This article is part of our Conference Preview series.
You could make the argument that the Sun Belt is the best of the "Group of Five" conferences, though AAC fans might take issue with that. We've come a long way since the Sun Belt was clearly the bottom of the FBS totem pole. There are some really talented players in this conference, which makes it one you absolutely don't want to overlook for fantasy purposes.
All-Sun Belt Fantasy Team
QB: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (9)
RB: Chris Smith, Louisiana-Lafayette (17)
RB: Destin Coates, Georgia State (47)
WR: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (2)
WR: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (17)
TE: Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (9)
QB: Jake Bentley, South Alabama (29)
RB: Reese White, Coastal Carolina (48)
RB: Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State (63)
WR: Sam Pinckney, Georgia State (22)
WR: Corey Rucker, Arkansas State (31)
TE: Roger Carter, Georgia State (40)
QB: Cornelious Brown, Georgia State (45)
RB: J.D. King, Georgia Southern (74)
RB: Kareem Walker, South Alabama (81)
WR: Jalen Wayne, South Alabama (71)
WR: Dahu Green, Arkansas State (83)
TE: Neal Johnson, Louisiana-Lafayette (41)
Levi Lewis, QB, Louisiana-Lafayette
How quickly some forget that just two seasons ago Lewis threw 26 touchdowns against four interceptions in his first season as the starter for the Ragin' Cajuns. Last year he had 19 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he also boosted his rushing totals to 335 yards and five scores in only 11 games. The weaponry around him has changed, but perhaps a normal offseason will lead to Lewis having a season more akin to 2019.
Layne Hatcher, QB, Arkansas State
Last season, Hatcher was sharing time under center with Logan Bonner. Perhaps Bonner saw the writing on the wall, as Bonner transferred to Utah State, leaving Hatcher as the clear top quarterback for the Red Wolves. There's an efficiency to Hatcher that is really impressive. Last year he threw for 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions. In 2019 he completed 65.8 percent of his passes as well. If Hatcher gets to truly be the unquestioned starter for Arkansas State, and he should be, he should put up some big numbers.
Emani Bailey, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette
For years, the Ragin' Cajuns were paced offensively for the dynamic rushing duo of Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas. They shared the load and ran all over the Sun Belt. Now, they've both brought their college career to a close. There are a lot of carries available. It's expected that Smith will be one of the backs that shoulder the role, but is Louisiana suddenly going to just be a one-man rushing attack? I don't think so. Bailey barely played as a true freshman, but he's expected to be the number-two back in 2021. There's intriguing upside here.
Calvin Hill, RB, Texas State
Hill was also a true freshman in 2021, but unlike Bailey he got a bit of work. Not a ton of it, but Hill still rushed for 528 yards and five touchdowns on 101 carries. He also caught 24 passes for 173 yards. This has earned Hill the spot on top of the Texas State depth chart this season. His touches could easily double, so he could end up over 1,000 yards rushing and with double-digit touchdowns in a full season of work.
Corey Sutton, WR, Appalachian State
Sutton decided to opt out of the 2020 season, but before that he was a strong presence in the Appalachian State passing game. Across the 2018 and 2019 campaigns Sutton totaled 17 receiving touchdowns. Could he be rusty after sitting out an entire season? Perhaps, but we've seen players sit out a season after transferring and then show no rust. I think Sutton could jump right back in and be ready to go.
Kameron Brown, WR, Coastal Carolina
Grayson McCall is pretty clearly the top quarterback in Sun Belt in my mind, and this offense was humming last season. More than one receiver is going to be able to put up noteworthy numbers this year. Jaivon Heiligh is topping the depth chart, but Brown should be right behind him. Last season was his first with the Chanticleers, and while he only had 20 catches that was after a weird offseason during a weird year. This season he should be able to step up.
Chase Brice, QB, Appalachian State
You see Brice's name, remember when he was starting for Clemson, and figure he's going to be just fine at a lower level of college football. First, you may not have noticed, but Brice was actually at Duke last season. There he threw 10 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. Second, the Sun Belt may be a step down from the ACC, but not a huge one. Brice didn't even run away with the starting job this offseason. It's as likely he loses the gig as it is he ends up excelling for the Mountaineers.
Cornelious Brown, QB, Georgia State
Brown is on the third-team All-Sun Belt based on the rankings, but I don't know if he ends up as the third-best fantasy quarterback in the conference this season. In fact, based on my sleeper recommendations, I personally definitely don't think that will be the case. Now, Brown did rush for seven touchdowns in 2020, though that could be a number that regresses. He also wasn't super safe with the ball, as he threw 10 interceptions and lost two of his seven fumbles over 10 games. If he's that sloppy again it could come back to bite him.
J.D. King, RB, Georgia Southern
I am often skeptical of running backs in triple-option offenses. The ball just gets spread around too much. There is also no hope of getting anything from the passing game, and King has all of five receptions over two seasons with Georgia Southern. He's also coming off a torn ACL. I could see King starting slow, and if that happens who knows how the touch distribution will go the rest of the way.
Kareem Walker, RB, South Alabama
Walker is a transfer from Mississippi State, and while I am high on the Sun Belt obviously the SEC is a major step up. A player from an SEC team heading down to the Sun Belt definitely provided intrigue. However, Walker was never able to crack the rotation at Mississippi State. He didn't play at all there, so we have no sense of what Walker can be at the college level. Also, with Jake Bentley around to throw the ball to Jalen Tolbert, I can see this being a pass-heavy offense.
Corey Rucker, WR, Arkansas State
How much can you place on one game? That's the question with Rucker. He ended the 2020 season with nine catches for 310 yards and four touchdowns, which is incredible. That being said, on the season he had all of 16 catches for 453 yards and five touchdowns. Basically, he had one amazing game and then did nothing else. Sure, he's on top of the depth chart, and I am a believing in Hatcher. I just want to see Rucker prove that one game wasn't a fluke before I buy in all the way.
Reggie Todd, WR, Troy
I was high on Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson heading into last season, and while he completed 70.1 percent of his passes he threw for 16 touchdowns against seven interceptions in nine games. He's actually battling Taylor Powell – a Missouri transfer – for the starting gig. Personally, I feel like there is a ceiling on this offense, and a ceiling on Todd as a result. He had 43 catches for 550 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games in 2020. Those are solid numbers, but I also think that's about as good as we can expect from Todd.