The 2021 Pioneer League Fantasy Football Team

Fantasy sports is one of the biggest ways for fans to feel like they are an active participant in their favorite sport. The most popular form of fantasy sports is fantasy football, which has consistently grown in popularity over the past two decades.

Normally, fantasy football leagues focus on the NFL. But, what if it was applied to college-level football? More specifically, what if a fantasy league was created around the PFL? Well, if this league was created and was based on points per reception (PPR), then this would be the best roster to have. 

QB – Ren Hefley – Presbyterian – 344.02 Fantasy Points

Despite finishing last in the PFL, Presbyterian’s never-punting offense was a scoring machine. Star quarterback Ren Hefley led all players in the PFL in fantasy points in the 2021 season, a little under 75 more points than the next best quarterback, Mark Pappas of Morehead State. He put up 2019 Jameis Winston-like numbers as a fantasy comparison and led the PFL in passing yards (3933), touchdowns (39), and interceptions (31). Hefley is the clear choice at QB as a fantasy production giant. –Dan Aulbach

RB – Robert Washington – Valparaiso University – 267.3 Fantasy Points

Robert Washington was Valpo’s premier offensive weapon and one of the most efficient running backs in the 2021 PFL season, as he led the league in rushing yards and tied Jake Chisholm with 14 touchdowns. And his production wasn’t limited to what he could do on the ground. He also had 39 receptions for 338 yards, which placed him as the team’s second-best receiving target. On top of that, Washington also threw one pass for 14 yards, and while that may not get you many fantasy points, it’s a great example of how integral Washington was to the Valpo offense and how effective he was as an offensive weapon.

For the entire season, Washington netted about 267.3 total fantasy points, making him not only one of the best running backs but also one of the best fantasy earners in general. And another upside to Washington’s season is that he played in 11 games, which is one more than most other running backs, making him that much more valuable as a fantasy player. –Connor Kurpat

RB – Jake Chisholm – Dayton – 277.4 Fantasy Points

Dayton’s Jake Chisholm tore up the PFL this season, leading the league in all-purpose yards (1,639) and touchdowns (18). He was arguably the best dual-threat RB in the PFL this year, meaning he can rush for a lot of yards but also can catch the ball in any situation. This makes him that much more important to a PPR roster since those types of players are so sparse. He doesn’t go down on first contact and always goes for extra yardage, which fantasy owners love because .1 of a point could make or break a game. –Andrew Hard

WR – BJ Byrd – Morehead State – 299.3 Fantasy Points

If you want a receiver who can make the home run play but also can play the possession game, look no further than Morehead State’s BJ Byrd. He led the league in receptions (90), receiving yards (1,313), and receiving TD’s (13). If there was a PFL fantasy football league and you owned Byrd, you would have been ecstatic about his performance against Stetson from Week 10. He had 12 catches for 223 yards and four touchdowns, which would have netted your team 58.3 points. – Hard

WR – Jaylyn Witcher – Presbyterian – 264 Fantasy points

If you weren’t able to snag BJ Byrd in a PFL draft, top Quarterback Ren Hefley’s favorite target is certainly the way to go. Finishing one touchdown short of the league leader from Morehead state, Witcher averaged 101.91 yards per game and was available in every game for his quarterback, second in yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. Putting up numbers comparable to Davante Adams in week three, Witcher netted 175 yards with two touchdowns on 12 receptions, even collecting the longest reception TD of the year at 92 yards. – Aulbach

TE – Jackson Sherrard – Davidson – 64.4 Fantasy Points

Sherrard was a scoring machine for the Davidson Wildcats, leading the team in receiving touchdowns in 2021 with six. He also finished second on the team in receiving yards with 204 yards. His biggest game came against Presbyterian, where he caught two passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. That monster performance would’ve been equivalent to about 23 fantasy points.

The only downside to Sherrard’s production was that it was somewhat inconsistent, as there were four games where he had no receptions. But even with those inconsistencies, he had more touchdowns and yards than any other tight end in the PFL, making him the best option as a fantasy tight end. – Kurpat

FLX – Delvecchio Powell II – Presbyterian – 225.5 Fantasy Points

Powell was one of the best all-purpose offensive players in 2021, ranking in fourth behind Jake Chisholm, Robert Washington, and BJ Byrd. He had a combined 1,222 yards on the season, with 775 yards coming on the ground and 447 coming through the receptions. He averaged roughly 5.5 receptions per game, which would earn him an almost guaranteed five fantasy points per game. And what makes him so effective is that, when his rushing production falters, his receiving production picks up, and vice-versa. 

