By: Ryan Bickerstaff
We’ve finally gotten to see all the Power 5 conferences in action for at least a few weeks, and there are a lot of interesting players emerging in college football. Far too many to cover in my (almost) weekly Devy Debrief segments.
In those segments, I only cover draft-eligible players because they’re more imminently fantasy relevant. I also try to cover players before they get too much hype; you won’t hear me talk about guys like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Najee Harris, and Travis Etienne. Everyone knows about them already.
That said, I do like to bring you information on guys who will be “next tier” priority targets in rookie drafts; Mac Jones, Rashod Bateman, and Javonte Williams types. Those players won’t be appearing here either. Let’s save them for the podcast and, instead, take a deeper dive into the pool of talent that is college football.
For the class eligible for 2021, we’ll explore the quarterbacks toward the back half of the top 10, running backs who may be flying under the radar, receivers who aren’t receiving enough hype, and find those hidden gems at tight end. Talking about players you’ll want to target in the late 2nd round and beyond. I’m also including some defensive players for you IDP fans out there.
The underclassmen will be mostly higher profile guys you definitely want on your radars, with the exception of quarterbacks. Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell, and Kedon Slovis are good. This has been established. Let’s look for some relative sleepers who could emerge instead.
Hopefully all that made sense.
Let’s get it.
QB – D’Eriq King, RSr., Miami; Jamie Newman, RSr., Georgia
A grad transfer from Houston, King is finding success in a stronger conference, leading the Hurricanes to a 7-1 record. He’s putting up a respectable stat line of 63.6% completions, 2083 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 4 picks, and is a real threat in the running game. He’s improving as a passer and an NFL team might see a potential starting QB in him. I could see King being drafted in the late 2nd, early 3rd round of the NFL Draft. He’s my #7 QB in this class.
Newman may have been a top 5 QB in this class but his choice to opt out has ultimately hurt him with the emergence of guys like Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Kyle Trask. He flashed enough ability to push the ball downfield with Wake Forest last year to keep him relevant – just not enough to be in the first round conversation. Right now he’s my #8 QB in the class.
Sleepers – Desmond Ridder, Jr., Cincinnati; Malik Willis, Jr., Liberty
RB – Jaret Patterson, Jr., Buffalo; Jermar Jefferson, Jr., Oregon State
Patterson is one of my favorite running backs in this class. He’s a little undersized at 5-9, 195, but he plays bigger than that. He’s fast, plenty shifty and elusive, has good vision, a nice stiff arm, and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder into a defender. He’s the best MAC running back I’ve seen since Kareem Hunt. At his size, Patterson may never be a workhorse in the NFL, but will find a large enough role to be fantasy relevant. He’s my #5 running back in the class.
Jefferson collected over 1500 yards from scrimmage as a true freshman in 2018 before a relative down year in 2019 where he didn’t even reach 1000. He’s rebounded in 2020 through three games with 500 YFS and 5 touchdowns. He has good size at 5-10/217 and is a well-rounded player. Jefferson looks like a late day two, early day three NFL prospect who will likely be part of a split backfield in the pros. Currently, he’s my RB6 in 2021.
Sleepers – Khalil Herbert, Sr., Virginia Tech; Javian Hawkins, RSo., Louisville
WR – Dyami Brown, Jr., North Carolina; Ty Fryfogle, Sr., Indiana
Brown is a monster. He’s so good. I currently have him ranked 9th in the class of 2021 but that feels too low. He’s not the biggest at 6-1, 185, but he’s a great athlete, a dangerous deep threat, and has excellent hands. He went over 1000 yards, adding 12 touchdowns in 2019, and is well on pace to surpass those numbers in 2020. His draft stock is rising.
Fryfogle has been very impressive so far in 2020 after three relatively quiet seasons with the Hoosiers. His 642 yards and 7 touchdowns lead the Big 10 through five games, including a 218 yard, 2 touchdown explosion against Ohio State’s vaunted defense. He’s a strong possession receiver with good size at 6-2/214 and is quickly climbing my rankings, sitting now at #14.
Sleepers – Marlon Williams, Sr., UCF; Jahan Dotson, Jr., Penn State
TE – Kenny Yeboah, RSr., Ole Miss
After spending four quiet seasons at Temple, the transfer is finding all kinds of success in the SEC. Through six games, he has 509 yards and 6 touchdowns on 25 receptions. His 181 yards and 2 touchdowns against Alabama were particularly eye opening. At 6-4/240, he’s essentially an oversized receiver but is also a solid blocker. With his skillset, I see him getting pretty high draft capital, perhaps day two. I currently have Yeboah as my #4 tight end in the class.
