed to make exceptional plays. With the other pieces that the Eagles have on offense, Smith could find himself in a lot of one-on-one opportunities. After two brutal years in the Bay Area, Smith has the potential to have a huge season in the City of Brotherly Love. Expect him to be a WR3 with the potential to be a WR2 later in the season if consistent production is there.

Vernon Davis

2016 Stats: 44 receptions/583 receiving yards/2 touchdowns/13.3 yards-per-catch
Projected 2017 Stats: 50 receptions/650 receiving yards/4 touchdowns
The Skinny: Despite winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2015, Davis looked like his career was winding down. However, he signed with the Washington Redskins last offseason and had a rebirth of sorts in the DMV. Playing second fiddle to Jordan Reed, the former Terp was still extremely productive and had his strongest year since 2013 when he was in San Francisco. Reed missed four games due to injury, which opened the door for Davis to make an impact.

Next: Stefon Diggs shining in Vikings camp

Davis is past the days where he’s going to be selected relatively high in fantasy drafts. However, Reed has a history of injuries and is currently being held out of camp with a toe injury. As of right now, it’s unclear what Reed’s status will be when the Redskins begin the season against the Eagles. Now Davis obviously isn’t going to be a player that you’re going to pick at your draft. However, the former Maryland star is going to be someone to keep your eye on if Reed is banged up throughout the season. If Reed misses time, Davis is a very suitable replacement if you have Reed or you waited to draft a tight end and that isn’t giving you a ton if production. Three to four catches and a touchdown is the kind of upside you can expect from Davis and he gets a boost in PPR leagues.