Overall, Delvecchio wasn’t as productive as Jake Chisholm and Robert Washington, but he did put up at least 12 fantasy points per game this season. That makes him the perfect fit for the flex position. – Kurpat

Defense – St. Thomas (MN)

St. Thomas had the most productive defense in the PFL this season, being the only team in the PFL to hold offenses to under 300 yards per game and 20 touchdowns. Joe Hird led the league with five interceptions on the year for St. Thomas, as the defense led the league in passing defense efficiency, holding quarterbacks to a 57 percent completion percentage through 10 games. St. Thomas across the board was the most efficient defense which led the team to a third-place finish in the standings, and should be represented in the All-PFL fantasy team. – Aulbach

K – Brian Bartholomew – Valparaiso – 59 Fantasy Points

We can’t have a fantasy list without a kicker! We have to show love to our kickers, and I’m going to give some to Brian Bartholomew of Valparaiso. He was seventh in total PFL scoring, and second among kickers in scoring. The only reason why I have Bartholomew above the #1 scoring kicker Andrew Foster is that Bartholomew has four fewer missed field goals and one less missed extra point. Those misses will cost your team two points each, so they could prove to be costly. – Hard


RB – Hope Adebayo – St. Thomas (MN)  – 145.7 Fantasy Points

After limited playing time to start the season, Adebayo had a strong end to his freshman campaign with St. Thomas. In his last five games, he rushed for 525 yards. He isn’t necessarily a threat to catch the football out of the backfield at this point in his career (only five total catches this past season) but his rushing usage more than makes up for that. He also was part of a three-way tie in most rushing touchdowns in a single PFL game this season with four against Stetson. His most impressive stat to me was his 12 rushing touchdowns which put him fourth in rushing touchdowns, which, considering his limited playing time, really caught my eye. He would have been a strong waiver wire pickup during the season. If there ever was a PFL dynasty league where rosters carried over year-to-year, Adebayo would be my top target as I see him having a giant leap next season. – Hard

QB – Mark Pappas – Morehead State – 220.06 Fantasy Points

Even though Pappas was prone to the interception, he has big play ability with his arm and didn’t have a game this season with below 200 yards passing. In fact, he actually had the second highest number of 300-yard passing games with five, which accounts for almost half of the games he played in (11). Pappas gets a lot of usage in a Morehead State offense that tallied the second-most pass attempts in the PFL, only behind Presbyterian. Rest assured, I would never be worried about him not slinging the ball enough. He’s more of a one-dimensional pocket QB, but he will give you solid play for a week where your starting QB is on a bye or is hurt. – Hard

RB – Dylan Sparks – Davidson- 127 Fantasy Points

If you’re looking for a bench option in case one of the top tier flexes has an off week, Sparks is the way to go. The Davidson running back was third in rushing yard in the PFL with eight rushing touchdowns to add to his junior season. Sparks “sparked” in his game against Morehead State, providing 122 yards on only 19 carries with two touchdowns. His 61 yard rush in the Morehead State game provided six points alone. -Aulbach

QB – Jack Cook –  Dayton – 226 Fantasy points

Behind the two clear highest scoring quarterbacks, Jack Cook deserves the bronze. Despite his passing numbers being less than Pappas and Hefley by a good margin, he still finished third in the league in passing yards (2332) and touchdowns (14). His asset is his dual-threat ability which the top two QBs lacked, leading QBs in rushing fantasy points. He was a part of six touchdowns versus Presbyterian with three passing and three rushing touchdowns, having a whopping 47.88 fantasy points on the day. – Aulbach

RB – Coy Williams – Davidson College – 168.6 Fantasy Points

Davidson was a rush first, pass almost never team in 2021. That’s because the team had a fantastic halfback tandem of senior Williams and junior Dylan Sparks. While having two backs share the workload usually takes away from a single players production, that wasn’t the case here. In ten regular season games, Williams ran for nearly 700 yards and a touchdown on the endzone grass a whopping 14 times. Six of those touchdowns came in back-to-back wins against Stetson and Presbyterian, and 137 of those yards came in a win over Morehead State.

Williams’ partner, Sparks, finished the season with 800 rushing yards, which was 100 yards more than Williams. But he also found the endzone six less times. So, in terms of fantasy, Williams’ ability to find the endzone in every game makes him much more valuable. – Kurpat

WR – Yogi Flager – Butler – 163.9 Fantasy Points

Flager may not lead the PFL in receptions, receiving yards, or touchdowns, but he had a season where he had decent numbers in all three categories. In total, Flager finished the season with 49 receptions for 789 yards, averaged about 16 yards per reception, and scored six touchdowns. That stat line is equivalent to 163.9 fantasy points on the season, which isn’t bad at all for a rotational player.

The only downside is that Flager didn’t necessarily have consistent week-to-week production to put up those stats. But a few big performances, such as his two 136-yard games, earned him a spot as a bench receiver. – Kurpat

WR – Matthew Rivera – Presbyterian – 172.2 Fantasy Points

Another offensive weapon from Presbyterian makes the roster. Rivera was the second best pass catcher at Presbyterian, finishing the season with 66 receptions for 733 yards and five touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came against St. Andrews, where Rivera had a monster day that also featured eight receptions for 137 yards.

The only issue with Rivera is that his production diminished during the second half of the season. In the last six games of the season, Rivera only earned more than 50 yards in one. This is likely because he also shared the field with Jalyn Witcher, Delvecchio Powell, and Kiaran Turner. Even so, Rivera was good for a few points at times, and his big first half of the season warrants him a spot on the bench. – Kurpat

Edited by Bridget Reilly and Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Jonathan Kinane

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