Sleepers – Hunter Long, Jr., Boston College
IDP – Dylan Moses, Sr., LB, Alabama
Man, did Alabama miss this guy last year. Moses is one of the best defensive players in the nation and is a surefire 1st round pick, possibly top 10 if teams can get past his injury history. After missing all of 2019, Moses has returned to form in 2020 as the much needed rock in the middle of the Alabama defense. He’ll go on to anchor the center of an NFL team’s defense in the same way for many years. Priority addition in IDP leagues.
Sleepers – Bumper Pool, Jr., S, Arkansas
QB – Taulia Tagovailoa, So., Maryland; Matt Corral, RSo., Ole Miss
In case you didn’t know, Tua Tagovailoa has a younger brother who is also really good at football. Taulia isn’t quite the passer Tua is, but is more athletic. He’s still highly accurate, throws with good timing, makes good decisions with the football, and is so poised and comfortable in the pocket for a young quarterback. He’s only going to get better in an ascending program like Maryland. Look for Taulia to get a lot of NFL hype in the coming years.
Okay, so Corral is technically eligible for the draft this year. Only thing is, I don’t foresee him declaring. This is the former Elite 11 quarterback’s first season as the full time starter for the Rebels and is still raw as a prospect. There is definitely upside there though. With another year or two playing under Lane Kiffin, Corral can greatly increase his draft stock.
Also Watch – Jayden de Laura, Fr., Washington State; Grayson McCall, Fr., Coastal Carolina
RB – Breece Hall, So., Iowa State; Isaiah Spiller, So., Texas A&M
Be sure you don’t have your David Montgomery goggles on with Hall or you might miss on a great prospect. They are not even close to the same level. Hall is so much better. At 6-1, 215, he has great size and uses that size to his advantage, especially on the goalline. He’s leading the nation in rushing in 2020 with 1169 yards, adding 15 touchdowns, and profiles as a workhorse at the next level. Hall’s on track to be the top running back in the class of 2022.
Spiller might be something of a sleeper yet for 2022 but he’s absolutely someone to keep an eye on. He’s a highly touted prospect (a top 10 RB in his recruiting class), big (6-1, 225), and has been quite productive in his young career, averaging nearly 100 yards from scrimmage per game. Spiller is trending in the right direction.
Also Watch – Tank Bigsby, Fr., Auburn; Sincere McCormick, So., UTSA
WR – Garrett Wilson, So., Ohio State; John Metchie III, So. Alabama
As much as I love me some George Pickens and David Bell, my favorite receiver in the class of 2022 is Wilson. He’s not going to win with his size at 6-0, 193, but is a dynamic athlete who can line up anywhere on the field and make plays. He’s a strong route runner, has a knack for getting open, and makes a lot of big plays with his ability after the catch and as a deep threat. It’s only a matter of time before he’s doing the same on Sundays.
There seems to be a clear big three among receivers in this class. Don’t sleep on Metchie though. The 6-0, 195 pound product of Canada first caught my eye during the 2019 Spring Game before getting buried on the depth chart his freshman season. In 2020, though, Metchie has become an integral part of Alabama’s passing attack and has looked great doing it. He’s a top five receiver eligible for 2022’s draft.
Also Watch – Joe Ngata, So., Clemson; Marvin Mims, Fr., Oklahoma
TE – Arik Gilbert, Fr., LSU
Tight ends are generally hard to predict, but when you have an athlete like Gilbert, it becomes much simpler. The Georgia native is the #113 prospect of all time per 24/7 and was a top five recruit in his class. Now, only six games into his true freshman season, the 6-5/249 pound Gilbert looks like he can play in the pros already. He might be a better prospect than Kyle Pitts when it’s all said and done.
Also Watch – Austin Stogner, So., Oklahoma
IDP – Kayvon Thibodeaux, So., DE, Oregon
Despite being listed as a defensive end, I saw Thibodeaux line up not just with his hand in the dirt, but also as a linebacker, and he even found himself in coverage a few times. A top 50 recruit of all time, this dude profiles as the perfect defensive player in the modern game. He’s a scary pass rusher who spends a lot of time behind the line of scrimmage, and he’s also strong defending the run. Thibodeaux’s a future top five NFL draft pick.
Also Watch – Jordan Battle, So., S, Alabama
This is a piece I plan to bring back periodically, so keep an eye out for those in the future. I’d love to hear any feedback on Twitter @thedevydirtbag. I’ll answer devy and dynasty questions, provide advice and opinions on trades, and rate rosters.
Looking for more? Be sure to give the Ride or Dynasty and Rule of Three podcasts a listen! Those can be found HERE. In the next episode of the RoD, I breakdown Amon-Ra St. Brown in my latest Devy Debrief. It’ll be a good one you don’t want to miss!
Thanks for reading!