2023 Mountain West Conference Preview: Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams

2023 Mountain West Conference Preview: Sleepers, Busts and All-Conference Teams

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

Our conference preview series continues with the Mountain West. If you think being a Group of Five conference is a recipe for chaos, the Mountain West would beg to differ. With San Diego State staying put (and the Pac-12 no longer around to join anyway), the Mountain West is bringing the same 12 teams to the table, though they have abandoned divisions, a popular way to layout a conference these days. The Sun Belt is coming for the Mountain West, but on the flip side the AAC took a hit this offseason, making for a three-way race for best non-Power Five conference.

Check out the 2023 College Fantasy Football Draft Kit, sleepers, busts and All-Conference fantasy teams below.

2023 College Fantasy Football Draft Kit

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Mountain West All-Conference Fantasy Teams

First-Team All-Mountain West

QB: Chevan Cordeiro, San Jose State

RB: Kairee Robinson, San Jose State

RB: Ashton Jeanty, Boise State

WR: Tory Horton, Colorado State

WR: Justin Lockhart, San Jose State

TE: Treyton Welch, Wyoming

Second-Team All-Mountain West

QB: Taylen Green, Boise State

RB: John Lee Eldridge, Air Force

RB: George Holani, Boise State

RB: Ashton Jeanty, Boise State

WR: Ricky White, UNLV

WR: Terrell Vaughn, Utah State

TE: Mark Redman, San Diego State

Third-Team All-Mountain West

QB: Clay Millen, Colorado State

RB: Malik Sherrod, Fresno State

RB: Tylan Hines, Hawaii

WR: Josiah Freeman, Fresno State

WR: Stefan Cobbs, Boise State

TE: Dominick Mazotti, San Jose State

2023 Mountain West Fantasy Sleepers

QB: Mikey Keene, Fresno State

Keene doesn't get to step in and simply embody Jake Haener, I recognize that. Also, the three or four best weapons the Bulldogs had, include program legend Jordan Mims, are all gone. On the other hand, what if Fresno State is reloading, not rebuilding, to use the popular optimistic refrain? When Keene played at Central Florida, he played well. He only saw action in four games in 2022 after being a regular factor in 2021, but Keene completed 72.3 percent of his passes with six touchdowns against one pick. The only thing Keene did wrong was not fit into Gus Malzahn's vision of a college quarterback, mostly because he doesn't do any damage with his legs. Neither did Haener, but that doesn't matter for Jeff Tedford. If Keene ends up the best quarterback in the Mountain West in 2023, I won't be surprised.

QB: Cooper Legas, Utah State

Utah State is at least offering up stability and clarity. Legas played in 10 games last year, starting the bulk of them, and he's already been named the starter for 2023. Blake Anderson, Utah State's head coach, praised his growth as often as possible this offseason, and Legas has a real weapon in Terrell Vaughn to throw to. Now, Legas does indeed need to grow, as he threw 10 picks last year. However, he also completed 61.1 percent of his passes and added 303 yards and two scores on the ground seeing his first real collegiate action. Maybe it just comes down to feeding the ball to Vaughn, but from a fantasy perspective, it's not about how the numbers are put up, just that they are put up.

RB: Kobe Johnson, Colorado State

Johnson is making the jump from the FCS, but he comes from the most-pedigreed FCS program of recent vintage. When you get 129 carries at North Dakota State, that's a seal of approval. If you turn those carries into 961 yards and nine touchdowns, and there's reason for excitement. Colorado State has a lot to improve on, but Johnson could be key to that. There's also potential for more opportunity than originally expected. Avery Morrow was suspended this offseason, and while the Rams' returning lead back is practicing, he has not been cleared for games. That says to me he will miss some action, and if Johnson seizes his opportunity, Morrow could fall into the background.

RB: Vincent Davis, UNLV

In his first two seasons with the Pitt Panthers, was a solid contributor, getting over 140 carries both times and coming in around 600 yards and five touchdowns in terms of a rough estimation. Then, in 2023, Israel Abanikanda exploded for Pitt, and Davis ended up an afterthought. This provoked a move from the ACC to the Mountain West, where UNLV needed a new lead back after Aidan Robbins parlayed a big 2022 into a spot as BYU's top back. Robbins was a true workhorse, carrying the ball 209 times in 11 games. Davis isn't guaranteed that kind of action, but though he was limited to 52 carries in 2022, he averaged 5.3 yards per tote. Maybe Davis will do exactly what Robbins did, drop down from the ACC to the MWC and post his first 1,000-yard campaign.

WR: Erik Brooks, Fresno State

Who will be the top receiver for the Bulldogs? It won't be the guy who led them last year…or the guy who was second…or third. A lot of receptions and yards are gone, and even if they may not be fully replaced, the targets largely will. Brooks, a senior, is the leading returning receiver for the Bulldogs. He had 37 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns, a personal high. Now, about to enter his fourth season with Fresno State, that isn't exactly an exciting stat line, and maybe he just doesn't have all that much of a ceiling. Or, perhaps, he's one of those guys who has bided his time, and this is his chance. At the very least, Brooks has the highest floor of any Fresno receiver.

WR: Charles Ross, San Jose State

Is there room for multiple receivers to excel in the Spartans' offense? Plenty of college teams have churned out more than one pass catcher who makes a fantasy impact. Chevan Cordeiro is a proven commodity, and that's a great place to start. Ross was playing well early in 2022…and then he got hurt. He only played in six games and effectively played in four games all things considered. Maybe a healthy Ross will emerge for San Jose State.

2023 Mountain West Fantasy Busts

QB: Clay Millen, Colorado State

Millen isn't all that different from Legas regarding his profile, but with higher expectations, which I am unsure about. The quarterback was one of the many transfers who joined Jay Norvell in his move from Nevada, and it was not a successful 2022 campaign all things considered. Now, Millen did complete 72.2 percent of his passes, but for 1,910 yards, 10 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He doesn't add any value with his legs and lost a fumble in each of his first three starts. If it comes down to Legas versus Millen, maybe I tip toward Millen in a vacuum. We aren't in a vacuum, so Legas feels like a sleeper, while Millen's bust potential is higher.

QB: Brayden Schager, Hawaii

Timmy Chang returned to Hawaii as the new head coach, and visions of June Jones and his pass-happy offense danced in the minds of many. Indeed, Schager threw the ball 400 times in 2022. The problem is that he only completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 2,348 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Chang may have played quarterback under Jones, but he is not on Jones' level as a head coach, and it doesn't seem like Schager is on Chang's level as a quarterback. Back in the day, the sheer volume of the Hawaii passing game stood out as anomalous, but that is less the case now. You can find quarterbacks who threw the ball 400-plus times that have more skill than Hawaii's signal caller does.

RB: John Lee Eldridge, Air Force

Personally, I feel a need to see it before I believe it with any academy team. We know Air Force is going to run the ball a ton. The backs for the Falcons will get opportunity time and time again. What concerns me, though, is any preseason assertion of who is going to be the lead back for an academy team, and just how successful they will be. These are military academies. Eldridge is atop the Air Force depth chart, and given the offense he will be in, that has him with a certain level of projection. The key, though, is projection. I'd rather wait on Eldridge. He'll likely be available if he does break through, and by then the bust potential will be lower.

RB: Sean Dollars, Nevada

If you believe in pedigree, then you might be interested in taking a chance on Dollars. He started his college career at Oregon, a top recruiting power and a program with a history of success. While Dollars was good enough to get recruited to the Ducks, he never really played there. Last season, as a redshirt sophomore, he touched the ball 50 times in 11 games. Over the last three contests of 2022, Dollars touched the ball once. Yes, the Mountain West is an easier conference than the Pac-12, and Dollars is in line for a big role for Nevada, but what will he do with that? It could end up being a whole lot of nothing.

WR: Ricky White, UNLV

White got a lot of targets in 2022, and he caught 51 passes for 619 yards and four touchdowns. That's good, but he opened the season with eight catches for 182 yards and two scores against Idaho State, an FCS team. In fact, after a hot start, over the last nine games of the season, White had just 32 catches for 302 yards and one score. Now, UNLV does open the season with Bryant, another FCS team, but are you going to take a shot on White simply based on the opportunity to rack up numbers against an FCS squad for one week?

WR: Billy Bowens, Boise State

Bowens and Cobbs seem likely to fight for the role of top receiver for the Broncos, especially with Latrell Caples unfortunately out for the season. The concern with Bowens is his healthy. He had hand surgery in the offseason, which cut into his ability to practice. That potentially drops him behind Cobbs in this particular battle, and if his hand issue lingers, that obviously isn't ideal for a guy who is on the field to catch a football with his hands. I will also know that Taylen Green, while talented, changed the Boise State offense when he took over because he is an excellent runner and would often take off to do damage with his legs. If the Broncos lean into Green, and a top-notch running back duo, the passing game could suffer.

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Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.
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